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How to make perfect poached eggs

A perfectly poached egg is a real delight, the plump white embracing a perfectly runny — but not too runny! — bright orange yolk. As you cut into the egg, the tender white lets forth a luscious river of rich, golden yolk that oozes onto your plate, or better, soaks into your toast. Read on to learn how to make a perfect poached egg.

Close-up shot of a poached egg with yolk running out over toast that is topped with greens and avocado.

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The yolk itself is the true treasure that, once it’s in your mouth, coats your palate with a satisfying rich texture and flavor.

The magic of a perfectly poached egg may seem unattainable if you’re not that savvy in the kitchen, but it’s not nearly as hard to get it right as people make it out to be. Sure, lots of people will tell you there is some special trick you need to employ or a gadget you need to buy to make a perfect poachie, but they’re wrong. It is actually not hard at all and you don’t need any fancy water-spinning tricks or silicone doo dads.

Read on to learn my simple egg poaching method, which I’ll walk you through step-by-step, and soon you’ll be making your own perfect poached eggs. Served atop a bed of fresh, buttery toast or nestled in a savory bed of vegetables, a perfectly poached egg is a gastronomic delight that will leave you craving more.

Low angle shot of a poached egg with yolk running out over toast that is topped with greens and avocado.

What are the best eggs for poaching?

Very fresh eggs are ideal for poaching because they’ll hold together better than older eggs. The white of an egg thins as the egg ages. An egg that’s been in the fridge for a week or two is still perfectly safe to eat, but the white will likely be somewhat thin and watery.

When you drop an egg that’s not super fresh into simmering water,  you’ll see it spread out in all directions rather than holding together. Again, it’s perfectly safe to eat, it just won’t be as pretty.

Very fresh eggs have thick whites that will hold together beautifully while you simmer them into poached egg perfection. The fresher the egg, the more firmly the egg whites solidify (meaning there will be minimal thin strings of egg white that spread out in the water). The end result will be a nice plump white with the perfectly runny yolk nestled in the center.

making it the perfect addition to avocado toast, eggs benedict, or simply on its own. Here are my best tips and tricks for making the perfect poached egg.

High angle shot of two plates with toast topped with sauteed greens, avocado, and poached eggs with their yolks running over the toast.

How to make a perfect poached egg

Okay, everyone take a deep breath here. I swear, this is going to be way easier than you thought.

This method doesn’t require any special equipment, tricks, or big words like vortex or centrifugal force. In other posts, I’ll provide directions for how to make air fryer poached eggs and Instant Pot poached eggs, but my goal here is to show you just how easy it is to make poached eggs with nothing more than a saucepan and a slotted spoon.

Here’s how to make a perfectly poached egg every time.

Step 1: Gather your equipment

Don’t worry, the equipment needs are minimal! All you need is a saucepan and a slotted spoon.

Step 2: Prepare the water

Fill the saucepan to about a 3-inch depth with water. Set the pan over medium-high or high heat. Keep an eye on the water and as soon as it is at a bare simmer, reduce the heat to low. You want to see small bubbles around the edges of the pot, but not large, rolling bubbles.

Step 3: Cook the egg

Once the water is simmering, crack the egg and drop it into the water. Get close to the water before you drop it to minimize spread. Set a timer for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the water — you want it to stay at a minimal simmer

Step 4: Drain the egg

Once the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to gently lift the egg from the water, letting the water drain off into the saucepan.

Overhead shot of two plates with toast topped with sauteed greens, avocado, and poached eggs with their yolks running over the toast.

How to serve poached eggs

Now that your poached egg is ready, it’s time to serve it. Here are some ideas for serving your perfect poached egg:

Avocado toast: Serve your poached egg on top of a slice of toast with mashed avocado and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Or spice it up with a sprinkling of Shishimi Togarashi or Everything But the Bagel seasoning

Eggs Benedict: Serve your poached egg on top of a toasted English muffin with ham or Canadian bacon and Hollandaise Sauce.

Scallion pancake: Serve your poachie on top of a Scallion Pancake with a drizzle of Chili Oil or a dollop of chili crisp.

Rice bowl: Drop a poached egg on top of a bowl of steamed rice (I love a good Korean-style mixed grain rice or brown rice, but white rice works, too). Add some sauteed greens, sliced scallions, and a drizzle of gochujang sauce.

Salad: Serve your poached egg on top of a salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and croutons. Dress the salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, lemon vinaigrette, or creamy blue cheese dressing. Or make it a Caesar salad with crisp Romaine lettuce, lemony dressing, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and crunchy croutons.

Low angle shot of a poached egg with yolk running out over toast that is topped with greens and avocado.

Wrapping Up

Making perfect poached egg might take a little bit of practice, but as I hope you’ve discovered here, it’s really quite easy. The most important thing to remember is to have the water at a gentle simmer when you are cooking the eggs. This ensures that your eggs come out plump, tender, and perfectly cooked every time.

By on April 11th, 2023


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.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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