Culinary Arts

Chef Thomas Keller’s Perfect Poached Eggs: How to Poach Eggs

Written by MasterClass

Mar 15, 2019 • 3 min read

People are often apprehensive about poaching eggs, but if you ask Chef Thomas Keller, he’ll reassure you. “A beautifully poached egg is not only very elegant, but very satisfying,” he says. The payoff is absolutely worth the apprehension.

Save

Share


Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking TechniquesThomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques

Learn techniques for cooking vegetables and eggs and making pastas from scratch from the award-winning chef and proprietor of The French Laundry.

Learn More

What Is a Poached Egg?

A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked, outside of its shell, in gently simmering water. It is a delicate preparation that relies on a swirling motion to evenly disperse the heat of the water until the egg whites are just set, and the yolks remain runny. They are most commonly served as the main ingredient of Eggs Benedict, served on toast and draped in hollandaise sauce (find Chef Keller’s recipe here).

How to Poach Eggs

Poaching eggs is a simple enough technique: Start with a deep saucepot that will hold enough water to create a vortex. The swirling water will help the egg white envelop the yolk evenly as the egg white proteins set, creating a nice natural shape. Adding distilled vinegar to the boiling water is essential to help set the egg white.

3 Tips for Perfect Poached Eggs

Practice poaching until you get your perfect shape and your preferred doneness. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Use the freshest eggs. Fresh eggs are best, especially when poaching, since egg whites become more fluid as they age, which leads to those wispy whites in your water vortex.
  2. Manage your temperature carefully. Water temperature is crucial when poaching eggs: a vigorously boiling hot water will cook the eggs too fast. Small bubbles should be reaching the surface of the water for a rolling simmer.
  3. Don’t forget the vinegar. Adding vinegar to your simmering water helps the white keep its shape as it cooks.
Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques
Alice Waters Teaches The Art of Home Cooking
Wolfgang Puck Teaches Cooking
Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking I

Step-By-Step Instructions: How to Poach Eggs With Chef Thomas Keller

Boiling water in pot on stove

1. Bring water and vinegar to a gentle simmer. Taste the water for a slightly acidic taste.

Chef Thomas Keller cracking eggs into small glass bowls

2. Crack eggs into separate small bowls.

Boiling water being swirled around in pot with spoon

3. Begin to create a vortex in the water by vigorously swirling the water around the edge of the pot.

Chef Thomas Keller putting raw egg into boiling water

4. One at a time, slip the eggs into the center of the vortex. As the egg drops into the water, the egg will set into a teardrop shape. Gently, reinvigorate the vortex and repeat with another egg. (It is best to poach only 2–3 eggs at a time.

Poached egg being lifted out of water with spoon

5. After 2 minutes, gently lift out an egg with a slotted spoon and check that the yolk is soft to the touch. If the yolk is too soft, return it to the simmering water.

Chef Thomas Keller placing poached egg on paper towel

6. Once the egg has finished cooking, drain the egg on a paper towel. Use small kitchen scissors to trim off the stringy parts of the egg white.

Chef Thomas Keller’s Poached Egg Recipe

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
18 min
Cook Time
3 min

Watch Chef Keller demonstrate his technique for poaching eggs here.

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 grams (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar
  • Brioche, sliced

Equipment:

  • 4-quart saucepot
  • 2 small bowls
  • Ice bath
  • Slotted spoon
  • Small kitchen scissors
  • Serving plate
  1. Bring water and vinegar to a gentle simmer. Taste the water for a slightly acidic taste.
  2. Crack each egg into separate small bowls. Begin to create a vortex in the water by vigorously swirling the water around the edge of the pot. One at a time, slip the eggs into the center of the vortex. As the egg drops into the water, the egg will set into a teardrop shape. Gently, reinvigorate the vortex and repeat with another egg. (It is best to poach only 2–3 eggs at a time.
  3. After 2 minutes, gently lift out an egg with a slotted spoon and check that the yolk is soft to the touch. If the yolk is too soft, return it to the simmering water.
  4. Once the egg has finished cooking, drain the egg on a paper towel. Use small kitchen scissors to trim off the stringy parts of the egg white. Serve the poached eggs on sliced brioche.

Make poached eggs ahead: If you’re making a larger volume of poached eggs, you can poach them ahead of time, leave them in an ice bath, and reheat them in simmering water for 30–45 seconds.

Become a better chef with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by culinary masters, including Chef Thomas Keller, Massimo Bottura, Gordon Ramsay, and more.

Save

Share