Fried Egg Advice, From a Few Professionals

September 20, 2014

In our Phone a Friend column, we'll be asking some of our friends around the food world about how they cook and eat. And we want you to join the conversation, too. 

Today: We talk to the experts about how they make and take their fried eggs.

Fried Rice Recipe

After learning to boil pasta, the second thing most people master in the kitchen is how to fry an egg. And while it can be an easy task, perfecting this breakfast staple (and excellent addition to any meal) can take some time and wisdom. But once you have your favorite recipe and technique mastered, you'll be frying eggs all the time -- so you can add them to fried rice, sandwiches, pasta, and more. We asked some of the experts to weigh in on how they cook and eat their fried eggs.

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More: Get your frying pan ready.

Alison Roman, Senior Associate Food Editor, Bon Appétit: I have a tiny 6-inch cast-iron skillet that I pretty much exclusively use for frying eggs, because when do I eat that little of anything? Never. Anyway, I heat said skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil. Crack an egg right in there and season the white with salt, pepper, maybe some chili flakes if I'm feeling wild. I’ll rotate the skillet occasionally to make sure the heat is even, but other than that, no touching, fussing, basting, or flipping. After about 2 minutes, you’ll get the dreamiest egg: slightly puffy, kind of crispy whites with a super runny yolk.

Perfect Fried Egg

Michael Ruhlman, cookbook author (he even wrote a book on eggs!): I fry eggs a couple of ways. Using very gentle heat, I sauté them in butter in a good nonstick pan for a very delicate, flavorful egg. If I’m not serving them over-easy, I cover the pan so that the top of the egg cooks; otherwise the bottom overcooks and the top is raw.

But my favorite way to fry an egg is in vegetable oil over super-high heat, so high you don't need a nonstick pan. I also cover the pan so the top cooks. The result of the high heat is a white with crispy edges. I like to serve this on top of a Korean bibimbap. (You can find the recipe here.)

More: Make a fried egg for dinner tonight.

Nicholas Day, writer and Food52 columnist and dad-in-residence: If I want the yolk really runny and the whites crispy, then I heat the pan briefly over medium-high, add olive oil, let warm, then crack the egg and let it cook unmolested. I do salt the whites, though, since I once read -- maybe this is from Hervé This? -- that the whites cook faster if you salt them, thus solving the stubbornly-undone-whites problem. This is better in theory than in practice, but I like it in theory so I do it anyway.

If I want the yolk somewhat less than totally raw, then I do the same thing but more gently -- over lower heat -- and I cover the frying pan for a bit, so the top steams and everything cooks a bit more tenderly.

I do remember in a John Thorne essay somewhere, him complaining about Russ Parsons explaining how you shouldn't fry an egg on high because you'll burn the whites, and Thorne being indignant because for him THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. Which is maybe worth finding if you're doing a comprehensive literature search.

Green Madame

Fred Morin, Chef, Joe Beef: I used to fry it low and slow, thinking excessively about how it looked. Now the butter is dark, the edges crisp, and the whole thing overly salty. Better!

Emily Vikre, a.k.a. fiveandspice, resident breakfast expert: I don't fry my eggs the same way every time, but my most frequent method is over-easy, done like this: Get a frying pan hot (sometimes I use my cast-iron pan, sometimes I just use a little nonstick guy we have hanging right near the stove), then add a big pat of butter. I let the butter melt and spread it around and wait until it has foamed and the foam subsides, and then I crack in the egg. It should sizzle right away. Then I sprinkle it with more sea salt and pepper than I probably really should. I let the egg cook until the white is pretty set, not cooked through but definitely sturdy, then I flip the egg and take the pan off the heat. I let it sit for a few moments to finish cooking the white and then serve. 

Ideally you have a fully cooked white that's crispy around the edges, a little bit of cooked yolk on either side, and then a good amount of runny yolk when you cut into the egg. Fin.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Molly Franks
    Molly Franks
  • Nan jenkins
    Nan jenkins
  • Mariusz Pierog
    Mariusz Pierog
  • Dr.Insomnia
  • GMLiang
I put chocolate chips in 95% of the things I make and am a strong proponent for lunch dessert.


Molly F. October 1, 2016
My Dad made the best fried eggs. He always used a cast iron pan, got it hot with lots of butter and then broke the egg in. The whites were always edged in crispy brown, the yokes always runny. My nephew called them fishin' eggs because you had to get up early to get Grandpa to make these, before fishin'. Fried eggs evoke a lot of emotion for me. They were a staple growing up and now always remind me of my Dad, who was the sweetest teddy bear ever.
Nan J. October 1, 2016
I know it is a cross between frying and steaming, but the best way I found to get crisp egg whites and juicy yolks is to heat up the oil until the egg is going to sizzle when dropped in, let egg cook briefly uncovered, then add a tablespoon of water and put the lid on tightly. Cook just a few more seconds until the top of the egg gets a little opaque. It is done: crisp on bottom, runny on top.
Mariusz P. June 25, 2015
Nothing better than fried eggs with mushrooms. Check it out.
Dr.Insomnia October 6, 2014
My favorite way is sunny side up, with the bacon grease spooned over the top of the egg to cook the white. But most days I'm feeling too guilty to eat bacon. On the average day I use olive oil on medium heat, cook for two minutes on one side, and one minute (at the most) on the other. This is enough to get a perfect over easy egg without crisping the edges. My significant other is not a big fan of crispy eggs, although I like them both ways.

I can't believe how many people commenting here don't like runny yolks. I'm literally content to eat nothing more than toast and a couple over easy eggs every single day. The only thing that makes me do anything differently than that is existential ennui.
GMLiang September 29, 2014
One of my favorite Fried Egg experiences is the Cantonese style fried egg or "ho bau dan" served atop a steaming mound of white rice, crispy side up, with a dab of Oyster Sauce. It's the Oyster Sauce that makes this dish spectacular. If you like Egg Foo Young, you'll love this. Fry the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of oil at medium high heat so the whites turn brown and crispy while the yolks remain liquid. When using a wok, I fry the eggs uncovered, but with a frypan, I use a lid offset to keep the oil from spattering all over the stovetop, not to steam the eggs. The lid does cook the top of the egg so take care not to overcook the yolk, as the egg is best with the yolks liquid. Even if the egg white is a little runny on top, when served on top of hot steaming rice with the crispy side up, it comes out perfect with the yolks warm and liquid. Pour a dab of Oyster Sauce right out of the bottle, and sprinkle with chopped scallions if you wish. If you're used to having some meat like bacon/ham/sausage with your eggs, you can steam the rice with some Chinese sausage "lup chung" which you simply cut up and toss into the rice cooker. Oyster Sauce and Chinese Sausage are available in your local Asian market.
Maeve R. September 28, 2014
I love scrambled eggs and like it best after I make bacon. I use some of the bacon fat and a little butter but only use one egg yolk to 3 eggs. I also like a crispy edge of the egg white, with a soft yolk, yum! Sorry, but I cant enjoy the runny egg yolk anymore, scared of salmonella. :(
adambravo September 27, 2014
If I have it, I'll use duck fat (or bacon fat) on medium heat, and add about three cloves of garlic, thinly sliced, and let that sizzle for a bit. I'll break two or three eggs on top of the sliced garlic, and season with salt, pepper, herbs de Provence, and ground chipotle...
Laura415 September 26, 2014
When I was a kid camping eggs were always the best. Mom cooked up a pound of bacon. Then the eggs were basically deep fried in bacon fat. Sometimes Dad wold bread a couple little fish in cornmeal and S&P. Those were cooked after the eggs. So good! In my continuing in the quest for the perfect egg (for me) every time. I like the whites cooked (crispy or not) and the yolk runny. Seems simple. Now I preheat for a few minutes on lowish my smallest all clad skillet and add ghee or bacon fat. When I'm sure that the fat is up to temperature I add a small pat of butter and crack the eggs. Turn up to mediumish and let cook uncovered for a minute. Turn off and cover for a minute. Gently work the egg up off the pan. If the proteins are cooked it should come off easily This works most of the time. If I'm cooking in a lot of fat in a bigger skillet basting with hot fat does great things to the whites.
Rosalind September 25, 2014
Maybe it's a Canadian thing, but I cannot even think about frying eggs unless I first fry up some thinly sliced Canadian side bacon till it's nice and crispy, keep it warm, and immediately crack the eggs into the bacon drippings. I then fry the eggs, sunny side up till edges of whites are crispy and the yolk is still a bit runny. And, of course, this heavenly dish of bacon and eggs is served with maple syrup for the bacon and sometimes hash browns. YUM !!
Maren L. September 25, 2014
I make my fried eggs in a cast iron pan on medium high heat, with butter.
The two most important things for me is, I can't stand that yolk in a "traditional"
Fried egg. I crack the egg, make sure i get a hole in the yolk, cook both sides and also, i need that lacy, crispy edge.
My favorite way to eat this is with chantrelle mushroom also fried in a little butter and spiced with some fresh thyme,salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sharon September 24, 2014
My weakness is a crispy edge of the egg white. I like my yolk runny, but not undercooked. I often wonder if I could order my eggs like this in a restaurant. I always tell them over-easy, but dang I love the crispy.
lizabeth September 24, 2014
I love my egg over medium with no crisp on the edges. If that's what you want, here's how: I use a very small teflon pan that I got at WalMart - it's about the size of a fried egg. I use a small amount of EVOO and, cooking on a gas stove, set the gas at #3. I crack the egg into the pan and let it cook until the white looks done (maybe 2 min?) and then flip. Cook for one minute. The egg is perfectly round and perfectly done with NO crispy edges. Lately I've taken to putting that egg on a heated 4 inch corn tortilla. Voila! - breakfast is served.
Ann September 24, 2014
The photo of Jean George's egg on almost a "loco moco"...A favorite local style dish in Hawai'i. There are just ok loco moco, really good loco moco, and outstanding loco moco found in Hawai'i. My favorite is the loco moco at The Pineapple Room, one of two Chef Alan Wong's restaurants in Honolulu. It's located on the third floor of Macy's at Ala Moana Shopping Center. Loco Moco: rice/hamburger patty/brown gravy/two fried eggs, stacked in that order. Quality of Ingredients is what makes Chef Alan Wong's Loco Moco "no Ka Oi" (the best).
Ann September 24, 2014
Opps! I should have said "one or two" fried eggs"!
Monica B. September 24, 2014
This is my special luscious, weekend fried egg. I do everything mentioned above and below but nothing beats a Greek Fried Egg:
Monica B. September 24, 2014
Monica B. September 24, 2014
http:// upsidedownpear/ archives/2007/07/04/ greek-fried-egg/ comment-page-1/
Monica B. September 25, 2014
This recipe is perfect for those who love puffy, crispy egg whites. The eggs are basted in hot olive oil while cooking so the whites balloon into lacy crisp clouds.
Sandra L. September 24, 2014
I am gratified to see so many positive comments about lacy brown crisp edges on the whites. That's the whole point of a fried egg, especially if it's to be served atop some kind of starch. One more point to keep in mind is that butter = breakfast; olive oil = lunch or dinner.
olivia.k September 24, 2014
When I was young I used to love the whites and hate the cooked parts of the yolk.
Now, I still love the whites but the yolk is pretty close. Why? In my nonstick pan with olive oil (or butter, depending on mood) on med-low heat, I crack my egg and carefully break and distribute the yolk. Season with salt and pepper, and it comes out tender and almost all feeling like egg white.
I love dashes of sriracha too!
Jace September 24, 2014
No worries about "proper" like June says. It's all about the experience.
Jace September 24, 2014
The beauty of a fried egg is it's YOUR baby for 3-5 minutes. My favorite is a cast iron pan in the middle of the woods over nice, sappy wood I cut myself yesterday. I like to use my cast iron for up to three things--getting ll that woodsy smoke flavor. I put my tea-pot in there, too. Bacon! first. Then my OE egg, then my toast. That's how you do it at 8,300 feet with guns and skis and things.
ChefJune September 22, 2014
A "properly fried egg" is one that is cooked the way the eater prefers. Me, I like mine over, yolks broken, but not too hard. Fried eggs is one of the very few things I like "well done."
Robin W. September 22, 2014
Emily Vikre's method, FTW