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.

Poached Eggs Recipe

4.99 from 250 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 3 mins
Total Time: 8 mins
Servings: 1 egg
Author: Lisa Bryan
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
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581 comments on “Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly”

  1. This recipe made PERFECT poached eggs!  I used the sieve, along with vinegar and it made all the difference!
    Thank you!! 5 stars

  2. Finally made perfect poached eggs!!! Thanks for the tips!5 stars

  3. Excellent advice!5 stars

  4. After watching your video, I made my first ever poached egg. It turned out great! Thank you!5 stars

  5. I started screaming I was so excited!!! I made my first perfect poached egg after 41 years of marriage. I did exactly as you instructed in your video and la la perfect poached egg! 5 stars

  6. I was tired of broken yolks, whispy whiteys, and overcooked centers. I made perfect poached eggs following these steps. WaHOO!!5 stars

  7. I don’t have a comment; it’s a question. Do you store the eggs in the ice water, or just cool them and then store them dry?5 stars

  8. Thanks for the perfect poached egg recipe.
    I followed it to the tee and they came out beautiful!5 stars

  9. Thankyou for sharing this “how to” for poaching eggs – looking forward to cooking brilliant poached eggs in the future.5 stars

  10. I followed your instructions and for the first time I was able to make the perfect poached eggs this morning! Thank you!5 stars

  11. I’ve tried making poached eggs over the years and they never turn out.. I watched your video and followed your instructions and my two poached eggs were perfect, first try!!  I love poached eggs, so thank you! 5 stars

  12. Thank you for sharing this recipe and the methods. Awesome. More power!5 stars

  13. Thank you for this! I already knew about the vinegar and swirling the water, but straining the raw egg is a game changer! I just made perfect poached eggs this morning with no weird stringy whites at all. 5 stars

  14. Thank you so much for this, wish I knew this year’s ago thank you thank you

  15. This worked wonders!! Thankyou for the post5 stars

  16. Didn’t work for me ☹️ followed the recipe instructions exactly but ended up with hard dry yolks and egg white fitness surface scum! Not impressed

    • Hi Beverley – I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. If your yolks were hard, it sounds like you may have cooked them a little bit too long. Try reducing the cook time on your next batch! :)

    • Unfortunately, I ended up with similar. 3 minutes seemed to be a touch too long. While there was a tiny little bit of runniness in the centre, the egg was more cooked than I would have hoped for.

      Certainly, an easy fix for next time though as the rest of the steps seemed to work great and it was still very edible!4 stars

  17. Thank you! Can finally poach an egg with confidence.  I like you teaching style and gentle smooth and friendly process. Look forward to watching new lessons.5 stars

  18. Hello, Thank you for the video. We use Duck eggs in our house, Which are double in size to a chicken egg. How long would you recommend keeping them cooking in the water ? 

    • Hi Tarah – oh gosh, I’ve never cooked with duck eggs before. But if they’re double the size you might want to start with 6 minutes and then increase or decrease the time from there.

  19. I loved the orderly, easy to follow instructions5 stars

  20. Loved your video. Thank you :)5 stars

  21. Hi again, Lisa! I’m on a bit of a poached egg roller coaster … sometimes it works beautifully, and sometimes horribly. One trend that I’ve noticed is that my store-bought eggs always fall and hold together in the water in those initial first submerged seconds better than my farm-fresh eggs. The farm-fresh eggs always end up with a yolk on the outside, without being covered by the egg white. Do you know whether there’s something added to store-bought eggs that helps them to retain their yolk at the center? Or anything else that would account for this?

    • Hi Virlana – yes, store-bought eggs are produced differently to farm-fresh eggs. And eggs from different countries are produced differently as well. That’s why eggs in the US need to be refrigerated, when they don’t have to be refrigerated in certain other countries. There are a lot of variables.

  22. Tried making poached eggs about a half dozen times now. This method is hands down the best and the easiest way. Perfect . Thank You!!5 stars

  23. Brilliant demonstration and great recipe. My poached egg results are always hit and miss but sure this will help me get more consistent results. Thank you 5 stars

  24. Never made a poached egg before in my life, but my daughter is returning to school today and wanted eggs Benedict, so I used your recipe. Everything turned out great! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.5 stars

  25. For the first time in my life I made a perfect poached egg!  Fabulous!!!5 stars

  26. Wonderful! Going to the kitchen now.5 stars

  27. Thank you so much for your marvelous egg videos!
    Only wish you’d
    shown adding a 2nd egg being added to the vortex. That’s where I have difficulty. Thinking you can easily shoot a close-up of adding the 2nd egg and drop that footage into your existing video line without much extra work. That’d be great! Thank you again.5 stars

    • Hi Mary- Happy to hear this method worked out for you! I will definitely keep that in mind next time.

      • How do you add a 2nd egg, to the swirling vortex (once one is already in)? If that isn’t too obtuse a question… BTW, thank you for your diligent answers and terrific cook-changing videos. (And for not blabbing endlessly, but using your words to convey important information. ) Your site is a jewel!

      • Thanks so much for the kind words, Mary! If I’m adding a second egg, I’ll usually just wait 30 seconds or so after the first, and then drop it in next to it. It might not have the perfect vortex shape, but that’s fine.

  28. So helpful! I made the most perfect poached egg. The strainer idea worked. I made a single poached egg over 1/2 an onion bagel with a single slice of ham topped with hollandaise sauce and fresh herbs from MY garden! Thanks for the tips!5 stars

  29. Thank you so much for the excellent tips.
    My poached egg turned out perfect!!5 stars

  30. Best poached eggs I have ever made, they never turned out.  Thank you for the easy to follow directions and suggestions.5 stars

  31. Great job I really appreciated it.5 stars

  32. I appreciate how you clearly say what to do AND why to do it that way. Your discussion of salt and vinegar was particularly helpful.5 stars

  33. So easy and perfect! Thank you!5 stars

  34. Loved the recipe. Very thorough & detailed. Can’t wait to make more recipes.5 stars

  35. 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! 5 stars

    • I followed this recipe and it resulted in hard yolks at 3 minutes. I reduced to 2.30 and they were cooked to perfection. 
      Putting the eggs through a sieve certainly makes a difference, thank you for that tip.

  36. 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. 🤢

  37. 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

  38. 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!

  39. Tried it now and its so Perfect!!! Thank you! suddenly its like so easy5 stars

  40. 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!5 stars

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

  41. !!!5 stars

    • 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!5 stars

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

  42. I have never attempted to make poached eggs before. I followed your recipe and the resulting poached eggs were PERFECT. Thanks!5 stars

    • 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!5 stars

  43. The very perfect egg,I’ve been a breakfast cook for 40 years and this is amazing!!!5 stars

  44. 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.5 stars

    • 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 :)

  45. 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.5 stars

    • I’m so glad this method worked wonders for you! Now you’ll have perfectly poached eggs every time :)

  46. 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!5 stars

  47. Sweet Success in the first try! 😊5 stars

  48. 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! 5 stars

  49. My very first perfectly cooked poached egg after many failed attempts! Thank you5 stars

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