Eggs rule supreme in the kitchen. They are the "Swiss army knife" of the culinary world and can be used in so many ways. They act as binders in burgers, emulsifiers in sauces like mayonnaise, and they can even be used as the hero of your dish. What other ingredient can claim that?
Although cooking an egg isn't rocket science, there are a surprising number of people who end up disappointed with the end result. They're either too runny and raw, overcooked and rubbery or lacking seasoning. Today, we'll focus on how to cook an egg the right way. Whether you enjoy them boiled, scrambled, fried, or something a little fancier, we provide the know-how below along with some handy egg hacks.
Quick Hint: If you ever need to cook for someone who has an egg allergy or is on a plant-based diet then check out our tried and tested egg yolk substitutes. We also offer some alternatives if you want to replace the whole egg.
What's to love about eggs?
- They're highly nutritional, packing 6g of protein in 1 egg.
- Use them as the hero in any dish and they'll never let you down.
- They are a key ingredient in most baked foods like cakes and cookies.
- As an emulsifier, eggs are a very effective, natural option.
- Eggs are cheap and readily available all year round.
Types of eggs
The most common type of egg is the chicken egg; however, there are various other egg types available at restaurants and in some stores.
Quail eggs are a popular choice for many restaurants as they have a larger, extra creamy yolk and a slightly stronger, gamey flavor. You'll also find quail eggs in Japanese bento boxes if you're lucky.
One important skill you need to learn with quail eggs is how to crack one open. You'll discover that quail shells are very flimsy and break easily. This makes it really hard to crack them into a bowl like chicken eggs. The solution is to use a knife tip to carefully cut a hole into the shell then let the egg run out.
3 ways to tell if an egg is still okay to eat
Check out three ways to decide if your egg is still good. We also encourage you to check out our article which answers how long can eggs sit out of the fridge?
1. Check the packaging
This one is kind of obvious. The sell by date will give you an indication of the egg's age. It's important to remember that just because the date may have expired, it doesn't mean the eggs are rotten. They could still be perfectly fine so follow option two and three below to avoid wasting perfectly good egg.
2. Do a visual check and smell
Although egg packaging has a sell by date (or expiration date), we often store eggs in the fridge and toss out the container. It's okay though, you can crack open an egg and do a quick quality check. First, smell the egg. If it's off you'll be hit by an unmistakable odor that is far from enjoyable.
You can also run a visual check. A fresh egg will have an egg white that's tight and compact. As eggs lose their freshness, the white separates and runs like thickened water.
If the egg whites are really runny or you smell something nasty, toss the egg out and wash the plate thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
3. Float test
Fill a saucepan or bowl with water and add the egg. If it sinks, the egg is okay - if it floats then toss it out. As eggs age, their water content reduces and is replaced by an air pocket. A fresh egg won't have an egg pocket large enough to make it float.
Keep in mind that just because an egg floats, it may not have gone off. It's is merely indicating that the egg has lost its freshness.
How to cook an egg
Cooking eggs doesn't need to be complicated. It's mostly about getting the cooking times right and obeying a couple of rules. Cooking an egg is like riding a bike, once you work it out, it'll be easy after that.
There is no right answer to boiling an egg. It comes down to personal preference. The following guide gives you the cooking time for each stage of egg boiling.
5 minute egg
The egg white is firm and the yolk is soft and a little runny.
7 minute egg
Also known as the breakfast egg, this egg has a yolk that’s firming and losing its intense yellow color.
10 minute egg
The egg yolk and white are now equally firm. This is the definition of a hard-boiled egg.
When you’re trying to hard boil an egg, be careful not to take the egg too far. Boiling the egg for over 10 minutes will result in a yolk that has a ring of green around it. Once it gets to this stage the white will have become rubbery and the yolk will be dry.
How to easily remove the shell from a boiled egg
To make your life a little easier, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water you’re boiling the egg in. This will allow the eggshell to come off in one piece instead of breaking off in tiny fragments.
If you are going to slice your hard boiled egg then simply take a sharp knife and slice through the egg. The shell can then easily be removed.
Scrambling eggs add a layer of extra flavor and creaminess that is hard to beat. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. Once you master this one, you can add additional ingredients to suit your taste preferences.
Makes 2 servings. Prep time: 2 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tbsp cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until the yolk and whites are combined.
- Add cream, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined.
- Add butter to a pan and allow it to melt then pour in the eggs. Stir eggs until they thicken. The eggs are ready when they are creamy and shiny. Don’t overcook as they’ll become rubbery.
4 tasty variations of scrambled eggs
Follow the above recipe but change it up a level with these tasty additions.
Chop 1 cup of mushrooms into slices and fry in a small pan with butter before stirring into the scrambled eggs just before they’ve finished cooking.
Toss ½ a cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the scrambled eggs just before they’ve finished cooking.
Add 1 Tbsp of minced marjoram and 1 Tbsp of minced oregano once the eggs are cooked. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives.
A much less known ingredient in the kitchen is dulse. It is an excellent replacement for bacon and is a type of seaweed making it a suitable plant-based meal.
The perfect eggs with bacon, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns, and toast.
Frying eggs is probably the easiest method of cooking eggs. Simply add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a pan on medium heat then crack the eggs into the pan. You have the option to cook them sunny side up, which means you don’t flip the egg. The yolk will be soft.
If you like your yolks cooked, then go for the over easy option. This involves flipping the egg over just before serving.
Poaching an egg involves cooking the egg in a deep pan filled with simmering water. Fill a large pan with 2 litres of water, heat until simmering then add vinegar. Add the egg and cook for about 4-6 minutes. Your egg is poached!
Tips for the perfect poached egg
- Add a ¼ cup of vinegar to the water before adding the egg.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl before adding it to the water.
- Cook a medium-sized egg for 4-6 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the pan.
- Don’t add salt to the water as it causes the egg to break up.
Eggs Benedict Recipe
Serves 2. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes.
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 rashers of bacon
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 6 Tbsp hollandaise sauce
- 2 English muffins
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley to garnish
- Poach eggs as mentioned above.
- As your eggs cook, add butter to a shallow pan on a medium heat. Once butter is melted add bacon and cook until crispy.
- Microwave spinach in a bowl for 2 minutes or until tender.
- Add your muffins to a toaster. Once they’re done, pop them on a plate. Top with spinach, bacon, egg and hollandaise sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper and add a garnish of parsley.
Deviled egg recipe
- 4 eggs
- 2 oz butter (softened)
- A pinch paprika
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- A splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to taste
- Add eggs to a pot of cold water and heat on med-high. Once boiling, cook for 10 minutes.
- Peel eggs and cut in half length-ways. Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl.
- Beat the butter, paprika, and mustard until combined.
- Season with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.
- Mix in yolks to the butter mixture until combined.
- Scoop egg yolk into the egg whites
- Garnish with cayenne pepper and finely chopped chives.
Before adding the yolks to the egg white, push the mixture through a sieve to get a smoother consistency. You can also add the yolks to a piping bag (use a star nozzle) and pipe the yolks into the white for a more impressive presentation.
5 Egg hacks
1. Onion rings
Use onion rings when frying for a perfect shaped egg. Take a large onion, peel it and chop in half. Take the larger rings in the center and place them in a pan. Now break the egg into the ring.
2. Slice the egg
Once you hard boil the egg, slice it in half with a sharp knife, eggshell and all. Now the shell falls away effortlessly.
3. Use a muffin tray
Muffin trays aren’t just useful for muffins. If you’re having lots of guests, place an egg in each muffin cup and bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes depending on whether you want soft of hard boiled.
4. Microwave eggs in a small dish
Break and egg into a ramekin and mix in a little milk and salt with a fork. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir then cook another 45 seconds. Keep an eye on your eggs to make sure they don’t overcook.
5. Scramble eggs in zip-lock bags
Beat an egg with a fork then place in a zip-lock bag. Now drop into simmering water (carefully) and remove once it looks cooked. The beauty of this method is that everyone can make their own and add whatever seasoning they prefer. Then just write their name on the bag.
Need 59 ways to cook an egg? Watch this video.
Eggs are a wonderful ingredient to have in the kitchen. Versatile, robust and a lovely meal on their own. Cooking them is easy once you get the timings right. Under or overcooking will result in a disappointing meal. There’s nothing worse than a raw looking egg or a rubbery egg.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the seasoning you use, especially with scrambled eggs or omelettes. They are calling out for extra flavors to be added!
Now that you’ve read this guide it’s time to get cracking (literally). Put your new-found knowledge to good use today. Eggs, well-cooked and seasoned, are one of the best meals you’ll eat.