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Common Mistakes when Poaching Egg to Avoid

When it comes to a hot, fresh poached egg in an English muffin, you need it to be done right. If your yolk is weak and translucent with just a cloak of egg white covering it, you’ve cooked it too long. An overcooked yolk won’t hold the mix together either. Poached eggs made with viscous egg whites can often fall out if they’re not done correctly- which looks more like a writhing flow than anything you’ll want to eat!

However, you can use this at home and make the perfect poached egg every time. We spoke with Rick Martinez, BA’s Associate Food Editor, and he gave us some of his best tips on how to make the perfect poach so that it turns out just right without fail!

Here are some do’s and don’ts for poaching eggs, from the perspective of a home cook.

Using Too Small a Pot

“People make the mistake of using an undersized sauce pot, but using a deep, wide skillet that is at least three inches tall results in more room for eggs to cook properly instead of over-browning,” says Martinez. “Unlike sautéing, you want to avoid crowding the pan to avoid over-browning when cooking multiple eggs.”

Not Using Enough Water

The average amount of water you’ll need for a pasta cooker is around three inches. You’ll need more for smaller batches, less for bigger ones. What’s most important is that it’s the first inch or so of water in the pot. After that, “swirl zone” refers to the second and third inches of water in the pot.

Using Water That’s Too Cold

Rather than cooking the eggs when they first add it to the water, you want the water temperature to start the recipe at a lower temperature so it can have time to wash up and meet your egg. Always consider starting your recipe with room-temperature eggs in order to avoid a decrease in temperature from adding cold ingredients.

Skipping the Vinegar

Adding a quarter-cup of white distilled vinegar to your eggs will give it the best texture. Further, not using Champagne or tarragon vinegar in your eggs will leave it tasteless. The point is to crack the egg whites around the yolk.

Cracking Directly Into the Pot

When you add eggs to boiling water, cracking them into a bowl before adding them can prevent the yolk from sinking to the bottom of the pot. This technique will also help you get your eggs out if you’re poaching a lot at once.

Forgetting the “Swirl”

Before you add the eggs, use your spoon to gently swirl the water in the pan with a circular motion to help suspend the whites and yolks from falling to the bottom of the pan.

Using Old Eggs

Egg freshness can be an issue. They may sell today, but they may not last until tomorrow. To get them on the table fast and use up before they go bad, find eggs with a fresher stamp. Fresh eggs mean less “white” will break away when you crack them open, making them prettier to serve. Look for eggs that are sold in the farmer’s market or farm stands and avoid anything that says it’s been shipped from far away or sat on shelves for long.

Not Rinsing the Cooked Eggs

If you want to serve your poached eggs straight from the pot, make sure you rinse it with warm water and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Give the eggs a light sprinkle of black pepper and rock salt, then you’re ready. For private servings, it’s best to cook your eggs to temperature in advance (a water bath will keep them at temperature), then reheat them during service.


Poaching eggs is easy, but only if you know above crucial secrets to doing it right and using a suitable egg poacher on egg-poacher.com.

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