This is a simple tutorial I put together for how to poach eggs. Poaching isn’t too difficult, but it can be tricky if you’ve never tried it before. You will quickly get the hang of the process by following these simple steps.
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- Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water. Heat it on the stove till it is very hot, on the edge of boiling-- but not quite. The water should be "shivering" with heat, but not actually boiling. A few bubbles rising to the surface here and there is fine. You want to keep the water at this hot even temperature throughout the poaching process-- you may need to adjust the heat as you cook the eggs to keep it from boiling or getting too cool.
- Crack your first egg into a small dish. This will help you add the egg to the water more quickly and smoothly, which will help it come together better when it's poaching.
- Pour 1 tbsp of vinegar into the hot water. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the water rapidly in one direction to create a "whirlpool" in the center of the water.
- With your other hand, pour the egg from the dish quickly into the center of the whirlpool, removing the spoon or spatula just before you pour the egg in.
- The egg will look messy at first. Leave it alone to swirl in the center of the whirlpool-- it will eventually come together, with the white forming a cohesive package around the yolk. A few small streams of white coming off of the egg are normal, and can be removed later for neatness.
- Let the egg cook in the hot water for 3 to 4 minutes, constantly monitoring the temperature of the water to make sure it stays hot but doesn't boil. Most people like a poached egg with a runny center, which will be done in around 3 minutes. The egg is ready when the white creates a solid opaque membrane over the top of the yolk, and the egg wobbles a little when nudged with a spoon. It shouldn't appear too liquid or delicate when nudged; if it does, return it to the water and let it continue cooking a while longer. I tend to like my egg poached more well done, and usually take it out around 4-5 minutes, so the center is still slightly runny but also slightly solid. This is a matter of personal preference, though.
- When the egg is ready, remove it from the hot water using a slotted spoon.
- Place it on a layer of paper towels to drain.
- Repeat process for remaining eggs. After cooking a few eggs, I like to skim the water periodically with a wire mesh strainer to get rid of any egg white particles, so they don't interfere with the egg poaching process.
- You can poach several eggs up to an hour advance, keeping them on the paper towels till ready to serve. To reheat before serving, heat up water in a larger pot to the same shivering heat that you poached the eggs in, and return the eggs to the water. Let them reheat for 1 minute before serving.
- I like to use poached eggs to make one of my favorite breakfast dishes, Nova Lox Benedict - click here for recipe.
- Undercooked Egg Note: Use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.