I love poached eggs, but was always frustrated when they didn’t come out nicely shaped – I didn’t like the trailing pieces or rough edges on the whites. After experimenting with around a half dozen different tips on making “the perfect” poached egg, I created an approach that consistently works for me, and isn’t difficult.

How to Poach an Egg

If you follow these steps, your poached eggs will come out perfectly every time!

  1. Prep cooking water.

    Put 2 inches of water in a sauté or saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in 2 teaspoons of cider or white wine vinegar and reduce heat to the point where bubbles form on the bottom of the pan, with just a few bubbles (or none) rising to the top.

  2. Strain egg.

    Crack a cold, very fresh egg into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (or sink). Gently swirl around to drain off excess water in the whites. By doing this step, you are minimizing those trailing pieces of egg white.

  3. Add egg to water.

    Stir the almost boiling water to form a whirlpool. Stop stirring; while the water is still swirling, gently but quickly pour the egg into the middle. The whirling water helps to keep the white and yolk closer together.

  4. Cook.

    Cook to desired doneness, around 3 to 4 minutes for a runny egg. If egg sticks to the bottom of the pan while cooking, wait until done and use a spatula to gently unstick.

  5. Remove and drain.

    Remove egg from water with a slotted spoon and place egg (in spoon) on paper towel to drain. Serve immediately – or follow my Make Ahead directions below.

Making Poached Eggs Ahead

Yes, you can poach eggs up to 24 hours ahead of time – which is super handy when you want to serve them to a group. Here’s how easy it is: just poach your eggs the night before you want to serve them, place them in water, cover and refrigerate. Gently place the eggs in hot but not boiling water for just a minute or so to reheat right before serving.

Now you are ready to make my Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Mustard-Dill Sauce . . .

smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Mustard-Dill Sauce pic

Or my Eggs Benedict with Lemony Hollandaise Sauce!


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raw egg in a strainer over boiling water, getting ready to poach the egg

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

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