Egg recipes: how to boil, poach and scramble eggs – plus, our favourite egg breakfasts

These are the simplest egg recipes you'll find: from poached and boiled to scrambled... here's how to cook eggs

Egg recipes: how to cook eggs
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Want the ultimate egg recipes or advice on how to cook eggs? One of the most versatile foods out there, the humble egg can be prepared in lots of different ways, and enjoyed on toast, with soldiers, or on its own. The most important aspect of cooking an egg is timing; once you've mastered that, you'll be able to make all the kinds of eggs you want, perfeggtly. Your friends will start calling you eggcellent, or maybe even eggstraordinary. Or, they may finally think you're eggciting. We'll stop now.

Find more great food tips and recipes at our hub page. Want a shortcut to perfectly cooked eggs? Check out our best egg cookers.

Jump to your preferred egg type:

How long to soft boil an egg

Boiled egg

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The easiest of all egg recipes. If you love your eggs soft-boiled with a runny centre, boil them for five to five and a half minutes maximum. Make sure that the water is boiling before you put them in, and that the eggs are fully submerged in the water, or they won't cook evenly. After they're done boiling, put them in cold water for half a minute to make them easier to handle.

How long to hard boil an egg

Boiled eggs

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Whether you like a hard-boiled egg in a sandwich or just hate a runny yolk on your avocado brunch (above, yum), you'll (predictably) need to boil it for longer. Hard-boiled eggs will take between eight and 11 minutes to boil, depending on just how hard boiled you like them. We don't recommend boiling them for longer than 11 minutes, as the yolk will go too dry. Again, make sure your eggs are fully covered with water to prevent uneven cooking. 

Should I salt the water for eggs?

Yes – always add a pinch of salt to your boiling water just before adding the eggs. Salted water is hotter (fact) and even prevents the eggs from cracking. 

How to poach an egg

Looking to step up from the basic boiled egg recipe? Poaching an egg is super easy, and it doesn't require any special technique, despite what the many advice pages online will tell you. All you need is a pan full of boiling water, an egg, and something to serve the egg with. The key is to use very fresh eggs: they will hold together better. Of course, you can also use an egg poaching tool (see a selection below), but to be honest, you don't really need one, unless you prefer using them.

Serves: 1

Cooking time: up to 5 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1–2 fresh eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Boiling water

Method:

1.  If serving with toast, pop that in the toaster now. Boil water in a kettle or in a large pan on the hob. Even if you are only cooking two eggs, we recommend using a nice big pan with lots of space and at least 5cm depth, as it is less likely to bubble over. Don't add salt to the water – it can make the white more likely to break and you will season the egg afterwards anyway. 

2. Crack each egg into a small ramekin or mug (one egg per mug). With the water on a high simmer in the pan, gently slip each egg into the water.

3. Put your timer on for two minutes and watch that the pan doesn't foam or bubble over. After two minutes, take a slotted spoon and lift an egg out to see if it is done. The egg should be firm but give around the yolk. If you don't want a runny yolk, put it back in the pan for a further two to three minutes. 

4. Turn off the heat as soon as the eggs are done. Lift the cooked eggs from the pan one at a time and let as much water drain as possible before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

Top tips:

If your white is a bit straggly when cooked it could be that the egg is not fresh enough. It is still perfectly good to eat, but doesn't create the pleasing orb of a perfect poached egg. If you are worried your egg is not super-fresh rather than messing with vortexes to keep the white together (when you whisk it to bind it around the egg) or vinegar to pull the white around the yolk, you can try a super easy alternative. 

Crack the eggs through a tea strainer or small sieve. This will get rid of the loose white. Then simply slip the eggs into a wide-based pan of hot water, simmer for a minute, then take the eggs off the heat and leave to cook slowly for six to 10 minutes. It takes more time, but the gentler cooking helps stop the white from spreading as much.

How to poach an egg in a microwave

Poached egg

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Don't want to wash a big pan? You can poach an egg in your microwave instead. We find the pan method more reliable, but this takes only a minute to cook!

1. Find a large mug or a small bowl and fill with enough water to submerge the egg (a third to half a mug should do). 

2. Crack the egg into a separate mug and pierce the yolk to avoid explosions. Slide the egg into the mug of water and cover with a microwavable cover in the microwave.

3. Cook for one minute on high. Check the white is firm before serving. If there is still runny white, cook for a further 10 seconds, and 10 more until done. 

Best poached egg serving suggestions

Poached egg and tomatoes on avocado toast

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  • Avocado and poached egg on toast: a favourite in hip brunch joints – sourdough is preferred as the toast, but not essential. 
  • Feta and chilli flakes: add a crumble of feta and a few chilli flakes to the above – bliss.
  • Bacon and mushrooms: this is like a mini fry up but with less fat. Grill your bacon and mushrooms to cut even more fat.
  • Eggs royale: serve on an English muffin with smoked salmon and hollandaise. Swap the salmon for ham for an eggs benedict or trade in spinach for eggs florentine.

Hollandaise sauce recipe

If your idea of the perfect Sunday morning is eggs Royale for breakfast (it is for many on our team), then mastering the hollandaise is a must. It adds a delicious tang to poached eggs that's hard to match. All you need for the perfect hollandaise is:

  • Two egg yolks
  • A tablespoon of white vinegar
  • Melted butter, 100g
  • A pinch of salt
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

How to make scrambled eggs

The best thing about the recipe for scrambled eggs is how versatile they are. Enjoy them on their own, or with a side of smoked salmon and avocado for a great source of healthy fats. We love them with a serving of roasted tomatoes, too.

You will need: 

Eggs – 2 to 3 medium eggs per person 

Milk (optional) 

Butter 

Salt and pepper 

Extra toppings 

1. Begin by cracking your eggs into a large bowl. We'd recommend 2 to 3 eggs per person as an average.

2. Take a whisk and begin beating your eggs until they form a smooth, yellow consistency.

3. If you like your eggs super smooth and creamy, add a dash of milk at this stage. If not, leave it out.

4. Season your egg mixture using salt and plenty of pepper.

5. Place a frying pan on the hob, and begin melting a small knob of butter.

6. Once melted, add in your egg mixture and turn down the hob to a low heat.

7. Take a spatula and begin working your eggs, ensuring that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If you're serving scrambled eggs with toast, this is the time to start toasting.

8. Once most of the liquid mixture has become soft, but solid, remove your eggs from the heat. You don't want to risk overcooking them, so stop before the mixture begins to look dry.

9. Serve your scrambled egg.

Can you cook scrambled eggs in the microwave?

Scrambled eggs

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Yes, you can cook scrambled eggs in a microwave. We don't think they come out as well as if they're cooked in a pan, but if you don't have access to a hob (speaking to you, students), here's how to get the best results:

1. Break your chosen number of eggs into a microwave-safe mixing bowl. 

2. Add a dash of milk (and we mean just a dash), season with salt and pepper and mix well together.

3. Microwave on high for half a minute.

4. Remove from the microwave, stir with a fork, put back in. 

5. Microwave for another half a minute, remove, scramble with the fork. 

How to fry an egg

how to fry an egg

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Some days, nothing will do but a yummy, buttery fried egg (and maybe beans or avocado too) on toast – a simple and nutritious breakfast or lunch that will keep you going for the rest of the day. However you like yours – sunny side up with a runny yolk or fully cooked through with crisp edges – an egg that is fried to your taste is perfect when you're in need of something substantial. 

It's hard to overestimate the importance of a great frying pan here: always go for non-stick when frying eggs; trust us when we say that the effort of scrubbing off stuck-on egg is not worth it.  

How long should you fry an egg for? 

This depends on how well cooked you'd like your egg(s), but generally speaking it should take minimum three minutes until the egg white has set, plus: 

  • A large free-range egg
  • A wedge of butter
  • Salt, to taste

Ingredients

All you need to fry an egg is:

  • One minute for a runny yolk 
  • Two to three minutes for a set yolk

Method:

It's always better to fry one egg at a time, but you could get away with two if your pan is large enough. If you don't like butter, you can use a tablespoon of olive oil instead, but for best flavour, we do recommend using butter.

1. Melt the butter in the frying pan on medium heat. Get the butter nice and hot, but take care that it doesn't start going brown. 

2. Crack the egg neatly into the pan, taking can not to break the yolk. Season lightly with salt and let sizzle for three minutes.

3. When the white has cooked through, flip the egg for eggs over easy or leave as it is for an egg sunny side up. As above, for a runny yolk, cook for an extra minute, and for a set yolk, cook for a further two to three minutes. 

Serve with some salt (to taste) and cracked black pepper.

How to tell if an egg is bad 

Always wondered how to tell if an egg is bad? Just to be very clear: just because your eggs have reached the expiration date on the carton, it does not mean you have to throw them out immediately.

This applies whether you store your eggs in the fridge or if you keep them in a cool place, such as your pantry. In fact, most eggs are good for another couple of weeks after their use by date, so it pays to test them before you use them rather than automatically discarding them. 

1. How to tell if a whole raw egg is bad

The most reliable way of testing whole raw eggs for freshness is the water bowl test. Fill a deep bowl with cold water and place the egg in it. If it floats, it's gone off. Fresh eggs sink or stand at the bottom of the bowl.

The other test is listening to the egg. Shake the egg: a fresh one will make no sound; an egg that's off will make a sloshing sound. 

Finally, if you've cracked your egg and it smells bad, chuck it. If it doesn't smell, but the yolk looks weird and flat (rather than plump) and the white is very runny, also chuck it. 

2. How to tell if a cracked egg is bad

The rule is: a whole raw egg without its shell will keep in the fridge for two days. A yolk on its own should be used within a day, while an egg white on its own within three days. Don't exceed these time frames, as you could end up with food poisoning – even if you cook your egg.

3. How to tell if a cracked egg is bad

If the egg is soft-boiled, treat it in the same way as a raw egg yolk, which means consuming within the next day. If the egg is hard boiled and still in its shell, it'll keep in the fridge for one week. A peeled egg should be eaten within a day.

Any dish with cooked egg in it, such as a quiche, pancake, egg fried rice and so on, should ideally be eaten the same day, or within one day if it was promptly refrigerated after cooking. 

Best egg recipes

Love eggs for breakfast? Or how about a tasty brunch? Here are some of the time-tested recipes made with eggs that are delicious and nutritious. 

Eggs Benedict variations: the classic brunch, three ways

Ingredients

This recipe is for three people, to showcase the three main different ingredients to add to the eggs:

  • Medium eggs, 3
  • English muffins, 3
  • Spinach, 50 grams, for the Florentine
  • Smoked salmon, 50 grams, for the Royale
  • Thinly sliced ham, 50 grams

For the Hollaindaise sauce:

  • Egg yolks, 3
  • Unsalted butter, 150 grams
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • A dash of white vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Take off the heat once the water is boiling and poach the eggs for two minutes by cracking them straight into the water. 

2. Slice the muffins in half and toast them in a toaster or sandwich maker.

3. Take the poached eggs out. Now make the Hollandaise: melt the butter in a pan and whisk the egg yolks in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Bring the water in the poaching pan back to the boil. Add the butter, lemon juice and salt to the egg yolks and gently whisk over the pan of boiling water. You want gently steaming action but no more, to prevent overcooking. You may find that the sauce is now tart enough; if not, add a dash of vinegar.

4. Lay out the muffin halves on plates. Line them with the salmon, ham, and gently steamed or wilted spinach (depending on preference), lay the eggs on top, and pour over the Hollandaise. Voila, your have three variations on eggs Benedict. 

How to make an omelette

how to make an omelette

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Omelettes are one of those easy, quick-to-make dishes that somehow are very easy to mess up – we've all had bad luck with omelettes at some point. Get an omelette right, though, and it's one of the most delicious egg-based brunches you can have.

Fortunately, making an omelette isn't at all difficult – but timing is everything. An omelette needs just two and a half to three minutes – any longer, and you're in tough fried egg territory. To make the delicious, classic French classic for one, you'll need:

  • Two large eggs;
  • Butter or oil, one tablespoon;
  • Milk, a dash;
  • Salt, a generous pinch
  • A cracking of black pepper

Method:

1. Heat a heavy, shallow frying pan or skillet with the oil or butter. Oil is healthier and perfectly fine for cooking an omelette, but butter will give the best flavour. It's very important to choose a high-quality pan that heats evenly. You'll want it quite hot, with the oil/butter evenly covering the surface but not browning.

2. In a mixing bowl, break and roughly whisk the eggs with a dash of milk. The amount of milk will depend on how runny you like your omelette, but we recommend using approximately a tablespoon. Using too much milk will result in the omelette burning.

3. Pour into the hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Your omelette will begin cooking immediately. Cover with a lid and watch the omelette rise. Cook for no more than two minutes. 

4. After two minutes, lift one side of the omelette with a spatula and fold in half. Flip the omelette and cook for another 30 seconds. A cooked omelette should easily slide off the pan onto the plate. 

5. Garnish with herbs of your choice. If you like omelette with tomato or cheese, or another filling, add it thinly sliced just before folding. 

Why is my omelette burning?

If your omelette burns on the outside but doesn't cook inside, you've used too much milk. If burnt all the way through, you need a bit more butter. If it's dry and crumbly inside, you've overcooked it. Remember: quick, hot cooking is what omelettes are all about. 

Huevos rancheros recipe

huevos rancheros

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Huevos rancheros is one of the nicest ways to eat fried eggs for breakfast, and makes a lovely change to poached or boiled eggs. There are lots of different recipes for this Mexican breakfast classic online, but we will say this: while there's no harm in adding extra ingredients such as avocado or beans to your huevos rancheros, there's no real need for them. Basically, huevos rancheros is fried egg with warm tomato salsa, served on a warm tortilla. Simple and tasty.

Ingredients:

For this very easy huevos rancheros recipe for two people, you'll need:

  • Four eggs
  • One tin of tomatoes, or 500 grams of fresh tomatoes
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • Medium hot chillies or jalapeños, to taste
  • Chipotle chilli powder, half a teaspoon 
  • Coriander, a small handful, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, two tablespoons, plus extra for the tortilla and eggs
  • Two tortillas
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

1. Begin by warming the onion in the olive oil. Let it soften without colouring.

2. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder and fresh chillies; season lightly with salt. Fry for five to ten minutes, until fragrant and not too watery. If using fresh tomatoes, extend cooking time by five minutes.

3. In a separate frying pan, warm a little olive oil and prepare the tortillas by gently warming them in the oil for half a minute on each side. They should soften and start rising a little. Transfer them onto plates.

4. Fry your eggs in the same pan you used for the tortillas. Two to three minutes for runny yolks, longer if you like them harder. 

5. Use a ladle or serving spoon to transfer the salsa onto the tortillas. Top with the fried eggs and fresh coriander. 

Tip: For an even more substantial breakfast, you can add beans to your tomatoes, or freshly sliced avocado at the serving stage. 

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