Learn all of the secrets to poach eggs that are uniformly round and perfectly cooked through. This basic technique and a few tips are tricks that are easy to learn.
Making perfectly poached eggs that are round and uniform in shape, but with a still-runny yolk inside just requires a few simple, precise steps. We’re sharing all of those tips and tricks with you today!
My husband Jack worked in professional food service kitchens for years – and the cooks would use this method to poach several dozen poached eggs at a time, then keep them refrigerated until needed for service.
As orders came in requiring a poached egg – such as Eggs Benedict or other meal requests, they would simply dip the already-prepared poached egg in hot water for about thirty seconds to heat through, then serve.
Here are the precise steps to teach you how to poach eggs.
Key ingredients and Substitutions
- Eggs – Use the freshest eggs possible. Less-fresh eggs will have a looser, watery egg white around the yolk which is not ideal for poached eggs.
While freshly-laid eggs from a farm would be ideal, most of us don’t have access to those. Check the expiration dates on the egg carton at the supermarket, then try to cook the eggs shortly after buying so they are the freshest they can be.
- White vinegar – White vinegar added to the cooking water will assist in keeping the white firm. If you do not have white vinegar, chose a light flavored vinegar like white wine or cider. Avoid balsamic or red wine vinegars for this recipe.
Special supplies needed
- Deep, large saucepan (for 8 eggs). You can use a smaller saucepan if you are planning to cook fewer eggs.
- Fine mesh strainer
- Small bowls (one per egg)
- Slotted spoon
How to Make Poached Eggs
- Do not bring eggs to room temperature before cooking. Keep the eggs refrigerated until you are ready to cook them.
- Crack one egg at a time into a mesh strainer or sieve over a bowl. Any loose egg whites will leak out through the strainer into the bowl and not be used. Once strained, pour the remaining egg white with yolk into another individual bowl and keep chilled. Repeat for all eggs to be cooked. The loose egg whites that strained out can be saved for scrambled eggs or disposed.
- Fill a large sauce pan three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the boiling water.
- After the water reaches the boiling point, turn the burner to low so that the water simmers with small bubbles rising up from the pan bottom. Use a whisk and stir the water in a circle forming a vortex. Gently add one single egg to the center of the vortex and cook exactly three minutes. The vortex helps the white keep its round shape as it cooks by forcing it to the center of the water.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the cooking water after three minutes. Set the slotted spoon with the egg still in it onto a paper towel to drain excess water. Then slide the egg onto a plate or bowl. Repeat for as many eggs as you are cooking. (Note: You can poach several eggs at once without swirling the water first, but they will spread out flat and not be compact and round. If you want that perfect round poached egg, they will need to be cooked one at a time.)
- If serving the poached eggs immediately, slide them all gently back into the hot water to heat back up for 30 seconds, then again remove with a slotted spoon, dry and serve.
- If serving your poached eggs later, cool in ice water, drain, then cover and refrigerate until needed. Then dip the eggs into the hot water to heat through before serving.
Chef’s Tip –
If the peak of the cooked egg forms little white straggly pieces after cooking, they can be snipped off if you prefer.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I make poached eggs ahead of time? Yes, you can cook them ahead of time (follow the steps above or in the recipe card below) and refrigerate until needed, then just reheat in hot water.
How do I store cooked poached eggs? Cover and store refrigerated for up to two days.
Can I freeze poached eggs? No.
How do I serve poached eggs? Poached eggs are a key ingredient in Eggs Benedict (that recipe is coming later this week). They also go very well with toast and avocado, served with cooked asparagus and prosciutto, or over smoked salmon.
You may enjoy these other egg recipes:
- Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Classic Egg Salad
- Deviled Eggs
- Baked Sausage Egg Cups
- Easy Brunch Egg Cups (& Make-Your-Own Brunch Bar Ideas)
2 tablespoon white vinegar
Do not bring eggs to room temperature before cooking. Leave them refrigerated until you are ready to crack, strain and cook.
Crack one egg at a time into a mesh strainer or sieve over a bowl. Any loose egg white will leak out through the strainer into the bowl and not be used. Pour the firm white with yolk into another an individual bowl and keep chilled. Repeat for all eggs to be cooked.
Bring a large saucepan three-quarters full of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Lower to a low heat capable of producing small bubbles beading up on the pan bottom.
Use a whisk and whisk the hot water in a circle to form a rotating vortex. Gently add one single egg to the center of the vortex and cook exactly three minutes. The vortex will help the white keep its round shape by forcing it to the center. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked egg after three minutes. Set the end of the slotted spoon onto a paper towel to drain excess water and slide the egg onto a plate or into a bowl. Repeat for as many eggs as you are cooking.
Note: You can cook several eggs at once without swirling the water first, but they will spread out flat and not be compact and round. If the shape doesn’t matter to you, you can speed things up by cooking them all at once. Be advised though that adding all of the eggs at once will lower the water temperature so you may need to raise the heat a bit. Also, they may take longer than three minutes. Use the slotted spoon to lift one at a time from the water and touch the cooked white to test for doneness. If it does not feel firm, place back in the water and cook longer.
If you cooked each one individually and are serving the eggs immediately, slide them all gently back into the hot water to heat back up for 30 seconds, then again remove with a slotted spoon, dry and serve.
If serving later, cool in ice water as you cook, drain then cover and refrigerate until needed. Dip into the hot water to heat when ready to serve.
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