My step-by-step guide to getting a perfect poached egg every time.
When I first decided to try poaching an egg I searched online to find how I should go about it. I (wrongly) assumed that something as simple as poaching an egg would have a very standard method, and I was surprised at the wide array of possible approaches I could use. After lots of googling and some trial and error, I found that the method outlined below works best for me.
My five top tips for perfect poached eggs (full method below)
- The fresher the eggs the easier to poach. As eggs get older the white separates more from the yolk. When you try and poach them they are more likely to come apart, leaving you with a bit of a messy looking egg.
- You want fresh eggs, but not too fresh. They must be at least a day old or they’ll disperse when you put them in the water (Thanks to Sarah at Taming Twins for this brilliant tip).
- Before poaching the egg, cook it for 30 seconds in its shell. This will help it to keep it’s shape when you add it into the pan of water later.
- To help the egg keep it’s shape you want the water to be moving. Before adding the egg I make circular motions with a whisk in the centre of the pan of water. You want to do this just fast enough so that the water will keep moving when you remove the whisk. If the water is moving too quickly it’ll pull the egg apart.
- Don’t crack the egg directly into the water. Crack it into a cup first and then gently tip it into the water.
How to poach an egg
What you need
- Eggs (obviously) – fresh eggs are best
- Ice water – if poaching multiple eggs at once
- Whisk – or similar to get the water in the pan moving in a circular motion
- Slotted spoon
- Kitchen paper
- Bowl – if poaching multiple eggs at once
To poach a single egg
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer
- Put the egg (in it’s shell) into the simmering water and cook for 20-30 seconds – by slightly cooking the egg in it’s shell it helps the egg to keep it’s shape when poaching
- Remove the egg from the water and carefully crack into a cup
- Gently stir the simmering water in one direction – The stirring motion is the key here. You need to ensure that you use a tight stirring motion so that the water is moving fastest in the centre of the pan, a bit like a whirlpool. This will ensure that the moving water helps the white to wrap around the yolk for an attractive egg. If the water is moving faster on the outside of the pan than the centre, it will pull the white away from the yolk and you’ll end up with an ugly poached egg. You also don’t want the water to be moving too quickly, as again it will pull the white away from the yolk. This is especially important if you’re using slightly older eggs.
- Once the water is moving quickly, gently tip the egg from the cup into the centre of the pan.
- Cook for a further 2-2½ minutes, until the white is just cooked.
- Once cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen paper to soak up any excess water, then serve.
To poach several eggs at once
To poach several eggs at once, you will need to poach them each individually and then heat them through when ready to serve. Don’t be tempted to try and poach multiple eggs in the same pan, they’ll end up looking a mess and it’ll be difficult to cook them all consistently.
- Follow the instructions for cooking a single egg to the end of step 6.
- Once the egg is cooked, rather than placing onto kitchen paper, place in a bowl of ice cold water to stop the egg cooking further.
- Repeat this process until all of the eggs are cooked.
- Once all the eggs are cooked, remove them from the ice water and return to the pan and cook for a further 20-30 seconds until heated through.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen paper to soak up any excess water, then serve.