Perfect Poached Eggs

April  6, 2012

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, Amanda's sharing our favorite way to poach eggs.

how to poach an egg

Poaching eggs can really get a home cook down. There are so many factors to consider -- vinegar or no vinegar? Deep pot or shallow pan? And sometimes, as careful as you are, they just don't turn out. There has been a lot of talk on the Hotline about this somewhat intimidating task, and as this thread proves, there are plenty of ways to successfully poach an egg. Today we're sharing our favorite poaching technique, which Amanda lovingly calls "The Control-Freak Method."

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This week's video was shot by our friend Alex Lisowski and edited by Dimon Hunter.

Photo by Nicole Franzen

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Theresa (. April 6, 2014
I can't wait to try the 'control freak' method for poached eggs. This is on my 'to do list' to master poached eggs and this looks like it is a fail proof method. Thank you!
Casey January 8, 2014
May I be a little nit-picky here?
If you are cooking your eggs in plastic wrap or "pods" etc, they are NOT poached but steamed egss!
Just saying.
Gildy May 7, 2013
I've always used vinegar in the water before but could be un-neccessary after seeing this...never thought of adding salt either.
Ghost H. May 7, 2013
What a timing! I just finished listening to Leonard Lopate's Food Friday segment with Harold McGee on poaching egg but he got cut off at the very end. I was dying to hear the no-vinegar trick. And here you are food52!
Gildy May 7, 2013
Simple food, its been ages since I cooked eggs(fried, poached or scrambled)thanks for reminding me, living alone its easy to give up and not bother. I am trying to not let that happen...I think that is why often the elderly do not eat well, its not just having a low income.
Gildy May 7, 2013
What a great idea but have invested in some silicone poachers that sit in the pan and can be hooked out when cooked. Similar idea to the spoons...and when frying eggs splash the yolk so it is opaque. Have invested in a ring too so they are tidier.
tahlie43 March 27, 2013
Don't ever shut up about eggs or anything else. I just found your tumblr blog and web site. I'm in awe and amazement and love it and don't know where to look first. Thank you!
Amy S. October 28, 2012
I'm totally on Kathi D's team here... this looks way too high maintenance for me! I just make sure I have super fresh eggs. The only tip then is to make sure you take them out in the order you've put them in... otherwise some will cook for too long, and others won't be cooked enough. Never had a problem yet, and they've always been super delicious. The added benefit is that it means you can take care of doing things like toast while the eggs are poaching, which means the toast is still warm when you put the egg on it.

And now I have a desperate hankering for poached eggs on toast with a little strip of bacon on top...
Babette's S. April 22, 2012
I very recently picked up on the plastic wrap sort of sous vide method. I saw a female chef do it this way (online clip...sorry can't recall where or who). She sprays or coats a piece of plastic wrap lightly with oil (I imagine soft or melted butter would also work) and then seasons the egg with salt & pepper and some fresh minced herbs and ties up the packet and immerses it in the water. Well folks, all plastic wraps are not equal. LOL!, I thought it was such a great idea that I had to try it (I happen to love eggs). Unfortunately my no-name brand of plastic wrap was the pits and it broke well before the egg was done. I do want to try it again with heavier duty name brand plastic wrap. I wonder if there is a brand of plastic wrap specifically designed for cooking? Her resulting poached egg was gorgeous and I imagine also delicious.
MrsWheelbarrow April 22, 2012
I am addicted to StretchTite, available at Amazon, Costco and Target. It's easy to work with, doesn't stick back on itself, and comes with a very clever cutter, packaged inside the box.
Chef C. April 10, 2012
Also if you are high tech enough a 63.9 degree egg at 56 min is the best and can last for a day. Of course it is cooled after coming out of the circulator if you are holding it for 24 hrs
Chef C. April 10, 2012
I say just use the five minute egg tick works the best and is so simple...take it from a chef
marcella F. April 9, 2012
I use a similar method as Amanda's, only I use a ladle (lightly sprayed with oil) instead of a spoon: it makes for less egg-grooming and it's easier as you don't have to worry about your egg falling overboard. It's not an idea of mine, but epicurious's: . But I can't wait to try Mrs Wheelbarrow's as actually with both this one or Amanda's you're limited to poaching one egg at a time.
thanks to everybody for all of your suggestions and to Amanda for starting out the egg poaching obsessive group :)
BoulderGalinTokyo June 6, 2012
Yes, I was using the ladle method too because I have two and can poach 2 eggs at the same time. But it doesn't leave a hand free to 'help' out any egg whites that escape. So many great suggestions here! Thank you Amanda for starting another great topic!
Amanda H. June 19, 2012
Just seeing your comment now -- thanks. We should do one on scrambling or frying eggs, I'm sure that would elicit lots of great ideas, as well.
Amanda H. April 9, 2012
Wow, who knew we found the epicenter of egg poaching obsessives! Love this!
modenadreaming April 9, 2012
The April issue of BonAppetit has another version of "the perfect poached egg" (I'm not sure there is one). They say that at Per Se, the following is how Thomas Keller poaches eggs:
1. Crack an egg into a small bowl filled with 1/2 cup vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Bring water to boil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
3. Using a whisk, swirl water to create a vortex.
4. Drop egg with vinegar into the vortex. Keep swirling for 2 minutes and
5. Voila! a perfect poached egg.
I tried this method since I've always been desperate for the "perfect poached egg". The article states that the swirling should be vigorous. I do not recommend vigorous swirling since it totally destroyed my egg. But when I tried GENTLE swirling, it proved a success. I think MrsWheelbarrow has the answer with the egg pouches in plastic wrap. Can't wait to try that method. Perhaps it will be the end of my quest for the "perfect poached egg".
mrslarkin April 8, 2012
oh dear, i feel a poached egg fixation coming on.

I saw this Heston Blumenthal poached egg video pop up when Amanda's video ended. He says 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) is optimal poaching temp, using a super-fresh egg. He drains off the loose whites with a slotted spoon. Michael Ruhlman's badass perforated spoon would be ideal for this job.

Last November, I saw this video on Telepan t.v. in which he breaks open a poached egg-in-the-shell over sausage and biscuits. Always wondered how he got that egg to poach in the shell and I think Rivka's method must surely be it.
Kathi D. April 8, 2012
If you have truly fresh eggs, that is, collected today or yesterday, poached eggs are dead easy. Just simmer the pan of water and drop in as many eggs as will fit. They form themselves perfectly into nice oval egg shapes as they cook.
MrsWheelbarrow April 8, 2012
Joining the obsessive egg poacher group. So nice to find you all here. Several years ago, I took a cooking class with Michel Richard. He taught egg poaching like this.
1 line a Demi tasse cup with plastic wrap.
2 crack an egg into the plastic wrapped lined cup
3 make a little package by tying the egg/wrap closed with kitchen twine and remove the little egg balloons from the cups.
4. Into a simmering pot of water with the eggy packages
5 they'll be perfect in about two minutes, using large fresh eggs. Maybe three.
6 untie and release a perfectly formed, perfectly cooked egg.
The packages may be tied hours before you need them, and refrigerated, or you can cook the eggs up to four hours in advance and plop them back in barely simmering water for a quick bath before serving.
Do not hate on me about cooking with plastic wrap. It's a great technique when serving 18 people poached eggs for brunch.
mtrelaun April 8, 2012
No hating here, MrsWheelbarrow! This is my favorite technique for poaching eggs.
paseo April 8, 2012
Could not agree more - it's really a great way to do one (or 18! - yikes). I do spray some oil onto the plastic after having some stick at an important time. Really like this method.
MrsWheelbarrow April 9, 2012
Oh geez, how did I leave out that Very Important Step? Thanks, paseo! (You can flavor the poached egg with the oil - I've use basil scented olive oil and also smoked olive oil, both for very delicious results.)
gailparis April 7, 2012
Mine are not as beautiful but work. I boil water then while still boiling put in a plastic circle cutter (that you would use for cutting mini pastry shells). I use a small spoon to push the whites and the time the bread toasts its done!. A little vinegar does help keep shape.
the P. April 6, 2012
This method certainly may yield the prettiest results, but if you have to hold the spoon the whole time you can only poach one egg at a time! I much prefer the slow-drop method: still using the shallow pan and just-simmering water (I always add a splash of rice vinegar), I crack a fresh egg into a small teacup (usually dropping two at a time, one in each hand) and slowly let the egg release into the water, allowing the whites to solidify, slightly, before dropping it completely into the pan so that the egg won't stick to the bottom. Depending on the size of your pan you can poach at least four if not six eggs at a time. I suppose you could call it the Entertainer's Method, since I tend to make poached eggs for a crowd - brunch is my favorite meal to host and I love, love, love a good poached egg!
pete H. April 6, 2012
I include poached eggs among my handful of cooking obsessions. I like Amanda's technique, but of course I have a completely different (and equally obsessive) approach, described in detail on my blog: