How to Poach an Egg

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Heather says:

We’re huge fans of eggs in our house, with growing kids and a busy schedule, they are one of the fastest and most economical forms of protein we keep on hand. Throw in the fact that there are hundreds of ways to cook eggs and we’re sold.

Learning how to poach an egg can be a little bit tricky, but there are two secrets that will give you perfectly poached eggs, every time.

Do NOT boil the water when poaching eggs.

Do NOT crack the egg directly into the water.

Finally, don’t forget that there is always a little risk involved in eating raw or undercooked eggs. Do not serve undercooked eggs to anyone with a compromised immune system.

Got it? Let’s get started.

How to Poach an Egg
Do not underestimate what a little color can do for a meal.

Poaching is a technique that calls for a specific range of temperature, but don’t worry you don’t need a thermometer, there are visual clues.

Proper Temperature for Poaching

When you heat the water to poach your egg, bubbles should form on the bottom of your pan, but they should not break the surface tension. The actual temperature range for poaching is from 160°F – 180°F or for our metric friends 72°C – 82°C. Now, your world isn’t going to come crashing down if you creep into the simmering range which is 185°F – 205°F or 85°C – 96°C. As long as the water is not vigorously boiling, your egg should not break fall apart and turn your pot of water into egg drop soup.

Heat three inches of water or so in your pan. You want enough thermal mass, so the addition of one or two eggs won’t drop the temperature significantly. However, you don’t need your largest pot, that’s just a waste of energy.

If your eggs are fairly old, add a splash of white vinegar to the water. This will help the white coagulate faster, helping the poached egg keep its shape. If the eggs are fresh, skip the vinegar as it’s unnecessary and will make the whites appear dull rather than glossy.

You can add a teaspoon or two of salt to the water, if you’d like, but you don’t have to.

While the water is heating get out your eggs, a slotted spoon, a small bowl, and paper towels.

Crack the egg into a bowl

Crack the egg into a bowl and then gently slide the egg down the side of the pan into the water. This technique helps keep the egg together, instead of spreading out into the frilly, soggy mess so many of us imagine when we think about poached eggs.

How to Poach an Egg

Allow the egg to cook for 3 – 5 minutes, scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Don’t skip the draining, it’ll save you from soggy toast.

How to Poach an EggTrim off the raggedy bits, if you must, and serve with toast points or English muffins or however you like your poached eggs.

Poached Eggs


Looking for other egg cooking tutorials?

How about How to Fry an Egg or How to Boil an Egg?

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11 thoughts on “How to Poach an Egg”

  1. I dunno, maybe what I have always done is not actually a "poached" egg? I have a metal mold that sits in the pan so the eggs are never actually in the water, and never a straggly bit to have to worry about. My mom used to have a dedicated pot that was specifically for this purpose. Sadly I could not find a duplicate of that today, so I had to settle for the 3 egg holding mold. But it works great, and the eggs come out picture perfect every time.
    My recent post Archos 70 Internet Tablet

    • Poaching refers to the temperature at which the item is cooked, so yes, it's still poaching. 🙂
      I don't have molds or rings and with a big move potentially on our horizon, I am not buying anything.

  2. Ive always been scared to poach an egg, but this seems explicit enough for me to try! Thanks, I think Im gonna bookmark this page for future reference
    My recent post Strawberry Cupcakes by Mikayla

  3. I have found that the little cans of V-8 Spicy are great to add into the rice water when making Spanish or Mexican rice. I bet it would be great for poaching eggs, too! (I have yet to put the V-8 in soup but I plan to try it, too.)

    I found a great tutorial on poaching eggs in the oven in a muffin tin! That would be awesome to cook them all at once for the whole family!

    Here is a link:

    I am sure you could find more if you want more advice…..if anyone tries it let me know how it turned out for you! (I have never poached eggs, we are happy with scrambled or fried.) But I am interested in trying it because I am tired of feeding one person at a time!


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