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How to cook the best fried eggs

It’s a breakfast dream — a tender egg white with a crackling crispy edge wrapped around a golden, slightly runny yolk. The perfect fried egg provides an irresistible layering of textures. It’s an ideal partner for toast and bacon. It’s also delicious on a burger or rice bowl. But how do you cook a perfect fried egg? Read on to learn the secrets.

overhead shot of a plate with two pieces of toast each topped with a fired egg and fresh herbs.

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Choose your tools and ingredients

You don’t need any fancy gadgets or a lot of ingredients to make delicious fried eggs. Here’s what you need:

  • A nonstick skillet: A good-quality nonstick skillet ensures that your eggs don’t stick to the pan and makes flipping and removing them without breaking the precious yolk a breeze. The best nonstick skillet is a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, but anodized, Teflon-coated, or enameled/ceramic skillets all work well, too.
  • A spatula: A thin, flexible spatula helps you flip the eggs without breaking the yolks.
  • Fresh eggs: Fresh eggs are crucial for achieving the perfect fried egg. The fresher the egg, the more likely it is to hold its shape in the pan and cook evenly.
  • Oil or butter: You can use any oil you like or butter. Butter adds a rich, creamy flavor, while oil makes the edge turn out crispier.
  • Salt and pepper: Season the eggs with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, which bring out the egg’s instrinsic flavor.
Closeup of an egg being fried in a skillet.

Why are fresh eggs the best eggs for frying?

When making fried eggs, you want to use the freshest eggs you can find. This is because as eggs age, the whites tend to thin out and become watery. Fresher eggs have a nice thick white that holds together well. This means that the egg white won’t spread out so much in the skillet. When an egg spreads too much, you run the risk of overcooking the white long before the yolk sets. Plus, some people prefer a thicker white than one that’s spread out paper thin.

Getting the heat right

To make great eggs, you need to have the skillet at the right temperature. If the pan is too hot, the eggs will cook unevenly, with burnt edges and an undercooked yolk. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the eggs will take too long to cook and become tough and flabby. Follow these steps to make sure that your pan is at just the right temperature:

  1. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Give it a few minutes to warm up evenly.
  2. Add about a tablespoon of oil or butter to the pan. You can use any type of oil you like, or use unsalted butter. Let the fat heat up and coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Test the pan’s temperature by adding a tiny drop of egg white. If it sizzles gently and turns opaque within a few seconds, your pan is at the perfect temp!
An egg being fried in a skillet.

The final countdown: Cooking the eggs

This is where the rubber hits the road. Here’s how to fry an egg:

  1. Instead of just cracking your egg into the skillet, break it into a small bowl. This makes it easier to slip the egg into the pan without breaking the yolk. It also makes it easier to remove any bits of shell that might break off into the egg when you crack it.
  2. Heat the pan as described above, then carefully slip the egg into the pan. Season the egg with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for about a minute or until the white begins to set.
  4. To make sunny-side-up eggs, cover the skillet with a lid and cook for another minute or two to set the top of the egg.
  5. To make over-easy eggs, gently flip the egg over in the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds more. To make over-medium eggs, cook for about 60 seconds on the second side.
  6. Voilà – your perfect fried egg is ready. Gently lift the egg out of the pan, being careful not to break the yolk, and serve.
low angle shot of a plate with two pieces of toast each topped with a fried egg and fresh herbs.

How to serve fried eggs

Fried eggs are quintessential breakfast food, perfect with buttered toast, bacon or sausage, and a glass of orange juice. Or serve them alongside Japanese Souffle Pancakes for a bit of added protein.

Fried eggs also make an ideal topping for avocado toast, which can be spruced up in a million different ways. Try adding hot sauce, salsa, Zhoug Sauce, Chili Oil, gochujang, or Shichimi Togarashi.

But fried eggs aren’t just for breakfast anymore. They make a beautiful and nutritious addition to a Beef Bulgogi Bowl or Bibimbap. They’re also a delightful pizza or burger topping. Add protein to a veggie side dish like sauteed greens or bacon-wrapped asparagus. Or add them to a bowl of Asian noodles or veggie curry.

By on April 13th, 2023
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About Robin Donovan

Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

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