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!


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


  • 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.


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
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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581 comments on “Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly”

  1. I think I can do this! Thanks5 stars

  2. Best poached eggs I’ve ever made! Thank you for the brilliant tips!!!5 stars

  3. Perfect! with one addition: make sure the raw egg has been brought to room temperature to obtain consistant results.

  4. A brilliant video with lots of tips and easy to follow recipe 5 stars

  5. Have to say that I’ve just followed your instructions and they were the best poached eggs I’ve ever done.
    Thank you for the advice5 stars

  6. This was so helpful! I made hollandaise sauce with my leftover egg yolks from macarons, and made eggs benedict for my in laws. I had never poached an egg before. Thank you so much!5 stars

    • Wow! Great way to make use of that leftover hollandaise sauce Samantha. Glad this helped you create the perfect eggs Benedict :)

  7. This was awesome. Perfect poached eggs! Thank you very much.5 stars

  8. It’s the tips & tricks! Excellent site for perfect poached eggs!5 stars

  9. Awesome, Lisa!
    Thank you,
    The Bertrams5 stars

  10. Excellent tutorial. Very detailed and easy to follow5 stars

  11. Hi there! Thank you for doing all your poached egg experiments and making this post to tell us what works – I love poached eggs but can’t ever seem to get them right at home! Thanks to your video I just made really great poached eggs on toast for my lunch :) x5 stars

  12. This is the first time I’ve had success with poached eggs!  I found the whites weren’t quite set enough for my liking at 3:00, and 3:30 was still a little too wet, so next time I will go to 4 min.  Thank you so much for doing the research and making the helpful video.  Great job!5 stars

  13. I couldn’t find the video. I like the tips and would have liked to have seen them used.

  14. I have always loved poached eggs but over the years and the methods I’ve used, it always turned out too messy and most of the egg was gone. Hallelujah and blessings for finding your post because I successfully enjoyed 2 eggs on toast this morning and feel both full and fulfilled, lol. Thanks! Michelle5 stars

  15. I don’t see anywhere where I can click to give you a thumbs up Lisa or no place that I can subscribe

  16. Very good demonstration5 stars

  17. First article I’ve read that realistically predicts that we don’t have access to fresh eggs. These were the first poached eggs I’ve ever tried to make that turned out perfectly! Thank you so much!5 stars

  18. Easy peasy and oh so yummy! We’ve been missing restaurant eggs benedict but between this recipe and the Downshiftology easy hollandaise recipe, we can make excellent eggs benedict at home! Try it – you won’t be disappointed.5 stars

  19. You did yourself proud with this video…and we all benefit from your extensive experimenting. Thanks so much!. I’m heading to the store to get me some eggs!! Have to give this a try…John Rielly’s method (comment 12/23/20) looks like it’s worth a try too…and I love the butter LOL! Happy, healthy 2021!

  20. Any eggs I have tried to make of any kind could not be called eggs after I have done them. Chickens would stop laying eggs if they saw what I was doing. They always turned out as  a disaster until watched this tutorial. I took them up to my wife for breakfast in bed and she was very impressed. So was I. I did twice in a row and made some extra for breakfast in the week. Worked both times and no mess to speak off. Thank you very much. 5 stars

  21. Thank you! Best advice ever!5 stars

  22. I found a much simpler way to get effectively a poached egg. Use a fry pan with a cover. Put a small pat of butter in the pan, and set the heat on medium/low. Melt the butter across the bottom of the pan, crack eggs into the pan, add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook for a few minutes until whites are firm, yolk is liquid.

    Some may call this cheating as it starts out as a fried egg, but adding the 1/4 cup of water steams the egg white without flipping. And this has all of the taste of a poached egg. No whispies, no fooling around with a sieve, no worrying about whether the water boiling to briskly, not waiting for the water to boil. Easy peasy.

  23. Wow!!!  I just made my first perfect poached egg!!  Thanks Lisa.  5 stars

  24. Lovely instructions!!! You taught me how to make my first poached egg and it worked phenomenally. Thanks so much :)5 stars

  25. Hi! Thank you so much for this recipe :) also could you tell me the maker of those plates? 
    They are so pretty!! 

    • Hi Coco – Those plates are actually made by a local ceramicist, but unfortunately she doesn’t carry the same ones anymore.

  26. A very good teacher ! Great recipe…5 stars

  27. Excellent explaination and presentation – thank you!5 stars

  28. Awesome. I loved this video. Thanks so much as I love the perfect poached egg but never knew how to do it correctly. I’m so excited. It’s breakfast time here so I’m going to make a few. I’m starving. With Welsh rarebit. Thank you again.5 stars

  29. Loved the video!! Very helpful!!5 stars

  30. Made my 1st poached egg this morning! It came out perfect! Soo delish! Thank you soo much!!5 stars

  31. Haven’t tried it yet but I can’t find the “thumbs up” place!

  32. Thank you Lisa for the great tips! I used to guess when the eggs are ready and at the end I was giving the good ones to the guest and left the broken ones to myself. Now they turn out perfect every time!5 stars

  33. Awesome, thank you. I love poached eggs but have never been able to have them come out right. I have used your instructions three times now and each one has worked “perfectly”. I also found that after I have strained the egg I can put two eggs in the same glass bowl to gently slide into the vortex of water and they separate into two perfect poached eggs. I’m going to try three at a time next and see how many I can do at once. Who knew poached eggs could be so much fun.
    Thanks again.5 stars

  34. Worked! Thank you so much for your wisdom and pursuit :)5 stars

  35. 👍 perfect5 stars

  36. Great, I am just about to poach my eggs. Glad i choose your website…good visuals!

  37. Thank you. This was very helpful. I never knew how long to cook the poached egg. Now I know and I will try for breakfast this morning.5 stars

  38. What happens If you do the recipe exactly as written but without using vinegar?

  39. Made poached eggs in past but always had the wispy tails. Followed your instructions to the T and they were perfect. Will be making these often now. My daughter turned me on to your site and I am glad she did.5 stars

  40. I FINALLY gave this a go. As Lisa mentioned in her write up, I always order poached eggs from restaurants but I’ve never made them myself. In fact, the thought never crossed my mind to try. Even after this video first aired, it took me a bit to attempt. I wish I hadn’t waited. I could have had amazing poached eggs all of quarantine. I followed the directions and had no issues. I definitely think watching the video helps in unison with the written instructions. If you are on the fence, please just give this a try. Even if you have a few wispies, it’ll still be delicious. :)5 stars

  41. Oh man. I followed this exactly. To the letter. Everything looked exactly like the video. Poured the egg in and it was a total disaster. It went everywhere in the water. No clue why it didn’t work for me. 

  42. Awesome job. This was so helpful thank you. my family loves these especially when they don’t feel well & I had no idea how to do it. Thanks again5 stars

  43. Great and well researched. Glad to hear about the elimination of the salt. No I get it. Thank you 5 stars

  44. You don’t say how to cook several at once. Do i drop them in the “vortex” together??? 

    • Hi Lisa – if you’re cooking multiple eggs it’s best not to do the vortex, otherwise they can stick together. It’s best to place them in the pot in a circular fashion around the edge.

  45. You my dear are a natural born story teller.  I’ve never heard pouching eggs described more clearly or leave you with the confidence that anyone can do this!  Thank you for such a great post!5 stars

  46. Whoa. First and second time making them ever and off this recipe. Perfectly executed. And a huge kiss from my wife. Perfect KETO breakfast. 5 stars

  47. Can’t wait to try it! One question-I’m assuming your eggs are at room temperature. Does the cooking time change if the eggs are stored in the fridge?

  48. The easiest, best poached eggs I’ve ever made!5 stars