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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Comment
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. 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."

119 Comments

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
 
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 H. 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!
 
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.
 
Nancy June 5, 2019
You know, I appreciate a good hack just as much as the next person. But I have to say, if we don't even have a couple of minutes to do the low and slow on an egg, what the heck? Don't we deserve to take even a few minutes for ourselves ? This hack isn't going to come remotely close to fixing what is wrong with that picture.
 
Yirgach June 5, 2019
Just add a few tablespoons of fresh grated Locatelli Romano (saltiness already included!)
A little garlic, eevo and butter too... Same technique, incredibly more flavorful and always creamy (sorry no cornstarch. just flavor).
3D flavor and moist creamy scrambled eggs.
 
Dee June 5, 2019
Try whipping that butter, no salt, pepper, or a bit of cheese, in the eggs then cooking on a med heat.
Light fluffy, and tasty....
 
Barbara H. June 5, 2019
Thank you so much for making it easy to reduce number of eggs for those, like, me who would find 3 or even 2 eggs overkill. The ingredients listing makes it sublimely east to adjust.
 
Lynn June 5, 2019
I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Soft scrambled eggs, referred to as Miemi eggs in this family, just ain’t a big thing. They’re a staple when g'kids are here so recipe is usually for from 2 to 4 people depending on whose up for eggs. 8” nonstick skillet for 2-3, 10” nonstick for 4 or more. 2 jumbo eggs per person, 1 extra every 3 eggs. 1 Tbs butter per two eggs; less if it’s 8 or more eggs. Whip those puppies up, no salt, and throw in bubbly butter and turn down the heat to medium. Stir quickly and gently til just barely beginning to set then turn to low and stir vigorously til done (never too soft for my g'daughter). Takes the time of 2 rounds of toast for 4. Creamiest of curds! Pepin would be proud.
 
Nancy June 9, 2019
Exatly !
 
Helena June 5, 2019
My trick for deliciously creamy and soft scrambled eggs is to add a teaspoon of whipped cream cheese! Divine
 
Suzanne G. June 5, 2019
The recipe says, "1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch (1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon for each egg)." Does this mean 5/8 teaspoon -- 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon -- for each egg? Or does it mean 1/2 teaspoon, no matter how many eggs, plus 1/8 teaspoon per egg? Thanks.
 
Kelly June 5, 2019
Sorry. A 6 minute video about this? P A I N F U L !
 
Blake June 5, 2019
I add a little carbonated water from the Soda Stream for fluffy eggs. I wonder what that would do for this recipe.
 
Rosalind R. June 5, 2019
Cornstarch? Are you kidding me? I add a half shot of water to the egg as I'm beating it before tossing it into the pan (on medium low heat), and my eggs are always creamy and delicious. Without that extra water, the eggs become a solid mass.
 
Rachel June 5, 2019
A shot of water is EXACTLY what I do! I think it ‘steams’ things a little in the pan.

I’ve never seen this posted by anyone else. I thought I was the only one in the world who did this simple trick!
 
Jean A. June 6, 2019
Rachel— ina garden did s show on the best scrambled eggs a few years ago. She suggested the water and I’ve been doing it ever since.
 
Jean A. June 6, 2019
Ina Garten. Sorry for the autocorrect