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Sunny side up vs over easy: what’s the difference? Here’s a breakdown and how to cook eggs to perfection every time.

Sunny side up vs over easy eggs
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Sunny side up vs over easy: what’s the difference in these two methods of cooking eggs? The difference is a matter of seconds, but it results in two very different breakfast experiences! We’re egg experts over here (egg-sperts? sorry), so we’ve got all the answers to this breakfast conundrum. Of course, for a the home cook it’s of less grave importance than for a short order cook in a diner. But it’s important to know the difference in these popular egg styles!

Sunny side up vs over easy eggs: the differences

What’s the difference between these two methods of cooking eggs? It’s a matter of 30 seconds and a flip:

  • What are sunny side up eggs? Sunny side up eggs are eggs cooked until the whites are solid but the yolk is still runny. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to cook on medium low heat. The round yellow yolk gives a sun-like appearance, hence the name.
  • What are over easy eggs? Over easy eggs are cooked on both sides, but the yolk remains runny. Make sunny side up eggs, then flip and cook 30 seconds with the yolk side down. On the plate, the top of over easy eggs appear white. When punctured with a fork, the liquid egg yolk runs out.

Want to make them? Jump to the recipe below.

Sunny side up vs over easy

Why eat sunny side up vs over easy?

Is there any advantage to eating sunny side up vs over easy eggs? Here’s what we think:

  • Both types of eggs result in a runny yolk. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.
  • Visually, sunny side up looks more appealing. The bright yellow of the yolk in sunny side up is more visually appealing than over easy. That makes it the more common type of egg to use on top of salads, polenta, bibimbap, and more.

What about over medium and over hard?

There are two more main ways to make a fried egg: over medium and over hard. It’s simply a gradient of how much the egg yolk is cooked. Here’s the differences between all the ways to fry an egg:

  • Sunny side up: Cook 2 to 3 minutes and don’t flip.
  • Over easy: Cook sunny side up, then flip and cook 30 seconds. The yolk is runny.
  • Over medium: Cook sunny side up, then flip and cook 1 minute. The yolk is jammy and slightly runny.
  • Over hard: Cook sunny side up, then flip and cook 2 minutes until the yolk is fully cooked.
Over easy eggs

More egg recipes

There are so many ways to cook and serve eggs! Here are a few more if you’re looking for breakfast ideas:

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Sunny side up eggs

Sunny Side Up vs Over Easy


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 2 eggs 1x

Description

Here’s how to make sunny side up vs over easy eggs! There’s a slight difference between the two: here’s how to make each method to perfection. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ tablespoon butter (or neutral oil for dairy-free)
  • 2 fresh eggs (fresh is best*)

Instructions

  1. In a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, melt ½ 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).
  3. For sunny side up eggs, serve immediately. For over easy eggs, flip and cook 20 to 30 more seconds where the is still liquid. Remove from the pan, flip it over onto a plate and serve.

Notes

*Fresh eggs are best for frying because the whites hold their shape. The whites on older eggs tend to spread: simply use a spatula to pull back the egg whites towards the middle (it just won’t look as pretty!). 

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

  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Eggs
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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7 Comments

  1. arthur raymond wheelock says:

    Greetings

    Your descriptions of the two types of egg clinically accurate as well as the reasons for cookiing choices : personal taste. However, there may be another factor underlying “taste”. Consider the appearance of a sunny side up egg if the white has not fully cooked. There will be a shimmering layer of raw, transparent liquid whose appearance is not amongst the higher levels of pleasing food stuffs. Flipping the egg for a brief period of time avoids this problem without risking over-cooking the yoke. Bon apetite!

  2. Cindy Nonya says:

    No matter what I do, I cant seem to get the whites completely cooked. I want my yolks runny. But I cant handle the whites having certain spots of slimy snotty looking yukkies. Ive tried all temperatures and nothing works. Either the whites have snot near the yolks or the yolks are half done. 😖 Any ideas ?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Have you tried placing a lid over the egg while cooking it on medium-low? That might help get the whites fully cooked.

  3. Barney Rose says:

    Great explanation guys, but how do you flip the egg over without breaking the yolk?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      No tricks! Just very carefully.

      1. Kyle Rondeau says:

        plenty of butter on a small nonstick pan. Yes you can use oil, but yuck (my opinion) so much tastier using butter or even bacon grease. If the yolks are off-center rotate the eggs in the pan so the whites are a bit up the edge of the pan and the yolks toward the middle. This way the whites go up first thus higher, and the yolks don’t go up as high, nor do they fall as far. You can do this with quick circular movements of the pan lifted off the flame. Then a quick flip of the wrist, up and over they go. Then “give” a bit when you catch the eggs coming down for a soft landing.
        (by “give” I mean let the pan come down approximately same speed as the eggs for a few inches as they’re landing back in the pan, otherwise they may very well go splat.)
        Practice a bit with say, a potholder, in a cold pan until you can flip them perfectly every time. That would be flexible and about the same weight as the eggs.

        If you search “no spatula egg flipping” beware of the woman who does the first few steps correctly, then grabs the eggs with her bare hands and flips them with her hands! That was the first video that came up when I was teaching staff…I was like yup…yup…yup…OH HELL NO!

  4. BRENDA CORPUS says:

    Great explanation you guys!
    Awesome!