How to Poach an Egg

You’ll have perfect poached eggs every time with these four easy steps.

Unlike scrambling or frying, poaching an egg requires a bit of finesse. Even the most seasoned cooks might leave this technique up to restaurant professionals. But with a little practice, anyone can enjoy soft, pillowy whites with a warm, runny yolk in your pajamas at home. (Yes, even you!)

Our Test Kitchen's four-step technique is practically foolproof and requires no special equipment beyond a nonstick skillet and a fine mesh strainer. Extra-large eggs will give you slightly oversized, impressive results that are a nice touch if you're making brunch. But if you only have large eggs on hand, they will work just as well.

Grits Cakes with Poached Eggs and Country Gravy

Alison Miksch

Some people say that the best poached eggs come from eggs that are super-fresh. The farmers market is the place to go for eggs straight from the hen, but the Test Kitchen says you'll get great results from regular old supermarket eggs. Just make sure that they are cold.

Ready to poach? Here's what to do:

1. Heat the Water

Place 4 cups water and 1 tsp. white vinegar in a 10-inch nonstick skillet; bring to a low boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer over low. There should be no bubbling at water surface but small bubbles on bottom of skillet.

Egg in Strainer Over Bowl
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen

2. Strain the Egg

Crack 1 large egg into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let stand until the thin, loose parts of egg whites drain into bowl, about 10 seconds. Discard drained egg white parts in bowl.

Putting Egg into Boiling Water and Vinegar
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen

2. Cook the Egg

Transfer egg to a small bowl. Gently add eggs to simmering water in skillet. Cover; cook on low until whites are cooked and set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Removing Poached Egg from Pan
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen

4. Dry the Egg

Gently remove egg from skillet using a slotted spoon or a spatula. Pat egg dry with a paper towel while still on spoon.

Depending on the size of your skillet, you can cook up to four eggs at a time, but don't overcrowd the pan. Each egg needs some space around it, and it is tricky to quickly but carefully remove all of the eggs when they are done cooking without breaking at least one open.

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