Before our whole vegetarian/ethical/healthy-eating thing came about, we started learning that real food tastes great – and we started seeking out how to make it ourselves. In a moment of inspiration, a friend of ours shared her well-worn Julia Child cookbook with us, and the rest is history. A lot of what we know about cooking today came from an obsession with reading that book and watching Julia Child DVDs a few years ago. One of the best lessons Julia taught us was that you can make a meal out of any dish just by adding an egg to it. Salad + egg = meal. Potato + egg = meal, and so on. Poaching was Julia’s favorite preparation, as she said that they are the “purest and loveliest of ways to cook eggs.” It took a while to convince me, but when you finally learn how to poach an egg, it turns out perfect every time. A creamy poached egg on top of fresh greens makes about the best salad ever.
In a twist of irony, we’ve found Julia’s recipe a little too complicated for our tastes. I once made poached eggs every night for over a week, trying to master our technique. I’m not saying it’s the best, but it works for us – and hopefully for you too. The most important tip we’ve found is to have really fresh eggs, otherwise you end up with a mess! Hopefully you can get the method down, and enjoy what I think is one of life’s purest and loveliest foods.
What is a Poached Egg?
Commonly enjoyed atop eggs Benedict and avocado toast, poached eggs are eggs that have been cooked outside the shell in boiling water (very technical sounding, I know). Poached eggs typically have a delightfully runny yolk and are one of the healthiest ways to prepare an egg since no oil is needed during the cooking process. Poached eggs can be dressed with hollandaise sauce, served on salads and stir-fries, enjoyed plain with toast, and more!
How to Poach an Egg
To poach an egg, you need to heat a small pot of water until it’s almost simmering. While the water is simmering, you crack your egg(s) into a bowl. Cracking the eggs into a bowl does two things: it prevent you from adding a potentially broken yolk into the hot water, and it makes it easier to gently slide the egg into the water. After you’ve slid the eggs into the water, let them cook for around four minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon. Sounds easy enough, right? A key part of this entire process is the addition of vinegar to the cooking water. You won’t taste the vinegar, but it helps the egg whites firm up faster and prevents them from dispersing into the water.
Your first few attempts at making poached eggs might not be perfect, but it gets easier with time! If you’re still struggling to poach an egg after a few tries, I recommend gently swirling the water with a spoon just before tipping in the eggs. This should help the egg whites stay together more easily.
Looking for more poached egg recipes?
- Turmeric Poached Egg Avocado Toast
- Whole Wheat Chive Waffles with Poached Egg
- Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs
This recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.Print
Learning how to poach an egg is easier than you’d think! In this post, we’ve laid out how to poach an egg in three basic steps.
- 4 fresh eggs
- Splash of vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Four small bowls
- Large skillet
- Slotted spoon
- Tea towel
- Fill a large skillet with 1 1/2 inches of water. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar. Heat over medium-high heat until the water just starts to bubble, just below a simmer (about 190°F). Be careful to maintain the temperature throughout the cooking process and ensure the water does not boil.
- Crack each egg into a small bowl, the carefully slide each egg into the water. Make sure to give plenty of space between each egg. The egg whites will spread out a bit as they hit the water, then soon start to form up.
- Allow the eggs to cook for 4 minutes, until the whites set. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, then place them on a tea towel-covered plate to allow the to water drain. If desired, trim the edges before serving.
Keywords: how to poach an egg
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website 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.
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 food 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.