Can You Really Poach an Egg in the Microwave?

October  5, 2017

Poaching an egg, for me at least, is my culinary Achilles heel. I can never quite recreate the soft yolky cushions I’ve had atop toasts or beneath sauces or spilling onto beds of greens. There’s a delicacy that proves difficult to achieve, even with this Food52 video as a guide. So when this seemingly simple microwave egg poaching method surfaced on the internet, I had to give it a try.

The instructions are simple: fill a mug with water, stir in half a tablespoon of vinegar, crack an egg into the mug, cover with a top (I used a plate) and microwave for a minute. The vinegar is there to help the whites coagulate. So, like a diligent student, I followed the instructions in our office kitchen. The steps are… easy enough, so all together, I’d estimate it took me less than a minute. Plus the minute of cooking time.

All you need is water, vinegar and an egg. Oh, don't forget the microwave! Photo by Valerio Farris

Because all microwaves are different, a minute alone wasn’t enough to get the yolk where I wanted it. So I threw the egg back in for 20 more seconds. Then, I took out the mug, removed the plate, and voila: what emerged was a surprisingly dainty pillow of a poached egg. The yolk ran just as I had hoped. A pinch of salt and a flourish of pepper made me forget that I had just prepared the egg in a box of electromagnetic radiation. I lacked a piece of toast, but would've loved to run a crispy edge through the molten, gold yolk.

Salt, pepper and a runny yolk are the keys to poach-ey perfection. Photo by Valerio Farris, Valerio Farris

The method is great for an on-the-go or in-office poach; it requires minimal effort and yields pretty seamless results. I’d recommend, however, playing around with the cooking time so as to yield your ideal consistency. Otherwise, run with this easy little hack. Your office lunch—or breakfast!—will thank you.

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Have you given this a shot? If so, let us know how it worked for you in the comments.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Cathy B. February 21, 2018
Finally tried this method -- perfect!
Esther G. October 14, 2017
This is the only way I poach eggs. I am patient for many things, but not poaching eggs for some reason. I read about it in Gourmet many years ago. I have added vinegar in the past, but always just a glug, so I am happy to have a measurement
Gretchen50 October 13, 2017
Yes, yes, yes. I think this is a Thomas Keller recipe and used in restaurants. I like mine for 70 seconds--VERY soft and delicious. I don't use vinegar in this but do when doing in a pan of boiling water.
Matt B. October 10, 2017
Tbh, why the vinegar? Yes, it helps the yolk coagulate, but over a much longer period of time than you're exposing the whites to. And I would imagine half a tsp in a half mug of water would leave a very strong vinegar taste behind.
Gretchen50 October 14, 2017
I think it isn't the yolk--it is that it "gathers" the whites so they don't stream out so much. And no, there is no as in zero vinegar taste.
Noreen F. October 8, 2017
Thanks for an easy way to add to my breakfast and lunch options! One minute here at home was too much. It cooked the yolk all the way through. But it was very slick! I'll try 45 seconds tomorrow.
Carol October 8, 2017
I microwave an egg regularly at work, just a bit of non-stick spray or a swipe of butter in a shallow bowl, crack the egg into it, and cover with a paper towel. One minute 22 seconds on 50% power does the trick. I've learned to start the toast first since the toast takes longer than the egg!
bellw67 October 6, 2017
I love poached eggs and hate dropping them in a pot of water. Always looking for something easier, but do you not have to poke the yolk so the egg doesn't explode?
HalfPint October 6, 2017
@suzybel63, you don't have to poke the yolk. As long as you don't heat too high or too long (see my post below), the yolk will not explode. This was a game changer for me.
Gw M. October 7, 2017
For micro poached eggs for a crowd, use a micro-safe/heat safe pirex muffin tin. Drop eggs in muffin tin & use just enough water to cover.
Watch eggs closely to see when whites coagulate.
Gently remove eggs with small slotted spoon.
Jocelyn G. October 23, 2017
This is fantastic. Need to find a Pyrex muffin tin!
Jocelyn G. October 23, 2017
Oh-do you increase the cooking time depending on how many eggs you have?
HalfPint October 6, 2017
This is how I poach an egg for myself. Have done this since The Kitchn posted this method years ago. I would add the caution of hot spots and give the water/egg a gently swirl. But yeah, it takes about 1.5 minutes in my microwave. Great way to have my morning egg.
bellw67 October 6, 2017
Sounds good to me!