Genius Recipes

The Creamiest Scrambled Eggs, Thanks to a Genius Trick

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

June  4, 2019

With Genius Recipes correspondent Kristen off for a few months trying to raise a genius newborn, we’re revisiting the column’s Greatest Hits—and hearing from a few special surprise guests—with brand-new videos. Wish her luck! (And keep sending those tips.)

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.

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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? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it Kristen's way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by Mark Weinberg

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Ann D. February 3, 2023
I use Mandy Lee's suggestion of Potato Starch (rather than cornstarch)--every time I make scrambled eggs--they ALWAYS come out custardy smoothe and soft. I love this suggestion! Thanks for making a video of it.
Waty K. March 24, 2022
Tq for the options. Will give it a try. Ignore the haters. I always love to learn new tricks and ideas.
Michele W. February 13, 2022
Amazing how the experts come out of the wood work to state how this is not good. And how they are over all the “how to” on scrambled eggs 🤣. I read others recipes to learn. If I decide to try it out it might change how I do things. I appreciate the share & tips. Thank you.
pattiebrown52 October 3, 2021
Don't know which I'm more thankful for the hack for the eggs (great!) or finding Lady and the Pups blog!). I am never let down by Genius recipes and/or tips!
Kim C. February 22, 2021
Please look at the audience once in a while not just your cohost or Because it becomes boring to watch you to talk to each other and not include us, after all you are doing this for us. Thank you
Patti P. January 7, 2020
I love scrambled eggs. It is the one dish I can explode my taste buds. I whip 2 eggs w/ 1 tbsp real salted butter. I out it in the microwave for 1 minute(I'm hungry already) then I add 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar-extra sharp. I return it the microwave for 33( 3 is the Lord's pleasure, HolySpirit gave me this recipe, double pleasure to Him alone) put it in a yellow cup to cook(HolySpirit is blonde) remove it and add cinnamon and salt!!! Wait for Jesus to come back,(hardest part) till cool. Amen
Richard R. November 30, 2019
put 3 eggs in a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Make sure there's at least 5 inches of water in the pot. Wait until it boils. Pour in the eggs and try to keep them from striking the bottom where they might stick. Cover the pot and let stand about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour the eggs into a strainer. Roll out on a plate. If moist is what you want you'll not get a better plate of eggs butter.
Rowannn G. December 1, 2019
Very interesting! I'll try it.
Jnl July 1, 2019
Scrambled eggs is one of my easiest and fastest breakfast without cornstarch. Just seems like sacrilege add it.
Nancy July 1, 2019
Couldn't agree more; why add extra calories and alter the flavor ? The supposed time saved by not having to be as careful is probably wasted in finding and measuring out the additives. Not really a win, imvho.
Marguerite T. August 16, 2019
I have made these many times and it is quicker than the most of us (used to) scramble eggs. And, they are so velvety! I will never make eggs the old way! I add them on top of toast that I make an avocado spread instead of butter.
Andy C. June 26, 2019
Haters gonna hate...
I appreciate the options and iseas offered by people who write these articles.
You find it "disgusting" as someone so eloquently put it?
Don't do it. Easy peasy.
Open mind, open mouth haha
Recipies are evolved by ideas.
I tried it with a bit less butter and thought they were awesome!
So you have my thanks for the idea!
BL June 19, 2019
I was genuinely excited to read this... and then I saw the picture. Obscenely overcooked. I would hope that others aren't wasting their time on it.
America... Please stop cooking your eggs through. It's disgusting. Take a few moments and teach yourself how to soft scramble your eggs. You'll never want scrambled eggs any other way.
No reason to reinvent the wheel. The scrambled egg has already been perfected.
Nancy June 19, 2019
Thank you BL. I couldn't agree more.
Terri S. September 19, 2019
Wow! Those are some pretty strong words in critique (obscenely overcooked and disgusting?). For whatever reason, I've never been able to stomach a raw egg (undercooked, runny, raw...). So this recipe is, to me, delightful. I don't think we are all meant to think alike. America... please enjoy your eggs the way you like them best! I personally love to read and try out new things--it keeps things interesting.
Mark C. June 10, 2019
Definitely comes out as stated. Very easy to make. However, I like my eggs a little less custardy. So, I left the eggs in the pan to setup a bit more (which gave me about half the firmness I wanted). Next time, I think I'll halve the butter. The recipie uses a lot of butter for one serving.
Marija D. June 9, 2019
Worst advice ever. Ruining perfect eggs by adding, of all things, cornstarch. Just take five minutes and scramble some eggs. Also, I hope never to see another article on how to scramble eggs.
Nancy June 9, 2019
I couldn't agree more Marija!
lorraine June 12, 2019
Yes I agree with you
Marguerite T. August 16, 2019
Then don’t read them since you think you make perfect eggs! Life is all about trying new things. How can anyone make a bad comment without trying a recipe first? The
teresa B. June 9, 2019
This is amazing! I have an American style Bed and Breakfast in Sweden and make a personal
breakfast for each guest.This recipe saves me so much time and its a hit with every single
guest, not to mention fun to make. I’ve tried both corn and potato starch. Both work, but I stick with potato starch, it gives a better lighter taste and consistency.
Leck June 7, 2019
I read in a James Beard cook book 2 hints once that works for me. After you whisk the eggs whisk in about 1 teaspoon water for each egg. The water makes the books lighter and mostly boils out. If that seems too much. try 1/2 teaspoon per egg.
I also read to use cold butter - at least 1 teaspoon per egg - cut it into very small chunks and stir it I to the eggs. Then pour mixture into a preheated frying pan. I have never has precise timing so I am going to try the timing listed here. I do adhere to the practice of removing the pan from the heat.
Bon appetit.
p s. I also read somewhere that making good eggs is like making love; tenderly & slow.
Teresa S. June 7, 2019
Soft scrambled eggs rarely see the light of day on my house due to time constraints but I tried these this morning. Game Changer! I used less cornstarch than called for but only bc I didn’t use a measuring spoon. And a smaller pan than I should’ve so they weren't 11 second eggs but they were creamy and custardy and just lovely! Thanks for the steer!
PRuby June 6, 2019
Not a fan of this. I wish I'd thought it through before trying it. The cornstarch makes the eggs more bland, changing their flavor from nice egg-i-ness to tasteless (even the butter didn't help). Cornstarch is not an egg substitute, except as a thickener, and it doesn't add anything but bland to flavor. It also adds empty calories.
Shelley D. June 6, 2019
Now that all corn and corn products are GMOs, I'll pass on the cornstarch. I try to use as little as possible. Our corn, wheat, rice and soy are refused by most of the European Union as imports.
Until they fix this problem they've brought on American citizens, I will be avoiding those products. Interesting idea though.
Pamela_in_Tokyo June 6, 2019
I understand what you are saying. And I agree! You could try Japanese potato starch called Katakuriko, available in Asian supermarkets. It would definitely not be GMO as Japan does not allow it.

Katakuriko is used as a thickening ingredient in many Asian dishes for quick stir-fry type thickening. But it can’t really be used to replace cornstarch or flour in puddings where longer hotter cooking. It can’t take boiling. But, otherwise, it is great.
Bud Z. June 6, 2019
These are scrambled eggs not a science project. Too much butter in a non-stick pan. I use unsalted butter exclusively. Salt, in my opinion goes on the eggs not in them.
Moist, not wet, not hard. Very personal and not complicated.
Willow June 5, 2019
I really don’t like the idea of adding corn starch to my eggs. I would rather use ingredients that add flavor in my cooking instead of empty calories plus a follow a low carb diet, always have. I used to hate scrambled eggs until I tried mixing in creme fraise (I make my own with cow or goats milk and a a tablespoon or 2 of buttermilk per pint jar..let sit covered on counter for 8 hrs). I use my small cast iron skillet (non stick pan is toxic to birds-i won’t use it for myself plus a seasoned cast iron pan is non stick) on medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter. Add 2 whisked eggs, let set. Remove from heat and stir return to heat for 30 seconds. Repeat. Add a tablespoon of creme fraise, stir and return to heat. The eggs are creamy, fluffy and light. Just double recipe for each additional person. For more than 4 eggs you will want to increase skillet size accordingly.
Emily W. June 6, 2019
You add strawberry cream to your eggs?
Matt June 8, 2019
I too am interested in this creme fraise you're making. Is this a seasonal dish you enjoy only when strawberries are in season?
Willow June 8, 2019
No. I just mix in the creme fraise.
Willow June 8, 2019
No, it can be used on so much. In scrambled eggs as I described, in place of sour cream in any dish, I top my quesadilla with it and pico. It is also good with fruit.
Evelyn M. June 9, 2019
Please tell me you're being sarcastic. She's misspelled CREME FRAICHE... at least that's how I spell the heavy sour cream like substance that thicker than sour cream and richer than yogurt but has excellent tang!
Bettelou August 22, 2021
And yet, do you bother to make CREME FRAICHE? A misspelling does not invalidate the info, which is a positive suggestion.
Pamela_in_Tokyo June 5, 2019
I have been doing this for a while because I read the LADY & PUPS blog! And I love it!

I think potato starch (katakuriko in Japanese) is better and tastes better than cornstarch. Another thing to remember is you do not want to add the starch too early. If you add it too early the starch will settle and it will be hard to re-mix it into the egg mixture.