There are many ways to make a perfectly poached egg. You’ve seen the fancy multi-part poaching pans and little plastic poaching cups, but you don’t really need any of that. All you need is a saucepan and a large slotted spoon. If you haven’t even tried poaching an egg before, it all sounds very frightening. (It isn’t!)

Or maybe you have tried it before and you ended up with a big mess. It’s ok, we’ve all done it. Apologize to the egg, read the tips below, and practice, practice, practice.

Experiment on husbands that don’t know the difference or save your poached egg failures for breakfast during the week. You can’t lose..

In order to get a nice rounded poached egg, you want fresh Grade AA eggs. The whites of fresh eggs hold together better as do eggs that are Grade AA. (You have one ingredient here people, do yourselves a favor and get the right one.)

Ok fine. If you tried (you did try, didn’t you?) but couldn’t find fresh Grade AA eggs, you can use old crappy eggs but add 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp distilled white vinegar per quart of water that you use. The vinegar speeds up coagulation, lending to a better rounded shape. However, don’t cheat and add vinegar for fresh eggs! You’ll end up with tough dull eggs.

The No-Overpriced-Poaching-Pan Method to a Perfectly Poached Egg


  • Saucepan
  • Large slotted spoon or skimmer
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Small bowl to drop in eggs


  • Fresh Grade AA eggs


1. Fill a saucepan roughly 2/3rds full of water. You want enough water to maintain a hot temperature after adding the egg plus give the eggs enough elbow room to cook. (If you’re cheating and using old crappy eggs, add 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp vinegar per quart (4 cups) of water.) 2. Bring water to a slow simmer.

  • If the water is simmering too fast, the eggs will be tough and the whites will spread and shred into oblivion.
  • If the temperature is too low or you didn’t have enough water to maintain a simmer after adding cold eggs, the whites will spread before they start cooking. Sad, sad egg.

3. Prep your assembly line: cracked eggs, ice bath, and warm water bath.

Poached Egg Assembly Line

4. Crack eggs individually into a small shallow bowls and slowly slide into the simmering water. The edge of the saucepan has less turbulent water than the center, so drop it in near the edge. The gentler you handle the egg, the better and for the love of god, don’t just drop it in there and expect magic.

Slide Egg into Poaching Water for Poached Egg

5. The egg will likely slide a little and start to disperse. Using your slotted spoon, stop the egg from sliding and gently coax the whispy whites back to the yolk, as shown in the picture below. This will give the egg a better shape and help it cook more evenly.

Cooking Poached Egg

6. Stand and impatiently watch the egg for ~2 minutes. The time can vary depending on initial water temperature, how many eggs you threw in, the egg size, and how cold they were.You want the whites to be visibly solidified but the whole yolk is still liquid. To see if they’re done, jiggle the spoon with the egg in it. If there are any white areas that jiggle just as much as the yolk does, it needs more time.

Poached Egg Done Cooking

7. Gently remove the egg with a slotted spoon and briefly hold spoon over a paper towel or towel to drain excess water.

  • If you need a couple minutes before serving, give it a quick dunk in an ice bath to stop it from cooking any further. Store in a bowl of warm water. If they have cooled off by the time you want to serve them, reheat them in slowly simmering water for 30-60 seconds (depending on how cold they are).
  • If you need a lot of time before serving, give it a quick dunk in an ice bath then store refrigerated in cold water. Just before serving, reheat in simmering water for 60 seconds.

You’re looking for all of the whites to be cooked but the yolk runny. You shouldn’t see a layer of cooked yolk under the white.

Perfectly Cooked Poached Egg

If you see any liquid whites remaining, the egg is undercooked.

Poach Egg Egg Whites in Undercooked Poached Egg

Now go practice your poached eggs with this recipe for Eggs Benedict!

The Perfectly Easy Poached Egg
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