How to Perfectly Poach an Egg

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I am a huge fan of eggs. I have been eating them most mornings for most of my life, this is probably how I survived a decade as a vegetarian! The yolk is loaded with nutrients, namely vitamins A, D and E, as well as nutrients that are critical for brain development, such as cholesterol, EPA, DHA and choline. The white is a great source of protein, if you tolerate it well.

I am not picky either… I’ll eat them any way they come – fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, omelet, whatever! I recently started experimenting with various methods of poaching without an egg poacher. I wanted to share with you the method I found to work best. This is the method employed by Jacques Pepin, one of France’s master chefs.

Tutorial: How to Perfectly Poach an Egg

large saucepan
2.5 quarts of water (approx. 4″-5″ inches depth of water)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
4 eggs
large bowl of cold water
slotted spoon


  1. Bring your water to a barely boil (160F-180F). Use enough water so your eggs are covered and they do not stick to the bottom. If your water is too hot, you risk toughening the egg. 
  2. Add a little bit of vinegar. I used around 2 tablespoons. The vinegar is what will keep your egg together.
  3. Gently crack eggs directly into the water. If doing 4 eggs, use a large enough saucepan, so they are not overcrowded.
  4. Use your slotted spoon to gently lift the egg white from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolk. I prefer my eggs on the 3 minute side! You can test for firmness by lifting an egg on a spoon and gently pressing a finger on the yolk.
  6. Remove the eggs from the water using a slotted spoon. Move them into a bowl of cool water. This is an important step that most tutorials do not mention. Placing the eggs in the water will remove the taste of vinegar. I have found when I skip this step, the eggs have a slight vinegar taste to them.
  7. Use a sharp knife to trim the ends, to make the egg look neater.
  8. Enjoy!

poach egg large file

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  1. Brian says

    Two more helpful tips:
    1. Crack the egg into a very small bowl or ramekin so its easy to “slide” the egg into the water rather than dropping from the shell.
    2. Right before you slide the egg into the water, give the water a swirl with a spoon, it will help tangle all the egg white into one larger clump so you dont have much hanging off at the end.

    • admin says

      Thanks for the additional tips, Brian! I agree using a ramekin does help slide the egg in easier. I am just usually too lazy to get another dish dirty.

  2. says

    I make mine in a similar way except I use a shallow pan and do the whirlpool thing in the water

    I haven’t had poached eggs in a long time so thanks for reminding me!

  3. says

    I cooked some eggs this way and got a serious amount of frothy egg white sitting on the top of the water. Was the water too hot or too cool? Ever had that problem? The egg did cook but I feel like I lost a lot of the white in the froth. Anyone else experience this and figure out why? Thanks for reminding me how much I love poached eggs (especially from my own chickens!)

    • admin says

      Hi Valerie! You are so lucky that you have your own chickens! We really want to get some! This has happened to me before when I haven’t used enough vinegar to hold the eggs together. A few other issues could be the pan wasn’t large enough, it needed more water, or the egg needed to be dropped in a little more gently. I have also read that eggs that are fresher do not make as much white froth. Hope that helps!