Poached Eggs: The Breakfast Book

My mom, Gran Fran, taught me how to make poached eggs about a year ago.

Her method involves cracking the egg onto a small saucer, creating a whirlpool in a pan of boiling water and pouring the egg into it. I've become almost an expert at this method, so I thought why not give another method a try? What better timing could I have as it's time for eggs in this installment of my cook the book project (Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book)?

At first, I was concerned that the extra egg boil in the beginning of the process was going to slow me down. By parboiling the eggs, they really did hold their shape much more easily once they hit the water/vinegar poaching liquid.

It's great to have two methods to use to make poached eggs as each one yields a little different shape and texture of egg in the end. Gran Fran's method gives you a more fluid shape (though the yolks are cooked perfectly every time). Marion's gives you a more solid shape.

Anyway you want to make poached eggs, you'll end up with a nice light egg dish on a Saturday morning to serve with sausage and toast, or on a Monday night on top of your favorite salad greens.

Check out the posts by my cook the book partners:  RachelAimeeEmilySammy and Claudie.

Poached Eggs

from Marion Cunnigham’s The Breakfast Book, Copyright 1987, Alfred A. Knopf


  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • Additional water for parboiling the eggs


The eggs to be poached will be getting a preliminary short boil. In a saucepan, boil enough water to completely cover the eggs. Gently lower the unshelled eggs into the saucepan. Count to 30 and remove the eggs. This preliminary cooking in the shell will harden the egg white a little so that the egg will hold its shape better as it poaches.

Bring to a simmer 4 cups water and 2 teaspoons cider vinegar in a 10-inch deep frying pan or sauté pan. If you are poaching more than 4 eggs and need a larger pan, add 1 teaspoon vinegar for each additional 2 cups water. One by one, crack each egg on the edge of the frying pan, open up the shell just over the simmering water, and let the egg fall gently into the water. If the eggs are not to ally submerged, spoon the simmering water over them as they poach. They will be ready after 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Or remove the pan from the heat immediately after adding the eggs, cover, and the eggs will be poached after 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the eggs with a skimmer or slotted spoon and let them drain on a towel. If you are not using the poached eggs right away, put them directly into a bowl of ice water and refrigerate. They will keep for 2 to 3 days. Reheat them in a bowl of very hot water for about 1 minute.