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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Recipe Rating




970 Comments

  1. The perfectly poached egg is a beautiful thing, filling your belly with radiant joy. Followed your advice (used fine mesh & 1T rice wine vinegar) and am over the moon with the results; thank you!5 stars

  2. Hello. Happened upon your website today- great tips! Made this delicacy for breakfast.
    Will teach skill to my granddaughter (age 9).
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Conny – Welcome to Downshiftology! I’m glad these tips helped you create the perfect poached egg.

  3. Never made a poached egg before today but following your directions, I made a pretty perfect poached egg!!! Thank you soooo much!! I will definitely be making more of these!!5 stars

    1. I’m grateful that you shared! I just started preparing poached eggs.For the first time, poaching eggs worked flawlessly, and these eggs had the best appearance!

  4. Thank you for sharing! I’ve recently started making poached eggs for avocado toast. These were the best looking eggs of all my attempts! Thanks!5 stars

  5. Hi Lisa, I feel lucky finding your blog by googling how to poach eggs, after a few not so great results. I just made and ate my first perfect poached eggs (at home). Just a few little tweaks making such a difference! Thanks heaps from Aotearoa New Zealand

  6. I found your video along w/ the recipe amazingly helpful. I absolutely love poached eggs (so much so I even have a microwave cooker for them) but can never get them just right. The draining of the excess liquid did the trick! Thank you for making my favorite breakfast better for me. I shall follow you on Facebook.5 stars

      1. It worked great! My poached egg was delicious. I will cook only 2.5 minutes next time, since I line the yolk a little less cooked. Otherwise, excellent recipe. Thank you.5 stars

  7. 3 minutes made my eggs almost hard cooked. Not sure whaT I did wrong next time I’ll try cutting back time( not sure by how much)

  8. I’m 45 year old and I love poached eggs!! I can’t tell you howany I have made and they don’t ever ever turn out. I followed your video play by play and made 3 perfect poached eggs!!! For the 1st time ever!!!! Thank you!!5 stars

  9. PERFECTLY shaped and PERFECTLY cooked poached eggs! I will never do them any other way! I made 6 at a time and used my 12″ “everyday” pan that is about 3″ deep. I didn’t swirl the water since I was making so many but it didn’t matter; they held their shape so well! I filled the pan as full as I felt comfortable carrying across my kitchen and added a little over a Tbsp. of white vinegar before adding the eggs. I used the extra drained whites to make a small cheese omelet, as well. :) THANK YOU for these excellent tips!5 stars

  10. Wonderful video. It cleared up my confusion over the best way to make poached eggs. I no longer feel intimidated and will be trying the recipe very soon.5 stars

  11. My goodness! I am so happy my google search for “poached eggs” led me to you because your instructional video and write-up is absolute perfection! I can’t wait to fully research your website/instagram for additional recipes! 1st time trying poached eggs and they were delicious, but I do have two rather novice questions:
    1. When making just 2 eggs, do you put them both in the vortex (one after the other) or treat them as “multiple eggs” and follow the procedure outlined in your video? (I sequentially put both of mine into the vortex, which may be the reason for question #2…)
    2. After 3 minutes, one of the eggs still had a tiny bit of what appeared to be clear, uncooked egg white. Any advice on how to avoid? Perhaps it had to do with my strainer, cooking more than one egg, or I may just need to leave in a bit longer? Would love any insights.
    Overall, eggs were wonderful and can’t wait to try your recipe in the video. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Sue – I’m happy you found my tutorial video and post helpful! When making two eggs, I usually put them in one after the other in the vortex. For the egg of yours that looked slightly undercooked, I’d just leave it in the water a bit longer next time. Happy you enjoyed the poached eggs!

  12. The video was great. My eggs came out perfect.
    Would be interested in following your other cooking tips.5 stars

  13. I combined the fine mesh sieve / strainer method with the ramekin, and the vinegar water methods. First with just one ramekin. The first egg came out perfect. The second egg not so much. It came out having the wispies that you mentioned. After figuring out that I had to rinse the remaining egg white from the sieve, before cracking the next, I could prepare up to six ramekins. Then pour them the into the vinegar water, left hand then right hand. All six came out perfect. Thanks very much for this article. Eggcellent!5 stars

  14. Thank you for a clear presentation on poaching eggs. I have learned from practising your suggestions. Thanks again.
    Jeremy,
    Victoria,
    Australia.5 stars

  15. Ok, 2nd attempt after removing stringy bits worked well, but? next time I will clean the sieve after filtering each egg before cooking. The 1st egg would have won 1st prize.
    I also used to use an old aluminium tray to poach eggs, and throw away the excess white yoke because I couldn’t fit all the egg into the tray?
    I think this caused some problems with the plumbing until I woke up to this, and discarded it into the waste bin?5 stars

  16. 1st attempt last week, slight disaster?
    This weeks 2nd attempt they were perfect.
    Why? because I used Lisa’s method and it worked a treat.
    One important thing was straining of the eggs before they went into the pot, to rid the stringy bits, and using 2 desert spoonfuls of vinegar and no salt.
    A big thank you Lisa, from my wife as well, she got the benefit.5 stars

    1. Ok, 2nd attempt was just about perfect, my mistake was not cleaning the ceive after removing the 1st and 2nd stringy bits? so next time I will clean the ceive after filtering each egg before cooking. The 1st egg would have won 1st prize.
      I also used to use an old aluminium tray to poach eggs, and throw away excess white yoke because I couldn’t fit it all the egg in the tray?5 stars

  17. After years of trying to cook poached eggs, finally a recipe that worked to perfection!!! Well worth the effort of using the sieve! Thank you so much, x

  18. Great video. Cooked perfectly! I also really loved the plate. What is the name of it? Where can I get one?5 stars

  19. My grandfather used to have a basically fried egg, but butter in metal “cups” that would sit in the [heat of the] water in order to cook, would the definition of poached be right or not?

  20. No sensible person poaches an egg by putting it directly in the water – ever. Apart from the fact that some of the egg white always turns into “wispies”, there is not a slotted spoon *made* that won’t catch a lot of water with the egg in getting the egg out of the water; you will be eating egg soup, not a poached egg. If you ate well-formed poached eggs in a restaurant, it is guaranteed they were made using poaching cups.1 star

    1. I would show you the absolutely PERFECT eggs I just cooked using this method except they were all devoured before I could get my camera. (Egg soup avoided by draining eggs on paper towel before they hit the plate.. did you miss that part ?) Full disclosure .. I didn’t have a slotted spoon and just used a large metal spoon to remove them and then drained them into the pot while holding the egg on with a smaller spoon. Not a drop of water on my plate.

      100 % fabulous recipe, my compliments to the Chef !

    2. Keep in mind that these special poaching devices are not available to everybody. I have gone to every store in the area where I live and they are just not sold anymore. I tried a microwave one and it sucked. It just made all of the eggs come out differently. Lisa’s method works perfect.

  21. I can’t thank you enough! I just made two perfect poached eggs.  I love the way you went through all of the tips that are usually given, I’ve used all of them usually at the same time, and showed how they worked or didn’t work. I’m not sure I would try doing masses of poached eggs, but these were so good if I needed to I would use your recipe/method.

  22. Thank you so much for the recipe!!! I always thought poached eggs were so intimidating to make but it was actually super easy (followed your recipe)!! I also copied your asparagus recipe in the video (but I used broccoli instead) so I ended up serving my poached egg on a bed of garlic lemon broccoli and prosciutto- so delicious! Thanks again for easy recipes!♥️5 stars

    1. Glad you overcame your fear and can now make poached eggs! Love the way you served it as well, Jinna.

  23. Did you try the eggs at room temperature or straight from the fridge? I ask because farmers aren’t fussed about getting eggs into a cooler temp environment.

  24. Wow!!! My favorite egg cooked to perfection finally! Thank you for these tips.  I’ve tried at home before with mostly fails and thought I could only enjoy poached eggs at a restaurant 5 stars