How to Cook Eggs

Karen Frazier
man cracking eggs

Cooking Eggs

There's no doubt eggs are a popular food, and each state in the United States has their own favorite method. Whether you like them scrambled, poached, over easy, or some other way, there's an easy method that will give you perfect results.

soft scrambled eggs

Soft Scrambled

Soft scrambled eggs are light and fluffy, and they have a slightly melting, lightly runny texture that's truly inviting. These eggs are fantastic by themselves, or serve them on toast.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Herbs or salt for garnish

Method

  1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk them with the salt until they are well homogenized. The color will be pale yellow and the eggs will have a slight bubble to the surface.
  2. In a medium-sized (8-inch) nonstick pan on medium-low heat, melt the butter. The butter will foam, but after a minute or two, the foam will stop and the butter will be pure liquid. When it reaches this state, add the eggs.
  3. Allow the eggs to sit without stirring until you can see around the edges of the skillet the eggs are cooked. The middle will still be runny.
  4. Using a rubber spatula and starting at one side, run the spatula across the width of the pan dragging the eggs with it as you do. Continue making these long pulls with the spatula across the pan moving all around the edges of the pan until the eggs are barely set, a minute or two more.
  5. Serve top with chopped fresh herbs and sprinkled with a good finishing salt, such as sea salt crystals.

Tips

  • Don't overwork the eggs or they will toughen up.
  • Don't stir after the eggs have gone into the pan. Use only the long, sweeping strokes across the pan.
  • There's no need to add cream or milk here. The texture comes entirely from the cooking method with the eggs.
  • Keep the temperature low. Too high of a temperature will cook the eggs to quickly, so the scramble won't be soft. Medium-low or lower is your best bet.
hard scrambled eggs

Hard Scrambled

Hard scrambling eggs is a process similar to soft scrambling, but the finished texture is firmer. Hard scrambled eggs shouldn't be tough. If you want to add dairy, don't add more than about a tablespoon per two eggs. Serve them in a breakfast burrito or in a sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

  1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Add the salt and whisk until the eggs are well-blended.
  2. In a small nonstick pan (8-inch works for four eggs), heat the butter on medium-low until it melts and the bubbles subside.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and cook, pushing the eggs around the pan with a rubber scraper until they are firm, two to three minutes.

Tips

  • For best results, whisk the eggs until they are homogenized and a pale yellow color.
  • Adjust seasoning at the end by adding additional salt, pepper, or fresh cut herbs as desired.
fried over easy

Fried Over Easy

When you fry an egg over easy, the white is completely set while the yolk remains deliciously runny. To make them over easy, you flip the egg just at the end of cooking. Over easy eggs are delicious on toast, in a sandwich, or as a topping for rice, soup, or pasta. Try one on a burger.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt the butter on medium-low until the bubbles subside or heat the oil.
  2. Carefully crack the egg into a custard cup, making sure you don't break the yolk.
  3. When the butter or oil is heated, add the egg to the pan. Cook until the whites set. The bottom will solidifiy first, and the top will appear opaque as well. The yolk will remain runny and there will still be a little uncooked egg white on the very top.
  4. Carefully flip the egg. Turn the heat off and allow the egg to sit in contact with the hot pan for 30 to 45 seconds to allow the uncooked white to cook.
  5. Slide the egg onto a plate from the pan and season it with salt to taste.

Tips

  • Choose a spatula designed for flipping eggs can help you flip the egg without breaking the yolk.
  • Cook the eggs low and slow. If the heat is too high (medium or above), it will make the eggs crispy and tough around the edges of the whites. The oil will spit and splatter if the pan is too hot.
  • When you add the egg to the pan, hold it just above the surface of the pan and gently tip it in, so the yolk doesn't break.
hard fried eggs

Fried Over Hard

When you cook an egg over hard, you flip it at the end of the cooking and allow the yolk, which remains intact and unbroken, to harden completely. Don't up the heat because that will toughen up the protein in the egg whites and cause crisping or singing around the edge.

Some people like to use over hard eggs for toad in a hole, which is eggs in toast. Over hard eggs also make mess-proof egg sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In an 8-inch nonstick pan, heat the olive oil or butter on medium-low until warm and, if using butter, until the foam subsides.
  2. Carefully crack an egg into a custard cup, taking care not to break the yolk.
  3. Holding the custard cup close to the surface of the pan, tilt it and allow the egg to slip into the pan, keeping the yolk intact.
  4. Cook until the white is solidified, one to two minutes. Carefully flip the egg.
  5. Cook on the other side until the yolk is set completely, one or two minutes more.
  6. Slide the egg onto a plate and season with salt to taste.

Tips

  • An egg flipping spatula can help keep the yolk intact here.
  • If you do break the yolk, over hard is typically what you get anyway, so don't worry too much about aesthetics if the yolk does break. It's still perfectly edible.
sunny-side up

Fried Sunny-Side Up

Eggs fried sunny-side up are picture perfect eggs with a tender and glistening white and a perfectly intact, runny, glossy yolk in the center. Sunny-side up eggs make a showstopper salad topping as a dressing. They are also delicious on sauteed greens or on top of hash browns.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a small (8-inch) nonstick fry pan, heat the oil or butter on medium-low. If using butter, wait until the foam subsides. If using oil, it will shimmer when it is ready.
  2. Carefully crack the egg into a custard cup, making sure you keep the yolk intact.
  3. Holding the custard cup just above the pan's surface, tilt it to slip the egg into the heated pan.
  4. If the oil starts to spit, turn the pan down to low. Otherwise, maintain it on medium-low.
  5. Cook, without touching the egg, until the whites are completely set, about 2 1/2 minutes.
  6. Slide the egg onto a plate and season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Tips

  • Before adding the oil, you can test the pan to make sure it is the right temperature by dropping a drop of water on its surface. The water will skip across the pan if it is hot enough.
  • To keep those beautiful yolks intact when you plate the eggs, hold the plate next to the side of the pan and just tilt the pan so the egg slips from the pan to plate.
poached eggs

Poached Eggs

A perfectly poached egg is a thing of beauty. It has a light, fluffy white and a thick runny yolk. These eggs are decadent sitting on a buttered English muffin and Canadian bacon topped with hollandaise sauce in eggs benedict.

The method for poaching an egg is relatively straightforward.

Tips

  • Crack the eggs into a custard cup before slipping them into the water to keep the eggs intact.
  • Swirl the water as you add the egg.
  • Use a spoon to fold the whites of the eggs gently over the yolks as you cook.
soft boiled

Soft Boiled

Soft boiled eggs have set whites and a runny yolk, and they retain their egg shape. You can always serve your soft-boiled eggs in egg cups, but they are delicious in other recipes, too; try a a Scotch eggs recipe or enjoy them served over roasted vegetables.

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium saucepan half full with water and bring it to a rolling boil on high heat.
  2. Reduce the temperature to medium and allow the water to settle to a rapid simmer.
  3. One at a time, lower the eggs into the hot water using a spoon.
  4. For runny eggs, cook for about five minutes. For a barely set yolk, cook for about seven minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the water. Run them under cold water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking.
  6. Put the eggs in egg cups and use a shell cracker to remove the top of the egg.
  7. Season as desired.

Tips

  • You can either run the eggs under cold water or plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking.
  • If you plan to peel the eggs for use in another recipe, then plunging them into ice water is a better method.
hard boiled

Hard Boiled

Learning to hard boil eggs is one of the easier methods of cooking, but it still does require a deft touch so you don't overcook the eggs and toughen up the yolks.

Tips

  • Immediately plunge the eggs into ice water to stop them from cooking.
  • Using slightly older eggs allows you to peel them more easily.
  • Place the eggs in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Don't overcrowd or the eggs won't cook properly.
  • Use room temperature eggs when you boil them, which can prevent shells from cracking.

Serving Suggestions

Hard boiled eggs are a versatile ingredient.

  • Make deviled eggs as a tasty appetizer.
  • Add some mayonnaise and a few other ingredients to make egg salad.
  • Enjoy them with bacon, chicken, tomatoes, bleu cheese, and greens in a Cobb salad.
omelet

Rolled or Folded Omelet

Making a rolled or folded omelet is a great use of eggs, and it makes a delicious breakfast. Follow a basic omelet recipe and add your own fillings such as cheese, bacon, ham, seafood, fresh herbs, and sauteed vegetables.

Tips

  • Use a nonstick pan with plenty of oil so the omelet rolls or folds easily.
  • Beat the eggs well so they are homogenized and a soft yellow color.
  • Allow the eggs to set around the edges without touching them. Then, use a rubber spatula to pull the eggs carefully away from the edges of the pan and tilt the pan in all directions to allow uncooked egg to flow into the spaces. Cook again until the eggs are set around the edges and on top.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan - use the right sized pan. A two-egg omelet only requires an eight-inch pan. Four eggs requires a 10-inch pan.
  • Add the fillings in an even layer after the eggs are set and roll or fold the eggs over the top of the fillings.
fluffy omelet

Fluffy Omelet

Fluffy omelets are incredibly light and airy. They are delicious by themselves, or lovely with a little cheese grated and melted in the center. It's particularly delicious with sauteed or fresh greens, tomatoes, and a small grating of Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

  1. Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl and the egg whites into a small bowl. Add the salt to the egg yolks.
  2. Using an egg beater or a stand mixer with a whisk, beat the egg whites until they are fluffy and form soft peaks.
  3. Using a whisk, whisk the egg yolks and salt until they are well mixed.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the egg yolks into the egg whites until just combined.
  5. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter on medium until it stops bubbling.
  6. Carefully scrape the eggs into the pan. Cook for two or three minutes without touching the eggs, until the top is set.
  7. Add any toppings and fold the omelet in half.

Tips

  • The egg whites are best beaten when at room temperature; they form peaks more quickly.
  • Make sure there's not a speck of egg yolk or fat in your egg whites or they won't beat properly.
  • Don't allow the egg mixture to sit too long while you heat up your pan, or it will lose loft.
frittata

Baked Frittata

While you could make a frittata on your waffle iron, a more classic presentation is made on your stovetop and in your oven.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup chopped/sliced vegetables or 1 cup of greens
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh herbs
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven's broiler to high. Adjust the rack height to the center position.
  2. In a 12-inch oven-proof skillet, heat the butter on medium-high until it bubbles. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about four minutes. Arrange them in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs.
  4. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan over the top of the vegetables. and cook without stirring. When the eggs start to solidify around the edges of the pan, carefully pull back the sides of the eggs, tilt the pan, and allow uncooked egg to run into the spaces. Cook one minute more. It will still be very wet and slightly runny on the top.
  5. Sprinkle with the cheese. Move the pan under your oven's broiler. Broil until the cheese melts and the top of the frittata puffs, one or two minutes.
  6. Cut into four wedges to serve.

Tips

  • Make sure your eggs are well combined and homogenized before adding them to the pan.
  • Make sure butter and veggies are spread evenly before you add the eggs.
  • Watch this closely once it's under the broiler; as soon as the cheese is melted and the top puffed, pull it out to serve it.
meringue

Meringue

Whether it's topping a pie or as a delicious, light cookie, meringue is one of eggs' sweetest presentations. It uses only the white of the egg. Learn to create the perfect meringue.

Lemon meringue pie is perhaps the best known of meringue treats, but you can also try on other pies, such as banana meringue. Or, try baked Alaska, which is like a magic trick with ice cream on a cake topped with baked meringue.

Tips

  • Make sure your bowl and beaters or whisk are absolutely free of any fat - wash them well before using them.
  • It's important you don't get even a speck of egg yolks in your egg whites.
  • Save the yolks for another use.
eggs in skillet

Eggs for Every Meal

Regardless of whether you prefer your eggs light, fluffy, and sweet like meringue or you want them hearty and spicy, such as in migas or huevos rancheros, eggs are a delicious and affordable cornerstone for any meal. If you know how to cook an egg properly, you'll never go hungry.

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How to Cook Eggs