How to Easily Poach an Egg
With this one simple trick, you can learn how to easily poach an egg perfectly every time without using vinegar or an egg whirl pool.
One thing I know to be true is that a lot of people have this thing about poaching eggs themselves. It seems overly complicated and like this elusive task that only highly trained chefs can do well.
I have been planning to make a post about poached eggs for some time because I want you to know just how dang easy it is. And I mean, no silly tricks, dang easy.
I think the home cook has made poaching eggs overly complicated. I hear these tricks all the time. Add vinegar to the water (which btw, I can ALWAYS taste the vinegar when someone does this), or create a whirl pool in the water, or tie the egg in a little baggie before dropping it in, or trim the white with scissors when it comes out.
Don’t get me wrong, even some amazing chefs I know do some of these things. But here’s the thing, you don’t NEED to do any of those things to have perfectly beautiful poached eggs and in my opinion all those things makes me not want to poach eggs. I’m here to tell you that you can poach an egg without vinegar, without an egg whirlpool, and without any tricks. Here we go!
Use the Freshest Eggs
The end. This is absolutely the easiest way to get prefect poached eggs without the hassle. If you read my post about perfect boiled eggs then you know I told you to use older eggs for easier peeling.
But for poached eggs it is important for them to be very fresh because you want the white to be very dense and tight. As eggs age they lose density and the white becomes loose. You are setting yourself up for easy poaching success when you use really fresh eggs.
And I almost feel like I can just end the post there because that is the big secret to pretty poached eggs. But I will keep going just because I love you all that much!
In the US eggs are graded by their freshness. Grade AA eggs are the freshest eggs, Grade A are a little older, and Grade B is even older. When my plan is to poach eggs, I buy Grade AA eggs and use them quickly for the poaching.
Remember that Grade AA eggs will become lower grades as they age. That doesn’t mean they are less tasty but it does mean they aren’t as desirable for poaching.
BUT, if you only have older eggs, I do have one easy quick trick that can make poaching them easier. It is the only “silly trick,” which I will explain later , that I will use for poaching eggs.
The Water Temperature
Now this is super important. I think this is the part that can really mess people up with the egg poaching process. You want water that is just starting to bubble. You don’t even want it simmering yet!
See in the picture below how there are bubbles forming at the bottom of the pan? This is the point right before the simmer. This is the point where the water is hot enough to set the egg but it is isn’t simmering (and DEFINITELY NOT BOILING) so it won’t make the white break apart by the rapid movement of the water.
And we’ve already talked about the vinegar situation. YOU DO NOT NEED VINEGAR IN YOUR WATER TO POACH EGGS! STOP IT!
Optional Step if You Do Not Have the Freshest Eggs…
IF you for some reason do not have really fresh eggs, crack the egg into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. This will allow the part of the white that has become loose to fall away keeping only the part of the white that is still very dense.
I can’t remember where I first learned this trick, but I have seen it in a few places and this is one of the only tricks I use when poaching eggs. If I’m unsure if the egg is going to be really fresh and dense, I do this just to ensure it poaches well.
If I am only poaching an egg for myself then I just leave it in here until I’m ready to lower it into the water. But if you are going to be poaching multiple eggs, you can transfer each egg into a cup after allowing the loose white to fall away.
If You Are Using Really Fresh Eggs…
If your eggs are definitely really fresh, crack your egg into a cup. I like to use a little coffee cup or even a ramekin. If you are going to be poaching multiple eggs. Get out multiple cups and crack one egg into each cup.
Gently Slide the Egg into the Water
Whether you’re using a cup or the sieve, gently pour the egg out of the vessel into the water. I just let the egg slide to the edge of the vessel and then lower it into the water.
Set Your Timer
Three minutes is my perfect poached egg. The whites are perfectly set and the yolk is in the most gorgeous state of runniness. You can go for longer if you like a more cooked yolk. I use a slotted spoon to gently remove the eggs from the water.
If You Are Cooking and Serving Later
If you are poaching a bunch of eggs and serving them later, like say you are having a brunch and want to impress with eggs benedict, then under-cook the eggs just a bit and then place the poached eggs in a bowl of very cold water when you remove them from cooking.
Store the cooked eggs in the cold water in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Once you are about ready to serve, bring the water to just under a simmer again and return the eggs to the water for about 1 minute to warm and finish the cooking. This should be very easy because the eggs will not stick together and you can do a lot of them at once.
Viola! It really is that easy! I don’t know why poached eggs have become this thing that seem so unattainable to the home cook. Don’t be scared. And as with most kitchen techniques, it is all about practice and getting comfortable with yourself and the technique.
You will probably mess up a few at first. I know I did when I first tackled egg poaching, but luckily eggs are inexpensive and they still taste great even if they don’t look perfect. Call it rustic, and don’t stress about it!
Check out my video to see it in action!