Ever wonder how to make a Perfect Poached Egg? Almost every morning, I watch the Lazy Man, a.k.a. Master Taste Tester, perfectly poach an egg for his breakfast. He doesn’t use any gimmicks or special equipment – just an 8-inch nonstick pan and a slotted spoon. As he often tells me, “there’s always an easier way!”
It helps for the egg to be as fresh as possible. However, once it’s in the water, the Lazy Man cuts away the wispy white streaks that form. The result? A perfect poached egg every time.
Preparing the Water for the Poached Egg and Other Thoughts
The Lazy Man adds about 1-inch of water to an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Then, he adds about a tablespoon of cider vinegar to the water. Next, he heats the water over medium-high heat just until little bubbles start to appear. Once the bubbles start to appear, he reduces the temperature to medium-low to bring the water to a simmer, i.e, just to the point where you see little bubbles coming up to the surface without a full rolling boil. You don’t want the water to be boiling when you add the egg. Otherwise, the egg will overcook.
Why vinegar? Vinegar lowers the pH of the water. This causes the protein in the egg whites to more quickly coagulate and helps prevent them from spreading in the water. The yolks cook more slowly than the egg whites. When they are surrounded by the coagulated egg whites, the yolks cook even more slowly. Therefore, the vinegar helps to ensure a perfectly cooked egg white and perfectly runny egg yolk. However, if you’re turned off by the taste of vinegar, you can just use plain water.
Poaching the Egg
When the water is ready, the Lazy Man carefully cracks the egg straight from the refrigerator into the water. You might see suggestions for first cracking the egg into a small bowl before adding it to the water. The Lazy Man doesn’t bother with that – he just cracks the egg directly into the water. You might also see where the water needs to be swirled before adding the egg. The Lazy Man doesn’t bother with that either! The firmer portion of the white will stay with the yolk, and runny portion will still float around.
Once the egg is in the water, however, the Lazy Man takes his slotted spoon and gives the egg a good swirl. He also cuts away any of the wispy streaks of the egg white.
After 2 1/2-minutes, the Lazy Man flips the egg to ensure that it gets evenly cooked on both sides and gives it another swirl. He could always sit there and spoon water on the top of the egg. However, he is the Lazy Man after all!
After another 2-1/4 minutes, the poached egg is perfectly cooked. The Lazy Man likes the taste of vinegar, so he doesn’t bother rinsing the egg. Rather he allows the water to drip off, and places the poached egg on a piece of buttered toast.
You could, however, always give the egg a quick rinse in warm water and use a paper towel to blot off any excess water.
The result? A poached egg with a perfectly set white, and perfectly runny yolk. In other words, a perfect poached egg every time! Yum!
I’ve included a video below showing how the Lazy Man makes his poached egg. He joked that I should use Beethoven’s 5th Symphony for the music, which I did!
Perfect Poached Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
- 1 large egg, straight from refrigerator (See Note 1)
- Heat 1-inch of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in an 8-inch skillet over medium high until small bubbles appear on water. Lower temperature to medium-low.
- Carefully crack egg into simmering water. Stir egg with slotted spoon, cutting away any wispy white of the egg. Cook for 2-1/2 minutes.
- Carefully flip egg with slotted spoon and cook for another 2-1/4 minutes.
- Remove egg from water with slotted spoon. Allow water to drip off. (See Note 2)
- Serve on buttered toast. Yield: 1 serving.
Chula's Expert Tips
- If the egg has been out of the refrigerator for a bit, reduce the total cooking time to 4 minutes to 4-1/2 minutes.
- If you don't care for the vinegar taste, quickly rinse the egg in warm water before serving.