How To Make A Perfect Poached Egg

I’ll just start by saying that I completely adore poached eggs.  Poached eggs on toast, poached eggs with creamy bacon grits, poached eggs over roasted asparagus…I could go on for days.  Until recently, however, the only way I got real poached eggs was to show up on my mom’s doorstep, make big pleading puppy dog eyes at her, and ask her to make me a poached egg.  I just couldn’t seem to make them myself…I tried all the tricks that involve white vinegar and making a little whirlpool in the boiling water, and we bought various poached egg equipment – no dice.  And then one day a miracle occurred, and I taught myself how to poach an egg.  Perfectly.  I poached approximately 100 more eggs, all perfectly, and I now feel confident about sharing my method with the world.  So ladies and gentleman, here we go.

First you need eggs.  You probably knew that.

Now crack your eggs into little glass bowls (and teacups will work just fine if you don’t have a million little glass bowls in your cabinet like I do.  What can I say…I love little glass bowls!)

This is going to let your egg slip neatly into the water, rather than having it scatter in all directions the way it would if you just cracked it directly in the water.  (I always like to know the REASONS for things!).

Now bring a skillet of water to a nice simmer.  You want about 3 inches of water in that skillet.  If you don’t have a deep skillet, a pot will work fine too….I like a skillet because it’s easier to get the eggs in and out.

Once you have those nice simmery bubbles in your water, slip the eggs in by gently pouring them out of the glass bowls.

The outside edges of the egg white may swirl around a little, but the main part of the egg white will be just fine.  Trust me.

You can nudge the egg white closer to the yolk with a wooden spoon if you want.  This step is optional, because one way or the other your poached egg is going to be nice and neat and fine.  But I like having something to do, so I do it.

Now put a lid on the skillet and turn off the burner.  Yes, all the way off.  I’m not kidding. Off.

Let the eggs sit in the skillet with the lid on for exactly four minutes.  If you like your egg yolks super-duper runny you can make it three minutes, but personally I think four is just about perfect.  After four minutes, grab your handy slotted spoon or spider…

..and scoop out your PERFECT poached eggs.  The wispy edges of the white will have mostly fallen away into the water, leaving you with poached egg perfection.

Now all that’s left is the eating.  And while I have an endless array of things I like to top with a poached egg (baked potato! Caesar salad!), there’s nothing quite so wonderfully comforting as a piece of warm buttered toast with a poached egg on top.

Let’s cut into that baby, shall we?

Oh my goodness.

Oh my goodness gracious.

Once you’ve done a few taste tests with eggs and toast, you can go on to make poached eggs with bacon grits…

Filet mignon carpaccio with poached eggs…

Smoked salmon florentine with (say it with me) poached eggs…

I’ll stop now.  I’m sure you want to go an poach an egg as soon as humanly possible. You can do it!


How To Make A Perfect Poached Egg!
  • As many eggs as you would like to poach!
  1. Fill a deep skillet or a pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Break each egg into a small glass bowl or a teacup. Make sure the yolk is intact.
  3. Slip each egg gently into the simmering water. Don't worry if the whites seem to flare out in the water...if you like, you can nudge the edges back towards the yolk with a wooden spoon, but even if you don't things will still be fine. :)
  4. Cover the skillet with a lid, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 4 minutes (3 minutes if you like your yolks REALLY runny).
  5. Scoop out the poached eggs with a slotted spoon, letting the water drip off. You've made perfect poached eggs!


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  1. Rachel says

    This is similar to what I do, except I use a teacup. I also put a folded piece of paper towel under egg after removing it from pan to make sure no water is there to wet the toast. I then slide it off utensil onto toast. Love poached eggs with lots of black pepper.

  2. Blewits says

    I love you for this! THANK YOU! I never get poached eggs unless I’m at a restaurant and they are one of my favorite foods on the planet.

    • Kate says

      Me too!! And my pleasure – I firmly believe we should all be able to eat poached eggs whenever we want to, especially in our own kitchens. :)

  3. says

    I’m lucky in that we raise chickens so our eggs are very fresh. A fresh egg white is much thicker than an older egg white, so they hold together better when you poach them. My all-time favorite way to eat eggs is Eggs Benedict, so I am going to try your method next time. Thanks for sharing this! Sharing also on my Facebook page.
    Fresh Eggs Daily

  4. says

    OMG this is SOOOOOO much easier than the way I learned it at The Restaurant School a hundred years ago!! I also love poached eggs but have never made them at home. Who wants that vinegar-y flavor in with it, bleeccccchhhhh. Shared this on my FB page as well. And your photographs are *outstanding.* Thanks once again, Kate. Now if I could just convert you over to whole grain pastas………

  5. Susan says

    I’ve never made a poached egg in 50 years, since I bought my Sunbeam Egg Cooker, right out of college. It’s always worked it’s magic but I have fears of it dying before I do! I’m saving your method just in case! People have mentioned adding it to their FB, but I don’t know how to do that. Any help?

      • Kate says

        HI Susan! Give this method a try and see if you even need to keep your Sunbeam Cooker! Meantime you can share this on Facebook (thank you!) by clicking the Facebook icon right under the post. :)

  6. says

    Wow — this looks so much easier than all the techniques I’ve tried (and I agree — the vinegary taste is not my favorite in one of those other techniques) — I’m definitely going to give this a whirl soon!

  7. ruthie says

    You know, when I was a tot, we had a bitty little egg poacher. I drove my mom crazy wanting poached eggs, just so I could play with that cute little pot with its little saucers to hold the eggs. It was foolproof.

    But as I grew older, I kind of liked the way “hand poached” eggs looked, a little ragged, yolks not perfectly centered. And they do go great on so many things. I’m going to try your method because you certainly have the experience! Maybe I should hope it doesn’t work for me, or I’ll be eating way too many poached eggs. 😉

    As always, thanks, Kate!

    • Kate says

      I feel the same way about hand-poached eggs – I have those floating poach pods that steam them…but it’s just not the SAME. :)

  8. Dawn says

    This is maybe a dumb question. With an electric cooktop, when turning off the heat, should I take the pan off the burner as well?

    I’ve tried many of your recipes and haven’t been disappointed yet! Thanks!!

    • Kate says

      Not dumb at all! :) Yes, take the pan off the burner so you don’t get any residual heat. So happy you are liking my recipes! :)

  9. Jen says

    This worked beautifully! As a kid, my mom had a special egg poaching pan with little removable triangle-shaped pans for each egg and I don’t think the egg ever touched water. I thought that was the only way to do it. I didn’t know you could just crack the egg into water until I met my husband and since then I’ve been trying to refine my technique. This definitely worked the best and is pretty idiot proof! Delicious way to start the day!

  10. Joyce says

    Every single morning, my parents would have two (2) poached eggs on toast. Rain or shine, day after day after day. It’s a tradition with me. But my mother’s poached eggs were always those wild crazy one’s, with the white scattered and scooped up to put on the toast.

    I’ll try this tomorrow morning…with mashed avocado, and bacon, on toast….as per your recipe today.

    Thanks for the ‘new’ method!

  11. Susan says

    Love your method of poached eggs. I love your dish that your eggs are in, can you tell me were I can purchase one


    • Kate says

      Thank you! I got that bowl at Anthropologie – I just looked at their website and I don’t see it, but they might have it at the store – fingers crossed!


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