Coddled Eggs

published Oct 15, 2021
Coddled Eggs Recipe

If you love soft, tender eggs, coddled eggs are for you.

Serves2 to 4

Prep10 minutes

Cook8 minutes

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coddled eggs in a small glass jar on a plate with sliced toasted bread and a brass serving spoon
Credit: Tara Holland

When I was growing up in London, my Irish father used to make me a variation of coddled eggs: egg-in-a-cup. It stemmed from his childhood in rural Ireland and still holds fond memories for me as the closest thing to a hug in a cup that I’ve ever had! I’ve since passed this tradition on to my kids, and I often get requests to make it — especially if one is feeling under the weather. 

To make it, my dad would put about a couple of tablespoons of salted butter in a mug, then spoon out the contents of a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg into the mug — all while trying not to get third-degree burns from holding the hot egg. Then, he’d add a large pinch of salt and a generous pinch of ground white pepper. He’d beat the egg into the butter, using a teaspoon, until the butter was melted and melded into the eggs and became a cup of buttery, yolky deliciousness. And he always served the dish with toasted buttered white bread cut into soldiers alongside. These coddled eggs are similar to this cherished dish from my childhood — only easier.

What Are Coddled Eggs?

Coddled eggs, thought to date back to the late 1800s in England, were traditionally cooked in porcelain or clay coddlers, which look similar to an egg cup with a lid. “Coddling” essentially steams the egg, in its vessel, in a water bath, yielding a soft, tender egg. The benefit of using this egg, as opposed to soft-boiled eggs, is you can add additional flavors and textures, like bacon, cream, butter, and herbs.

Coddlers can be expensive and hard to come by, and are usually sold as one solo item — which means something as simple as eggs can turn into a pricey breakfast. A modern alternative is to use 4-ounce Mason jars with lids. You can cook a bunch at once, making this the perfect, easy breakfast for large family or friend sleepovers, with minimal morning effort. Serve the coddled eggs in the jar it was cooked in, alongside some hot buttery toasted soldiers.

What’s the Difference Between a Poached Egg and Coddled Egg?

Although poached eggs are a type of coddled egg and both are usually soft-cooked –poached eggs are cracked into simmering hot water to cook, and coddled eggs are “poached” in a vessel that is placed in hot water. Coddled eggs are more similar to a shirred egg, but instead of being baked in the oven in a water bath, they are cooked on the stovetop in a water bath. 

Credit: Tara Holland

Can You Refrigerate a Coddled Egg?

Coddled eggs are best served straight away, as the yolk will continue to cook in its vessel. However, you can refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking and store (covered with a lid) for up to three to four days in the refrigerator. 

Coddled Eggs Recipe

If you love soft, tender eggs, coddled eggs are for you.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 3 slices

    cooked bacon (or 1 thick slice cooked ham)

  • 1/4 bunch

    fresh chives

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground white or black pepper, divided

  • 4

    large eggs

  • Hot buttered toast, cut into strips for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Let 1 tablespoon unsalted butter sit at room temperature until softened, about 20 minutes. Coat 4 (4-ounce) Mason jars or 4 coddlers with the softened butter.

  2. Place 1 (4-ounce) Mason jar or 1 coddler in a large saucepan. Pour in enough water to reach just below the rim. Remove the jar or coddler and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, finely chop 3 slices cooked bacon (or 1 slice ham) and mince 1/4 bunch fresh chives until you have 4 teaspoons.

  3. Spoon the following into each jar or coddler: 2 teaspoons of the heavy cream, 2 teaspoons chopped bacon (or ham), and 1/2 teaspoon minced chives. Crack 1 egg on top of each, then season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and ground white or black pepper. Add 1 more teaspoon heavy cream on top of each egg. Secure with lids.

  4. When the water is boiling, use tongs to transfer the jars or coddlers into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the egg whites are set and the yolk is still soft, 8 to 9 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water with tongs. If you prefer a more set yolk, turn off heat and allow to rest for 1 or 2 minutes more with the lids on before removing from the water.

  5. Unscrew the lids with a dishtowel, as the jars will be hot. Garnish the eggs with the remaining minced chives and chopped bacon. Serve immediately with buttered toasted soldiers and more salt and pepper if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover coddled eggs can be refrigerated in the jar they were cooked in (covered with a lid) for up to 3 days.