Breakfast 'n' Brunch

The Perfect Poached Egg

December 1, 2017 (Last Updated: January 25, 2020) by Chris Collins

There’s a few simple but crucial steps in creating the Perfect Poached Egg. Here in 5 easy steps you’ll see how to get perfectly poached eggs every single time!

closeup shot of poached egg on toast with asparagus

Perfect Poached Eggs

If my life could be summed up in one sentence it’s probably ‘that would be so much better with an egg on top’. Because really, life is so much better with an egg on top. And realistically whenever I think of putting an egg on top of anything, it’s ALWAYS poached. Can you really beat a perfectly soft, smooth and runny poached egg!?

Poaching eggs shouldn’t be scary, in fact it’s an incredibly easy process which is often made out to be more tricky than it actually is. Just to prove that, here I have put together a quick go-to guide for how to get perfectly poached eggs every single time. Split into two sections, first we’ll go over the tools you’ll need and secondly how to use them.

Cue – How to make poached eggs

resting poached egg on paper towel

What do you need to poach an egg?

  1. Deep Pot or Pan – having a deep pot of water may seem a bit extravagant, but it will ensure a more spherical poached egg, in contrast to a poached fried egg kind of deal.
  2. Slotted Ladle – to scoop and drain the egg once fully poached.
  3. Salt – for seasoning.
  4. 1 tsp Vinegar – just a dash of vinegar will change the PH level of the water and help the egg coagulate, without changing the flavour of it.
  5. Paper towel – to soak up the moisture from the poached egg. Nobody wants soggy toast.
  6. Small Bowl – this is to crack the egg into. The key is to ease the egg slowly into the water and that’s made very tricky by cracking it straight in.
  7. FRESH egg – the absolute key to the perfect poached egg is using a fresh egg. Older eggs have more fluid in them, meaning when they hit the water the egg white becomes more sporadic. A fresh egg will give you a more compact, spherical and ‘tight’ poached egg. You may have noticed sometimes when you poach an egg the white seems to separate and take over the whole pan. The age of the egg may be a good indicator of why.

Perfect Poached Egg - Equipment

How to Poach the Perfect Egg – 5 Easy Steps

1. Simmering Water 

Pour boiling water into your pot and reduce to a gentle simmer. You want tiny bubbles just about breaking through from the surface of the pot. If your water is simmering too rapidly it will increase the likelihood of the egg white separating and worse case scenario, the yolk bursting. After all, you want a poached egg, not a boiled egg.

pot of simmering water

2. Poached Egg Ingredients

a) Poached Egg with Vinegar

Is vinegar essential for a poached egg? In short – no. However, I have made many poached eggs in my time, both with and without vinegar and it does help. The vinegar changes the PH level of the water and helps the egg coagulate. It just makes the white set a little better. Having a fresh egg is the most important factor, so if you’re not using vinegar just make sure your egg is as fresh as can be.

What kind of vinegar do you use for poached eggs?

White vinegar is best, as it’s completely clear. But essentially any type of acid will work, for example malt vinegar, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (just be careful as some acids may alter the taste of the egg).

How much vinegar do you use to poach an egg?

1 tsp will do the trick. This is enough to help set the egg, without altering the taste.

b) Poached Egg with Salt

A good pinch of salt IN the water with the egg will season, but also very slightly help set the egg.

pouring salt into simmering pot of water

teaspoon of vinegar into pot of boiling water

3. Poached Egg Whirlpool

Create a gentle whirlpool with your ladle. When you drop the egg in the water, the whirl pool will make the egg white wrap around itself. This will not only give a polished finish, but will also help protect the yolk.

whirlpool of simmering water in large pot

4. Can I crack an egg into boiling water?

You can, but I don’t recommend doing so. Firstly, you’ll want to give as close as you can to the water when cracking, which in turn increases the risk of burning your fingers. Secondly, there’s always a risk with cracking eggs that you’ll split the yolk. Once this happens in the water you’ll have to refill, which is just annoying. 

In such case I recommend cracking your eggs into ramekins beforehand. This way you can actually lower the eggs gently and right into the water, which will reduce the chance of the egg splitting. Much easier!

pouring egg into pot of simmer water from small white pot

egg in pot of simmer water

5. How long to poach an egg?

Poach undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Many recipe call for 3+ minutes but I fear anything past this decreases the chance of a runny yolk. However it is down to preference. The aim of the game is to test it, take the egg out the water and give it a prod. It should just about be firm but still visibly runny in the middle. 

holding poached egg on ladle above pot of steaming water

Can I poach multiple eggs in the same pot?

You can make multiple eggs at a time. I recommend cracking in individual ramekins for the above reason. Also just ensure your pot is big enough so the eggs have room to poach. Finally just remember which order you place them in and take them out in that order.

Make ahead poached eggs

You can definitely make poached eggs ahead of time! Just pop them in ice water straight after they’re cooked, this will stop the cooking process. They will keep in the fridge overnight, just pop back in simmering water for 1 minute to reheat. Temporarily storing in ice water is a good method if you are cooking a lot at one time.

And breathe… We’re near the end. Just quickly, if you liked the sound of this perfect poached egg you should totally check out my guide to The Best Scrambled Eggs. Also, check out the yummy breakfasts to feed your egg cravings:

Egg Breakfast Ideas

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the perfect poached egg recipe shall we?!

yolk from poached egg running down smashed avocado on toast

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How to make the Perfect Poached Egg (Full Recipe & Video)

poached egg on a ladle above steaming pot of water

Perfect Poached Eggs

There's a few simple but crucial steps in creating the Perfect Poached Egg. Here in 5 easy steps you'll see how to get perfectly poached eggs every single time!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast / Brunch / Lunch
Cuisine: Universal
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings (click & slide): 1
Calories: 63kcal
Cost per serving: 20p / 20c

Equipment:

  • Large Pot
  • Slotted Ladle
  • Paper Towel
  • Small Bowl/Ramekin

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1 Fresh Egg
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • Boiled Water, as needed
  • pinch of Salt, to taste

Instructions:

  • Begin by pouring boiling water into your pot and reducing it to a very gentle simmer.
  • Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp vinegar. Give it a swirl to dissolve.
  • Make a gentle whirlpool with your ladle.
  • Crack your egg into a small bowl and then slowly ease into the centre of the whirlpool. The egg white will wrap around itself in the direction of the whirlpool.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly firm but still with a visibly runny yolk. Drain with your ladle and place on paper towel to absorb unwanted water.

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Fresh Eggs - It's crucial to use a fresh egg. Older eggs have more fluid in them, meaning when they hit the water the egg white becomes more sporadic. Fresh eggs will give a more spherical, compact egg.
b) Vinegar - Not absolutely essential, but does help set the egg white. Can sub other acids such as lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, but more likely to alter the taste very slightly.
c) Multiple eggs - You can make multiple eggs at a time. Just ensure your pot is big enough so the eggs have room to poach. Also remember which order you place them in and take them out in that order. 
d) Make ahead - You can make ahead, just simply pop them in ice water straight after they're cooked, this will stop the cooking process. They will keep in the fridge overnight, just pop back in simmering water for 1 minute to reheat. Temporarily storing in ice water is a good method if you are cooking a lot at one time.
e) Calories - 1 medium egg.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Perfect Poached Eggs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 63 Calories from Fat 38
% Daily Value*
Fat 4.18g6%
Saturated Fat 1.375g7%
Trans Fat 0.017g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.841g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.61g
Cholesterol 164mg55%
Sodium 62mg3%
Potassium 61mg2%
Carbohydrates 0.32g0%
Sugar 0.16g0%
Protein 5.53g11%
Vitamin A 238IU5%
Calcium 25mg3%
Iron 0.77mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Tina
    December 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    5 stars
    I love the step by step photos and explanation, this is so helpful. Your poached egg looks delicious too!

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 2, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks, Tina! So glad you find them useful!!

  • Reply
    April
    December 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve had so many poached egg failures. I love your tips. I may just give this a try today! Your breakfast looks delicious!

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks so much, April! Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Lynn | The Road to Honey
    December 2, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    We eat a lot of eggs in my house, but can you believe that I have never actually poached an egg? I think it is time to mix things up a bit and give this a try.

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Careful, you’ll be putting poached eggs on literally everything once you start!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Julia
    December 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    5 stars
    Aaah, I think nr. 4 could be the reason why I haven’t been successful in making them look like yours! Delicious!

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Ahhh the magic of the whirlpool!!

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    December 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I’m pretty sure the step I was missing was the whirlpool! Thank you, super helpful.

    • Reply
      Chris
      December 2, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Oh amazing! So glad you found it helpful 🙂

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