Perfectly Poached Eggs

Poached eggs are always that little bit extra special. But they are not as difficult as some make them out to be. If you are a fan of the perfectly soft boiled egg (as I am), you will find that poached eggs are actually a bit easier to control. With the help of some tips from the eminent food scientist Harold McGee you get the perfect egg every time.

  • Eggs (as fresh as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar
You are also going to need a finely meshed sieve and a big soup spoon.

Bring to a boil

Add the salt and vinegar to the pan of water and bring to a good boil. As McGee explains in his must have book 'On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen' the vinegar doesn't actually help with setting the whites. Instead the salt will help raise the boiling temperature and the vinegar and the salt together will make the almost done egg rise to the surface. This will give your finished egg a slightly pitted exterior as you can see here.

Once the water boils turn the heat down until there are just some tiny bubbles rising to the surface.

Drain your egg

The best tip from McGee is to simply drain your egg for a bit in a fine mesh colander. This removes the very thin albumen from the equation making for a very tidy shape. I find a minute of draining is more than enough.

To swirl or not to swirl

I like creating a gentle vortex. Even if you already removed the thin albumen I find a bit of a swirl gives a nicer shape in the end.

Gently drop in the egg

Slide in the egg gently from a soup ladle.


Providing your eggs were room temperature when they went in it will take 3 minutes for them to perfectly set the white. Remove with a slotted or mesh spoon and serve. 


  1. thanks for so much great info packed into a simple post on "the poached egg". i now know how to eliminate that floating egg white. i never knew the sieve trick. i will no longer waste my time with the vinegar, and... thanks for clarifying it should be room temp for a 3 minute egg. hmmm, i believe i smell poached eggs for breakfast

    1. My poached eggs always looked messy before I learned that sieve trick. Enjoy your breakfast ;)

  2. I love poached eggs for breakfast...thank you for the tips :)

    1. No, thank you for commenting! It means a lot.

  3. Your GIFs are brilliantly helpful. Smart. :)