How to Keep Your Scrambled Eggs From Getting Rubbery

And seven other egg mistakes we’ve all made.

July 21, 2021

We’ve teamed up with Eggland’s Best to share egg-cooking mistakes we’ve probably all made before—plus, what to do instead so a good egg never goes to waste again. Speaking of good eggs, we’re fans of Eggland’s Best Classic Eggs. These farm-fresh eggs not only taste great, but are an excellent source of vitamins E, D, B2, B5, and B12, as well as lutein and omega-3 fatty acids. Even better, they stay fresher for longer compared to ordinary eggs, making them one of our go-to fridge staples.

Eggs were one of the first things I ever learned to cook, and they’ve been a go-to staple ever since—for a quick breakfast, baked good, custardy dessert, appetizer, and more. Though making eggs may seem like an easy task, there's been more than one occasion where I’ve accidentally let a perfectly good egg end up in the trash can.

I’ve burned omelets, cracked the yolk when I wasn’t supposed to, had my fried eggs get stuck to the pan—basically, I’ve seen it all when it comes to egg-y kitchen errors. Over the years, I’ve learned from these egg-cooking mistakes and figured out what to do so they don’t happen again. Read on to check ‘em out (and spare yourself any more wasted eggs).

8 Common Mistakes When Cooking With Eggs

Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

1. Throwing away perfectly good eggs without testing their quality first

Though the carton may have an expiration date, there’s a better way to check if your eggs are still good to use (and minimize potential food waste). It’s called the water test: Start by filling a clear bowl or glass with about four inches of cold water. Then, gently place your eggs inside and observe the direction in which they sink.

A carton of Eggland’s Best eggs fresh from the store will descend to the bottom of the container and lay on their sides. A slightly older egg will stand on its smaller, pointed end at the bottom, which indicates that it’s still perfectly safe to eat but should be done so soon. However, if your egg floats to the top, it may be time to let it go. As time goes on, air slowly seeps inside, which results in a more buoyant egg.

2. Overcooking your scrambled eggs

If dry and rubbery scrambled eggs aren’t your favorite (join the club), add a splash of liquid to help make them fluffier and even more delicious. Whether it be milk, crème fraîche, butter, or even plain ol’ water, whisking in a few tablespoons of liquid before cooking creates steam that’ll transform the texture of your scrambled eggs in seconds.

Here’s the basic technique: Once your eggs are in the bowl, add no more than one tablespoon of water (or your liquid of choice) per egg. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined and silky. Then, in a nonstick skillet, add a splash of oil or a pat of butter, and cook the eggs over medium-low heat.

As the eggs cook low and slow, use a heat-proof rubber spatula to push the outer edges into the center; this helps create large curds and prevents them from overcooking. Once the scrambled eggs are almost fully cooked, remove them from the heat. The retained warmth will continue to cook the eggs even once the stove is off.

3. Using the lip of a bowl to crack an egg

When cracking an egg, instead of using the lip of your bowl to break the shell, gently tap the side of your egg on a flat surface to create a small indent. This will help cause less potential damage to your yolk, make a more uniform break, and cause fewer sharp edges that can pierce the inside. The indent will also help you have more leverage as you open the egg.

4. Accidentally breaking the yolks when a recipe calls for egg whites

There are plenty of recipes out there that call for only egg whites—especially if you’re baking or whipping up a batch of meringue. Though this may seem like no big deal, accidentally breaking a yolk and contaminating your whites can happen more often than you think. Fortunately, you can take several preventative measures to stop this from happening the next time you’re cooking (including by cracking them on a flat surface, like I mentioned before).

One way to help prevent mixing yolks with your egg whites is to use three separate bowls or containers to separate your eggs. Assign one bowl for the egg you’re working on (bowl #1), a second bowl for egg yolks only (bowl #2), and a third bowl exclusively for the egg whites (bowl #3). By cracking the new egg into a separate bowl, you lessen the chance of contaminating a large batch of egg whites you’ve already completed with a broken yolk and having to start all over. Here’s the gist:

Start with a super-cold egg, which is easier to separate than a room-temperature one. Crack the refrigerator-temperature egg and use the two hemispheres to gently transfer the yolk from side to side, letting the egg whites fall into bowl #1. Once you’ve successfully separated the egg yolk from the egg whites, place the yolk into bowl #2 (the egg-yolk-only bowl). Then, the egg whites reserved in bowl #1 are ready to transfer into bowl #3, which’ll house allll of the egg whites. Continue the process with each remaining egg, as needed.

5. Throwing away your eggshells in the trash

Once you’ve used your eggs to make everything from soufflés to omelets to scrambled eggs, consider reserving the shells for your composting bin. Eggshells—especially from good-quality eggs, like the ones from Eggland’s Best—help add minerals like calcium and other essential nutrients for a more well-balanced compost microbiome. A quick composting tip: Crush the shells before adding them to your bin to help speed up the decomposition process.

6. Getting your fried egg stuck to the pan

Making a perfect fried egg comes down to three key components: the type of pan; using fat for cooking the egg; and the heat of the stovetop. When it comes to cookware, a nonstick pan or an enamel-coated cast-iron skillet can better prevent a fried egg from sticking. A generous dollop of butter (or oil) to grease the pan will not only make your fried egg taste even better, but also create a barrier to keep your egg from sticking to the surface.

Cooking your eggs at too low or too high temperatures can also lead to sticking. Test the temperature of your pan by flicking a few droplets of water onto the pan; they should dance around the pan and sizzle. A stovetop set to medium to medium-high heat is usually the ideal cooking temperature for fried eggs.

7. Hard-boiling eggs that are slightly too fresh

Typically, the most tedious part of making hard-boiled eggs is the dreaded task of having to peel them. Fortunately, when the eggs sit in the carton for a short period of time, they become even better for hard-boiling. Once eggs are roughly a week old, they contain less moisture, become more porous, absorb more air, and have a higher pH level in the albumen, making them much easier to peel.

If you find yourself with only fresh eggs and an urgent need for egg salad, adding a half teaspoon of baking soda into the pot can help increase the pH levels more quickly. Just note that this may cause the eggs to taste slightly more sulfuric.

8. Only hard-boiling eggs the old school way

Over the last year, air-frying eggs (yes, you heard that right!) have taken the internet by storm. Instead of the conventional method of hard-boiling eggs in a large pot of water—which seemingly takes an eternity to do—air-frying can help shorten your cooking time exponentially.

Simply place a few eggs in the air-frying basket, cook for 15 minutes at 270°F, then immediately place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process for eggscellent (sorry not sorry) results. You can also reduce the cooking time by a few minutes to achieve a slightly softer hard-boiled egg (about 13 minutes) or a very runny yolk (about 9 minutes).

Have you made any of these mistakes with your eggs? Tell us in the comments below!

A good egg deserves to be turned into something delicious, which is why we’re partnering with Eggland’s Best to highlight our best recipes, tips, and techniques starring their Classic Eggs. Packed with great taste and nutrients (they’re an excellent source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids), Eggland’s Best Classic Eggs are our pick for all sorts of dishes—from classic scrambled eggs to crispy chicken cutlets with a flavorful hard-boiled egg sauce.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Maki Yazawa

Written by: Maki Yazawa

Food Writer & Recipe Developer

1 Comment

j7n July 30, 2021
A floating egg with air in it is old. But probably hasn't spoiled if it was kept in the refrigerator. Sometimes the albumin gets dry and the yolk attaches to the shell, preventing separation. Such an egg is still good thoroughly cooked, boiled or scrambled. You can crack it into a separate bowl and smell.

To incorporate water into scrambled eggs, I just a strong stream from the tap with an aerator. Put room temperature eggs without defects in the shell into boiling water, then strain and rinse under the tap twice. They will peel easily.