Downshiftology
subscribe to new posts: via email via rss

Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

Poached eggs are a beautiful thing. The whites are just firm enough on the outside to contain an oozy, golden yolk in a round little egg package. And with a few tips, you too can learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached eggs are one of those items I find folks order frequently in restaurants, but they don’t make very often at home. Why? I think most would say that it’s difficult to get that perfect, spherical shape without lots of crazy white wispies.

But poaching is one of the best cooking methods for creating healthy eggs. So today I’ll share with you a few tips to make the perfect poached egg. I’ve tested every method under the sun (vinegar, salt, swirling vortex, etc) and I’ll share with you the tried-and-true method that works.

Watch My Poached Eggs Video to See These Tips in Action

Once you get the hang of it, poached eggs are easy. But if you’re a beginner, make sure to watch my tutorial video. I walk you through the process step-by-step!

Tips That Do (and Don’t) Work

Salt: I found that adding salt to the water actually created more white wispies. Salt increases the density of the water which makes more of the egg white float and splay out. In other words, a not-so-pretty poached egg.

  • Verdict: Don’t do it.

Vinegar: I was initially dead set against adding vinegar to my water as I didn’t want my eggs to taste like vinegar. As it turns out, you have to add quite a bit of vinegar to have any vinegar taste transfer to the egg. I found that adding one tablespoon of a light colored vinegar didn’t flavor the egg but it did help to keep the egg white together.

  • Verdict: Optional, but I do it.

Swirling a Vortex: We’ve all heard that the best method for poached eggs is to drop them in a swirling vortex of water, right? Well, this is true. This does help to create a more spherical shape as the egg white wraps around itself. But here’s the reality. If you’re only cooking one poached egg – go for it. If you’re cooking more than one poached egg – don’t fret about the vortex. Your egg(s) may not be quite as spherical, but you can cook several simultaneously and they’ll still taste darn good.

  • Verdict: Yes, for one egg. No, for more than one egg.

Fine Mesh Sieve: This is the one tip that consistently produced the BEST poached egg. When you crack an egg you’ll notice that there’s a firmer white and a more liquidy white. Well, that liquidy white is what creates all those white wispies. So add the egg to a fine mesh sieve/strainer and the thinner, more liquid white is removed, leaving only the firmer white which will envelop the yolk.

  • Verdict: Do it.

Deep Pot of Water: After trying both a regular pot of water (4-inches deep) and a sauté pan filled with water (2-inched deep), I will say that the deeper pot produced a more classical spherical or teardrop shape. The is because as the egg falls in the water, the yolk sinks first and the white trails behind. You can still make poached eggs in a more shallow pot, but the shape will be flatter – similar to a fried egg.

  • Verdict: Use a pot with at least 4-inches of water

Ramekin: Most say to crack the egg first into a ramekin, then pour the egg into the water. And I’d have to agree. Using a ramekin ensures that your egg is 1) properly cracked with an unbroken yolk, 2) there’s no shell in the egg, and 3) you can more easily pour the egg in one swift move. Now, combine this method with the fine mesh sieve and you’ve got a winning combo.

  • Verdict: Do it.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Fresh Eggs Are Best

Now that you have 6 tips for making the best poached eggs, there’s one tip that can’t be overlooked. And that’s using the freshest eggs possible. This truly is the #1 most important factor in determining the success of your poached eggs. Fresh eggs have firmer whites, less liquidy whites and just hold their spherical shape better.

Ideally, this would mean purchasing fresh eggs on the morning you’re poaching eggs. But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t running to the market just to make breakfast. Therefore, if you use the tips above you’ve still got the best shot at making a perfectly poached egg.

And if you’ve got older eggs in the fridge, like the one below, don’t forget that those are perfect for making soft boiled and hard boiled eggs.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

How Long Do You Poach Eggs?

For a firm white and runny yolk you’ll want to poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes. I prefer a 3 minute poached egg. And if you plan to poach a batch of eggs ahead of time and reheat later, just keep in mind that reheating may firm up the eggs a little more as well.

Can You Poach Eggs Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! After the eggs have finished poaching, just place them in an ice water bath and store them in the fridge for 4-5 days.

When you’d like to eat them, just add some hot water to a small bowl or cup and add the poached egg until it’s warmed up (about 20-30 seconds).

How to Make Poached Eggs (Perfectly)

Alright, are you feeling confident in your egg poaching skills? To summarize all the information above, this is how to poach an egg:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce to low (or turn off the heat).
  2. Crack the egg in a fine mesh sieve (over a small bowl) and remove the liquidy whites.
  3. Transfer the egg to a small ramekin or bowl.
  4. Add one tablespoon of light-colored vinegar to the pot and stir to create a vortex.
  5. Pour the ramekin with the egg into the middle of the vortex and set a timer for 3 minutes.
  6. Once the egg is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg. Dab with a paper towel to remove excess water and eat immediately.

My Best Poached Egg Recipes

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.
4.98 from 109 votes

Poached Eggs Recipe

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 3 mins
Total Time: 8 mins
Servings: 1 egg
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Poached eggs are a delicious, easy, healthy breakfast recipe. Watch my YouTube video above and learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar, optional

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • While waiting for the water to boil, crack an egg into a small fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Swirl the egg in the sieve until all the liquidy egg whites have been removed. Then, place the egg in a ramekin.
  • Stir the vinegar into the water and create a vortex. Add the egg to the middle of the vortex and cook the egg for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and dab it on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Serve immediately.
  • Alternatively, if making the poached eggs for meal prep or ahead of time, transfer the cooked poached eggs to an ice water bath and refrigerate for a couple of days. When ready to serve, add boiling water to a bowl, then add the cold poached egg and submerge for 20-30 seconds or until warmed through. Remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon, dab dry and serve immediately.

Lisa's Tips

  • This is the fine mesh strainer I used in the video. It's the perfect size as it's small and doesn't take up much space.
  • These are the glass nesting bowls that I use all the time in my kitchen and in my videos.
  • As mentioned above, you can store poached eggs for 4-5 days in the fridge. Just make sure they're in fresh, cold water in a sealed storage container.

Nutrition

Calories: 65kcal, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 163mg, Sodium: 62mg, Potassium: 60mg, Vitamin A: 240IU, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 0.8mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Make Poached Eggs, Poached Egg, Poached Eggs
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

280 comments on “Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly”

  1. Excellent and very thorough explanation. Good on you!!!!

  2. I’ve never made a poached egg before and it turned out amazing. I did poke the poached egg and decided that it needed about 1.5 min more. Everything else was spot on!

    • Hi Crystal – Happy to hear this method worked out for you! Now you can have poached eggs all the time at home :)

  3. Is the water still boiling when you put the eggs in?

  4. You are awesome — thank you for this! I had always shied away from poached eggs, worried they were too hard to make! Your video and tips made it so easy!

    • Hi Jay- Glad to hear this tutorial worked out for you! Now you never have to be intimidated by making poached eggs again :)

  5. Thank you, yours is similar to Julia Child’s. They turned out perfect.

  6. This is a great recipe! I went to a restaurant where they had a delicious breakfast with poached eggs. I wanted to make it at home but I didn’t know how to poach eggs. Now I can!

    • Hi Carolyn – Amazing! Now you can have restaurant-quality eggs right in the comfort of your own home :)

  7. Thank you for breaking this down into easy to follow steps. I can happily say that I made poached eggs for breakfast this morning using your method – the mesh sieve, the vinegar and the vortex really work!

  8. This recipe worked perfectly even with old eggs. I strained off the liquid, added the vinegar, and cooked 4 eggs per batch with the vortex method. I am a convert!

  9. Thank you. Helpful advice.

  10. thanks for demystifying the process. Poached egg dishes are my favorite fancy breakfast when having breakfast out. I love having a stragegy for making this at home at a fraction of the price. Thank you!

    • Hi Erin – Glad to hear this method worked out for you! Now you can always have beautiful poached eggs in the comfort of your own home :)

  11. I’ve been making eggs forever and never mastered the poached egg, until now.  Your recipe works perfectly.  Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Ann- That’s wonderful that this tutorial has helped you master poaching an egg!

    • This was just so easy and they turned out absolutely perfect :) I did the vortex and cooked one at a time. My eggs were old but not a lot of liquid came out, maybe because they are organic? I don’t know. What I know is that your recipe is perfection :) thank you so much for sharing.

  12. The fact that I woke up wanting poached eggs, I Google and find your site, the fact that I bought fresh asparagus spears and juiced & zest a lemon yesterday told me the universe was speaking to me! I wanted two poached eggs so I followed your lead about the ice bath and boiling water for the first egg which I used the vortex and placed the egg, that I had ran through a sieve, in the pan. Unfortunately I did not get your pretty results in the pan. In fact I got exactly the opposite effect. I had white “ghosts” floating all over the place. I gently coaxed them to the egg. This did not compromise the taste of the egg I’m happy to report. After I placed it in the ice bath I removed the remaining “ghosts” from the pan, heated it up again, then turned back down to low and put my second pre sieved egg in the pan without a vortex. That one looked perfect in the pan. While that one cooked I made the asparagus with the garlic, lemon juice and zest. Took the advice of another commenter and placed my plate in the oven on “keep warm” setting. Removed my 1st egg from the ice bath and put it in a small bowl adding some boiling water for about 45 secs. Removed my 2nd egg after 3 minutes, placed on the asparagus and added the 1st egg. Both eggs looked perfect! I like them exactly how you show them in your video. There was definitely way too much lemon for me, but of course that’s just personal taste. Thank you for your tips, they are very appreciated. I took pics, wish I could upload the. Thanks again, Lisa!

  13. Great video! I tried to poach an egg once and it was very loose, so your tips are greatly appreciated and will come in handy.

    I’d recommend serving on a warm plate (cold plates suck out the heat out of warm food very quickly).

    Thank you!

  14. This is sheer genius! I am a first time poacher and the eggs were perfect at 3 minutes and looked just like the picture. I followed your instructions to the letter. Would not have thought to strain off the liquidy part.
    Thank you!

  15. Great!  I even understand it.

  16. Loved this! Just wondering if you’ve tried it with lemon juice instead of vinegar?

  17. You make it look super easy!! Loved the recipe at the end:):) Thank you:)

  18. Tried this method for the first time today and they turned out P E R F ECT!!!  Say goodbye 🙋🏼‍♀️to frying! 
    Thanks Lisa!!!

  19. Best method I’ve seen sofar. thanks 

  20. oh my gosh. I just tried this today and it came out perfect my first try! Delicious! Thank you!

  21. Fabulous poached eggs , Thankyou 

  22. Once you put the egg in the vortex , do u leave the pan on the heat or remove it?

  23. Perfect eggs! I’ve always tried them in the past but with these tips and tricks it came out perfect all 8 times for my 3 boys and husband — salted them and put them on top of homemade baked beans with a side salad. Thank you!! 

  24. I just made your poached eggs. My son and I love Eggs Benedict and my eggs were never pretty. With your help my eggs were beautiful. Straining is key to get rid of all the messy white stuff. Thank you!

    • Hi Victoria – I’m so glad this method worked out for you! And I will actually be posting an Eggs Benedict recipe very soon so stay tuned!

  25. Made a few times. Comes at so good with this method

  26. Wow. Thanks. Appreciate the detailed approach and thorough comparisons on approach.

  27. I’m sorry if you have answered this already but if you are making them in advance do you store them in the refrigerator in the bowl of water or remove them from the water and put in a covered container?

    • Hi Karen – You can find the full details on how to make these ahead of time towards the bottom of the post :) But you will store them in an ice water bath in the fridge.

  28. Today was my first ever attempt at making poached eggs. I really like the way the article was written, made it super easy to guide me to the perfect poached eggs.

  29. Great post, thank you.  I am an experienced amateur cook, but perfect poached eggs have always been my nemesis.  Finally a breakthrough! I particularly liked the video demonstration of both what to try and what to leave out.

  30. Thank you so much for this… I am the son of an English mother, and as she is unwell and not getting better this brings back memories of childhood which I can make for her now

    • Hi Mark – I am so sorry to hear about your Mother. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  31. I soooooo needed this post. I always shy away from making poached eggs. I will try your method soon.

  32. Great tips! I will have to remember this for Christmas morning; will be great for breakfast!

  33. This is one of the hardest thing to master, but you’ve explained the process in such a detail. I’m going to make better poached eggs from now on. :)

  34. Wow I think you covered everything! So many great tips for poached eggs. Something I have not mastered whatsoever so looking forward to trying again.

  35. One one hand, it seems easy to poach eggs. On another hand, there are some knowledge and skills. Thanks for your recipe!

  36. Ohmygosh!!! It is because of you Lisa that I am now a master at perfectly poached eggs. Even made them for my in-laws who were seriously impressed! Thank you sooo much!

  37. Works as described! The vortex method really worked!

  38. What a fantastic tutorial! I finally made a really good poached egg, thank you!!!!