Poached Eggs

Updated 6.4.2022.

Never before in my thirty plus years of life have I poached an egg – at least not that I can recall. Which makes sense, in a way. I don’t really eat poached eggs so why would I cook them?

Over Easter I visited a friend who lives in the Green Lake area of Seattle and for Easter brunch I had pancakes that came with a side of two eggs. When the waitress asked me how I wanted my eggs cooked I randomly answered, “Poached?” (in the form of a question in the event poached eggs weren’t an option.) Turns out they were and I had my very first poached eggs in as long as I can remember.

When flipping through the April 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine this weekend, I came across Alton Brown’s step by step instructions for poaching eggs. The method is fool-proof though if you ask my sister she will tell you that poaching eggs is easy.


  • eggs
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar


  1. Add enough water to come 1 inch up the side of a narrow, deep 1-quart saucier. Add salt and vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile crack one very fresh cold large egg into a custard cup or small ramekin. Use the handle of a spatula to quickly stir the water in the saucier in one direction until it’s spinning around, creating a whirlpool. (Use this method if cooking one or two eggs. For bigger batches heat the water in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and do not stir.)
  2. Carefully drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool. The swirling water will help prevent the egg whites from spreading out in the pan.
  3. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and set aside for five minutes. Don’t touch the pot in any way while the timer is going.
  4. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and serve immediately. Alternatively move the egg to an ice bath and refrigerate up to 8 hours. Reheat in warm water just before serving.

I was a bit skeptical of this method, I will admit. I hate not being able to watch food as it cooks and I don’t have a glass cover that fits the pan I was using so I didn’t get to see the egg poaching. When I lifted the cover, sure enough, there was one perfectly poached egg right where I dropped it off.

My egg turned out to be mostly hard throughout the middle, which was a bit disappointing. I don’t know about you, but I like my eggs runny (so I can dunk something – usually bacon but toast will do – in the yolk). I’m not sure if you need to cut down on the time in order to make this happen or if my egg cooked extra long resulting in a hardened yolk.

Due to the awe and delight I experienced when I lifted the cover and saw a real poached egg made by none other than moi (and, in part, to my camera freezing as I was trying to take a picture); my egg remained in the water for another three or four minutes after the recommended poaching time. I would recommend playing around with the cook time until you find an amount that yields a satisfactory yolk.

Recipe rating: 

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