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How to Make Perfect Poached Eggs Every Time

Ah, the quest for perfect poached eggs. How many times have you driven your fork into that puffy egg white on your Benedict and been disappointed to find no thick orange yolk spilling around the plate?

Indeed, out of all the ways to cook an egg, poaching may be one of the most difficult techniques to master. It requires patience, good timing, and your undivided attention. But mastering the poach is the sign of a true chef. Culinary school legend has it that the pleats on a chef’s hat represent one hundred ways to cook an egg (though no one can really name a source for that).

Making a poached egg that boasts firm whites and a soft, runny yolk is an art any home chef can master with practice, patience and a little cooking lesson. Here are my fail-safe tips for making perfect poached eggs every time:

  • Do not put the egg in boiling water. The bubbles will agitate the raw egg too much, risking yolk breakage. Water heated to just barely simmering is best.
  • Add a splash of white vinegar. This helps the egg white protein coagulate.
  • Add the egg gently to the water. Again, egg poaching is a delicate art!
  • Do not leave the kitchen or do anything else while poaching your eggs. It’s too easy to get distracted and forget how long you’ve been cooking them. They should be done somewhere between 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove the finished egg with a slotted spoon to decrease sogginess and water content. There’s nothing worse than diluting your hollandaise sauce in a puddle of vinegar water.

If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy your poached eggs beyond hollandaise and ham, consider serving them on salads, noodles, or with a special sauce like harissa. Eggs in Purgatory is one of my favorites–it’s poached eggs surrounded by a spicy tomato sauce. Or try this recipe from Food & Wine for Ratatouille and Poached Egg.

The Austin Artisan offers interactive cooking classes and private cooking demonstrations that can show you how to poach eggs and much more. Get more info about our classes and demos here.