Poached eggs are a breakfast delicacy that can elevate your morning meal to a whole new level. Their soft, runny yolks and delicate whites are perfect for topping toast, salads, or a variety of dishes. While traditional poaching methods involve simmering eggs in water, poaching eggs in a pan is a convenient and effective alternative. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making perfect poached eggs in a pan, ensuring your breakfast is a culinary delight.

    Step 1: Prepare Your Pan

    Begin by selecting a non-stick skillet or frying pan. The non-stick surface is crucial to prevent the eggs from sticking to the pan during cooking and to ensure easy removal later. If your pan is not non-stick, consider using a non-stick cooking spray or a small amount of oil to coat the surface.

    Step 2: Add Water

    Pour enough water into the pan to cover the bottom with about one inch of water. You don’t need a large amount of water; just enough to create a shallow pool for poaching the eggs.

    Step 3: Heat the Water

    Place the pan with water over medium heat. You want the water to reach a gentle simmer, where small bubbles are just beginning to form but the water is not boiling vigorously. This is the ideal poaching temperature.

    Step 4: Crack the Eggs

    While the water is heating, crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl or ramekin. This step allows you to carefully slide the eggs into the pan, ensuring that the yolks remain intact and there are no broken shells.

    Step 5: Optional: Add Vinegar

    Adding a splash of vinegar to the simmering water is optional but can help the egg whites coagulate more effectively. It also prevents the whites from spreading too much in the pan. Use about one tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of water.

    Step 6: Create a Whirlpool

    Before adding the eggs to the pan, use a spoon to create a gentle whirlpool in the simmering water. This swirling motion helps wrap the egg whites around the yolk, giving your poached eggs that classic teardrop shape.

    Step 7: Slide the Eggs In

    Carefully slide one egg at a time into the center of the swirling water. The movement of the water will help the egg whites envelop the yolk. Be sure to space the eggs out evenly in the pan to avoid them sticking together.

    Step 8: Set the Timer

    For soft, runny yolks, poach the eggs for about 2-3 minutes. If you prefer your yolks slightly firmer, you can go up to 4-5 minutes. Keep an eye on the eggs and adjust the cooking time to your preference.

    Step 9: Use a Slotted Spoon

    After the allotted time, use a slotted spoon to carefully lift each poached egg out of the water. Allow any excess water to drain off before transferring the eggs to a plate lined with paper towels.

    Step 10: Season and Serve

    Now that you have perfectly poached eggs, it’s time to season and serve them. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper over the eggs to enhance their flavor. Poached eggs are incredibly versatile and can be served on toast, atop a bed of sautéed greens, with avocado, or alongside bacon or smoked salmon.

    Tips for Perfect Poached Eggs:

    Use fresh eggs: Fresher eggs tend to hold their shape better during poaching.

    Don’t overcrowd the pan: Poach one or two eggs at a time to avoid overcrowding, which can cause them to stick together.

    Control the heat: Maintain a gentle simmer; avoid boiling the water vigorously, as this can cause the egg whites to break apart.

    Use a slotted spoon: A slotted spoon is your best friend for gently lifting the poached eggs out of the water without damaging them.

    Experiment with vinegar: While some people love the slight tang vinegar adds, feel free to omit it if you prefer a milder taste.


    Mastering the art of poaching eggs in a pan is a culinary skill that can elevate your breakfasts and brunches. With the right technique and a bit of practice, you can achieve perfectly poached eggs with runny yolks and silky whites every time. Whether you enjoy them on toast, in a salad, or as a topping for various dishes, poached eggs are a delicious and versatile addition to your breakfast repertoire. So, grab your non-stick pan and give this simple yet rewarding cooking method a try!