Genius Recipes

This Genius Trick Will Change How You Fry Eggs

And potatoes, and apples, and ... maybe everything?

October  9, 2019

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

I’ve promised a number of times to revolutionize the way you make eggs—soft-scrambling in 15 seconds, spiking your frying oil with smoky spices, pouring beaten eggs into boiling water and ending up with a fluffy omelet and not egg confetti.

But for the first time, I’m here to tell you about an egg recipe that’s changed both the way I think about cooking eggs and just about everything else, too. It’s changing how I grocery shop and the pans I reach for; it’s opening up secret rooms in the dusty mansion of my brain to meals that are ethereally, almost unknowably delicious. All with one simple, genius little idea.

So I hope you’ll excuse me if I wax a little hyperbolic here.

I first stumbled on this technique on Ideas in Food, the pioneering experimental food blog from Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot (aka Aki and Alex), when I was there to look up … well, I’m actually not sure what. (I saw “Caramelized Cream Eggs” and immediately pulled over and forgot what I was doing.)

Because—instead of frying eggs in butter or oil or any other fat that we’re comfortable with—they were frying eggs in cream. And only cream.

“Cream is sort of like liquid butter,” Talbot later explained to me over the phone. More specifically, “Cream is fat, water, some solids—it’s just nicely homogenized. All we’re doing is destroying it.”

Over a little direct heat, cream will quickly separate into butterfat and buttermilk (an outcome we used to think of as a problem—breaking, curdling—but no more!). The buttermilk steams off to gently cook the eggs (or carrots, or potatoes, or insert-other-ingredient-here) while the butterfat bubbles in the pan, milk solids toasting and racing toward browned butter.

Aside from the Whoaaa, you can do that? factor, there are a number of benefits to cooking in cream over traditional sautéing or frying:

  • For ingredients that we’re often told to blanch, then sauté in butter (like carrots, green beans, brussels sprouts); this lets you skip the pot of boiling water and ice bath and all that business. Two-stage cooking all in one pan, with one ingredient.

  • There’s less spattering than when searing in straight butter or oil. “I hate mess!” Talbot told me.

  • It’s a gentler introduction to cooking for the ingredients—the steam does most of the work for you, then conveniently disappears. Or, as Talbot said, it's “like fat with training wheels.”

  • Cream is as easy to keep in the fridge as butter, and even easier to dole out—you just pour a little straight from the carton. (I now keep cream in the fridge all the time, instead of just when I need it for a specific recipe.)

You’ll notice the recipe doesn’t list exact amounts for any ingredient, just suggestions. This is because the pan, the heat level, the type and thickness of the ingredient, and your own mood will all affect how much cream you’ll need.

But the technique is very flexible if you realize you've eyeballed wrong: If the pan is looking dry before everything’s cooked through, just add more cream, or even water or stock. If it’s looking too sloshy, pour off some cream or turn up the heat. And no matter what, it will be good. Because whatever you’re left with at the end of the process—cream, butter, brown butter—is all delicious. (Just don’t burn it.)

After you try the eggs, you'll of course want to cook more things in cream, and flavor the cream. I’ve tried the carrots and—oh my word—the smashed potatoes from their blog, but also kale (stems first) and a few baby eggplants I didn’t know what else to do with. Soft-creamy and brown-buttery-crispy every time.

As we chatted, Talbot rattled off still more ideas for ingredients to cream-caramelize than I could write down—everything from meats (a lot of them: pork chops seared in smoked paprika cream, burgers, sausages, hot dogs, ragus, dumpling fillings) to fish (with mustard, soy sauce, or miso) to fruits (apples with—“holy cow,” he said—star anise and cinnamon).

Talbot says he thinks of this as less of a recipe and more of a: “Hey, why don’t you start walking down this path? You may mess things up, but you may come across greatness.” I'll add that, as long as you heed my note about burning, you really can’t mess it up too much.

So in your future, I see nothing but greatness.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].
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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."


phip March 16, 2023
For those who are familiar with shirred (baked) eggs this technique of frying the egg in cream may not come as a surprise. I have fried eggs in cream quite a few times and the result is delicious. After all, butter is a form of cream. While you are at it try making Scrambled Eggs with cream the next time; also delicious when delicately stirred over medium low heat.
Cracker January 1, 2022
“… I wax a little hyperbolic here” … now that was worthy start to the first morning in 2022! 😁
Ellen E. January 1, 2022
You don’t mention it the one ingredient that I constantly sauté, Onions. Can they be started in this manner?
LisaKraft January 17, 2021
Wow! I used way too much heavy cream, a ratio to start with and a recipe in some form other than paragraphs of text would have been so helpful. I will definitely try again in tomorrow morning!
Kristen M. February 2, 2021
Hi Lisa, thanks for trying this out—it took me a couple tries to figure out how much cream to use for my pan and egg amounts, too (but I never realllly minded having too much cream). There's a bit more instruction to on the recipe page here—good luck!
Scwebb1208 December 31, 2021
Look at you being a foodie nerd. Steven
Windswept November 1, 2020
Wonderful method of cooking eggs! I used an 8" skillet, 8 Tbsp of heavy cream, 4 large eggs. Followed the recipe instructions and the eggs were cooked perfectly! Topped with chopped parsley, paprika and freshly ground black pepper.
Shawna L. September 24, 2020
Can you imagine asparagus this way, with a little salt and garlic? Yum!
Kyla April 19, 2020
If only that website wasn’t so hard to navigate! This is a life-changing recipe, thank you.
Lydia O. April 19, 2020
My moroccan grandmother used to make us the following. sauteed onion with green peas, salt and pepper, crack eggs on top of the ready mixture, cover, steam to your liking. I still make it as my comfort food.
Laurie C. January 3, 2020
Want to make au gratin potatoes this way.,,, does anyone have a recipe for that frying in heavy cream?
Kristen M. February 2, 2021
Leftover boiled new potatoes, squashed flat, cooked this way are one of the best things I've ever eaten.
nandini December 15, 2019
For the egg-lover in you, wanted to share this recipe from my native place in India!
Our staple food is rice, and this goes perfectly with piping hot rice, something like Jasmine rice.
Mary R. December 15, 2019
Oooh! I'm thinking cauliflower with garlic, finished with Parmesan!
Mike1234 October 26, 2019
Are you able to flip the eggs using this method?
[email protected] October 26, 2019
Yes. :) sometimes we want our eggs totally cooked.
Please also try veggies this way.
KS October 26, 2019
Well, you can—but I don't like to disrupt the carmelization on the bottom, or risk losing the amazing creamy thickness of the yolk. I don't like it runny, myself, but if I cover the pan partially right at the end, I can get it just right.
adrienne October 21, 2019
I have tried this cooking style three times now. Breakfast fried eggs and later button mushrooms. It worked so well and tasted wonderful.
KS December 15, 2019
Oh, yes! YES.
Theresa L. October 21, 2019
Mind BLOWN! I live anew, my heart lighter and more full of purpose and delight than before I saw this video. Bravo!
[email protected] October 20, 2019
OMG!!! I have not made this with eggs, but I will soon. However, I did make my vegetables (mixed onion, mushrooms, squash, and Brussels spouts) using only heavy cream. It’s kinda amazing. You don’t know anything is really happening, and then bam! It starts to separate and finish cooking. I had salmon and these vegetables. The vegetables were amazing. I will start to experiment with other vegetables and some meat. My gosh, thank you so much for this cooking tip.
KS October 20, 2019
Yum. Did you cook the salmon as well? Seems like that would work. Also, did you make the sprouts very thin, or start them earlier that the other veg? And was it watery summer squash or firmer winter squash?
[email protected] October 22, 2019
No I didn’t cook the Salmon in whipped cream, only because did not know if I could still get the crispy skin. I cooked the summer squash et. al. in the cream. I Cook the vegetables in the cream first and then cooked the salmon. I would have no problem going Ford and trying to cook the salmon and cream but I don’t wanna over cook such a tender fish. I guess I could use less whip cream. Truly, it’s addition to watch because you thinking nothings going to happen then all of a sudden it starts to happen and it just kind of disappears into whatever you’re cooking and it’s so delicious. Thank you for your gracious question.
Kjetil V. October 20, 2019
Wow, I just tried this, and its one of the most delicious things I ever tasted! I opted for flipping the eggs half way through. By that point, the cream was still cream. As the eggs fried on the other side, the cream seperated; the fat stuck to the pan, and the milky bits stuck to the eggs and got caramelized to them.
Lindsie G. October 20, 2019
Game changer. I never thought I’d say this but cooking eggs in butter just seems boring now.
Peggy S. October 13, 2019
Oh my good heavens! Deliciously decadent. My Sunday mornings thank you!
BJ M. October 11, 2019
I use this technique to slow cook the onions for French Onion Soup. Place 6 cups thinly sliced onions it a large flat skillet on medium/medium high depending on stove. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. sea salt. Pour heavy cream over top and toss. Cook, stirring until the cream has reduced to its solids and the onions are tender. Then add dry white wine, 1/2 cup at a time, letting sit for 6-8 minutes to caramelize the onions. Stir, scrapping up the brown bits, add another 1/2 cup of white wine, repeat until all the wine is gone (total 2 cups). This is the base for the soup. Amazing scent and the onions are beautifully golden brown. Add this base to 2 qts chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Check salt level.
Blair October 10, 2019
Didn’t want to waste the leftover heavy whipping cream and the few little egg bits, so we used that as a base for quite delicious egg nog.
Kristen M. October 10, 2019
So smart!
Sherrie A. October 11, 2019
Great idea. A little cinnamon and that would be so delicious