How to Fry an Egg

Here’s exactly how to fry an egg! Come learn the secrets to cooking up the perfect fried eggs, four different ways.

How to fry an egg

Want to make the perfect fried egg? Cooking eggs is a skill that many home cooks have never mastered. But you’re in luck! All you need are a few quick pointers and you’ll be making diner-style fried eggs like a pro. There are 4 ways to fry an egg: sunny side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard. (Honestly, we didn’t know the exact differences until recently!) Here we’ll show you how to cook each one of them to perfection. Ready to fry?

The eggs and pan you need

There are a few things that will set you up for success when making the perfect fried eggs. Here’s what to know:

  • Fresh eggs are best. Fresh eggs make the best looking fried eggs. Why? The whites of eggs that have been in the fridge for a while tend to spread when they hit the pan. This is okay flavor wise, but can look a little funky. Don’t worry: you can push the whites back to the center with a spatula. But for best results, use fresh eggs.
  • Use a non-stick or cast iron skillet. These pans are the best when it comes to cooking eggs. While you can still cook in an aluminum pan, non-stick is preferable.

Tips before you start

Want to get cooking? Before you start, here are a few more quick ideas about making the perfect fried eggs:

  • Lower heat is better. Keep in mind: eggs are delicate and easy to over cook! So air on the side of lower and slower (low or medium low heat).
  • Butter is best, but you can use oil too. Butter is best for frying eggs: it has the best feel in the pan and the ideal savory flavor. You can also use oil: but olive oil can lend a slightly bitter flavor.

The best spatula to use? Try a fish spatula for a cast iron pan, or a nylon spatula for a non-stick pan.

How to make a fried egg

How to fry an egg (4 ways)

Ready to start frying? Let’s go. Here’s what you need to know about how to fry an egg…perfectly:

  • Heat the butter: Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium low heat.
  • Add the eggs: Add 1 or 2 eggs and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds black pepper. 
  • Cook: Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the whites are firm but the yolk is still runny. Don’t flip them!
  • Finish cooking: Pick the type of eggs you’d like to cook:
    • Sunny side up: You’re done! Serve immediately.
    • Over easy eggsFlip and cook 20 to 30 seconds on the other side. The yolk should still be runny.
    • Over medium eggs: Flip and cook 1 more minute; the yolk should be partially set. You can press gently with your finger to assess doneness.
    • Over hard eggsFlip and cook 2 more minutes until the yolk is fully set. After 1 minute, press gently with a spatula to make sure the yolk is broken.

And that’s it: how to fry an egg! It’s simple: but it does require a little finesse and knowing the definitions above. Use this as a look-up table any time you need to cook an egg!

How to fry an egg

What to serve with fried eggs

Once you’ve got your fried eggs, how to serve them? Here are a few ways to accessorize them and make a full meal:

Other ways to eat eggs? There are so many. Head to How to Cook Eggs and our favorite Egg Recipes for Any Meal or Top 10 Egg Recipes for Breakfast.

How to fry an egg

This fried egg recipe is…

Vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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How to fry an egg

How to Fry an Egg (4 Ways!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 egg 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s exactly how to fry an egg! Come learn the secrets to cooking up the perfect fried eggs, four different ways.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (or neutral oil for dairy free)
  • 1 fresh egg (fresh is best*)

Instructions

  1. In a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium low heat until starting to foam (eggs are best on low to medium low heat**).
  2. Add the eggs and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still runny (do not flip). For sunny side up eggs, serve immediately. 
  3. Or, flip and keep cooking 20 to 30 seconds (over easy eggs) where the yolk is still runny, 1 minute (over medium eggs) where the yolk is partially set (press gently with your finger to assess done-ness), or 2 minutes (over hard eggs) where the yolk is fully set, pressing gently 1 minute after flipping to make sure the yolk is broken. 

Notes

*Fresh eggs are best for frying because they hold their shape. Older eggs tend to spread, which is ok: you can simply use a spatula to pull back the egg whites. 

**The slower the better with eggs: they can easily get overcooked. Note that if you’re cooking a second batch, since the skillet is already hot you may need to lower the heat to avoid overcooking the egg. 

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Breakfast

Keywords: How to fry an egg, How to make a fried egg

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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