Tamara Shopsin—The New Yorker cartoonist and cook at her family’s storied New York City diner, Shopsin’s—recalls when they first got a then-newly-invented microwave: "He put an egg in the machine for thirty seconds. Ding. My dad pulls the egg out and takes it to the counter. He taps it to crack the shell. It explodes. All over.”
And so, he tried it again—this time, placing an egg in a bowl of water.
“He takes the egg out and taps it. A small crack forms. He starts to peel the shell a little. It’s working! Boom. It explodes all over a customer’s face.
This isn’t something unique to the Shopsin family—even the inventor of the microwave, Percy Spencer, zapped an egg, and it too exploded in his coworker's face.
But here we are, writing about how to cook eggs in a microwave. Because with a little care, thought, and attention, it can be done safely.
Le Microwave Omelet
A proper French omelet should not have any browning—and as microwaves work by converting water to steam, there is no chance of browning here!
Lightly oil or butter a microwave-safe plate, with tall-ish sides (go for a plate that’s more like a shallow bowl, rather than a flat surface).
Beat an egg or two until well combined (no stray egg whites, please), and carefully pour into the prepared plate. Cover the plate with another large microwave-safe plate.
Microwave in 30 second bursts, for a total of 1 to 2 minutes. (Don’t stir the eggs around or move them in any way—the burst cooking is just to prevent things from getting too hot and explode-y.) If adding filling—cheese, ham, previously microwaved mushrooms— add when the eggs look almost set, around the 30- or 45-second mark.
Microwave Scrambled Eggs
Like the omelette method, but simpler.
In a microwave-safe bowl, beat one to two eggs with salt and/or pepper until well-combined.
Microwave for 30 seconds, then remove and stir. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds, or until the eggs are just set.
Microwave Poached Eggs
Extra credit if you make this Genius blender hollandaise, from Chef Eric Ripert, before the microwave timer counts down.
Fill a microwave-safe bowl or mug halfway with water, then crack an egg into it. Make sure the egg is completely covered by water, then cover with a large microwave-safe plate.
Microwave for 45 seconds to one minute, or until the white looks just set, and the yolk is still runny.
Microwave Boiled Eggs
While tutorials for microwave boiled eggs do exist out there, we recommend that you don't do this. Here's why: Microwaving eggs in their shell builds up the steam pressure inside the egg, pressure that only can escape when punctured.
Microwave… Fried Eggs?!
Which is why this works. Removing the pressurized chamber (shell), and puncturing the yolk with a fork or knife tip will protect against any eggsplosions (peek the photo below for what happens when you don't). The edges on a microwaved "fried" egg will not crisp up like they do on the stove, but what these lack in crispness they make up for by providing another microwave timer countdown challenge: finding some very good fridge condiments.
Oil or butter a microwave-safe shallow bowl or plate. Crack an egg or two onto the plate.
Using a fork or paring knife, puncture the egg yolk gently—not so much as to encourage oozing, but just enough to break the skin that surrounds the yolk.
Cover with a large microwave-safe plate, and microwave for 30 seconds. Check on the egg—if it’s not yet set, cook for another 30 seconds in 15 second bursts.