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How to Make Poached Eggs with Step By Step Video and Pictures

Updated on August 20, 2012

Poached eggs

3.7 stars from 6 ratings of poached eggs

Serve poached eggs in a bowl

Poached Egg up close
Poached Egg up close
Poached Egg cooked in water
Poached Egg cooked in water

Two popular ways to poach eggs

The two most popular ways to poach an egg are cracking the egg directly into the water or by using silicon cups to hold the egg while poaching in water. The advantage for cracking the egg directly into the water is that it's the healthiest way to prepare an egg since no oil or butter is added. The advantage of using a silicon cup is that the egg holds it's shape while it's cooked.

Cook Time for Poached Eggs

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 3 min
Ready in: 8 min
Yields: up to four poached eggs

Poached Egg Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 large egg
Calories 72
Calories from Fat45
% Daily Value *
Fat 5 g8%
Saturated fat 5 g25%
Unsaturated fat 3 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Protein 6 g12%
Cholesterol 186 mg62%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Fresh eggs to poach

fresh eggs
fresh eggs

Poached Eggs Ingredients

  • 2 inches water, pan or pot with lid
  • 1 egg, up to four eggs at one time

Poached Eggs Instructions

  1. Bring 2 inches of water in a pan or pot to a very gentle boil.
  2. Crack eggs into the water as close to the water as possible to keep the egg intact while it falls into the water. If poaching more than one egg at a time, place them as far apart as possible in the pot.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat so that the water is barely boiling or there are no bubbles at all (simmering). The point before boiling is called simmering.
  4. Let the eggs poach for ninety seconds to three minutes for egg whites to be firm and the yolk runny. For a firm yolk, poach the eggs up to five minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon to drain the water from the eggs, gently remove the eggs from the water, season and serve. Poached eggs are customarily seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper and a small amount of salt.

Gently boil (simmer) two inches of water in a pot

Gently boiling water
Gently boiling water

Bring two inches of water in a pot to a gentle boil. It will take about five minutes with a medium heat on most stoves to boil two inches of water.

Crack an egg into the water

Cracking egg
Cracking egg

Crack the egg directly into the water. Get the egg as close as possible to the water and gently drop or slide the egg out of the shell into the water. The more gently this is done, it will help keep the egg together as it's poached.

The egg will float in the water as it's poached

Egg floating in water
Egg floating in water

Turn the heat on the stove down once the egg is in the water. At this point, the water should be barely boiling or just on the precipitous of boiling.

Cover the pot while the egg poaches

Covered pot
Covered pot

Cover the pot while the egg is poached in the gently boiling water. It's critical that the water is barely boiling, or the egg can fall apart or over cook creating a hard yolk.

Remove the egg with a slotted spoon

Egg getting removed with slotted spoon
Egg getting removed with slotted spoon

For a perfectly cooked poached egg where the egg whites are firm, but the yolk is soft and runny, remove the egg using a slotted spoon from the water after two minutes of cooking time. For firm egg yolks or well done eggs, cook them up to five minutes.

Drain the water from the egg through the slotted spoon over the pot to prevent water from dripping on the counter.

Place the egg directly into a small bowl to serve. Poached eggs may be seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and be sure to serve them hot.

If the eggs appear under cooked, it's important to remember that eggs will continue to cook for a few minutes once they are removed from the water. Let them sit for one to three minute to firm up before eating.

Poaching eggs in silicone cups

From brownies to eggs, almost any single serving can be cooked in silicone cups. Silicone cups come in several different shapes and sizes. Some are individual, while others are carved out in the shape of a pan. For poaching eggs, individual cups are recommended.

Crack eggs into silicone cups

Eggs in silicone cups
Eggs in silicone cups

Spay Pam into the cups or rub them with butter to prevent eggs from sticking to the cups. Crack the eggs directly into the cups.

Place silicone cups with eggs into gentle boiling water

Eggs in cups sitting in boiling water
Eggs in cups sitting in boiling water

Bring two to four inches of water to a gentle boil with medium heat. It should take about five to ten minutes for the water to boil. Place the cups gently into the water. If the water is deep enough, the cups should float on top of the water. Turn the heat down to a low medium heat. This should reduce the water from a boil and prevent the water from boiling over the cups and possible tipping them.

Remove the egg from the cup and serve

Poached egg in dish
Poached egg in dish

Buy Poached Egg Cups

Fusionbrands PoachPod The Original Silicone, Floating Egg Poaching Cup, Green, 2 pack
Fusionbrands PoachPod The Original Silicone, Floating Egg Poaching Cup, Green, 2 pack
These cups hold one egg and will float in a low boiled pot of water which is perfect for poaching eggs. Be sure to spray with Pam to prevent the egg from sticking. The cups then clean up nicely by placing them in the dishwasher

Cover the pot with a lid and let the water cook the eggs for four to five minutes. Eggs will cook a bit more slowly in silicone cups than submerged in water. Check the eggs at four minutes to see if the egg whites are firm, but the yolk is still soft. If the egg whites are translucent and runny, keep cooking until they are white.

Remove the cups from the water and use a rubber spatula to remove them from the cups into a bowl for serving. The Pam used in the earlier step should help the eggs slide right out of the cup and into the bowl.

Poached Eggs vs Soft Boiled Eggs

Poached eggs and soft boiled eggs are pretty much the same thing when you poach your eggs in a poached egg cup. The only difference is with soft boiled eggs, you cook the eggs in the shell and then crack and peel them after they are done cooking. I prefer poaching because it's easier to just crack the egg and put it in the cup then it is to boil and then crack the egg gently and peel off the shell.

One of my favorite easy breakfast meals is to poach an egg and serve it on a piece with toast. When I was a kid, my mom called this preparation a One Eyed Jack. Fun and delicious.

Example of an egg cooked in water and vinegar

Egg white congealed by cooking in vinegar and water
Egg white congealed by cooking in vinegar and water

Our Poached Eggs Kitchen Tests

Poached Egg Technique
Using water with no additives
Creates the best tasting egg, but the shape tends to be a bit spread out and the water breaks off pieces of the egg white
We take taste over appearance. This technique creates the best tasting poached egg with a light egg white
Adding vinegar to the water
Adding vinegar to the water helps the egg white firm up quickly. Try to drizzle an egg white into simmering water with vinegar and it will firm up in the shape of the drizzle.
While white vinegar, rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar helped the egg whites hold their shape, the egg whites cooked this way will have a more solid tasting texture, and a sensitive pallet will be able to taste the vinegar. For appearance, this is the best technique, but not for taste.
Poaching multiple eggs at the same time
In a four quart pot, we were able to poach for eggs at the same time by spreading them apart as evenly as possible.
If the water is past simmering, the eggs will shift and stick together. For cooking more than one egg at a time turn the water down to a low simmer.
Using a toothpick to poke a whole and then firm up the egg
Using a fork prong, we poked a small hole in the egg, and put it in water for 30 seconds. The egg partially cooks and then is cracked into the water. Our results were poor. The whites chunked off at impact with the water.
The partially cooked in the shell technique didn't result in a well shaped egg, but it tasted fine.
Swirling the water and cracking the egg into the center
While it's kind of fun to watch the egg swirl in the water, our tests show that this does little if nothing to hold the shape of the egg whether it's cooked in water or with added vinegar
The shape of the egg was only positively influenced by the addition of two table spoons of vinegar for every two quarts of water. Swirling, while often recommended had no noticeable impact on the results.
Eggs cooked in silicon cups
The eggs poached in silicon cups had the same flavor as the eggs cooked in water, and had a very consistent compact shape
We still prefer the cooked in water technique since no extra oil is used, but for folks concerned with a nice compact shape, this is the best way to achieve it.

Seasoned Poached Eggs

Poached eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
Poached eggs seasoned with salt and pepper

Three Ways to Season Poached Eggs

Seasoning poached eggs is personal preference. We taste tested several combinations of spices to come up with our top three recommendations.

  • Salt and pepper freshly cracked on the eggs was the most popular choice between four tasters. All agreed that the proper amount of seasoning added to the egg enhanced the flavor and met their expectations on what a poached egg should taste like.
  • Truffle salt was ranked the number one way to season poached eggs. The adult judges overwhelming chose the eggs seasoned lightly with the enhanced salt. It adds a significant richness to the flavor, and the aroma of truffle adds a distinctive aspect to the eggs. Our younger panel of tasters didn't like the the surprising flavor and passed on more than the initial bite.
  • Cayenne pepper, black pepper and seasoned salt. A dash of cayenne pepper was added with seasoned salt and equal parts cracked black pepper. Cayenne pepper is a spicy seasoning that turns a mild dish into a hot and flavorful dish. Small amounts of cayenne tested well with pallets that enjoy an aspect of spice with their eggs. In a less popular test, these same people enjoyed tabasco sauce on their poached eggs as well.

Why I don't like vinegar or salt in the water

Some people recommend adding a few tablespoons of vinegar and salt to the water to help the egg stay together while it's cooking. My tests show that if you do this that an unseasoned egg will pick up some of the flavor. For people that are particular about the shape of their eggs, they can be firmed up a bit by cooking them like soft boiled eggs for about twenty seconds in the simmering water, removing them from the pot with a slotted spoon, and then cracking them open into the water. A little time in simmering water will help them keep their shape.


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