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 477 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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970 Comments

  1. “Ah, the elusive art of poaching eggs. It’s like a delicate dance between water and egg, where perfection is the ultimate goal. I must say, this article truly captures the essence of mastering the poached egg technique. The step-by-step instructions provided here are a culinary symphony that promises to elevate our breakfast game to extraordinary heights. From the precise water temperature to the gentle swirl that creates that beautiful, pristine shape, these tips are pure gold. As I read through each sentence, I could almost taste the velvety yolk and the heavenly marriage of textures. Thank you for sharing these invaluable insights on the path to poached egg perfection. With this knowledge, we can now embark on a journey to conquer brunch and impress our friends and loved ones with our newfound culinary prowess. Cheers to the joy of poached eggs done right!”5 stars

  2. My eggs came out perfectly! I didn’t use a sieve, instead I trimmed the whispy bits while the egg was cooking.
    One question- I’ve always used room temperature eggs but I noticed that yours came straight from the fridge. Does the egg temperature change the outcome or do you have any recommendations? Thanks!5 stars

  3. You definitely nailed this one! I have struggled with flat, ‘wispie’-treading, poached eggs even when using the vortex and vinegar recommendations, but I believe the key here was the sieve. I did only one egg in a small saucepan, so I didn’t get quite the 4-inch water level you suggested (closer to 3 inches) and my egg was definitely not fresh-from-the-farm, but it turned out perfectly poached! I would have taken a picture, but it was so good, I ate it before that occurred to me.5 stars

  4. Most informative. Off to the kitchen. I could not find the thumbs-up. But I would give 2 thumbs up.5 stars

    1. Second attempt at making poach eggs but this time I followed your technique. Best one so far! I appreciate the video! Thank you!5 stars

  5. Thank you!! I’m a visual learner and the video was incredibly helpful. I was successful on my first attempt!5 stars

  6. Helpful for someone who’s never made this before but I cooked for 5+ minutes and still came out runny whites, which was hugely disappointing. 4 stars

  7. This recipe accomplished exactly what I wanted. My eggs were not brand new, but they turned out perfectly. I cooked mine for 3 1/2 minutes. Perfect eggs, thank you.

  8. Oh wow – my poached eggs are getting better and better / thank you so much for all this advice 
    Dave the nearly perfect Poacher5 stars

  9. Best poached eggs I have ever made. Three minutes and the sieve trick is the beat! Thanks so much.5 stars

  10. First time to make poached eggs and it worked! Came out perfect. And so easy to follow the instructions. Thank you!5 stars

  11. Hi Lisa!! I was so excited to try and make poached eggs this morning after watching your video. This was my first time doing it. I ran into the problem where my egg sunk to the bottom and stayed there. When I was trying to clean my pot I realized that the egg was sitting at the bottom and cooking there which is why it could never float. What did I do wrong? I did follow your instructions with buying brand new eggs, using a strainer, swirling vortex, vinegar, etc and I’m still struggling to see where I fell short. If you have any solutions I would greatly appreciate all advice. Thank you!! 

    1. Hi Taylor – you can still swirl water around the egg (gently) to prevent it from sitting on the bottom. Hope your next try turns out even better!

  12. This gives a perfect poached egg every time. Thanks for the sieve tip… that made all the difference in the world. I erased all my other “poached egg” pins after trying this one. 🤭

  13. These poached eggs turned out perfectly! I prefer mine cooked a bit longer so left them in the pot for 4 minutes instead of 3. I was amazed they kept their form and the texture was perfect.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  14. I made the BEST poached eggs today (3 in total) and it was my first time doing it! :)
    Definitely going to make this more often going forward. Thanks a mil!5 stars

  15. Your video was easy to follow and to duplicate. Thank You for making this recipe doable :) I will definitely tell my friends about your website and videos.5 stars

  16. This technique works perfectly; I love your comment that people order poached but don’t do it at home, for all the reasons stated. Now I will never fear making beautiful poached eggs at home!  Thanks so much, Marc (retired and now cooking 😂😂😂)5 stars

  17. Poached eggs demystified. Your video makes me hungry for these snow white runny beauties of scrumptious protein.
    Thank you, Cook.5 stars

  18. FINALLY!! A poached egg method that actually WORKED for me!
    I had leftover creamed spinach and rather than waste it, I wanted to put it on a toasted English Muffin & top it with a poached egg.
    This was PERFECT! Fried egg, soft-boiled egg, poached egg, I want to be able to dip a piece of toast in it.. if I want hard boiled, I’ll make one – HATE middle-of-road yolks!
    THANK YOU!! :-)5 stars

  19. There’s no going back. Perfect poached eggs on my first try. Followed these directions to a T. Just fulfilled a 2023 resolution to stop making vinegar-y, thread-y eggs. Thank you Lisa.5 stars

  20. WOW! I have never had anyone explain that you can make poached eggs ahead of time and re-warm them up. This is a game-changer for me! I have spinach and smoked salmon on hand–I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow, and then an easy avocado toast the next morning–Thank you so much!5 stars

  21. Thank you for sharing your method and experience. This is the first time my poached eggs succeeded. Now you can count on it that this will be my weekend breakfast. I loved it. 5 stars

  22. My first attempt at poaching an egg (actually 3 eggs) was a winner. Your instructions gave me the courage to try this for company. Worked perfectly. The eggs were perched atop servings of smoked salmon hash.5 stars

  23. Thank you for the detailed instructions and explanations of why the usual methods aren’t as successful as yours.
    My poached eggs on toast were as pretty as yours and had lovely soft texture.5 stars

  24. This is the first time I made poached eggs, and they turned out beautifully. Thanks to Lisa for all her research and “do’s” and “don’ts”.5 stars