Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

Poached eggs are a beautiful thing. The whites are just firm enough on the outside to contain an oozy, golden yolk in a round little egg package. And with a few tips, you too can learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached eggs are one of those items I find folks order frequently in restaurants, but they don’t make very often at home. Why? I think most would say that it’s difficult to get that perfect, spherical shape without lots of crazy white wispies.

But poaching is one of the best cooking methods for creating healthy eggs. So today I’ll share with you a few tips to make the perfect poached egg. I’ve tested every method under the sun (vinegar, salt, swirling vortex, etc) and I’ll share with you the tried-and-true method that works.

Watch My Poached Eggs Video to See These Tips in Action

Once you get the hang of it, poached eggs are easy. But if you’re a beginner, make sure to watch my tutorial video. I walk you through the process step-by-step!

Tips That Do (and Don’t) Work

Salt: I found that adding salt to the water actually created more white wispies. Salt increases the density of the water which makes more of the egg white float and splay out. In other words, a not-so-pretty poached egg.

  • Verdict: Don’t do it.

Vinegar: I was initially dead set against adding vinegar to my water as I didn’t want my eggs to taste like vinegar. As it turns out, you have to add quite a bit of vinegar to have any vinegar taste transfer to the egg. I found that adding one tablespoon of a light colored vinegar didn’t flavor the egg but it did help to keep the egg white together.

  • Verdict: Optional, but I do it.

Swirling a Vortex: We’ve all heard that the best method for poached eggs is to drop them in a swirling vortex of water, right? Well, this is true. This does help to create a more spherical shape as the egg white wraps around itself. But here’s the reality. If you’re only cooking one poached egg – go for it. If you’re cooking more than one poached egg – don’t fret about the vortex. Your egg(s) may not be quite as spherical, but you can cook several simultaneously and they’ll still taste darn good.

  • Verdict: Yes, for one egg. No, for more than one egg.

Fine Mesh Sieve: This is the one tip that consistently produced the BEST poached egg. When you crack an egg you’ll notice that there’s a firmer white and a more liquidy white. Well, that liquidy white is what creates all those white wispies. So add the egg to a fine mesh sieve/strainer and the thinner, more liquid white is removed, leaving only the firmer white which will envelop the yolk.

  • Verdict: Do it.

Deep Pot of Water: After trying both a regular pot of water (4-inches deep) and a sauté pan filled with water (2-inched deep), I will say that the deeper pot produced a more classical spherical or teardrop shape. The is because as the egg falls in the water, the yolk sinks first and the white trails behind. You can still make poached eggs in a more shallow pot, but the shape will be flatter – similar to a fried egg.

  • Verdict: Use a pot with at least 4-inches of water

Ramekin: Most say to crack the egg first into a ramekin, then pour the egg into the water. And I’d have to agree. Using a ramekin ensures that your egg is 1) properly cracked with an unbroken yolk, 2) there’s no shell in the egg, and 3) you can more easily pour the egg in one swift move. Now, combine this method with the fine mesh sieve and you’ve got a winning combo.

  • Verdict: Do it.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Fresh Eggs Are Best

Now that you have 6 tips for making the best poached eggs, there’s one tip that can’t be overlooked. And that’s using the freshest eggs possible. This truly is the #1 most important factor in determining the success of your poached eggs. Fresh eggs have firmer whites, less liquidy whites and just hold their spherical shape better.

Ideally, this would mean purchasing fresh eggs on the morning you’re poaching eggs. But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t running to the market just to make breakfast. Therefore, if you use the tips above you’ve still got the best shot at making a perfectly poached egg.

And if you’ve got older eggs in the fridge, like the one below, don’t forget that those are perfect for making soft boiled and hard boiled eggs.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

How Long Do You Poach Eggs?

For a firm white and runny yolk you’ll want to poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes. I prefer a 3 minute poached egg. And if you plan to poach a batch of eggs ahead of time and reheat later, just keep in mind that reheating may firm up the eggs a little more as well.

Can You Poach Eggs Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! After the eggs have finished poaching, just place them in an ice water bath and store them in the fridge for 4-5 days.

When you’d like to eat them, just add some hot water to a small bowl or cup and add the poached egg until it’s warmed up (about 20-30 seconds).

How to Make Poached Eggs (Perfectly)

Alright, are you feeling confident in your egg poaching skills? To summarize all the information above, this is how to poach an egg:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce to low (or turn off the heat).
  2. Crack the egg in a fine mesh sieve (over a small bowl) and remove the liquidy whites.
  3. Transfer the egg to a small ramekin or bowl.
  4. Add one tablespoon of light-colored vinegar to the pot and stir to create a vortex.
  5. Pour the ramekin with the egg into the middle of the vortex and set a timer for 3 minutes.
  6. Once the egg is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg. Dab with a paper towel to remove excess water and eat immediately.

My Best Poached Egg Recipes

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached Eggs are the perfect healthy breakfast recipe. Here's how to poach an egg perfectly every time.

Poached Eggs Recipe

4.98 from 282 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 3 mins
Total Time: 8 mins
Servings: 1 egg
Author: Lisa Bryan
Poached eggs are a delicious, easy, healthy breakfast recipe. Watch my YouTube video above and learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar, optional

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • While waiting for the water to boil, crack an egg into a small fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Swirl the egg in the sieve until all the liquidy egg whites have been removed. Then, place the egg in a ramekin.
  • Stir the vinegar into the water and create a vortex. Add the egg to the middle of the vortex and cook the egg for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and dab it on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Serve immediately.
  • Alternatively, if making the poached eggs for meal prep or ahead of time, transfer the cooked poached eggs to an ice water bath and refrigerate for a couple of days. When ready to serve, add boiling water to a bowl, then add the cold poached egg and submerge for 20-30 seconds or until warmed through. Remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon, dab dry and serve immediately.

Lisa's Tips

  • This is the fine mesh strainer I used in the video. It's the perfect size as it's small and doesn't take up much space.
  • These are the glass nesting bowls that I use all the time in my kitchen and in my videos.
  • As mentioned above, you can store poached eggs for 4-5 days in the fridge. Just make sure they're in fresh, cold water in a sealed storage container.

Nutrition

Calories: 65kcal, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 163mg, Sodium: 62mg, Potassium: 60mg, Vitamin A: 240IU, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 0.8mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Make Poached Eggs, Poached Egg, Poached Eggs
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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640 comments on “Poached Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Perfectly”

  1. Wow, Eggs turned out exactly like the photos. Tasted Great.

    Thanks for the tips.5 stars

  2. I love how detailed and helpful your tips and video are! I can’t wait to try! :)5 stars

  3. Thanks for sharing your research results just made my first truly successful poached eggs ever 5 stars

  4. I’m a teacher and I always make a summer “to-do” list. Poaching eggs was on there this summer. I watched the video and tried it! It turned out perfect! I had it on top of my salad for lunch! Thank you!5 stars

  5. Nice!! Finally my poached eggs are worth making again.  Thank you for Testini/experimenting and sharing with us.5 stars

  6. I am trying to make it myself for breakfast in the morning it sounds really tasty right now can not wait to make it and it will always be my favorite of all time.

  7. I have always used cops in the past, but this looks to be faster. Sometimes it’s just my wife and I but many times can be up to ten people. This should help me speed things along. Thanks for the tips.5 stars

  8. Excellent recipe!  Thanks for all the experimentation to be able to make the best poached eggs!5 stars

  9. The instructions about poaching eggs was excellent! I learned some new things (using a fine mesh sieve and vinegar in the water) and it was easy to do. My poached eggs turned out perfect. I did about 3 1/2 minutes.
    Thanks again!5 stars

  10. Holy smokes!!! I have always had difficulty correctly cooking eggs in general, so I stayed away from poaching. I NAILED it on the FIRST try with these instructions 🤯🤯🤯 Talk about an instant follower!! Thank you for for video, as well! 5 stars

    • Happy to hear your first poached eggs turned out perfectly! Welcome to the Downshiftology community Christine :)

  11. I hadn’t tried to cook a poached egg in many years but this recipe made so much sense that I had to try it. Wow! So glad I did. 
    I precisely followed the directions and, as advertised, was rewarded with perfect poached eggs.
    I can’t wait to make these poached eggs for my wife.  5 stars

    • Happy to hear this method was easy to follow along to Ken! I’m sure your wife will love a good brunch with perfectly poached eggs :)

  12. These instructions are so clear and easy, thank you so much!5 stars

  13. I made them for my elderly mother & she said they were perfect!  The strainer was great to use & I’ll do that from now on.  Thanks!!5 stars

  14. Works for me and good.5 stars

  15. The instructions and receipt were good. However, I would like to add that the inclusion of the microwave part confused me a little because I thought you meant to put the poached eggs into the microwave oven for another 3mins of cooking. I know now you meant to show the “3:00” timer and not actually put the poached egg into the microwave. Thanks!4 stars

  16. Brilliant best poached egg iv done Thank you had a great snack.5 stars

  17. Strained both, used vinegar method. Did first one with vortex – PERFECT, plus kind of cool. Tried the other without vortex, didn’t seem to hold together as well, wispier and cloudier due to microscopic bits of egg white, definitely not as pretty three minutes later. And, true, to your point for multiple eggs, taste-wise and consistency on the plate, no difference; cannot tell which was which after cutting open and tasting. For just two eggs, however, will use vortex method for both next time. Worth the extra 3 minutes for presentation! Thank you so much, 100% success at first try, no guesswork!5 stars

  18. Great tips!!5 stars

  19. I’ve been cooking for 50 years and never come across a recipe for poached eggs with all these great tips incorporated into one sesh. The process has always frustrated me, with wispies, overcooked yolks, bare yolk tops, completely separated white and yolk, or when tried in a ramekin, inability to clean the ramekin and still not a good result! But this morning, a perfect Salmon Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise, wow, wow, wow. Thank you!!!5 stars

    • Amazing! Glad this method helped you create the perfect set of poached eggs for your Eggs Benedict :)

    • The mesh sieve trick is the key to everything here, I’ve tried many techniques over the years, vortex, vinegar, ladle, etc and could never quite get it right, always got those white whispies no matter what and the water would fill up with foam and egg particles and made a mess. I can’t say how happy I am for this post. I thought for the longest time I was just not skilled enough. Thank you, Thank you Thank you. You are a genius.5 stars

  20. Love this video. There was no way to click “like” on it as I was watching it embedded in this article, however. So I am writing a review instead to say I went from being a person who never wanted to try making a poached egg at home — to being a person who feels totally confident about it. This was really the perfect instruction video (except the background music which, hey, I am willing to forgive because the presenter was so clear and the video itself was so useful.)5 stars

  21. Made this today… have a surplus of smoked salmon so made Eggs Royale.
    I skipped the step of the sieve and they still came out perfect, so perfect in fact that I made 4 more, all for myself. LOL
    Craving more, and will make them for brunch tomorrow! :)
    Always cringed at the fact of making poached eggs, but these were beautiful and SO simple to make! Thank you for the tips!! :)5 stars

    • Glad this method worked out perfectly Shawn! Now you can always have beautifully poached eggs right at home.

  22. Made my first ever poached egg with eggs right out of the coop. They were perfect!! Used the vinegar and vortex.5 stars

  23. This was a nice job, with some great tips; however, it was made too complicated. Here, I give my version to simplify and to provide tips on what was NOT provided.

    1) WHAT NOT TO DO:
    No salt.
    No vinegar.
    When water is boiled, then simply turn heat down to simmer, maintaining a hot temperature.

    2) WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
    Stir the water vigorously for about 20 seconds to create vortex.
    Immediately stop, and crack immediately a fresh cold egg into center of vortex just above (takes some skill) water level.
    To do this, simply crack the crack and rock the egg so that the egg gently tips into the hot water. Wait 4 mins.
    Egg is now cooked.
    Scoop perfectly poached egg with slotted spoon, absorb excess water against kitchen towel.
    Serve on hot toast, toasted bagel or English muffin with fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt. Voila !

    • Start your own blog if you are going to tear this one apart – I’ll stick with this method because it works PERFECTLY for me.5 stars

    • Chef de Gascoigne

      Why? What are you attempting to achieve?

      Please get a grip and remember that the majority of people on here like the format, it’s like having a conversation with a friend. If they just wanted blunt instructions, they would use Google answers.

      Good luck with your own blog, I look forward to seeing the lack of interest.

      Good day sir!

  24. Well, I followed this recipe exactly and ended up with a bunch of egg white at the top and a bare egg yolk at the bottom.

  25. I LOVE YOUR VIDEOS! Poached eggs are probably easy for many people to make, but I’ve been trying to do them forever! You have really helped me with this! So, thank you! 5 stars

  26. Great video5 stars

  27. Worked perfectly. Made 2 poached eggs, one at a time. Put them on a toasted, buttered English muffin. Awesome.5 stars

  28. Awesome tips!  My wife’s favorite breakfast. The eggs were center stage one the plate this year as they should be; perfect Mothers Day Breakfast!  Thank you.5 stars

  29. Fabulous instructions. The poached eggs I made turned out perfect and made a very special Mother’s Day. Thanks so much for the great tips. 5 stars

  30. I often have soft boiled eggs but timing is always an issue often resulting in too-firm yolks. Going forward I will make these BEAUTIFUL poached eggs instead. It turned out perfect! And, bonus…still HOT ! I can’t thank you enough for this super simple yet very effective way to poach eggs.5 stars

  31. OK, how do I subscribe? Also despite spraying with vegetable oils I get coagulated albumin stuck to both pan and egg poaching cups. Very difficult to remove. Day of soaking and vigorous scrubbing with abrasives
    I like the tips want to subscribe. Didn’t see subscribe button or bell5 stars

    • Hi Timothy- you can subscribe via my homepage! There will be a small section where it says “Sign up for weekly recipes”.

  32. Thanks for the quick video with tips. Easy to do for first time egg poacher. Used older egg, apple cider vinegar, vortex method in pot with 3 inches of water.5 stars

  33. I used to rely on my silicone eggs cups to make poached eggs. Not any more! Your instructions were perfect and my eggs beautiful. Thank you!5 stars

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