Genius Recipes

The Crispy Fried Eggs That Made Me a Better Cook

The recipe that taught me to take a step back.

September 29, 2021

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

Sixteen years and seven homes in, my husband Mike’s fried eggs are a constant in our life—even, and especially, when life gets harder.

They were just as good on the twitchy gas burner in our fourth-floor walk-up apartment (our first, and highest, in Brooklyn) as they’ve been on all of the surprisingly aggressive electric stoves we’ve inherited since, from New York to California.

This is close, but Mike's are even crispy-cracklier. Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Lauren Lapenna. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.

His eggs morph to fill out any half-formed meal idea or jumble of leftovers to become breakfast, lunch, and, most often, very late-night dinner. I’ve dissected what I think makes them so good to so many friends that eventually they became Mike’s Famous Fried Eggs. And if I were still cooking the way I cooked when Mike and I started dating, I might never have tasted them at all.

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Top Comment:
“My Mother, a wonderful cook, would ask this (not a cheery morning person) nearly three years old, if she’d like fried eggs. I’d answer, “make pink eggs, Mommy!” Technique is typical, butter in the fry pan, crack eggs into it after heated, but take the pan lid, add 1-2 tablespoons of water in the lid, turn down the heat and and cover the eggs with the lid, for 30-40 seconds. The steaming process covers the yolk and makes it appear pink, thus “pink eggs”. I’ve done these for our children and ourselves for 40+ years. The yolk isn’t set all the way, depending on how long you leave the lid on, but you can adjust it to your liking. Haven’t seen others use this method, but they are good. Salt, or salt and pepper optional. Just sharing this fond memory from my childhood. My Mother claimed my first words were “hot cookie” when I was sitting on the kitchen floor watching her get my Dad’s favorite: chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. I was eight-nine months old! Loved those cookies then and still do now! I so enjoy Food52! Lots to explore! Kathy M. ”
— Kathy M.
Comment

Because when I met Mike, I wanted to cook everything the best possible way (maybe some of you can relate): I was so eager to get better, so proud when I figured out a new trick, and so, apparently, unwilling to change course once I did, that I got fidgety as soon as I saw the meal starting to diverge from my plan.

It was usually an internal struggle, but in one especially low moment during a BLT phase, I watched Mike put the bacon into the skillet without cutting it in half first—my favorite way to rotate the strips so the edges wouldn’t burn before the middles crisped. So I found myself pulling the already-melting pieces of bacon out of the pan, cleaving them in half, and then slipping them back in. And then realizing uh oh—I...need to back off.

The bacon would have been fine. Even if the edges had burned, everything would have been fine. Mike said nothing and I just squirmed. Luckily, I decided then that I wanted to be more flexible, and curious, in the kitchen, and so I didn’t take over the night Mike fried the eggs.

Because my cooking education up to that point had been more influenced by French traditions than I realized, I had internalized the notion that eggs should be cooked gently and never browned—though even then the idea of there being only one way didn’t sound quite right, given all the other fried eggs I’d grown up eating. And Mike was about to cook them very, very differently.

He started heating the pan on high and wandered away. Smoke curled. He poured a stunning amount of oil into the pan. The eggs billowed and crisped at the edges, but instead of going tough like the cooking manuals had warned, they stayed impossibly tender within.

Mike by no means invented crispy, lacy-edged fried eggs, which are cooked and appreciated by people around the world. But ever since Mike’s eggs taught me to question the rules I’d been taught, I’ve loved learning about the differences in how his tend to come out, like little flying saucers, compared to ones gorgeously puffed and almost deep-fried, Thai-style; and the effects that different moves like flipping vs. basting vs. nudging can have.

But still, why share a recipe that’s already common and well-loved in so many food cultures? Because I hope that no matter what you’ve been taught, you might take a step back, watch other people cook, and reconsider what you think a dish has to be, just like I did. And I hope, no matter how you like to fry eggs, that you might try Mike’s. I think you'll be really happy you did.

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]! Thank you to podcast boss Coral Lee for showing me the charms of pocket eggs.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • binusa99
    binusa99
  • KFUN01
    KFUN01
  • Carla
    Carla
  • NukolaiO
    NukolaiO
  • Lynn D.
    Lynn D.
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."

31 Comments

binusa99 October 6, 2021
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KFUN01 October 6, 2021
Used to work in a Chinese restaurant back in the 80s. A real sit down restaurant. The father of the family would make these fried crispy edge eggs that were to die for. We ate them over rice with soy sauce. It is one of my favorite things in life.
 
Carla October 6, 2021
When my siblings and I were growing up our mother would fry eggs in the Grease from the bacon she is just cooked. The eggs would get crispy on the edges .we called them Lacey eggs! So very good! Fond memories !
 
NukolaiO October 1, 2021
I don't always cook my eggs. I use uncooked egg yolks in my Cesar Dressing and on Steak Tartare...the hot sauce is ALWAYS Tabasco, lots of Tabasco!
 
NukolaiO October 1, 2021
If I don't have bacon drippings or I've just come back rom getting hollered on by my Cardiac Surgeon and Cardiologist, I use a 1: 1: 1 mixture of Butter, Cream and Lard. Based on my dietary habits, My Primary says that 1 egg, cooked like that, shortens my life by 8 minutes. That means that I should have died in 1276 C.E. I like cooking like that! The Vodka's only a hobby.
 
Lynn D. October 1, 2021
Here's another example of stand back and maybe you'll learn something. At the beginning of our relationship, my husband decided to make oatmeal cookies, but he got impatient creaming the butter and sugar, so he put the metal bowl on the stove and melted everything together and then proceeded with the recipe. Best oatmeal cookies ever, like pralines. We've tried to duplicate it, but it's never turned out quite like the first time.

As for the eggs sometimes I add a tablespoon of cold water once the eggs are partially set, the water steams and evaporates and puffs up the eggs even more.
 
NukolaiO September 30, 2021
I don't care for fried eggs with crispy edges
I likes 'em with nice smooth cooked edges and the whites completely cooked. I make mine using bacon drippings and baste 'em with the hot fa
 
Judy B. September 30, 2021
And I thought eggs fried in cream was da bomb! They still are, but I immediately whipped up Mike’s crispy eggs plus the fried toast. Yum!
There are some who think crisp brown egg whites are some sort of heresy and refer to the situation as “lace curtains” and to be avoided at all costs. Don’t knock it until you try it!
 
Kathy M. September 30, 2021
Kristen, I’m always looking for new and different ways to change it up in our breakfast routine. When I saw the “Crispy Fried Eggs” video you had up yesterday, I had to try it along with the fried bread. My husband is still exclaiming: YUMMY!! My first attempt wasn’t bad, but I know I’ll space my eggs a little further apart next time. Yummy anyway!

You mentioned letting you know of favorite ways we cook our eggs and I will share with you how I’ve asked for and eaten eggs off and on for many years (50+). My Mother, a wonderful cook, would ask this (not a cheery morning person) nearly three years old, if she’d like fried eggs. I’d answer, “make pink eggs, Mommy!” Technique is typical, butter in the fry pan, crack eggs into it after heated, but take the pan lid, add 1-2 tablespoons of water in the lid, turn down the heat and and cover the eggs with the lid, for 30-40 seconds. The steaming process covers the yolk and makes it appear pink, thus “pink eggs”. I’ve done these for our children and ourselves for 40+ years. The yolk isn’t set all the way, depending on how long you leave the lid on, but you can adjust it to your liking. Haven’t seen others use this method, but they are good. Salt, or salt and pepper optional.

Just sharing this fond memory from my childhood. My Mother claimed my first words were “hot cookie” when I was sitting on the kitchen floor watching her get my Dad’s favorite: chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. I was eight-nine months old! Loved those cookies then and still do now!

I so enjoy Food52!
Lots to explore!
Kathy M.
 
Samina September 30, 2021
My mom used to fry eggs & bread like this when I was little, except that she used ghee to do so. It's been decades since I've had or made it that way, so thanks for reminding me about it. I'll have to make them this way for my kiddo.
 
Wes September 30, 2021
Just finished Mike’s eggs along with fried English muffins. Only way to make fried eggs from now on!
 
Stubor September 30, 2021
Similar... but not. :)

Bacon grease, not quite as hot; baste the eggs instead of flipping, and a pinch of oregano.

Let's eat!
 
Stubor September 30, 2021
Oh, and fried biscuits.
 
[email protected] September 30, 2021
I do like this recipe! However, I think that think the spooning method works better for me. I don't flip the egg. I make sure I have a large quantity of hot oil in the pan and spoon over the hot oil over the yolk (not too much if you love runny egg yalk) and on the white egg. This will ensure that the yolk remains very runny but none of the top of the egg remain raw. If you like the top crispy, spoon the oil a little longer. Thoughts?
 
Carrie September 30, 2021
I have done the spooning method, as well, and it does work beautifully. I like that it gives me control over how “cooked” the different the parts of the egg turn out.
 
howiff September 30, 2021
Fried Bread is a quintessential part of an English fry up. Add fried eggs, bacon, blood pudding, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, and baked beans and you have yourself breakfast. My fried eggs are somewhat similar but I do not flip. I want the yolk as runny as possible.
 
Karen L. September 30, 2021
I learned about olive oil fried eggs about a year ago online. I really love butter, so I poo-poo'd the idea at first. Then I tried it. WOW! I do not flip mine though. I tilt the pan and spoon the hot oil on top just until the white over the yolk is just cooked. No fear of breaking that beautiful runny yolk! And I season mine with kosher salt, red pepper flakes and dried oregano. SO GOOD! BTW... will need to try the fried bread!
 
Carolyn September 30, 2021
My father would make breakfast on Sundays and fry eggs this way - except he would just use the pan that the bacon had fried in so the eggs were fried in (often copious amounts of) bacon fat. Delicious. Haven't had it in decades but this reminded me of how great those eggs tasted!
 
Tim S. September 29, 2021
Love this video. The quality of the visuals is really top rate; makes me want to go make these eggs right now. Kristen is adorable and Mike adds some fun humor; "enough about the toast, what about me?" Really great, thank you.
 
Carrie September 30, 2021
My thoughts exactly, Tim.
 
Melinda E. September 29, 2021
I learned to cook eggs with a recipe from a Betty Crocker Children's cookbook I had. The recipe is for Egg in a Hole. Take a piece of bread and butter both sides, take a glass or biscuit cutter to make a hole in the middle drop the egg in the middle, flip so the top side gets cooked thru. Fry the hole until golden. I LOVE your video on how Mike taught you to cook a crispy egg and the fried toast. It seems to be the best of both from Egg in a Hole. Can't wait to try it your way! Thanks :-)
 
JK September 29, 2021
I learned about basted eggs some years ago and do them high heat, olive oil, tilt pan at 20 degree or so tilt so the oil pools and pour out a cracked egg in the oil, and grab a tbsp and as the egg fries up on the bottom baste the olive oil over the top. Gets nice and puffy and crispy edged.
 
Carla Y. September 29, 2021
This is the way my beloved grandmother
 
Carla Y. September 29, 2021
cooked her eggs. She fried bacon, then fried the eggs in the bacon fat. She also made delicious biscuits and always manged to have it all ready at the same time.