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How to Poach the Perfect Egg

There are few things in life that get us more excited to get out of bed in the morning than brunch — and nowadays, brunch is pretty much synonymous with eggs Benedict and avocado toast. In theory, these two dishes seem like they would be super-easy to pull off if you are hosting a brunch at home, but poaching eggs is not as easy as it seems.

With a few simple tips, however, perfectly poached eggs can be yours. Besides the fact that they are delicious and look impressive, there’s an added bonus: Poached eggs are healthier than most other eggs because there is no oil or butter required in their preparation.

More: Your Everything Guide to Eggs

Here are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to create your own perfect poached eggs:

  1. Start small. Practice making 1 or 2 poached eggs at a time before you attempt to feed the masses.
  2. Simmer on low. Keep your water at a low simmer throughout poaching.
  3. Use a teacup. Cracking your eggs directly into the water can cause the yolk to break or the whites to spread out in the pan. Always crack your eggs into a teacup (a ramekin or small bowl will work) before adding them to the water.
  4. Prepare other foods in advance. Poaching eggs takes 4-5 minutes, so finish cooking everything else you will be serving, including toast, before you begin.

Poached eggs

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Eggs
  • Teacups, ramekins or small bowls (1 per egg)
  • Pan (at least 4 inches deep)
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Slotted spoon


    1. Crack each egg into its own teacup, then set the eggs aside.
    2. Fill your pan 3/4 full of warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and stir. Place the pan over medium heat and bring it to a low simmer.  (A few bubbles should continually rise to the surface.)
    3. When the water reaches a low simmer, gently lower each of the teacups into the water and tip each egg into the pan. (Note: You can use a slotted spoon or spatula to nudge the whites toward the yolk if they spread out in the water.)
    4. Poach the eggs just until the whites are cooked through, for 4-5 minutes. Then turn off the heat.
    5. Using a slotted spoon, remove each of the eggs. Gently blot them dry with a paper towel before serving.

More: How to Know if You Can Still Use The Old Eggs in Your Fridge

Why the Vinegar? Vinegar helps the egg white firm up in the water, minimizing unruly egg whites that spread all over your pan. The vinegar taste is barely noticeable in the finished eggs, but lemon juice works as a substitute, if you prefer.

Originally posted January 2014. Updated August 2017.

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