How to Poach an Egg

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

Fill an aluminum, stainless-steel, or enamel-coated skillet almost to the brim with water. Add 1 teaspoon or so of white vinegar to the water and bring to a boil. Now add the eggs one at a time. The most sure-fire way of doing this is to break each egg into a small saucer, then gently slide the egg off the saucer and into the boiling water. With a little practice, however, it is more efficient to break the egg directly into the water. To do this, crack the eggshell gently, then, using the fingers of both hands, break the shell, holding the egg quite close to the simmering water.

Simmer the eggs gently until the white is solidly white and no longer transparent; the yolk must remain runny. It takes approximately 2½ to 3 minutes to poach an egg. The time depends on the size of the eggs and the temperature of the eggs when added to the water.

When the eggs are cooked, use a slotted spoon or a slotted pancake turner to remove them. Drain on absorbent paper toweling.


  1. The vinegar helps “set” the whites as they cook.

  2. Do not use a black iron skillet to poach eggs because it may impart a metallic taste and rusty look to the eggs.

  3. The eggs are best served immediately. In unusual circumstances, however, the eggs may be reheated briefly in simmering salted water after they are cooked.