Everyday Food Blog

The Search for the Perfect Poached Egg

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Poached Eggs On Toast

While developing the story for the How-To section this month, I ran into a bunch of questions I never thought to ask about poached eggs. I’ve given eggs this treatment more times than I can count, but have never given the delicate details a second thought. I decided to do a side-by-side analysis on type of pan, vinegar or not and whether or not to cook the egg in a whirlpool. Here are my findings and I hope you find them as helpful as I found them fascinating.

First, I wanted to see which pan surface worked best, non-stick or stainless. With the non-stick surface, the egg white spread too much while the stainless surface kept it more compact. Stainless wins this battle.

poach egg test 1

Next up is vinegar versus no vinegar. I used stainless since it won the last time, but added 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar to one pot. There was no difference in flavor or shape of finished egg.

poached egg test 2

Finally, we have to decide whether or not to swirl the water to make a vortex so that the egg holds its shape better. Since I used farm-fresh eggs for these tests, the results of this one were minor, but the vortex wins. This is especially helpful if the eggs you are using are a little old and the outer-white has become watery. When your poaching liquid comes to temperature, just give it a few stirs to make a whirlpool effect and gently pour the egg in the middle.


So, there you have it. I hope my obsession with poached egg perfection helps you with your next weekend brunch.

Comments (8)

  • avatar

    why would the pan surface make a difference. I wouldn't think that the egg makes contact with the surface of the pan.

  • avatar

    As another obsessed poached egger, I agree more or less. Ive been using the same little 1 quart calphalon pot and the swirl technique for over 20 years of perfect single poached agg on soft white toast poached egg breakfasts and the occasional hash supper. The whole vinegar notion always struck me as silly so I never tried (nor needed) it.
    Boil the water, set the timer to four minutes, lower the gas to simmer, give the water a little swirl, drop in the egg and 3minutes and fifty seconds later remove the little jewel with a slotted spoon and place it on a small piece of buttered white toast. A touch of salt and pepper and that's breakfast heaven.

  • avatar

    The detail and commentary are really well presented here! I may have to give this a try!


  • avatar

    OK, I find this all to be very cool. I've never made poached eggs and when I've thought about doing it didn't, thinking there was too much unknown bother for me. Now, I'm getting my stainless and vortex ready to go. BTW, a vortex in my water, wow, fancy eggs ;) .

  • avatar

    I love my poached eggs and find them to be truly ones of lifes little pleasures.
    Lately I have taken to cracking the egg into a small bowl and gently lowering that into the water. I have never swirled or vinegared, but I always salt the water.
    Yes, on the stainless over non stick.

  • avatar

    Very interesting about the stainless over non-stick, have been using the vortex for a while now though, works great! Always a good way too impress friends ;)

  • avatar

    this good i tried it

  • avatar

    Stainless steel has a different surface than other metals due to the fine layer of chromium oxide on it's surface that prevents corrosion. This is probably the reason for the difference in egg shape; the egg has less true contact with the stainless and spreads out less.

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