How to Cook an Egg

Everyone has an opinion on how to cook an egg. Wonder no more, egg lovers: here's the right way to prepare this powerhouse protein. Filled with easy step-by-step instructions, use this guide to learn how to cook eggs with tips for making omelets, hard-cooked, poached, scrambled and over-easy eggs.

Types of Eggs

Grade AA and A: Grade AA eggs have firm whites and high, round yolks. Grade A eggs are usually what you'll find in stores. Their whites are considered "reasonably" firm.

Cage-Free: These eggs come from hens that live in open structures such as barns, not cages.

Fortified or Enriched: The hens that lay these eggs are fed a diet supplemented with health-boosting nutrients like DHA, vitamin E, folate and flaxseed.

Free-Range: Eggs from hens that either live outdoors or are given a certain amount of access to the outdoors.

Organic: To earn this sought-after label, farmers must adhere to the USDA's National Organic Program guidelines. That means their hens only eat certified organic feed and are not given antibiotics, vaccines or synthetic hormones.

Pastured: Hens are raised on pasture and allowed to feed on grasses and insects. Check your local farmers market.

5 Ways to Cook an Egg

How to Hard Cook Eggs

  1. To prevent cracking, remove eggs from fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan; add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring eggs to a boil over high heat.
  3. Immediately remove pan from heat and cover. The residual heat in the water cooks the eggs (15 minutes for extra-large eggs, 12 for large, 9 for medium).
  4. Drain; shake the pan gently to crack the eggshells all over.
  5. Immediately submerge eggs in ice water; set aside to cool.
  6. Peel eggs from the large, rounded end under cool running water.
  7. Seeing green? If an egg cooks longer than necessary, a green ring forms around the yolk. This one is cooked perfectly.
  8. Unpeeled, hard-cooked eggs will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. If peeled, store covered in cool water in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

How to Poach Eggs

  1. Add 2 to 3 inches of water to a large saucepan or deep skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to the point where water barely bubbles.
  2. Break eggs, one at a time, into small coffee cups.
  3. Holding a cup close to the surface, slide egg into the water.
  4. Cook the eggs until whites are completely set and yolks are still soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Take care not to stir.
  5. With a slotted spoon, gently lift the eggs from the water and let drain.
  6. When making poached eggs to top toasted bread, lift the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

How to Scramble Eggs

  1. Crack eggs into a bowl. Whisk or beat together 1 tablespoon of milk per egg with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture.
  3. As the eggs start to set, gently pull them across the pan with an inverted spatula or wooden spoon, forming large soft curds. Continue lifting and folding the eggs until the mixture has thickened and no visible liquid remains.
  4. Let the eggs cook for about 30 seconds or until the bottom starts to set before you stir.
  5. For creamiest results, fight the urge to stir constantly.

How to Cook Over-Easy Eggs

  1. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it's hot and foamy.
  2. Break eggs and gently slide into pan, one at a time. Reduce heat to low immediately.
  3. Cook slowly until whites are completely firm and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard.
  4. Carefully slide a spatula under each egg and flip. Cook until desired doneness.
  5. Gentle heat ensures even cooking and prevents eggs from becoming tough and rubbery.

How to Make an Omelet

  1. Omelets cook quickly, so it's a good idea to precook raw filling ingredients before you start your eggs. Plan on 1/3 to 1/2 cup filling per 2-egg omelet.
  2. Crack eggs into a bowl. Whisk or beat together 1 tablespoon of water per egg with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and foamy. Tilt pan to ensure entire bottom is coated with butter.
  4. Add egg mixture to skillet (mixture should set immediately at the edges). As eggs start to set, push the cooked edges toward the center, letting the uncooked portion flow underneath. Repeat until eggs are set and there's no visible liquid.
  5. Spoon your filling on top of one side; fold the other side over filling and cook to desired doneness. Slide the omelet onto a plate.
  6. An 8- or 10-inch nonstick slope-sided skillet with a slippery-smooth surface and slightly thick base that distributes heat evenly is what we reach for when making omelets in the test kitchen. We're not omelet-biased here: They also make short work of grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas.