Knowing how to poach eggs allows simple, healthy meals to materialize in no time. I love poached eggs over toast, of course, but I also love them over pasta, greens, polenta, rice, tortillas, soup, and more — very few savory dishes do not welcome an egg on top.

How to Make Foolproof Poached Eggs

  • Before you begin, gather your equipment: slotted spoon, small bowls, paper towel-lined plate, etc. There are instructions in the recipe box below for cooking 1 or 4 eggs at a time, but this is the basic process:
Four eggs in four small bowls.
  • Fill a shallow saucepan with water. Bring it to a simmer.
  • Add vinegar. TURN OFF THE HEAT.
  • Carefully lower the eggs into the water. COVER. Set a timer for 5 to 6 minutes depending on how well you like your eggs cooked.
A shallow pot holding water and 4 poached eggs.
  • Uncover. Transfer eggs to a towel-lined place. Let rest 30 to 60 seconds; then use the eggs as you wish.
Four poached eggs on a napkin.
Four poached eggs on toast.

Why Use Vinegar to Poach Eggs?

Vinegar helps the egg whites set, preventing them from spreading all around the pot of water. I never find my eggs taste vinegary with the ratio of vinegar to water suggested in the recipe below: 1 tablespoon vinegar for 2 cups of water.

If you don’t want to use the vinegar because you don’t like the flavor, omit it. If you are using especially fresh eggs, you may find the vinegar to be unnecessary.

A Few Delicious Recipes to Use Your Perfectly Poached Eggs:

Croque Monsieur

Ginger Fried Rice

Quinoa and Flax Toasting Bread:

Fresh Corn Polenta

Oven-Baked Polenta (A Miracle!)

Friends, roasting polenta in the oven is a game changer — it frees up your cooktop and, more important, YOU. While the polenta bubbles away in the oven, you can sauté greens or poach eggs or steam broccoli or take a bath give the kids a bath, etc. No need to worry if the polenta is sticking to the pot, running out of liquid—in the oven it cooks slowly and evenly. It's the easiest thing in the world, and this time of year, I could eat it with everything // alexandracooks.com

Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja 

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Four poached eggs on toast.

Perfect Poached Eggs


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Description

I learned this method from a woman named Sandy Gluck, a wonderful recipe tester who tested recipes for my cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs.

Vinegar: Many people wonder why there is a need for vinegar. Vinegar helps the egg white set, preventing them from spreading everywhere. Some people believe this not to be necessary, especially if the eggs are fresh. This may be true. I have tried poaching without the vinegar, and I do find the egg whites spread more, so I always use the vinegar. I never find it makes the eggs taste too vinegary. 


Ingredients

  • 1 to 4 eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar, such as white wine, white balsamic, rice, or apple cider

Instructions

Method for Making 1 Poached egg:

  1. Fill a shallow saucepan with 2 cups of water, cover it, and bring to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Place 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a small bowl. Line a plate with paper towels or a cloth napkin. Have a wooden spoon and a slotted spoon nearby.
  2. Once the water simmers, uncover it, and TURN OFF THE HEAT.  Add the vinegar. Make a whirlpool (optional) with the end of the wooden spoon. Carefully lower the egg into the center of the vortex. Cover the pot. Set a timer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Uncover the pot. Transfer the egg to the prepared plate using a slotted spoon. Let rest briefly, 30 seconds to a minute. Then use as you wish. Notes: It may take some trial and error to get the timing right for you: 5 minutes will yield an egg with completely set whites and a runny yolk. You may want a runnier yolk, in which case, set the timer for 4.5 minutes. 

Method for Making 4 Poached eggs:

  1. Fill a wide shallow saucepan with 4 cups of water, cover it, and bring to a simmer. Crack 4 eggs each into their own small bowls. Place 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a small bowl. Line a large plate with paper towels or a cloth napkin. Have a slotted spoon nearby.
  2. Once the water simmers, uncover it, and TURN OFF THE HEAT.  Add the vinegar. Carefully lower the eggs into the pot one by one. Cover the pot. Set a timer for 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks: 5 minutes will yield very runny yolks; 6 minutes will yield less runny yolks. 
  3. Uncover the pot. Transfer the eggs to the prepared plate using a slotted spoon. Let rest briefly, 30 seconds to a minute. Then use as you wish. Notes: It may take some trial and error to get the timing right for you.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 to 6 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: poached, eggs, vinegar, breakfast, brunch