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Perfect Poached Eggs with Step by Step Photos and Instructions


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One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is a perfect, single poached egg on soft whole grain or sourdough toast, sprinkled with salt. Simple yet elegant!  And if I’m feeling really decadent, I butter the toast. Delish!

I ordered exactly this the other day while catching up with friends over brunch… this sparked quite a controversy over how to poach eggs. The topic even in invoked out right panic in one of my girlfriends at the mere thought of attempting to poach an egg! So, I thought I’d show them and you, how I do it!

1)      Fill a large deep saucepan with 2 inches of water, add a generous sprinkling of course kosher salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. When the water is barley simmering, break one egg into a small heatproof bowl.

2)      Give the water a little swirl with your spoon or spatula, the moving water will help hold the egg’s shape. (My mom would always use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

3)      Place the lip of the small heatproof bowl containing your egg into the water and gently tip it to slide the egg carefully into the pan.

4)    If necessary use a small spoon to “fold” the edges of the white over the egg, for a neater edge. Continue with remaining eggs. Cook until whites are just set and yolks are still soft 2-3 minutes. (Be sure each egg has sufficient space in the pan so that it does not contact its neighbors.)  Another option to get the perfect shape is to use a metal ring, it’s a food styling trick, or you can use a cookie cutter or even crack an egg into a metal spoon and submerge it into the  water and let it cook

5)      Using a slotted spoon or small mesh sieve remove your eggs and briefly rest on paper towels to drain.

6)      For an even prettier presentation you can carefully trim the edges of your poached egg with a knife.

If not serving immediately poached eggs will hold up well for up to 24 hours. To make ahead, immediately place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking, then transfer them to a bowl of cool water (it should just reach  the tops of the eggs). Place bowl in the refrigerator, covered.

To serve, re-heat in a pan of barely simmering water, gently add eggs and cook just until heated through, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove eggs and blot as directed.

This method works for me; I hope it works for you too. I don’t use vinegar, I simply never have, I know many people do, and not everybody swirls. I’m curious – what is your method for creating perfect poached eggs?

Now that you have your perfectly poached eggs, here are some ideas for serving them:

 Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Poached Eggs with Apples

Poached Eggs with Tomato Cilantro Sauce

Frisee and Wild Mushrom Salad with Poached Egg


For our lesson on the Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs click here.

Images by ©doodlehedz photography.  Thank you to Chef Shaya, instructor at the JCC from At Your Palate, for stepping in to to cook for the photo shoot.

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About Jennifer Goren


Director of Culinary Arts at the JCC in Manhattan. Jennifer Goren is a proud graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food & Health’s Chef Training Program. Her expertise focuses on health supportive cooking methods using whole foods and converting any recipe into a healthy and scrumptious alternative, while placing emphasis on nutrition and the connection between food and its healing properties. She’s enjoyed teaching healthy cooking to teenagers at NYC’s Hamilton Madison House, conducted lectures here as well as abroad, and catered for both private and corporate clients through her small business “The Zen Gourmet.” Jennifer is passionate about tasting and teaching all types of cuisine, and is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of Culinary Arts Programming , as well as inspiring new class trends!




5 Responses to Perfect Poached Eggs with Step by Step Photos and Instructions

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I always wanted to know how to make poached eggs, I will try it on Sunday.

  2. As a chef myself, here are some of my tips and advice on poaching eggs:

    1) Use the freshest eggs possible – farm to table if you shop at the farmer’s markets! The fresher the egg, the more consolidated it is and the less albumen run-off you’ll have when you drop it into the water.

    2) Poaching temperature is around the 140° F mark. The best way I’ve found to determine the proper temperature is that a film of tiny little bubbles will form on the surface of your pan or pot – that means the water is hot enough to cook the contents but not too hot that the water will begin to boil or simmer which will break the egg apart. Keep in mind, if you poach multiple eggs at a time, each egg you place in the water will lower the temperature of the entire pan so you may want to be slightly hotter as you add your eggs.

    3) I know that the article indicates that it’s ok to season your water with salt – but actually, salt in the water breaks eggs apart, especially the albumen (white). Acidulating (adding some acid) the water forces a reaction in the egg to “cook” it faster. Try it! Try adding some vinegar over a raw egg – it’ll begin to “cook” before your eyes. If you only add a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to your pan, it won’t impart too much of a flavor (if any) and can really help to solidify your egg. This is especially useful if you’re making a batch of eggs. You can easily get a second pot or wide pan hot with salted water AFTER you’ve poached the egg to quickly dip it into in order to wash off the acid flavor and give it some salt. Great way to reheat poached eggs as well!

    4) I love the swirling-the-water method! It really does work…but only for the first egg.

    5) Two inches of water is generally a good starting point, but it really depends on the size and shape of the pan that you use. You really want to make sure that you have enough water to completely immerse your egg. Also, I found that a wider pan deep enough to submerse an egg is easier to work with when you use a slotted spoon.

  3. Just came across this awesome video on an alternative method for poaching eggs: http://www.chow.com/food-news/55223/how-to-sous-vide-an-egg-at-home/

    They call it “sous vide” but that’s not entirely accurate in that you’re not vacuum sealing the egg at all. Also, at boiling/poaching temperatures, the plastic wrap is safe while in direct contact with your food!

  4. avatar says: KosherDIY

    Sous vide is the only way to do it. Perfect results every time and the ability to season the egg before poaching.

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