The Kitchen Tool You Didn't Know You Needed

March 23, 2016

The humble egg coddler looks like something that might have been cast in the "Be Our Guest" scene in Beauty and the Beast: short and stout and sleek, with determined little legs. (The design is also Bauhaus-inspired, if you're into that sort of thing.) I admittedly was skeptical of it: Most of my egg preparations involve a frying pan or a pot—but a coddled egg is a thing unto itself, creamy and rich, almost like a soft-boiled egg outside its shell. Butter the coddler, crack in an egg, bathe the egg with cream, clamp on the lid, and simmer gently.

It's no wonder it's called a coddler—I wouldn't mind being buttered, bathed in cream, and gently simmered myself.

Here's how to use one!

Put a shallow pot of water on to boil; the water should come up just under the lip of the coddler. While that's heating, butter the inside of the coddler, grab a couple of eggs, and decide what you're going to want to eat with those eggs. You already know that eggs go with just about anything, and that remains true when you coddle them—just think of the contents of a coddler as a tidy, unfussy composed package, as opposed to the completely delightful but arguably scrappier fried egg, which will lay wherever it's flung.

Photo by Linda Xiao

Coddled eggs, no matter what else you add to them, will include by virtue eggs (however many eggs you want, and/or how many your coddler can hold, cracked right into the bowl of the coddler) and a splash of cream over them. This alone is enough, but if you want to fancy things up, you can add whatever other ingredients you want, per your whims or the contents of your refrigerator. Such as:

  • Olives
  • Fresh herbs
  • Just-cooked greens
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Anything you find in your cheese drawer
  • A fat dab of mayonnaise with Sriracha
  • Strips of sliced cured meat

You name it. If you're going beyond the simple egg-and-cream route, you'll want to put the egg and cream in last, with everything else tucked in beneath. Our smallest coddler, which holds just 2.2 ounces, is best with just a single egg—and our largest will hold about five if you're adding other ingredients, too.

Fit the lid onto the bowl, snap the metal arm over it, and lower the water to a simmer. Gently set the coddler into the pot (Martha Stewart recommends spreading a dishtowel on the bottom of the pot to prevent the coddler from shimmying around while it simmers, but I find that the feet on our egg coddlers keep them in place all on their own) and wait. Seven minutes about does it for me (just-firm white, creamy-but-not-too-runny yolk), but you can adjust up or down depending on your egg preferences and how many you're cooking at once.

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Carefully lift out the coddler, remove the metal arm and the lid, and serve the egg alongside some kind of bread for dipping. Let what you put into the coddler dictate the bread: Triangles of pita are perfect for a coddler full of shakshuka-inspired, cumin-spiced tomato sauce with feta and parsley. Cream cheese and smoked salmon long for bagels. Buttery toast soldiers will go will with nearly anything.

Photo by James Ransom

And all the other ways:

And when it's off-duty, the coddler can be used as a little bowl or ramekin—we use them all the time as a prop in our studio, whether as a vessel for Srirachannaise or a serving bowl for yogurt or lemon sponge cakes. Cook pots de crème in them, or fill them with soup, grate cheese over the top, and slide them right under the broiler (they're made of borosilicate, which means they're sturdy as heck). Use one as a sugar bowl or a salt cellar! Or just find some reason to keep it out on the counter and smile at it—and hope it doesn't get up on its little legs and burst into song.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Look to Japan for the Chawan Mushi vessel: its a covered 'coddler' for a egg, dashi, veggie custard. Looks like a taller tea cup with a lid that is immersed in simmering water to set and enjoy...adding a few bits of shrimp or fish adds to your enjoyment. ”
— Suzanne H.

Are you an egg coddler devotee? Tell us about yours (and how you make your eggs) in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Gillianbk
  • Lynn Easley
    Lynn Easley
  • Suzanne howell
    Suzanne howell
  • juwu_eats
  • Cookease
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Gillianbk February 18, 2020
Does anyone have any thoughts on forgoing cream — I try to stick with skim milk. Would milk work as well? Thank you!
Lynn E. November 7, 2019
Are the metal tops hot to handle when lifting them out?
Karen February 15, 2021
I find that they are not too hot to handle.
Suzanne H. August 15, 2018
Look to Japan for the Chawan Mushi vessel: its a covered 'coddler' for a egg, dashi, veggie custard. Looks like a taller tea cup with a lid that is immersed in simmering water to set and enjoy...adding a few bits of shrimp or fish adds to your enjoyment.
juwu_eats January 19, 2018
Is this an absolute necessary equipment? Could I use one of those glass containers with rubber bands and clips instead? Thanks!
Cookease December 30, 2017
Are the eggs room temp or from fridge?
I have the 4 egg size...7 min in boiling water and NOTHING has set up...
How long for 4 eggs??
neighome December 1, 2017
Are these air tight? Can they be used for sous vide cooking?
Karin B. April 6, 2017
In 1955 my brother, a young architect, was involved in building a new manufacturing facility for Jenaer Glas in Mainz, Germany. (The original factory was under Russian control in East Germany.) He bought many of their products for us, especially these egg coddlers which we used daily. Seeing them here brings back lots of memories and proves that good design has lasting value, thanks for offering them.
GretchinF April 6, 2017
THAAAAAAAAAAANK YOU! times one million for that size guide... I have always held off buying coddlers because I couldn't suss out what size I would find optimal. Now I know! 4.4 and 16 oz-ers COMING MY WAY!
Johnna April 6, 2017
I all ways add a pinch of Herbs De Province to the butter on the bottom and then the cream and then the egg...with another splash of cream. Sometimes I add chives to the top...and a dab of butter...always making sure the container is covered with butter in the yes might as well go all the way...
Rita S. December 5, 2016
one other way I prepare them--add about 1/2 demi-tasse spoon of madras curry powder along with chives. Of course, you need to like curry.
Barbara November 25, 2016
I purchase two several months ago. Really like them. It takes almost 11 to 12 minutes to get the egg whites set. What if anything am I doing wrong? Thank you.
Rita S. December 5, 2016
I've used coddlers for years and I like my yolk runny still but the white all cooked and never cook in a coddler more than 7 minutes. Are you simmering the whole time?

One thing I do differently-- I have the water high enough to cover the coddler because my are airtight.
Barbara December 5, 2016
No I don't fully cover the coddler. I followed the cooking instructions as given here. I will try it that way next time. Btw my coddler holes two eggs and I put in both. Do you suppose that's the issue?
Karen February 15, 2021
Make sure you have the water up to just under the lid. I wasn’t doing that and found that to be the issue. Cooking 2 eggs will likely up the time — so 11 or 12 min might be reasonable.
Yaansoon November 25, 2016
I've never heard of coddlers before today. This looks fantastic, a must have!
Elisabeth B. November 10, 2016
I just receive mine and the tops don't seem to be setting. Any advice?
myshkin November 22, 2016
I had the same problem, so today I put the lid on the pot they were cooking in. Worked perfectly. Brought the steam up around the tops I guess.
Elisabeth B. November 22, 2016
Thanks you. Going to try that this morning.
mike November 6, 2016
What is the cooking time in Denver? 5280 ft above sea level.
Wendy September 8, 2016
Is it possible to slide the egg out of the coddler, so that it can be served on top of something else - like you would do with a poached egg?
Alex T. September 8, 2016
What about put it in the microwave? I hope there is a coddler without metal clasp.
Joan December 31, 2017
I think microwaving would defeat the entire experience of coddling - even if there weren't a metal fastener, your eggs would likely be tough.
beejay45 September 8, 2016
I use my small Weck jars with a silicone mat as coddlers, rather than having a single use item added to my already hugely overworked cupboard. These are almost exactly like them but with feet. ;) They are adorable, though.
Jennifer S. January 15, 2018
What a great idea!
chefrockyrd September 8, 2016
Love chocolate pots de creme in them.
Donna S. June 3, 2016
Is the cream necessary?
Rita S. December 5, 2016
no. I've been making coddled eggs for years and don't use cream. Just be generous with the butter that's smeared all inside the coddler.
Frederique M. April 20, 2016
Now I REALLY wanna see them walk and sing! It's the first time I look at something from the kitchen and find it "cute" ! Its a cuddled egg! :)