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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.

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Watch my video on Poached Eggs to see these tips in action:

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Tips for Poached Eggs 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 Make for the Best Poached Eggs

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 Perfectly Poached Eggs

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.

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Poached Eggs

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)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and dab it on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Serve immediately.
  5. 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.
All images and text ©Lisa Bryan for Downshiftology

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

  1. Very thorough explanation. Loved that she tested many techniques and showed a couple “donts”
    Cant wait to try this out

  2. Thank you for all your exploratory work and finally getting the best method on poaching eggs. Excellent Job!

  3. Great guidance.  My only suggestions are to use the smallest possible pot and to skip the screening step to pour off the lighter whites. Doing so eliminates good,  nutritious parts of the egg as well as attractive volume around the yolk ion presentation. Pouring the entire contents of your tiny pot through a fine, preferably small, screened implement after cooking allows you to drain and serve the whole egg. Wayward whites are then easy to place artfully on toast, biscuit, potatoes or a pretty plate. 

  4. Excellent tutorial, clear and precise. 

  5. This, if followed correctly and not rushed through until perfected, is the BEST recipe I’ve seen for poached eggs. 

    I’ve never had good success with poaching perfectly – resturant quality eggs until today! I added a little more viniger and used about 6 inches of water. I used a mesh strainer over a bowl and placed each prepared egg into their own small ramiken.

    Once the water was boiling, I made one hell of a vortex reducing the heat to low and setting the timer to 2:50 seconds after dropping in the egg.

    I just can’t believe how perfect they came out! 5 star directions and recipe!!

  6. Sadly my eggs were hard boiled by three mins ? Is this right? 

  7. The recommendations worked for the most part. I still had white wispy’s. Three of my four eggs were perfect. With one the egg yolk separate from the white but was still good. My wife stated they were the best poached eggs I’ve ever made. I wish I would have used the vortex and will try next time. Over all great recommendations.

  8. Thank you for the article. very useful

  9. I do it even easier :) Just make sure the eggs are fresh.

    Water to the boil, turn down the heat (no bubbles visible), crack egg (in a cup, not directly into water). No vinegar, no salt, no vortex! Just pop it in the water for 3 minutes if you want a soft yolk. That’s it really.

    If the eggs are not super fresh, make a vortex first.

  10. My wife and I have been looking for the best way to poaching eggs and we have found it. You are amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Depends on where you buy eggs on how fresh they are

  12. Great masterclass. The only thing you didn’t cover was to use eggs straight from the fridge versus eggs at room temperature, which presumably would make a difference to the perfect cooking time. 
    I note in the video that you take the eggs straight from the fridge, but in the UK most people keep eggs at room temperature. Does it make a difference to the cooking, especially to the end result of the white staying intact or getting wispy threads?

    • Yes, you’re correct that eggs are refrigerated in the US and they’re not in the UK. I do mention on the video that the eggs should be taken out of the fridge while the water warms up, so that they warm up to room temp a bit. But it shouldn’t make a difference to the white staying intact or not. More so in total cooking time (but it’s really only seconds difference).

  13. You do an incredible job explaining so thoroughly and the video quality is so great. Thank you!

  14. Thank You So Very Much for the instruction, this means a lot to me!  I tried this method, and got the best results I have ever had.  

  15. Loved the video! I’m gonna have to try this method & that asparagus recipe! Where do you get the beautiful plates you served them on?

  16. Thank you for your amazing step by step instructions. They turned out perfect. I made 5 in 1 pot. I wish I could share the picture.

  17. Wow…great video.  Thanks so much!👍🏻

  18. So very helpful! I will try your method tomorrow morning!  I’ve been using my Moms poached egg cups and pan for 45 years!

    Rating: 4
  19. The fine mesh strainer step has CHANGED MY LIFE. seriously. Thank you for this!!

    Rating: 5
  20. My daughter has demonstrated “how to make perfect poached eggs” a few times. However, I’ve never remembered quite how to do it. Your video (perhaps having instructed my daughter) will prompt me to remember and to succeed! Thank you.

    Rating: 5
  21. Thank you for all your efforts refining this technique!! Your video made it look so easy and it was. I just made the perfect poached egg thanks to you…and now I’m hooked. I will definitely be subscribing to your YouTube channel for more recipe videos. Thank you, again.

    Rating: 5
  22. Made my most perfect poached eggs today. I always had trouble with these, but after reading this article, using a deeper pot and about a teaspoon of vinegar … I nailed it!! Compliments all around and a big thanks for your info.

    Rating: 5
  23. I’d like to address your ‘freshness’ information. Store bought eggs are NEVER fresh and it doesn’t matter if you buy them at 6am or 6pm. Store bought eggs are weeks old AND washed before they find their way onto a store cooler shelf. If you want the freshest eggs possible, research who in your area sells eggs and buy THOSE eggs! Now, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get healthy ORGANIC and truly range free eggs…but they won’t be weeks old like store bought eggs. An unwashed egg can sit safely for several weeks. Once the egg is washed and the natural protective coating is removed from the outer shell, it must be refrigerated to last any amount of time. FDA regulations require egg producers wash their eggs which is why they are always refrigerated. Now, show me a perfect foolproof hollenday sauce!!😁

  24. Love this recipe. Learned a few good tips and my poached eggs came out restaurant quality perfect! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  25. At last a diffinative answer to poached eggs. You made an old man happy in the peaceful countryside of Devon, England.

    Rating: 5
  26. Great video…can’t wait to tryWould’ve pressed thumbs up if I could find it as well as subscribe 

    Rating: 5
  27. This was my first time attempting to poach an egg and it came out PERFECT! I’m so impressed, thank you for this helpful video! 

    Rating: 5
  28. The best advice for poaching an egg ever!!!!!

    Rating: 5
  29. Perfect poached eggs for my eggs Benedict!

    Rating: 5
  30. I just found your youtube channel yesterday and I can’t stop watching your videos. They are super clear and everything you make looks soooo delicious! Thank you for sharing. I’m making this poached eggs for my husband on Sunday morning for our third anniversary. I’ve always been afraid to try but your explanation is perfect. I’m also trying your meal prep tips. Beautiful blog! 

    Rating: 5
  31. Been trying to make the perfect poached egg for years with little to no luck. Always got the total mess of loose wispy egg.Discovered your site the other day, tried your method, and WAL-AH! … PERFECT POACHED EGGS!!! Can’t thank you enough for sharing your recipe for making the perfect poached egg. My 96 yr old father thanks you also, as poached eggs with Hollandaise Sauce (Eggs Benedict) are his favorite, and I can now make them perfectly for him thanks to you.

    Rating: 5
  32. Hi, I just discovered your site and am loving it.  I just tried your boiled eggs and had mixed success.  I wonder – I live in Spain and in Europe we keep our eggs out of the fridge. Also, I think our eggs are smaller than American eggs.  Do you think that room temp eggs will affect the length of time I cook a poached egg – would I need to reduce the time? And, do you think the size of egg affects the cooking time?I did my boiled eggs for 6.5 minutes but they were not jammy – they were more like your 8-10 minute eggs.Looking forward to exploring your site and making more recipes!

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Jo – so happy you love my site! Yes, smaller room temperature eggs would definitely require less time. You’ll have to play around with the time that works best, but maybe try for a 5 minute egg next time. Let me know how it works out! :) x

  33. This recipe created a perfectly poached egg at 3 minutes! I also tried doing the 4 minute egg but I would recommend sticking to the 3 minutes as the former is rather firm in texture.

    Rating: 5
  34. This worked PERFECTLY! A three minute egg had a yolk that was perfectly runny and the whites perfectly not runny. Thanks for the very useful and easy to follow instructions!

    Rating: 5
  35. Amazing!! It worked perfectly and now I’m so impressed with myself! ;)

    Rating: 5
  36. Oh My son would love the way you prepare them, everytime I make them they end up hard boiled this is perfection ! WOW !!

    Rating: 5
  37. True story: I have NEVER poached an egg! I think I am ready to try it now. Thanks for your tips!

    Rating: 5
  38. Poached eggs are a favorite!

    Rating: 5
  39. Thanks for the detailed tips and step by step directions!

    Rating: 5
  40. Brilliant, thank you for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  41. I have always used vinegar and the sieve method and we get a perfect poached egg every time. 

    Rating: 5