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How to Cook Sunny-Side Up Eggs: Tips, Techniques, and Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

The sunny-side-up egg may be the most recognizable way to depict an egg—a bright yellow dot in the middle of a wavy white oval. It’s one of the most common ways to eat them, too. Besides a scramble, when you go out for breakfast, you’re most like ordering your eggs sunny-side up, with a side of crispy bacon, crunchy potatoes, and fluffy pancakes.



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What Is a Sunny-Side Up Egg?

A sunny-side up egg has been fried on one side, so the exposed egg yolk protrudes from the whites. While the runny yolk may look uncooked, the standard sunny-side up egg that reaches 165-170F exceeds temperatures deemed safe for eating by the American Egg Board. Leaving the yolk-side up makes the egg look just like the sun, which is how this style got its name.

What’s the Difference Between Sunny-Side and Over-Easy Eggs?

Both sunny-side up and over easy fall into the fried egg category. Sunny-side up eggs are fried on one side, while eggs over easy are flipped halfway through cooking and fried on both. In both cases, the eggs are cooked until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Achieving a perfectly set white without overcooking the yolk is tricky when you don’t flip the eggs, making a sunny-side up egg the harder preparation style. Over-medium eggs are cooked for slightly longer so that the yolk sets, and over-hard eggs have yolks that harden and turn bright yellow.

Learn more about over-easy eggs with our guide and easy recipe here.

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How to Cook the Perfect Sunny-Side Up Egg

The perfect sunny-side up egg requires just the right temperature and a tight-fitting lid so that the egg whites cook quickly before the yolk starts to set. Covering the pan with a lid generates steam, circulating heat in a contained environment so that the entire surface area of the egg can cook at once. The whites are thinner and have a higher water content, so they cook faster than the thick, fat-dense yolks, leaving you with set whites and a runny yolk. You also want the melted butter or olive oil to be quite hot when you add the egg to the pan so that the whites get crispy.

What Do You Need to Cook Sunny-Side Up Eggs?

You need a nonstick skillet or a well-greased frying pan so that you can easily transfer the cooked egg from the pan to plate with a spatula.

How to Make Healthy Sunny-Side Up Eggs

If you’re trying to reduce your fat intake, it is possible to make sunny-side up eggs without olive oil. You’ll need to replace the oil with water and make sure to use a tight-fitting lid while cooking, so enough steam is created to help the egg cook without sticking to the pan.

How to Make Sunny-Side Up Eggs in the Microwave

To make sunny-side up eggs in the microwave, heat an empty plate in the microwave for 15 seconds, then add a half tablespoon of butter or oil to the warm plate. Evenly coat the plate with the fat, so the egg won’t stick, then crack the egg on the plate and microwave for 45 seconds. If the whites aren’t set, microwave for 15 seconds more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

How to Make Sunny-Side Up Eggs in the Oven

To make sunny-side up eggs in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or muffin tin, then crack however many eggs you want to cook onto the sheet or into the muffin molds. Bake for 4 minutes, until the whites are set. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

Sunny-Side Up Eggs Recipe (With Crispy Hashbrowns)

Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min


  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Shred the potato in a box grater, then squeeze out as much water from the shredded potato as possible using a few layers of paper towels.
  2. Layer a couple of dry paper towels on top of a microwave-safe plate, then spread the shredded potato on top. Cook on high in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the hot oil begins to shimmer, add the potatoes and flatten into an even layer with the back of a spatula. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on top of the potatoes and cook until the bottom is crispy, about 2 minutes. Then flip the potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes until both sides are crispy but the center is still soft. Transfer the hashbrowns a paper towel-lined plate to drain while you cook eggs.
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the nonstick skillet. Break eggs in the hot oil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the whites are just set. Transfer the eggs to a plate and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the hash browns to the plate and serve immediately.

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