A simple tutorial for making easy five-minute poached eggs without a poacher. The result, creamy and delicate, is well worth the slight effort.
Fried eggs and soft boiled eggs are excellent. But poaching is a gentle cooking method that results in an especially creamy texture and a delicate flavor.
I love eggs in pretty much any way you can make them. But as someone who loves runny yolks, poached eggs are my favorite way to enjoy this tasty, versatile food.
You'll only need four ingredients to make these delicious eggs. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Vinegar for the water: Any vinegar should work. I use distilled white vinegar.
Egg: I use large eggs in most of my recipes, this one included.
Salt and pepper: To season the egg.
How to poach an egg? I'll go ahead and admit it. The easiest way is to use a poacher. I own one and use it frequently. It's probably the best way to cook several eggs at once.
But if you don't own a poacher, I'm happy to report that it's completely doable to use a saucepan. It's simply a matter of technique. The recipe (and video) below will show you how to poach eggs in a saucepan, with just boiling water, vinegar, and a whisk. The vinegar helps the egg white congeal - that's its only purpose. Don't worry - it doesn't give the eggs a vinegary taste.
The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
- First, bring a small pot filled with water to a gentle boil.
- Break an egg into a small bowl.
- Add vinegar to the boiling water.
- Vigorously whisk the water, then slide the egg in.
- You can gently push the egg white closer to the yolk if it spreads too much.
- Cover, turn the heat off, and wait for five minutes.
- Lift the egg out of the water with s slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
Cooking tip: add vinegar
The vinegar helps the egg whites congeal. The faster the egg whites cook, the less risk of the whole egg just dispersing in the water, leaving you with an unappetizing and messy boiled scramble.
You add just a small amount of vinegar, so you don't actually taste it. Regardless, it's a good idea to use mild-tasting vinegar such as rice vinegar or champagne vinegar. Although I've used plain white vinegar plenty of times and it was just fine.
When you serve the eggs on any type of bread, do make sure to drain them for a few seconds on a paper towel, to prevent soggy bread.
Frequently asked questions
Poaching is cooking food in a hot liquid that is kept just below the boiling point. In the case of eggs, the idea is also to cook the egg out of its shell, and that's the challenge. You want the egg to end up round and pretty, with perfectly cooked whites and a thick, liquid yolk.
Not long! It all happens quite fast. After placing the egg in the hot water, you turn the heat off and leave the egg in the water for just five minutes. That's the time it takes for the egg white to become fully cooked while the yolk remains runny. Any longer than that and the yolk will not be runny anymore. That, needless to say, would be hugely disappointing!
This is up to you. A poacher does make the process easier. But as you can see in the recipe and video below, it's not really necessary.
I do own two poachers. One that you lower into a saucepan filled with hot water, and a silicone one that you can use in the microwave. I find that the microwave one is actually quite tricky. It often produces firm yolks, which is not what we're after here!
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- 1 tablespoon vinegar for the cooking water
- 1 large egg
- Pinch sea salt
- Pinch black pepper
- Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile, break the egg into a a small bowl. This will make it easier to slide the egg into the hot water while keeping its shape.
- When the water has reached a gentle boil, add the vinegar. The vinegar helps the egg white congeal.
- Use a hand whisk to vigorously whisk the water, then slide the egg into the resulting whirlpool. This will help the egg hold its shape when it first enters the water. If making more than one egg, repeat the process (use a larger saucepan).
- If some of the egg white spreads out and does not curl itself around the yolk, gently push it in with a spoon.
- Cover the pot, turn the heat off and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to lift the egg out of the water and place it for a few seconds on a paper towel, to drain.
- The egg white should be cooked-yet-creamy. The yolk should appear soft. When cut open, it should be thick but gooey. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!