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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 137 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.
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340 comments on “Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly”

  1. Loved the recipe. Very thorough & detailed. Can’t wait to make more recipes.

  2. The steps are so clear and precise! 
    I didn’t expect it to be successful in my very first attempt. Surprisingly, it turned out great. 
    Thank you so much! 

  3. Maybe the 6,000 ft altitude has sundering to do with it, but following your directions my egg whites were still VERY snotty even after 4+ minutes. 🤢

  4. I am so going to try using a sieve as my eggs always come out wispy and stuck to the pan. Thanks for the tip.

    Where is the plate from in the above images? I have been looking for plates like this for ages. TIA

  5. If you make them ahead of time do you store them in water or remove them? 

    • Hi Stacy- 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).

      • Do you take them out of the ice bath and put in an air tight container in the fridge or do you just leave them in the ice bath bowl and put in the fridge? 

      • Hi Em- I will take them out of the ice bath after 10 minutes, then store them in the fridge!

  6. Tried it now and its so Perfect!!! Thank you! suddenly its like so easy

  7. You weren’t kidding when you said these were the best poached eggs ever! I followed the directions exactly as written and they were the best eggs Use ever made. Better than most restaurants too! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Hi Laryssa- Amazing! Happy to hear this method finally helped you create restaurant quality poached eggs right at home :)

  8. !!!

    • Awesome recipe for pouch eggs. Followed the one with lite vinegar and vortex motion first and slowly dropped the egg in for three minutes. Perfection! Thanks so much!

      • Hi Sheila- Wonderful! I’m glad this tutorial helped yield the perfect poached eggs!

  9. I have never attempted to make poached eggs before. I followed your recipe and the resulting poached eggs were PERFECT. Thanks!

    • That’s great to hear Mitch! Now you’ll have perfectly poached eggs everytime.

    • I’d never made poached eggs before and my daughter asked for them. This recipe is perfect and so easy. Thanks for the video! My daughter has a new favorite egg!

  10. The very perfect egg,I’ve been a breakfast cook for 40 years and this is amazing!!!

  11. A much better explanation of how to poach an egg. In the past I had a set of stainless pots that came with the holder and cups to make poached eggs. Tried this and it was alright, never attempted again.  The hubs and I love poached eggs. I’ve watched several others and tried with slight difficulty, to make poached eggs. Then I came across your website. I love all the research you did for the perfect poached egg. I will definitely try this the next time I make breakfast. Thank you again for all your research to make a poached egg perfectly.

    • Hi Amelia- Happy to hear this post helped you create the perfect poached eggs! There’s many methods out there on the internet, but I find this to work every time :)

  12. This is as close to the perfect method as there is. My research has come up with the same results as you. Salt just lowers the boiling temperature of the water, resulting in a sub-par poach while vinegar -a dash – will keep those pesky whispy bits in line. Fresh eggs are the secret, and the reason behind 95% of bad poaching. If the eggs are not fresh, best not to attempt a poach – or use a containment method like a microwave or poaching pod which will give you an inferior poach but at least you won’t be eating a yolk and pouring bits of white away with the pan water.

  13. I grew up eating poached eggs. My dad made them in a poacher. I don’t have a poacher and for some reason, making them in a pot of water always intimidated me. Last night I watched an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games that was dedicated to eggs and I was drooling. Found your site, watched your video and made the perfect 3 min runny poached egg. So easy, so fast and so satisfying!!! Thanks for the thorough tutorial!

  14. Sweet Success in the first try! 😊

  15. I was nervous about making a poached egg and luckily found this recipe. I made it this morning for the first time in my life. I followed your tips and the egg was perfectly poached. My husband loved it! 

  16. My very first perfectly cooked poached egg after many failed attempts! Thank you