How to Poach an Egg


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  194 comments   :  85,156 Views

Poaching an egg is an easy technique once you learn how to properly do it. Many people are fearful of breaking the egg or ending up with soggy, runny eggs, but I have a few tips to help you become a pro at poached eggs.

This healthy cooking technique requires no added fat, and it is fast enough for even a busy morning. (Worried about the cholesterol in this "perfect protein" food? Check out this article to see why eggs are excellent any time of day.)

I put together a short video demonstrating the process, along with a list of helpful hints.

Some tips:

  • To keep eggs from getting too hard, the water should be about 180 degrees Fahrenheit--not boiling.
  • You'll know your water is ready when there are tiny bubbles in the bottom of the pan.
  • Add a tablespoon or so of vinegar to the pan to help keep the egg protein from disintegrating in the pan. The acid in the vinegar acts as a coagulant.
  • Give the water a few swirls with your wooden spoon to help keep the egg in the center of the pan.
  • Never crack the egg over the water bath. Instead, crack it into a shallow dish and slide it into the water just above the surface.
  • The egg will sink to the bottom, then rise as it cooks.
  • Poach eggs ahead of time and store in water. Reheat them in a water bath when ready to eat.
  • A soft poached egg takes about 3 minutes.
  • Serve on a slice of whole wheat toast with wilted spinach. Add on a cup of skim milk and two clementines, and you've got a hearty breakfast: 400 calories, 8 g fat, 26 g protein, and 9 g fiber.
While poached eggs are usually associated with eggs Benedict, a heavy dish made with Hollandaise sauce, Canadian bacon and an English muffin, there are plenty of other ways to eat them. Runny egg yolks make a great sauce or dressing in many dishes. In addition to serving the poached eggs on toast, you can also serve them:
  • atop salads for a very European twist
  • on fat-free refried beans
  • over brown rice and steamed vegetables
  • atop whole-wheat pasta and tomato sauce
  • with toast points for dipping
  • on a whole-wheat English muffin with two slices of Canadian bacon for a lighter version of eggs Benedict.

If you liked this video, be sure to check out my others at

What is your favorite way to cook an egg?

U.S. F.D.A. Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   Getting Off to a Good Start—Again


  • 194
    Nice to have this recipe available. - 2/13/2018   10:13:17 AM
  • 193
    Good to know - 1/23/2018   10:11:29 PM
  • 192
    Whilst poached eggs aren't my favourite- my favourite is over medium with a soft NOT runny yolk- i recognize the fact that they aren't THAT disgusting and are better for me. I can't understand is how its so hard for some I think I did them as an 8 year old boy. Too many years ago than I care to share. - 1/20/2015   8:45:46 PM
    I've never understood the appeal of poached eggs. They taste like fried eggs without the butter. Butter makes everything better. I guess if you're trying to lighten things a little, but so often this method is used for fancy egg dishes like eggs benedict, where you just add the butter in a different form, hollandaise.

    I used to have to cook them in the restaurants all the time. I hope I never have to poach another egg. - 9/10/2014   11:28:21 PM
  • 190
    I've found that poaching eggs during the five minutes that I am boiling up my plain oatmeal is very easy. Put the oats in you water, add the eggs and boil for 5 minutes. Eggs and grains... mixed, no fuss. You can find the full recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook. - 3/11/2014   5:35:02 PM
  • 189
    It took my a while before I mastered the technique of egg poaching. This may help.

    I always wanted to get the egg to turn in on itself like a little golf ball (the way the chef's do it). The key is to stir the water rapidly to create the centrifugal force for the egg white to turn in on itself! - 2/21/2014   5:30:19 AM
  • 188
    I love poached eggs....curious about the vinegar. Doesn't it leave a taste? - 12/3/2013   8:30:55 AM
    I know these directions are the proper chef way of cooking. I wonder how many people are turned off from cooking for themselves because it looks so complicated. Take it from an old lady who has been cooking at home, not professionaly, for a long time. You don't need to do all that. Put a couple of inches of water in a small pan, crack the egg and drop it into the simmering water. Cook until it's as done as you like it. Remove with a slotted spoon. If you like, a slice of bread makes a good sponge to absorb extra water from the egg before plating it. Most people I know skip this step. By the way, I have never in my lifetime had disentegrating eggs. - 4/23/2013   6:35:45 AM
  • 186
    A microwave poacher makes it even easier and takes a minute or less, depending on how you like your eggs. I like to put on on top of half a light English muffin with a wedge of Light Laughing Cow cheese. - 7/18/2012   4:29:48 PM
  • 185
    I enjoy eggs- the yoke must be firm. - 7/17/2012   8:40:29 PM
  • 184
    I love eggs pretty much any way they are cooked. I recently adopted a vegan eating lifestyle and the only part of it which has been difficult for me is giving up eggs. So sad. - 4/29/2012   11:14:09 AM
  • 183
    Amazing timing. For the last several days I have been thinking about poached eggs but have never cooked them. Great video and now I will make a breakfast with spinach and poached egg! Thanks. - 4/29/2012   6:31:05 AM
  • 182
    omelettes with veggies. boiled egg and poached eggs cholesterol city NO! - 4/23/2012   10:44:56 AM
  • 181
    We ate out today for a late breakfast and I had two poached eggs. They were delicious. - 4/22/2012   8:36:31 PM
  • 180
    in an omelet - 4/21/2012   12:37:22 PM
  • 179
    I love poached eggs! - 11/17/2011   12:51:12 PM
    I was running out of ideas about cooking eggs and I have plenty of eggs!!
    I´m going to try them out! - 9/14/2011   3:28:13 AM
    Some times I like to boil a egg for two and half to three minutes depends on the size. Then place them in cold water to stop them cooking. Once cold I just dust them with flour then dip them into beaten egg then roll them in bread crumbs. Then back into the beaten egg and again into the bread crumbs. Then cook them in a deep fryer untill golden. I like to place them on top of a salad. And when you cut into the deep fried egg the yoke runs out over the salad. Dont let the deep frying put you off for you dont eat them every day. Go on try them they are really yummy. pthere in New Zealand - 8/24/2011   6:59:34 PM
  • 176
    I bought the silicon poach pods for poaching eggs. No more fuss, no more disintegrating eggs, no vinegar needed, and perfect eggs every time. Worth the money if you like poached eggs. - 6/27/2011   9:07:55 PM
  • 175
    We have chickens so any egg recipes are very helpful when you get an abundance of them. I occasionally have poached egg with asparagus on toast for lunch. Very yummy!
    - 6/6/2011   9:44:18 PM
  • 174
    I'm like HAKUKAT... poached eggs are my prefered way of cooking eggs (for me at least). I poach an egg and put it on an english muffin (whole wheat or sourdough, depends on my mood) several sprays of imitation margarine, a small bed of spinach leaves, one medium slice baby portabello mushroom, a slice of white American cheese and two pieces of shaved ham. Garnished with yellow mustard, Tapatio and ground horseradish.

    I serve it with three apple wedges and a cup of coffee.

    It's one of my favorite breakfasts.

    Thanks for the vinegar tip.

    Dennis - 5/13/2011   12:01:42 PM
    Poached are my favorite way and I make them often. Thanks for the tip for the vinegar, I will try that out tomorrow morning! - 5/12/2011   2:38:32 PM
  • 172
    Loved the 'vinegar plus swirling around the egg' once in the water to keep it together! (That's always been a challenge!) Thanks tips plus your video! - 5/4/2011   3:44:45 PM
  • 171
    Yum! - 4/4/2011   1:40:13 PM
  • 170
    I'm going to make this right now for breakfast! - 3/10/2011   7:17:03 AM
    eggs are always good!! - 1/26/2011   12:23:10 PM
  • 168
    Well, I did it. I poached an egg. It didn't look as pretty as yours, but it tasted like... an egg. Thanks Chef Meg! - 1/26/2011   7:51:13 AM
  • 167
    Yummy, yummy, yummy. - 1/25/2011   11:45:22 PM
  • 166
    I have never had any luck poaching an egg but basting one is a lot easier. You spray a non-stick skillet and heat. add your egg. when the white is fairly done on the bottom then you add a large splash of water and immediately put a lid on the skillet. The water steams the top side. When the white is cooked on top your egg is done and the yolk is still runny. Doesn't take as long as poaching and you can put in as many eggs as you need to cook ,Just use a larger skillet. - 1/12/2011   12:16:29 PM
  • 165
    Telling people to eat runny egg yolks is irresponsible, and frankly, could potentially leave SparkPeople open to lawsuit. Hard poached, and hard cooked eggs are great, but according to the US FDA, runny egg yolks and raw eggs, are potentially deadly! Don't believe me? See for yourself:

    Don't want to read through all the mumbo jumbo? Here's the relevant part, copied directly from that link: SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. - 1/11/2011   9:45:44 PM
    yum, now I'm hungry! poached eggs are intimidating if you've never done, but quite easy once you try it! give it a go! - 1/11/2011   1:44:12 PM
    Size6ByJune, you are to be congratulated! FINALLY someone has the right idea! I'd lose the half-and-half, though; the idea is to reduce the carbs to almost zero - and you don't want - or need - the lactose.

    The only thing I'd suggest is adding some turmeric - it's a very powerful antioxidant.

    Now, is that a UK 6 (which I am) or a US 6? - 1/5/2011   3:18:42 PM
  • 162
    My Grandfather lived to almost 91 & ate oatmeal every weekday but always had 2 poached eggs over toast on Sunday mornings.

    I prefer scrambled with lots of veggies, or spinach & salsa, or anything but runny. They're wonderfully quick protein. - 12/15/2010   2:29:26 PM
  • 161
    I recently learned about adding vinegar to the water, and it does make a difference in keeping the egg together. I also add a pinch of salt to the water before heating it. Regarding the question about poaching eggs until the yolks are hard, I believe that's called "hard poaching" and a perfectly good way to eat them. I prefer soft to medium yolks. These days, I poach two eggs in the same water (I can do up to four, but the last two don't have as much egg-white sticking to them), take the eggs out with a slotted spoon, and then put them into a bowl. Once my unbuttered toast is ready, I slide two eggs on top of the toast, and eat the whole thing with a fork and knife.

    I can hardly wait for breakfast tomorrow.... - 11/17/2010   1:43:34 AM
  • 160
    I am guessing thats White vinegar and not Cider vinegar?
    I had a poached egg today and lost half the whites, forgot this trick to keep them from falling apart :) - 11/4/2010   1:05:18 PM
  • 159
    My favorite is to chop some garlic cloves in half, maybe a little chopped onion as well, saute in a little olive oil just till lightly browned and tender. Push them to the side a fry gently two eggs. Turn over, cook till white is done but yolk is soft. Pour the oil mix over one piece of rye toast and top with eggs. Use other piece of toast for dipping. Ahhh. heavenly.

    My newest experiment is an egg wrap using every imaginable hot pepper and hot sauce etc in the mix, with green and red peppers, garlic, onion and salsa etc. Then put a small amount on the wrap topped with cucumbers, diced tomatoes or whatever tickles my fancy at the moment. Boy are they HOT! - 10/28/2010   12:00:28 AM
  • 158
    I've NEVER been able to handle eating a yolk anyway but cooked through and through! Wondering if a poached egg could be cooked until the yolk is hard? Or would that just be a "boiled egg" boiled out of the shell. Things that make you go Hmmm! - 10/26/2010   10:33:25 PM
  • 157
    Fabulous reading today, thought I knew allabout eggs but I did get great ideas from all of this. My favourite is definitely poached. Used to be with S&P but only use the pepper now, I miss the salt. - 10/20/2010   10:36:29 AM
  • 156
    Mornings are a rush. I microwave. I put hot sauce on my eggs. Dr. Oz says it increased your metabolism and cuts your cravings. Works for me. - 10/13/2010   9:15:53 AM
  • 155
    I've poached eggs, but for a quick morning egg I use the microwave. I have a small glass bowl that works out great for an english muffin sandwich. - 9/22/2010   10:13:59 AM
  • 154
    I love poached eggs they are my favorite. Thanks for the tips. - 7/16/2010   1:50:57 AM
    I love eggs any way you fix them!!!!! - 7/15/2010   8:42:46 AM
    I just spray a little microwavable container put my egg in and poke the yoke. 45 seconds on medium high and I have the best egg for whatever I want to do with it that day.... - 7/15/2010   8:20:28 AM
  • 151
    Done in an egg coddler. My MIL got our kids to eat these and other odd things with her quiet British approach. - 7/14/2010   8:38:52 AM
    I can eat eggs for any meal. I like poached or soft boiled with chives on a whole wheat English muffin. Don't forget the salt & peppper. - 7/13/2010   7:42:55 PM
    I love soft scrambled eggs w/a bit of milk & salt & pepper mixed right in and fried egg sandwich w/lettuce, bacon & cheese (no runny yolk tho') - 7/13/2010   10:52:35 AM
    Boiled or scrambled with cheese and veggies. Can't do runny eggs - 7/11/2010   11:07:40 AM
    I dunno. You certainly make it sound so easy but when I actually poach eggs in water, they usually spread all over the place in the pan and I end up with blobs. I actually purchased an egg poacher that you place in a pan of boiling water. Just a dab of low fat margarine in the bottom then crack the egg into it. You have to practice though because the first time I made one for my grandson, it slid out of the pan okay but the yoke was solid and the whole egg felt like a lump of rubber. It did give us a good laugh though. Now I watch the egg and get it out before the yoke gets hard. I think a poacher is a lot better than water. - 7/9/2010   1:41:24 PM
  • WHEELS54
    Fav egg breakfast is 2 eggs scrambled sprinkled with cheese sometimes add bacon and wrap in small warm tortilla, dip in hot sauce; and fruit on the side. Very satisfying and all that protein lasts me for a long while. - 7/7/2010   1:01:59 PM
  • 145
    Vver easy so I can dip toast into the yolk! - 7/7/2010   12:10:46 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›