How To Poach an Egg

updated Sep 8, 2022
How To Easily Poach an Egg
Poached eggs have a reputation for being difficult or finicky. Hardly. Let me show you how I poach an egg; there's really nothing to it.

Makes1 poached egg

Cook4 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

When I eye a dish and think, “That would be so much better with an egg on top,” what I usually have in mind is a poached egg. Poached eggs are cooked by slipping them naked into a bath of gently simmering water, and they come out with silky, easily pierced whites, and golden, gooey yolks.

I dearly love poached eggs, but they have a reputation for being difficult or finicky. Hardly. Let me show you how I poach an egg; there’s really nothing to it.

Does the Age of an Egg Matter?

One big key to success with poached eggs is using fresh eggs. As eggs age, the composition of the whites change and becomes more fluid. The fresher the egg, the “tighter” it will poach; the older your egg, the more ghost-like wispies in the water. 

Do You Need Vinegar to Poach an Egg?

Many recipes advocate for adding a spoonful of vinegar to the poaching water to encourage the whites to coagulate quickly. In our updated method below, you’ll start by straining the thin white away before lowering the egg into the water. This step removes the portion of the egg prone to feathery wisps of whites; therefore, there is no need to add even a dash of vinegar. 

How Long Does It Take to Poach an Egg?

Once you’ve brought your saucepan of water to a boil, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Crack the eggs gently into a fine mesh strainer and swirl to remove the thin white. Once the prepared egg slides into the simmering water, it takes about four minutes to poach the egg for firm whites and gooey, runny yolks.

How to Poach More than One Egg at a Time

You can also poach several eggs at once, but make sure there’s room in your pan for each one to have a little elbow room. Crack them into separate measuring cups and slip them into the water one by one. You’ll also need to extend the cooking time by about 30 seconds for each extra egg.

How To Easily Poach an Egg

Poached eggs have a reputation for being difficult or finicky. Hardly. Let me show you how I poach an egg; there's really nothing to it.

Cook time 4 minutes

Makes 1 poached egg

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large egg

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Medium saucepan

  • Fine-mesh strainer

  • Bowl

  • Timer

  • Slotted spoon

  • Paper towel


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  1. Heat the water. Fill a medium saucepan about 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Take the water down to a simmer. Turn the heat down and let the water relax into a brisk simmer. You should see bubbles coming up to the surface, but it won't be rolling. (It's easier and quicker to control the simmer if you bring it to a boil first, then reduce the heat rather than trying to get it to the perfect simmer from the get-go.)

  3. Crack the egg into a fine mesh strainer. Crack 1 large egg into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Gently swirl the egg, so the thin portion of egg white is strained out.

  4. Ease the egg into the water. Make sure the water is still at a bare simmer. Carefully slide the egg into the water.

  5. Poach for 4 minutes. The cooking time for a poached egg is very much up to you, and it depends on how well you like your eggs done and how hot the water is. But 4 minutes, give or take, in lightly simmering water, will give you a firm white and a gooey but still runny yolk.

  6. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water.

  7. Pat the egg dry. Place the egg onto a plate and pat the egg dry lightly with a paper towel.

  8. Season with salt and pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then place the poached egg on a salad, piece of toast, or a plate. Eat immediately!

Recipe Notes

Poaching multiple eggs: If you want to poach multiple eggs at once, make sure your pan is wide enough to accommodate all your eggs without crowding them; poach in batches if necessary. Crack each egg into its own measuring cup before you start and slip them into the water one after the next. Add an extra 30 seconds or so to the cooking time for each extra egg.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman, Design: Kitchn

How We’ve Re-tested This Recipe

Given this updated catalogue of techniques, we realized it was time to revisit Kitchn’s own poached egg recipe. All three recipes cook the eggs for four minutes, so the difference is in the details.

We retested our how-to against both of the winners of the poached egg showdown. Alice Medrich’s winning recipe and our original how-to had a lot in common. Both call for using fresh, cold eggs, cooking in unseasoned (no vinegar or salt) simmering water, and easing the eggs into the water with a small dish. 

The defining characteristic of J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe is straining the thin white (or albumen) away before sliding the egg into the water. The thin white is what creates the feathery strands of egg white that every recipe attempts to control, so by discarding it from the start, you can easily serve satiny restaurant-style poached eggs at home.

In a Nutshell

After a side-by-side comparison of all three recipes, we’ve updated Kitchn’s method to include straining the eggs before poaching in a nod to the recipe from Serious Eats. With this added step, there’s no need to add vinegar to the water, as the bits of white that flare into the water are removed prior to poaching.

Patty Catalano, August 2020

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