How to CookEssential Tools

The Kitchen Tool You Didn't Know You Needed

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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.

Egg Coddler
Egg Coddler

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.

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.

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

Tags: Egg, The Shop, Tips & Techniques, Infographics