Post Image
Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Design: Kitchn

We Tried 7 Methods for Scrambling Eggs — And Found a Clear Winner

updated Mar 10, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

One of my all-time favorite things to eat is a plate of creamy scrambled eggs with a buttered piece of toast. It’s soothing and comforting, filling, quick to make, and a delight of contrasting textures.

It’s great for breakfast or dinner, or even as a hearty snack. I have to admit that I probably use a different method for scrambling those eggs every time. Sometimes I’ll add a splash of milk and sometimes not. Often, I cook them slowly over low heat the whole time (this is the method Kitchn recommends), but occasionally I’ll crank the burner for the first few seconds. I’ve never settled on a method that works best — that gives me consistent results and better control over the texture and doneness of the eggs. 

To find my go-to technique, I researched seven of the more popular methods from trusted website sources and then pitted them against each other. Here, I’m sharing my results. Since your scrambled egg preferences might be different from mine, I made sure to point out which methods work best to achieve which textures — so don’t just look at the ratings. Your favorite might be a different one.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Design: Kitchn

How I Tested for the Best Scrambled Eggs

Eggs: For consistency, I purchased the same brand of large eggs (Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs) from one store, all with the same expiration date. 

Tests: I tried the different methods using the number of eggs specified for each. That meant anywhere from 2 to 10 eggs per test.

Time: The time I’ve listed includes everything involved: cracking the eggs, beating them, heating up the pan, cooking, and plating the eggs. Since many of these methods are quite quick, I list minutes and seconds (instead of rounding up or down to the nearest whole minute).

Ratings: I rated each method of a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing perfection. Factors that affected the ratings include texture, taste, and ease of method.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Poach 

  • Total time: 9 minutes, 5 seconds
  • Rating: 5/10

About This Method: This technique, from chef Daniel Patterson, went viral a few years ago. I followed the detailed recipe from New York Times Cooking (login required), which starts with having you drain each of four eggs individually in a sieve to remove the watery part of the whites. The drained eggs are combined in a bowl and beaten with a fork for 20 seconds without any seasoning. Meanwhile, four inches of water come to a boil in a large saucepan. Once at a moderate boil, you stir in a little salt and stir the water clockwise to create a whirlpool. You then pour in the eggs, cover the pot, and count to 20. After that the eggs, which are floating on top of the water, are drained well, plated, and seasoned.

Results: The eggs were very moist and tender, but not creamy, and they had the teensiest bit of snappy resistance to each bite. Though I drained them well, they still seemed a little watery — not so much in the texture, but in the taste. The flavor was far less eggy-rich than any of the other egg methods I tried. The color was muted, too: Every other version of scrambled eggs was bright, sunny yellow, but these were pale and washed out.

My Takeaway: If I hadn’t tested this technique against the six other scrambled egg methods, the blandness might not have been so apparent. But these eggs had the least amount of richness and the result just didn’t seem worth the effort.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Microwave 

  • Total time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds 
  • Rating: 6/10

About This Method: I followed the instructions from Epicurious, which have you crack two eggs into a greased microwave-safe bowl (I used an 8-ounce ramekin), add one tablespoon milk and a pinch of salt, and beat with a fork till combined. You then microwave on High at 30-second intervals, stirring after each turn, until the eggs reach the firmness you like. 

Results: After two 30-second sessions in the microwave, the eggs were still liquid around the edges. After three (for a total cook time of 1 1/2 minutes), they were fluffy and light, like a soufflé — but dry. I could also see streaks of whites that had cooked unevenly on the top.  

My Takeaway: While I prefer creamier scrambled eggs, I could see the utility of these; they would hold up well in a breakfast sandwich or a protein bowl. If you play around with the cook time, using shorter increments (maybe 10 or 15 seconds) after the eggs are mostly set, you might be able to achieve a better, less dry texture. 

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Beat in Air 

  • Total time: 3 minutes, 45 seconds
  • Rating: 6.5/10

About This Method: I followed the short recipe from Bon Appetit and read through the detailed explanation of it as well. You crack four eggs into a bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and whip with an immersion blender for 30 seconds. You then melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in an eight-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, add the eggs, and cook until you see a cooked layer form around the edge of the skillet. You then push the eggs with a silicone spatula from one side of the skillet to the other, which creates lovely waves and folds of egg.

Results: The eggs were gorgeous — long, soft folds that sort of draped themselves across the plate. They were incredibly fluffy, but all that air gave them a texture that felt almost spongy.

My Takeaway: The springy texture just wasn’t very appealing to me; I’m not sure that the immersion blender does the eggs all that good. That said, if you adore fluffy eggs, these were the fluffiest of the bunch.

The Scrambled-Egg Pan We Recommend:

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Start Hot 

  • Total time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Rating: 7/10

About This Method: Alton Brown’s scrambled egg recipe offers an excellent tip: Warm your plate in a low oven or hot water while you cook your eggs because “cold plates suck the heat right out of food.” The method begins with you whisking together three eggs, a pinch of kosher salt, a grind of black pepper, and three tablespoons of whole milk. You then melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large nonstick skillet over high heat and pour the eggs into the middle of the pan, which pushes the butter to the edges. You then slowly stir with a silicone spatula until curds start to form, then turn the heat to low to finish the eggs, cooking until “no more liquidous egg is running around the pan.” Then you transfer the eggs to the warmed plate and let them stand for one minute before eating. 

Results: These eggs were wonderfully fluffy but cooked a bit unevenly. There were some pockets of whites that cooked faster and firmer than the rest so that each bite had both creamy and firmer bits within. They also tasted a bit underseasoned.

My Takeaway: If you like diner-style eggs — ones that are fluffy and a bit on the firmer side — these are for you. Consider adding a bit more salt, using about 1/8 teaspoon, for more lively flavor.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Add Cornstarch 

  • Total time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds
  • Rating: 7.5/10

About This Method: As part of their “Genius Recipes” series, Food52 touts a unique scrambled egg method from the popular blog Lady and Pups. First, you crack three eggs into a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, you whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole milk and 1 3/4 teaspoons of cornstarch (or potato starch).

You then whisk the starch mixture into the eggs and season with salt. After heating a nonstick skillet over high heat, you add three tablespoons of unsalted butter and let it melt. The egg mixture goes into the pan. You wait exactly three seconds, and then you remove the pan from the heat and stir — making a full circle per stir — for 11 to 12 seconds. 

Results: I was a little skeptical that the eggs would get done off the residual heat in the pan, but sure enough, they did. And they were exquisitely creamy. They were also extremely buttery, with 1 tablespoon of butter per egg. 

My Takeaway: The cornstarch is very smart. It helps to stabilize the eggs so that you can start them on high heat without overcooking them, or having them cook unevenly. For me, though, with all that butter, they were simply too rich. I might try this method again with less butter — I like how the cornstarch gives you a cushion. But if you enjoy gilding the lily, you’ll love this method.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Add Extra Yolks

  • Total time: 7 minutes, 18 seconds
  • Rating: 8/10

About This Method: For this larger batch of eggs, Cook’s Illustrated instructs you to combine eight whole eggs, two egg yolks, 1/4 cup of half-and-half, 3/8 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, beating everything together with a fork until it’s thoroughly combined. You then melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the egg mixture, and scrape with a silicone spatula for about two minutes. You then reduce the heat to low and gently fold the eggs until they are just slightly wet. 

Results: These eggs were wonderfully fluffy and creamy, and the additional yolks had an impact, giving the scramble a definite intense richness. I saw some streaks of whites that cooked separately from the rest of the mixture, but the texture was not noticeably different in those parts. 

My Takeaway: If you like fluffy curds along with creaminess, this method — which starts at medium-high and plummets to low — is for you. The higher heat helps to create that fluffiness, while the extra yolks and low finishing temperature keeps things creamy.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Method: Start Cold

  • Total time: 8 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Rating: 9.5/10

About This Method: I went with the method and helpful video from Food & Wine, which instructs you to combine six eggs, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a splash of milk (I used two tablespoons of whole milk). Then, you beat everything together with a fork, pour the eggs into an unheated nonstick skillet and add a 2-tablespoon chunk of cold, unsalted butter. You then set the pan over “moderately low-medium heat” and push the eggs around constantly with a silicone spatula until they’re almost done. After that, you remove the pan from the heat, where the carryover cooking will get them to the perfect doneness as you get your plates ready. 

Results: I was delighted to find that hunk of cold butter melts gently and slowly, incorporating itself into the eggs more cohesively than other methods. These eggs tasted wonderfully buttery and perfectly seasoned, with the most beautifully consistent creaminess throughout. Unlike with some of the other methods, there were no streaks of whites that cooked unevenly — just a homogenous golden scramble, each bite tasted just as creamy as the next.

My Takeaway: Starting in a cold pan does take a little longer than most of the other methods, but, as Food & Wine states, doing so “allows you to control the cooking process, so you gradually build your way up to soft, tender, creamy eggs.” It’s much easier to control the doneness and texture of the eggs this way — you can cook them to the softest, creamiest scramble (my favorite way) or go a little longer for firmer eggs.

Final Thoughts

No matter how I cook my scrambled eggs going forward, I will always use Alton Brown’s plate-warming method for a better experience. When I’m in a hurry, I’m definitely leaning on the cornstarch method, though with less butter. (But hey, you do you!) And for lazy Sundays when I want my scrambled eggs to be just the way I like them—soft, almost gooey, and consistently creamy throughout—I will always start cold.