How to Make Poached Eggs

Learning how to make poached eggs is easier than you’d think. Here’s how long to poach an egg, and a few tips that make for success every time!

How to make poached eggs

When Alex and I first learned to cook, Julia Child gave us some of our best cooking lessons. From her TV kitchen Julia told us (in that delightfully high-pitched voice of hers) that you can make a meal out of any dish by simply putting an egg on it! Salad + egg = meal. Potato + egg = meal, and so on. Poached eggs were Julia’s favorite; she thought it was the “purest and loveliest of ways to cook eggs.” How to make perfect poached eggs? Keep reading for our method.

What is a poached egg?

Poached eggs are cooked in boiling water, outside the shell. This results in just set whites and a delightfully runny yolk. They’re one of the healthiest ways to prepare an egg since no oil is needed during the cooking process. (Same goes for hard boiled and soft boiled.) They can be served in many ways: dressed with hollandaise sauce to make egg Benedict, served on salads, enjoyed on avocado toast, and more.

Turmeric Poached Egg Avocado Toast | A Couple Cooks
Adding turmeric to the water makes for a bright yellow poached egg on this avocado toast.

Tip: Use fresh eggs!

It’s best to use really fresh eggs when you’re poaching eggs. Otherwise you can end up with a mess! Older eggs tend to have whites that spread out in the water instead of staying together. It still tastes good, but looks a little messy. To avoid this, make sure that your eggs are very fresh before making the recipe below.

How to poach an egg

To make poached eggs, here are the basic steps:

  • Heat a small pot of water with a splash of vinegar until it’s almost simmering. (You won’t taste the vinegar, but it helps the egg whites firm up faster and prevents them from dispersing into the water.)
  • While the water is gently simmering, crack your egg into a bowl. This does two things: it prevents you from adding a potentially broken yolk into the hot water, and it makes it easier to gently slide the egg into the barely simmering water.
  • How long to poach eggs? After you’ve slid each egg into the water, cook the eggs for 4 minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon and draining them.
How long to poach an egg

Troubleshooting the poaching process

Your first few attempts at making poached eggs might not be perfect, but it gets easier with time! If you’re still struggling after a few tries, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re using fresh eggs. The whites of fresh eggs stay together better when they hit the water.
  • Swirl the water with a spoon before you add the eggs. Gently swirling the water with a spoon just before sliding them can help the whites stay together while cooking.

Favorite poached egg recipes

Once you’ve mastered the process, how to serve them? Here are some of our favorite ways to serve this delicacy:

  • Avocado Toast with Poached Egg Add turmeric to the water to get a bright yellow poached egg! Use it to top avocado toast for an easy, healthy meal.
  • Whole Wheat Chive Waffles Eggs on savory waffles? Yes, please. These cheddar and chive savory waffles are perfectly fluffy, topped with white cheddar cheese and a gooey yolk.
  • Poached Eggs and Potatoes This colorful hash is perfect for breakfast, brunch or even dinner, featuring both sweet potatoes and red potatoes for a savory sweet hash.
  • Healthy Rice Bowl Substitute poached for fried in this delicious vegetarian dinner recipe, a rice bowl with kale, red pepper, and portabello mushrooms.
How to make poached eggs

This poached eggs recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print

Poached Eggs


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 minutes
  • Yield: 4 eggs 1x

Description

Learning how to make poached eggs is easier than you’d think. Here’s how long to poach an egg, and a few tips that make for success every time!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh eggs
  • Splash of vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Equipment: Small bowl, large skillet, slotted spoon, tea towel

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Crack each egg into a small bowl, then 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.
  3. Allow the eggs to cook for 4 minutes, until the whites set. Turn off the heat. Remove the eggs with a fine mesh sieve or slotted spoon, then place them on a  plate lined with a paper towel or clean dish towel to allow the poaching water to drain. If desired, trim the edges before serving.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: how to poach an egg

Looking for more egg recipes?

Here are a few more recipes using eggs — cooked in all different ways!

Last updated: February 2020

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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.

14 Comments

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 24, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I love Julia’s affair with the egg, and I too was delighted when I realized how a ridiculously cheap/accessible (while also ethically-produced) protein could be called a meal.

    Now, if I could just convince my kids of the same…

  • Reply
    Caramel Wings
    January 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I used to have so much trouble with poaching eggs before!! But thanks to Gordon Ramsay I got it right :D What I do is almost the same as your procedure except I take 4 inches of water, and make a vortex before sliding the eggs in the water. Once I have a good vortex, I pour my egg right in the eye of the vortex and all those whites just wrap around the yellow :)

  • Reply
    Leah
    January 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    One of my all-time best cook moments:
    Roast asparagus with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
    Toast bread crumbs on the stove with a little bit of butter.
    Plate asparagus, sprinkling a good amount of bread crumbs over it.
    Then add a poached egg on top.
    Then shave a few parmesan cheese curls over it.
    Then die and go to heaven, because it is both delicious and beautiful!!!

    • Reply
      Alex
      January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Haha. Sounds wonderful! Spring is almost here, right?

      • Reply
        Sonja
        January 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        Yes, sounds amazing! We’ll add it to our list :)

  • Reply
    Brooks at Cakewalker
    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    The vinegar does the trick every time. Beautiful yolk action captured in the photo, I can almost taste it over the texture of the whole grain bread. Marvelous!

    • Reply
      Alex
      January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks! It was pretty marvelous :)

      • Reply
        Sonja
        January 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

        I agree! We’ve also found that it’s best to only use a small amount of vinegar – otherwise it tastes a little metalic (to me, at least)!

  • Reply
    Tes
    January 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I love my egg just like that! Your poach egg recipe is just simple and perfect :)

  • Reply
    Ang
    January 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I have never tried to poach an egg before, but it always looks so good and creamy with the delicious yellow yolk. Your picture makes me want to try:)

  • Reply
    Julia
    January 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

    That picture is making me absolutely drool! Eggs with runny yolks are one of my favorite foods ever. You’re so right, they can make a meal! Thanks for the tips on poaching eggs. I always fail miserably. Am going to try vinegar next time.

  • Reply
    Da @Kitchen Corners
    February 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    What a beautiful blog. Couples who cook together make me happy. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post today. It inspired me to make poached eggs. I linked to your post today on my poached egg post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    Super Taster
    June 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I had my most successful experience poaching eggs this evening. It took about 5-6 minutes for the whites to fully cook, but the method and description was spot on. So, so helpful. The eggs were perfect atop sauteed portabellas and drizzled with heart-attack-inducing hollandaise. Breakfast for dinner is the best!

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      I’m glad it worked out! Poached eggs are so simple yet wonderful :)

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