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How to poach eggs for dummies

Poached eggs may seem mystical and challenging to make, especially when you’re a newbie in the kitchen. But after you learn a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll learn how to poach eggs like a pro in no time.

The flavor of a poached egg is similar to a soft-boiled egg but it’s softer and the yolk is gooey. I prefer the texture of poached eggs over soft-boiled eggs.

A poached egg just has a more pleasant mouth feel and they are attractive on the plate. We found these super colorful and cute (and highly rated!) poached egg cookers you can use in the microwave or stovetop.

Poached eggs can be tricky to cook and if you aren’t careful you can overcook them. Two tips that will always help make the best-poached eggs is to use fresh eggs and always keep a close eye on the clock.

These two tips alone will help you achieve soft and fluffy eggy masterpieces.

✔Check out our review of the Best Egg Cookers

Poach Eggs with an Egg Poacher

If you want your poached egg to be a perfect circle then using an egg poacher and a pan will be your best bet.  

What You Need

  • Stovetop poacher or poaching cups
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • Large spoon
  • Bit of fat to prevent sticking


  • If you’re worried that the eggs will stick to the cups, then coat the cups with a little bit of cooking oil before adding the eggs.
  • Most poaching pans come with four cups. If you are making less than four poached eggs, fill the empty cups with water to keep them from burning.
  • Don’t let the water boil in the pan or the egg whites will harden quickly and may even splash out.


  1. Take large pan (large enough for the stovetop poacher or the individual poaching cups) and pour about half an inch of water inside or enough so that it touches the bottom of the cups.
  2. Place it over medium or high heat and wait for it to simmer.
  3. Crack an egg into each poaching cup and cover the pan. Carefully place the poacher inside the pan and then put the lid on top. The lid should be placed securely on top to make sure the steam stays inside.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes for runny yolks. Cook for 5 minutes for firm yolks. 
  5. After they’re cooked, remove the pan from the stove and gently remove the eggs from the cups and place them on a plate or a bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste.

Poaching Eggs without an Egg Poacher

Take a look at the following two methods to make perfectly poached eggs without using egg poaching cups or pan. 

1. Using the Julia Child Method

This method requires preboiling the egg before poaching it to make sure it retains its shape. Preboiling helps keep the egg whites from spreading in the water and minimizes the cooking time as well. This method is going to seem a bit nutty when you first read it but trust Julia on this, she knows what she is talking about.

What you need:

  • A safety pin
  • A slotted spoon
  • A timer
  • Sauce Pan
  • Water
  • Eggs


  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.
  2. GENTLY poke a hole in one end of each egg with your safety pin. This allows any air inside the egg to escape.
  3. With a slotted spoon, gently lower each egg into the boiling water and let it soak inside for about 10 seconds.
  4. Remove it from the pan using the slotted spoon and let it cool down for one minute. 
  5. Lower the heat so that the water goes back to simmering and then crack the egg into it.
  6. Cook for 2-3 minutes for runny yolks. Cook for 4 minutes for firm yolks.
  7. Carefully lift the poached egg using the slotted spoon, and place it on a plate lined with paper towels.
  8. Drain any excess water and serve with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

2. Using the Whirlpool Method

The whirlpool method doesn’t require many tools. All you need is a large sauce pan, a spoon and an egg. But it’s also the more challenging method because it takes a little bit of skill to make sure the eggs stay in shape, doesn’t float to the bottom, and the egg whites envelop the yolk completely. However, once you master this method you can poach eggs anytime and anywhere, so it is worth the practice. Tip: If the egg gets stuck to the bottom of the pan, don’t scrape it off. Instead, try stirring the pot vigorously until the egg floats back to the top.


  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Then slowly reduce the heat so that the water comes down to a gentle simmer.
  2. Crack an egg into a ramekin or small bowl. This step makes  easier to gently lower the egg in the simmering hot water.
  3. Using a spoon stir the water to create a whirlpool motion. This keeps the egg whites from sticking to the sides or the bottom of the pan.
  4. Gently transfer the egg into the water. Keep stirring the water around the egg for about three minutes for a soft and runny egg yolk. If you prefer a firmer egg yolk, then let it cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the egg from the pan using a spoon, drain as much water as you can, and serve it on a plate.
  6. Add salt and pepper according to your preference.

How Does Vinegar Help With Poached Eggs

Adding a drop of rice vinegar or other mild-tasting vinegar to the water as it comes to a simmer helps the egg whites firm up quicker and help it keeps its shape. It shouldn’t affect the flavor of the egg.

Final Words

Now that you’ve learned how to make poach eggs, add them on top of a fresh salad or fried rice and turn a boring meal into something delicious.

It’s a lot easier to cook them with a poacher, but if you’ve got a large saucepan and some eggs in the fridge, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a crack at it.

Remember to use fresh eggs as the egg whites will stay in better form while cooking. Older eggs have more fluid egg whites that may become wispy strings in the simmering water.

How to Poach Eggs

How to Poach Eggs

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes

How to poach an egg


  • 1 egg


  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. 
  2. Next, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering.
  3. Crack an egg into a small bowl. 
  4. Using a spoon stir the water to create a whirlpool motion. 
  5. Gently transfer the egg into the water. Keep stirring the water around while the egg cooks. 
  6. Cook for 3 minutes for a soft yolk or 5 minutes for a firmer yolk. 
  7. Remove the egg from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain as much water as possible.
  8. Add salt and pepper according to your preference.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 71mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Ethelyn Dietrich

Saturday 17th of July 2021

I had heard the ooh and ahhs of the fancy pressure cooker community and thought I was out of luck. With a family of nine here, you have provided THE game-changer! Thank you!

Andi Reis

Monday 26th of July 2021

Haha that's great to hear! Thanks for weighing in, Ethelyn!

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