A simple tutorial for making easy 5-minute poached eggs without an egg poacher. The result, creamy and delicate, is well worth the slight trouble.
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 healthy, versatile food. While fried eggs and soft boiled eggs are excellent, poaching is a gentle cooking method that results in a creamy texture and a delicate flavor.
How do I make perfect poached eggs?
The easiest way is to use an egg poacher. I own one and use it frequently. It’s probably the best way to poach several eggs at once.
But if you prefer to poach eggs without using an egg poacher, I’m happy to report it’s completely doable. It’s just 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.
How long do you poach an egg for?
Poaching eggs happens fast. After placing the egg in the hot water, you turn the heat off and poach it 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!
Shouldn’t I use an egg poacher?
This is up to you. An egg poacher makes poaching a breeze, but as you can see in the recipe below, it’s not really necessary.
I do own two egg 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!
What does poaching means, anyway?
According to the dictionary, poaching is cooking food (eggs, fish, fruits, etc.) in a hot liquid that is kept just below the boiling point. In the case of eggs, the idea is also to cook it out of its shell, and that’s the challenge. You want the poached egg to be round and pretty, with perfectly cooked whites and a thick, liquid yolk.
Why do you add vinegar to the poaching liquid?
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 (ew). 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.
Are poached eggs safe?
There’s always a small risk of salmonella when eating undercooked eggs. For most healthy adults, the risk is very small and the illness, if contracted, is fairly mild.
But for anyone with a compromised immune system, as well as for pregnant women and children under 5, the risk is probably not worth it. You know yourself and your family better than anyone, so it’s up to you to do your research and make an informed decision.
How to serve poached eggs?
Sometimes I make a couple for lunch and add them to a salad. Two of my favorite lunches are warm arugula salad and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. Both are topped with poached eggs. 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.
- 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!