Egg

The Genius Trick for Magically Creamy Scrambled Eggs (in 15 Seconds)

May 27, 2015

Every week—often with your help—Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Finally! Soft, custardy scrambled eggs for people who don't have the time—or patience—for low-and-slow.

There are so many decisions confronting scrambled egg lovers: Do you loosen the beaten eggs with milk or cream (or water or stock) or is all of that anathema? Which pan, what spatula? And what about cheese?

But the most vexing—and the most likely to draw a wide chasm between what I might gently call scrambled egg snobs and the rest of us—is whether you insist on cooking them low and slow for custardy, creamy eggs, or do something a little more efficient with your morning. You can tell which direction I lean.



What Mandy @ Lady and pups has done for all of us, especially the impatient types, is speed up the beautifully soft scrambled egg from something like 15 minutes of constant stirring (or upwards of an hour in a double boiler, if you follow Laurie Colwin) to 15 seconds. Not only that, but Mandy has made the whole process more forgiving, too.

How? It involved those pups: After doctoring eggs with cornstarch for her "temporarily anorexic dog-son," she decided to cook and eat some herself. "A thickening agent is the answer to the previously-thought-impossible scrambled eggs fantasy," she writes. "Speed, and creaminess, all together."

 

This might sound confusing or strange, until you realize that cornstarch is itself an egg substitute. We've seen it standing in for egg in Jeni's genius ice cream base and other Philadephia-style recipes. And the allergic, vegan, or unprepared swap it freely into baking recipes.

But a small amount of cornstarch (or potato starch) is much better than a straight replacement—eggs are delicate, and cooking them too fast and hot results in the proteins seizing up, squeezing out moisture, and the eggs going dry and tough. Cornstarch stands in the way of these protein connections, as I learned from J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats, who likes to add cornstarch to the eggs in egg drop soup to protect them from overcooking and turning rubbery.



This changes everything.

I've had jags of making scrambled eggs and toast every night for dinner for weeks, always aiming for a certain 3-second window of perfection and comfort. I finally got the seasoning down (1/4 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt for 2 eggs), but in my impatience I still tend to overshoot and wind up with spongy eggs more often than I want to admit. Cornstarch saves me. "It's just concealing the fact that you overcooked your eggs," said one disgruntled Lifehacker commenter named Tristan. Yes! The eggs pictured here sat in the pan way too long while they were photographed. We ate them all.

 

You'll notice that this calls for a lot of butter, so just to be safe I tried the recipe both with and without the cornstarch, to see how much was really just the goodness of butter. Without cornstarch, the eggs were good but stiffer, the butter more free-floating. And I've found that even if you skimp on the butter, the cornstarch has dramatic effects.

Put them in tacos and breakfast burritos, on English muffins or toast (no need to butter!). Add herbs or salty bacon or just eat a big bowlful all by itself. Or, do like Mandy: "This may be weird, but I like soft on soft, so a savory oatmeal topped with this scrambled egg, with anchovy toasted breadcrumbs, would make me real happy."

Lady & Pups' Magic 15-Second Creamy Scrambled Eggs

Adapted slightly from Lady and Pups

Serves 1

3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk (1/2 tablespoon for each egg)
1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch (1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon for each egg)
Salt to season
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 tablespoon for each egg)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Contributing Writer & Editor Lindsay-Jean Hard for this one!

The Genius Recipes cookbook is finally here—and a New York Times Best Seller! The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites—all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It's on shelves now, or you can order your copy here.

Photos by Mark Weinberg

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77 Comments

m January 4, 2018
will arrowroot powder work? no corn or nightshade for this family. thanks!<br />
 
Paula September 27, 2017
If you want superb scrambled eggs, along with the techniques in these threads, start with bacon grease. It gives eggs flavor like nothing else! Mmm<br />Paula
 
Satya S. June 23, 2017
Omg, my mother, a French woman and trained in the correct use of eggs would NEVER salt an egg before cooking it! If you whisk in a tsp of water and don't overcook it, you have no need to do anything else.
 
Kathy D. July 4, 2018
You are the only other person I have seen that mentioned using water for scrambled eggs instead of milk. I saw that tip on another cooking site and have been doing it ever since. It makes the eggs turn out soft and fluffy!
 
Blair J. July 7, 2016
I'm sure someone has already mentioned this, but I love greek yogurt in my scrambled eggs. I always have it on hand and it makes me feel better than starting out my day with butter... though it's a relative right? Thanks for the post. I'm obsessed with these Genius Recipes.
 
lunule July 7, 2016
Blair, do you skip the butter and the milk in your recipe? And, use full fat Greek yogurt?
 
Blair J. July 7, 2016
I do skip both! And yes, full fat greek yogurt. I scramble the eggs with the yogurt before I put it on heat (usually just in the pan). Use more yogurt than feels right (I tend to like a wet scramble). Oh and a nonstick pan is key! LMK how it goes. :)
 
lunule July 8, 2016
Thanks Blair! I am excited to try!
 
kathy May 21, 2016
i was just wondering. How about when using just egg whites? because after they set awhile they get watery.
 
Jim L. May 20, 2016
I'm a pretty good egg makes but never heard of this.<br />Naturally I was a bit suspect so I made these for dinner last night.<br />I'll be damned this hack works! THE best and the softest scrambled eggs I ever had!
 
Nicole H. May 20, 2016
would arrowroot work? I only have that in house right now.<br />
 
tim F. May 20, 2016
after thirty yrs as an exec chef, i will let you in on a little secret. increase butter to 4 Tbl, and reserve one tbl . stir it in at the end to coat the finished eggs for a nice gloss, a superb mouth feel, and the wont dry out.
 
Bee May 20, 2016
I agree with you, 100%, tim f. Putting butter on finished eggs is the norm in our house; that's how we've served them in my Swedish family for over 100+ years! I recall seeing my Great Grandparent's eating their eggs that way when I was a wee child, and they were born in the 1880's; both lived to be over 100 years old eating butter, cream, lard and eggs...daily. :D
 
Chuck H. May 19, 2016
Oh that was unsalted butter.
 
Chuck H. May 19, 2016
A tablespoon of salt for each egg? That's insane.
 
lydia.sugarman September 27, 2017
A tablespoon of *unsalted butter* per egg, not salt!
 
Judith R. May 2, 2016
I know of a few diners that add a little pancake batter to their scrambled eggs. Same reason. So those with gluten issues need to ask if they do. But the eggs are creamy.
 
Andie P. May 1, 2016
I commented eleven months ago about my method with which I have had great success for 60 + years, including years when I was catering.<br />They are creamy, tender and remain so even when held in a chafer for an hour.<br />The method is on my blog: http://www.asenjigalblogs.com/resurrected-recipes-from-long-ago/scrambled-eggs-excellent-from-mapledale-farm/ As i noted almost a year ago. My grandfather's cook perfected these and breakfast was served buffet style because of many in the large extended family.
 
lydia.sugarman September 27, 2017
The photos no longer load on your blog page.
 
Lynn January 4, 2016
A small amount of cottage cheese added to your egg substitutes perfectly for the cornstarch and adds a bit of salty creaminess to your eggs while adding a touch more protein. Simply add a small dollop of cottage cheese to your egg and whip together with a fork. No salt needed, but add a sprinkle of pepper, if you'd like. Saute in butter over medium heat mixing frequently. Done in no time at all. I stop cooking while the eggs are still slightly wet. Yum.
 
Jim M. January 3, 2016
I find a puzzle in this recipe for Creamy Scrambled Eggs. The ingredients list calls for 1 3/4 teaspoons of Cornstarch. After that it says (1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon for each egg.) If that is a total for all 3 eggs, then it would be 4/8 + 3/8 or a total of 7/8 teaspoon, not 1 3/4 teaspoons. Or we could say 1/2 (4/8) + 1/8 for each egg (Total 5/8 x 3 eggs = 15/8 or 1 7/8.) I can't seem to find a way to get that total to 1 3/4 teaspoons. Comment please!
 
Lindsay-Jean H. January 4, 2016
Mandy @ Lady and Pups rounded up the cornstarch for 3 eggs. As she explains in the comments of her blog, "because for 3 eggs, 1 1/2 + 3/8 tsp will be too difficult to measure, so I round it up to be 1 3/4 tsp."
 
Rowannn G. December 28, 2015
Nowhere do I see a comment saying that anything contained in this thread is disgusting. If you're referring to the very innocent opinion that a cauliflower sandwich wasn't to someone's liking, all I can say is that there's a hell of a lot going on in the world today that is way more important than someone offending your sensitive sensory sensibilities. Try not following this thread if such a piddling thing offends you. Food is is a general subject born to controversy. Read the first amendment.
 
Negative N. February 13, 2016
You didn't read down far enough. I didn't make it up.
 
Negative N. December 28, 2015
To those that think anything on here is disgusting, I'll make a deal with you. You don't say things I put in my mouth are disgusting, and I'll extend you the same courtesy. It's rude is what it is...
 
cd H. November 17, 2015
This is also called "soft scrambled" but I have found very few restaurants know how to do it properly, even breakfast oriented ones like Dennys or IHOP. Oddly enough the place that comes the closest is McDonalds on their breakfast meal.
 
Rowannn G. August 4, 2015
I made scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday exactly the way I did when I commented on this thread weeks ago. I beat the eggs for a good 1 to 2 minutes to get lots of air into them. Put butter in the skillet, when starting to bubble, added the eggs and KEPT THEM MOVING, MOVING, MOVING, MOVING. That said, I am really having a positive response to Sir McKellen's technique--making them in a pot instead of a skillet. There is less surface area in a pot, which slows moisture evaporation. Not sure about the half & half, but will try it both ways. And thank you, Sir Ian, for explaining what a toast rack is for. I just always thought it was a Brit fancypants sort of thing.
 
lunule August 4, 2015
Sir Ian McKellen made a funny scrambled egg cooking video. Interesting toast factoids too.<br />https://www.facebook.com/ianmckellen/videos/10153014229903601/<br /><br />I like to cook eggs in a pot. I think butter and cream are also helpful. I guess cream cheese or sour cream would do the same?
 
nano Z. August 4, 2015
when I cooked in Washington State...we added cream cheese and chives to the scrambled eggs...and salmon...yummie