How to Make a Poached Egg

Get rich, creamy yolks without the added fat from frying.

Poaching eggs is a fast, low-fat alternative to frying that allows you to get the same rich, creamy yolk as a sunny-side up egg without adding any extra fat. Although there are a plethora of special gadgets and equipment made just for poaching, you can get the same great results with basic kitchen equipment and these easy tricks. Once you've read the guide, check out the video to perfect your egg poaching technique.

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1 Choose Your Eggs

The number one rule for poaching eggs is to use the freshest eggs possible. As an egg ages, the whites become watery and will not cling tightly to the yolk as it is poached. Egg cartons are stamped with both a “best by” date and a three-digit number that corresponds to the day of the year that the eggs were packed (290 on the carton above). The three-digit number is often a better indicator of freshness, because manufacturers are free to determine their own “best by” dates. The three-digit number counts up from January 1st, so the higher the number the younger and fresher your eggs will be.


2 Crack Eggs into Ramekins

Before you begin, crack your egg into a small bowl, ramekin or custard cup. Using a dish to gently pour the egg into the hot water will allow you to have more control of the egg than you would cracking it straight into the water. A slow, controlled entry of the egg into the hot water helps keep the egg intact as it poaches.

3 Add Vinegar

Acidifying the poaching water also helps keep the egg in one compact piece. One teaspoon of vinegar per quart of water will help the egg whites coagulate and prevent them from running into the surrounding water. You’ll want to use a light colored, mild vinegar—like rice vinegar—to minimize any residual flavor or color on the finished egg. Lemon juice can also be used, but it tends to give a slightly lemony flavor to the egg.

4 Adjust Temperature and Add the Egg

Fill a wide, shallow skillet with a few inches of water and add the vinegar. Bring the water up to a rolling boil over high heat. When it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest level so that the water is only slightly bubbling. Furiously bubbling water will essentially stir the egg and prevent it from keeping a nice shape.

Once the water stops boiling, it’s time to add the egg. If you have a ring from a Mason jar or metal biscuit cutter, you can use this as a mold to help the egg hold its shape as it poaches. Bring the lip of the small bowl down to touch the surface of the water and then gently slide the egg into the water. Set a timer for three minutes. If poaching multiple eggs at once, add one minute per egg to the total cooking time. Each extra egg will lower the water temperature slightly and slow the cooking process.


5 Remove Egg from Water

After three minutes, carefully lift the egg out of the water with a slotted spoon or spatula. If you are not using a ring mold, there will likely be a few wispy strands of egg white that will remain in the water as you lift the egg out, leaving you with a perfect oval shaped poached egg. Let the water drain away for a couple of seconds before transferring to a plate covered with paper towels.

6 Remove Excess Water

If using a ring mold, gently wiggle the mold to release the egg through the bottom. Use another paper towel to carefully blot the excess water off the top of the egg. Poached eggs are best served immediately while they are still warm, but can also cooked ahead of time and refrigerated in a bowl of ice water for up to eight hours. To reheat, simply drop the eggs into hot water for 30 seconds just before serving.

7 Serve and Enjoy

Enjoy your poached egg on top of buttered toast, roasted vegetables, salads or a hearty breakfast hash. Poached eggs are a fast and easy way to add flavor and protein to any meal!

Want more? Watch the video for more poaching tips and tricks.

About Budget Bytes

Beth from Budget Bytes is a food lover and a number cruncher who dishes up  healthy recipes on her blog that won't put a huge dent in your wallet. She is the author of the cookbook, Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half, and she also works as a microbiologist in a hospital laboratory. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.