How to Poach Eggs Perfectly (Every Time)

Poached eggs, in my opinion, are at the pinnacle of egg gastronomy. They represent that perfect culinary mix of healthy and tasty. They can help you to lose weight too. But that’s not all – they’re also really easy to make, despite what you may think.

While there’s something about poaching an egg that puts the fear of God into many people, in reality there is a very simple process you can follow to nail poached eggs every time. I’m going to share that process with you below.


First of all, you’ll ideally have a really fresh egg to work with – the fresher the better. If you don’t, the egg won’t hold together as well, but it’ll still be perfectly edible.

Bring a pot of water (about 6″ diameter will work) to the boil. As a rule of thumb, the depth of the water should be just about enough to submerge a whole egg on its side.

Reduce the heat to low/medium. You want to hit that sweet spot where the water is just not simmering. The key is to have the water as hot as possible without there being any bubbles (which tend to disrupt the ‘togetherness’ of the egg).

Once you’ve got the water to the right temperature, crack the egg into the middle of the pot carefully. If this proves a little challenging, crack the egg into a cup first, then pour it from the cup into the water.

Set your timer for between 3½ and 4½ minutes, depending on how you like your eggs done (from a runny to firm yolk).

After the allotted time, use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water and place it on a folded sheet of paper towel to soak up the remaining water.

After a few seconds you can pick up the paper towel and gently flip the egg onto your plate.

Congratulations! You just nailed poaching an egg.

Tips and Suggestions

  • You’ve probably been told 101 things about how to poach an egg: make sure the egg is at room temperature, include a splash of vinegar or some salt in the water, ‘spin’ the water before placing the egg in to create a vortex, and so on. None of those steps are necessary. The key to a beautifully poached egg is to use the freshest possible egg, and then don’t disturb it while it’s cooking (either with simmering or boiling water, or by stirring).
  • When poaching more than one egg at once, make sure that you don’t put them all in too quickly, because each new egg will temporarily reduce the temperature of the water. Set a timer when you put the first egg in, then when they’re ready to come out, take them out in the order you put them in (so they all cook evenly).
  • Speaking of multiple eggs, in my experience, three is about as many as you can do at once without things getting a little hairy (but you’ll need a bigger pan to do it). If you want to take up the challenge and try more, you have my awe and respect.
  • If you want to poach lots of eggs (perhaps you want to impress your family on a Sunday morning), do them in batches of three but take 30 seconds off the cooking time. When the time is up, remove each egg from the water and immediately submerge it in ice water. They’ll happily live there for as long as you want them to. When you’re ready to serve your eggs, place them in barely simmering water for 30 seconds to heat them back up and complete the poaching process, and you’re good to go!