Make perfect poached eggs by following this simple step-by-step guide and you'll end up with gorgeous runny yolks worthy of any Instagram post.
1. Use the freshest eggs
Egg whites turn runny with age, so the fresher the egg, the firmer the whites. Buy the freshest eggs at the date on the carton of eggs.
2. Use a ramekin
Crack each egg into a small ramekin or glass bowl. You will be able to see and remove any bits of shell, and if the yolk ends up getting cracked, you can dispose of the egg without dirtying your poaching water. The bowl also makes it easier to slip the egg into the water gently, so it stays in one piece.
3. Add a splash of vinegar
Vinegar in the poaching water helps keep the whites together; it firms up the proteins on the outer surface of the egg, making the egg rounder and the white less wispy. Don't worry about flavoring the egg, at 1 teaspoon salt per quart of water, you'll barely taste it. Any kind of white vinegar you like, works fine.
4. Don't boil the water
Dropping a raw egg into boiling water is the recipe for scrambled egg soup. Get the water hot by bringing it to a boil over high heat, THEN lower the heat until the water is just barely simmering. Gently simmering water keeps your eggs together.
5. Set the timer
Cook for 2-3 minutes for soft yolks, while 4 minutes means a medium to firm cooked eggs. For hard cooked eggs, bump the cook time up to 5 minutes.
6. Dry before serving
Remove the eggs from the poaching water with a slotted spoon so the water can drain off. Then, blot the bottom of the spoon onto a clean kitchen towel to remove any remaining water.
Watch How to Perfectly Poach an Egg
Ready to put these tips to work?
"My version of eggs benedict. Serve your bacon or sausage on side with vegetables. Everyone loves this." -- Babs Hanna
"A delicious dish inspired by eggs Benedict with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto." -- Yoojin K
"Imagine the best French toast you've ever had, combined with the best ham and cheese sandwich you've ever had, topped with perfectly poached eggs. You don't need any Hollandaise because the poached egg yolks are the sauce." -- Chef John
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