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Step-by-step instructions with pictures to teach you how to poach the perfect egg every time.
Poached eggs are somethin’ else. There is nothing quite like a perfectly cooked white surrounding a warm and drippy yolk. I love poached eggs by themselves, over veggies, and on salads, but my favorite way to enjoy a poached egg is in a classic breakfast meal of Eggs Benedict.
I have been wanting to share an Eggs Benedict recipe on my blog for quite some time, but I felt that the poached egg deserved its own spotlight, because it’s one of those culinary skills that can be a little bit intimidating.
I am here to tell you: do not be intimidated. I have broken down exactly how to poach an egg at home with pictures, descriptions, and even a little video.
Plus, if it doesn’t work right the first few times, you’ll likely still have an edible egg on your hands, so not all will be lost!
First things first, though… You might be wondering “why poach an egg? Why not just cook an egg over easy in a pan?”
That’s a great question, and although I probably would have agreed with you before poaching an egg myself, I found that the delicate method and consistent results that come from poaching are well worth learning how to do it properly.
And of course, just as a disclaimer: this is not the only way to poach an egg. It is just the way I prefer and what works for me. If this method doesn’t work for you, it’s worth trying again or finding a method that does.
So let’s get started!
POACHING EGGS AT HOME IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
I prefer to poach no more than 2 eggs at one time. This is just personal preference, so I cannot guarantee your results for more than 2 eggs at a time.
You’ll begin by setting out all of the ingredients and equipment you need. This is a very specific method, and it helps to be prepared so you can focus on taking your time with each step.
You will need:
√ 1 or 2 FRESH eggs*, cracked into small bowls (one bowl per egg)
√ a large pot (deep or shallow, your preference) with a lid
√ water in your pot at a depth of about 3 inches (I use my pointer finger up to the 3rd knuckle as a reference point)
√ 1/2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar (1/2 teaspoon per 2 eggs)
√ a slotted spoon
√ a plate with a paper towel on top of it
I also used an instant read candy thermometer to help me while I was learning what to look for (this is the one I have), but that’s not completely necessary.
*You want the freshest of fresh eggs. As in possibly just purchased that morning.
USE THE FRESHEST EGGS POSSIBLE FOR POACHING
The egg whites in older eggs tend to separate more easily from the yolk (this is why older eggs are ideal for hard boiling). In the case of a poached egg, you really want your egg white to cling to the yolk.
The white will essentially encase the yolk, protecting it from the heat of the water as it cooks the white.
Grab the eggs from the back of the shelf at the grocery store, and if using freshly laid eggs from your own chickens, allow 24 hours between lay and poach.
Once you’re ready, with all of your pieces set out and in place, begin by filling your pot with water.
Set the heat to medium low and allow the water to come to a simmer. This is where your instant read candy thermometer will come in handy. You’re looking for 190ºF (88ºC).
As a visual, here is a short video of what you’re looking for (apologies that it’s upside down!).
You are looking for the bubbles that form just before water boils. You want to see a lot of them, not just a few. You could also call this a “gentle boil.” Full on boiling will totally crush your egg. Gennnnnnntle.
When you’ve reached your gentle boil/simmer, add the vinegar.
THE PURPOSE OF VINEGAR IN POACHING EGGS
Vinegar prevents the egg whites from “feathering” too much and from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Some people don’t find this step necessary, but I have better luck using it than not.
After you’ve added the vinegar, you’ll bring one bowl with one egg in it as close to the surface of your water as possible, then slide the egg in slowly and carefully. If poaching 2 eggs, slide the other one in right after the first one.
When your eggs are safely in the simmering water, put the lid on the pot, turn off the heat, and set a timer for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
When the timer goes off, remove the lid and, using a slotted spoon, pull the first egg out of the water. If the white is still slightly translucent, allow it to simmer for an additional 30 seconds.
Once your egg whites are completely opaque, remove each egg one at a time and carefully place it on the paper towel.
Feel free to trim off some of the excess white, just to make it prettier!
Poached eggs are best enjoyed immediately, but if you have to allow them to sit for a bit, transfer fully poached eggs to a large bowl of cold water that has a handful of ice cubes in it.
HOW DO I REHEAT POACHED EGGS?
When you are ready to enjoy your poached eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, slip your poached eggs into the boiling water, and cook for about 20 seconds, just to warm them up. Poached eggs will keep overnight in an ice bath in the refrigerator, but should be consumed within 8-10 hours.
Now, the good stuff! I was going to share a recipe for classic Eggs Benedict, but then I realized… English muffin + ham + poached egg was hardly a recipe.
If anything, I should just make a post/recipe for Hollandaise sauce, buuuuuut, since I’m loading you up with quite a bit of information today, how about I just direct you to my favorite Hollandaise sauce recipe, yeah?
I use Ina Garten’s recipe cut in half for 2 Eggs Benedict servings.
Other ways to enjoy a poached egg?
•Eggs Blackstone (swap ham for bacon + tomato slice)
•Eggs Florentine (Eggs Benny + spinach)
•Eggs Mornay (swap Hollandaise for cheese sauce)
•Eggs Hemingway (swap ham for salmon)
•Irish Benedict (swap ham for corned beef)
•on a salad
I hope that you’ll give poaching an egg a try. I’ve made it so easy for you to follow along!
Q: What’s your favorite way to eat a poached egg?