Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

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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 up to 2 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.

Poached Eggs Recipe

4.98 from 492 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 8 minutes
Servings: 1 egg
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Poached eggs are a delicious, easy, healthy breakfast recipe. Watch my video below and learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!

Video

Ingredients 
 

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

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  • 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
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




1,008 Comments

  1. I’ve always wanted to make poached eggs. I tried this. Your video really helped me. Took me twice to do it, but it turned out awesome! I did the asparagus and prosciutto as well. Super yummy! Thank you! I well definitely do this again.5 stars

  2. This is the perfect soft poached egg! I have always used the metal egg poacher cups, but this is even better. The tip about the sieve is the answer to shape, and creating the vortex is fun. I will always use this method from now on.
    I have just purchased Lisa’s Healthy Meal Prep, since I so often enjoy her videos and recipes. I love cooking and find her suggestions are healthy, super tasty, easy, good for guests and everyday meals. I have suggested her site to my family and friends.5 stars

  3. It worked! I’ve made poached eggs before but have never been happy with how they looked. Following your tips and advice, I got beautiful poached eggs! Thank you5 stars

  4. Personally I don’t want my poached egg ‘flat’; I want it as close as possible to its original egg-like shape. Which is why – having tried the ramekin method many times – I prefer to crack the egg into the water if only making one or two poached eggs. Salt is important for some reason known only to the cooking chemists, as there is a chemical reaction between the water, salt and white wine vinegar that helps to keep the egg together. Very few wispy trails. I also use duck rather than hen eggs, as duck eggs have a richer yolk.4 stars

  5. I’m curious Lisa, why do you not use the traditional little metal cups to get pouched eggs?

  6. I wound up cooking the eggs one at a time, which is kind of a pain, but I was busy assembling and making other stuff at the same time so the no muss no fuss ‘just time the egg until it’s done’ was a relief rather than egg-frying which involves a bit of babying and praying. They came out PERFECT.5 stars

  7. My friend who lives in Byron Bay, NSW and me in Perth, WA have been exchanging tips on poached eggs for years now and must say have been frustrated with the results. So when I visited her 2 years ago she set about making poached eggs for breakfast which were just about perfect. Watched your video and memorized your tips re the fine sieve prior to transferring to the ramekin into the 4 inches of swirling water. I have been using a smaller amount of water with sort of a success but releasing the egg into the water on the edge not into the middle, (I thought the egg would splatter everywhere). My next poached egg will be, I think perfect like yours, using your tried and tested approach to poached eggs. Thank you Lisa for this great lesson. Love all of your recipes.

  8. Lisa – I never send comments, but this one time, I just HAVE to!! I followed your poached egg details and my eggs came out absolutely perfect – I’ve never made such perfect ones in my 77 years of life!! PLUS, I followed instructions to keep cooked poached eggs in the frig and they, too, came out perfect, reheating them, as you instructed, in boiling water. I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful instruction. Just goes to show, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!! 😆
    -Linda

    1. Hi Linda – Thanks so much for leaving a review! I’m glad your poached eggs turned out perfectly.

  9. Wow! Absolutely the best instructional poached egg video. They turned out great. No messy clean up! Thank you

  10. I never comment, but this was my first time poaching an egg and with these instructions I was able to perfectly the first time.5 stars

  11. I would normally not leave comments on any food video that I watch. This was actually the perfect way you show how to make something. You did an excellent job. The result is amazing. You should have your own cooking show. Thank you.

  12. Game changer using the seive. Poached eggs always frustrated me before especially for something that seems so simple to do. Thanks for the great tip, I now have perfectly poached eggs.5 stars

  13. Loved this video. Perfect for my daughter who loves poached eggs on her avocado toast and on her Ramen. Thanks so much for sharing.5 stars