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How to poach an egg

Updated on October 15, 2012

What's the best way to poach an egg? They have a reputation for being more difficult than they really are.

Poached eggs are a delicious and healthy way to enjoy eggs. The ideal poached egg has a soft runny yolk surrounded by a cooked egg white.

Poaching eggs is a simple art to master. Fresh eggs give the best results as the egg white will stay clinging around the yolk resulting in the best type of poached egg.

The traditional method of poaching eggs gives consistently good results, as do those cooked in egg poaching pans or pan inserts. The cling-wrap method is popular with those who have difficulty with the traditional method.

Traditional Method for Poaching Eggs

Follow these directions for easy poached eggs



Splash of white vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste


Fill a large pot or deep saucepan with water

Bring to a gentle simmer between 160 and 185 degrees

Add a splash of white vinegar to the water

Swirl the water with a spoon to form a whirl pool

Crack the egg and drop it into the centre of the whirlpool

Let the egg cook in the water for 2 to 4 minutes

Remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon

The acid in the vinegar causes the eggs to cook faster. If the whirlpool spins too fast it can pull the eggs apart. The egg should be dropped in from as close to the water as possible. This is made easier if each egg is first broken into a small dish and then slid gently into the whirlpool.

Determining when the eggs are done is a matter of practice as it is affected by the size of the eggs used, whether they are room temperature or straight from the fridge, water temperature, the number of eggs being cooked in the pan together, and personal preference. A medium size egg at room temperature generally takes 2 mins 30s to 2 mins 40s but 3 mins if straight from the fridge.

How to Poach an Egg Using the Cling Wrap Method

Line a small dish or cup with a piece of plastic wrap, leaving an overhang and spray with cooking oil

Crack an egg into the cup then pull the wrap upwards and twist the top

Lower the wrapped egg into simmering water

Poach egg for 4-6 min or until cooked to your liking

Remove egg from water, unwrap and serve

Eggs cooked this way may have a slightly wrinkled look but taste similar to those cooked directly in water.

Poached Egg Trivia

Did you know that:

Eggs can be poached in milk.

Using red wine vinegar instead of white can alter the colour of the eggs.

To make poached green eggs; poach the eggs in green tea.

The most popular poached eggs recipe is Eggs Benedict.

The whirlpool should be spinning clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and anti clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

Egg-and-Muffin Toaster

Make delicious egg-and-muffin sandwiches at home in about four minutes with this multi-function toaster. The appliance can toast up to four slices of bread, English muffins, bagels, or croissants, while it simultaneously steam-poaches eggs and warms pre-cooked meat. It can also hard- or soft-boil up to eight eggs at a time thanks to the included egg basket. In addition to heating up pre-cooked meat, the two included meat trays can be used to heat slices of tomato or pineapple to accompany toast or a breakfast sandwich--the options are endless.

Foolproof poached eggs

Poach Pods (Set of 2) Poach it, bake it mold it! The poachpod is a flexible silicone cooking tool for poaching eggs, baking and molding. The poachpod allows you to float and poach an egg in boiling water like a lily pad on a pond. When the egg is ready, flip the nonstick pod inside out and gently push the perfectly domed shaped egg out. Place the pod in the dishwasher for easy clean up. Includes: Set of 2 Poach pods (1 dark and 1 light green)

Perfect poached eggs

Prepare a single poached egg perfectly with this 1-Egg Poacher by R.S.V.P. The little 2-cup pan holds one nonstick egg cup and includes a lid. Made of 18/10 stainless steel with a 5.75-in. handle. Dishwasher safe. Includes directions and recipes.

Do you have your own poached egg tricks you would like to share? - Or maybe a great product you think we should try?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      As much as I like eggs you'd think I now how to do this. Thanks for the tutorial!

    • profile image

      akunsquidoku 5 years ago

      Great lens, amazing job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Ah the elusive perfect poached egg. The problem with the swirling technique is that you can only do one egg at a time. The problem with a deep pan of water is that it takes an inordinately long time to get hot, lots of energy, lots of time for just an egg. Plus you have to use more vinegar for more water. Also, dropping in a deep pan can tear the egg up a bit on so long a drop. But the problem with a shallow pan is that it's likely to stick. Cracking the eggs into something else greased up first to baby them into the water, then going through the same process with each egg is too much fuss for some people (me).

      I've tried a lot of things, aiming for convenience AND good results. This is what works best for me. Usually I use a small non-stick 4" deep 1-1/2 qt saucepan, one T vinegar, water just below boiling (the egg will reduce the temp a bit, so almost boiling is a good place to start). Once the egg(s) are in the water for about 30 sec or so so partly formed, I gently slide a very flexible spatula under them to detach any sticking parts.

      Then simmer to taste. For me, I time with the toaster: Lower the the English muffins into the toaster right after the eggs are in the water. When the toaster pops up, breakfast is ready.

      Also Julia Child has an interesting tip. She lowers the uncooked egg into the water for about 15 seconds (she says 10, but I've counted, it's longer), before cracking it into the water. This helps it stay together. This is also some degree more fuss than I like, but at least it doesn't get something else dirty, and it's quicker than you might think because you can lower more than one egg at a time (like in a small sieve) then crack one right after the other.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 6 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Thank you for a lesson on something I've had problems doing.