By Leslie Kelly

Here's how to make perfect poached eggs. Follow this simple step-by-step guide, and you'll end up with gorgeous eggs. You'll see how long to poach an egg for perfect yolks worthy of any Instagram post.

Photo by Cynthia Ross

How to Make Poached Eggs

This is the traditional way to make poached eggs on the stovetop. For another way to do it, check out how to poach an egg in the microwave.

1. Use the freshest eggs

Egg whites turn runny with age, so the fresher the egg, the firmer the whites. Buy the freshest eggs at the date on the carton of eggs.

2. Use a ramekin

Crack each egg into a small ramekin or glass bowl. You will be able to see and remove any bits of shell, and if the yolk ends up getting cracked, you can dispose of the egg without dirtying your poaching water. The bowl also makes it easier to slip the egg into the water gently, so it stays in one piece.

3. Add a splash of vinegar

Vinegar in the poaching water helps keep the whites together; it firms up the proteins on the outer surface of the egg, making the egg rounder and the white less wispy. Don't worry about flavoring the egg, at 1 teaspoon salt per quart of water, you'll barely taste it. Any kind of white vinegar you like, works fine.

4. Don't boil the water

Dropping a raw egg into boiling water is the recipe for scrambled egg soup. Get the water hot by bringing it to a boil over high heat, THEN lower the heat until the water is just barely simmering. Gently simmering water keeps your eggs together.

5. Set the timer

It doesn't take long to poach an egg. Cook for 2-3 minutes for soft yolks, while 4 minutes means a medium to firm cooked eggs. For hard cooked eggs, bump the cook time up to 5 minutes.

6. Dry before serving

Remove the eggs from the poaching water with a slotted spoon so the water can drain off. Then, blot the bottom of the spoon onto a clean kitchen towel to remove any remaining water.

Video: See How to Cook Poached Eggs

Ready to put these tips to work?

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"A delicious dish inspired by eggs Benedict with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto." -- Yoojin K

Chef John's Monte Cristo Benedict

"Imagine the best French toast you've ever had, combined with the best ham and cheese sandwich you've ever had, topped with perfectly poached eggs. You don't need any Hollandaise because the poached egg yolks are the sauce." -- Chef John


Explore our complete collection of Breakfast Egg Recipes.


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