Six Ways To Make The Perfect Fried Egg

As we all learn at some point in our lives, perfection is futile. It's unattainable. It simply doesn't exist -- that is until we're talking about fried eggs.

Picture: Kaband/Shutterstock

You see, fried eggs are a very personal matter. An egg, like a painting, a sculpture, or even a poem, can be a work of art -- and art, of course, is subjective. There isn't the right kind of fried egg, no correct way to cook it, no guidebook or recipe, or even a textbook. There's just an egg, a bit of fat, some heat. A sprinkle of salt and buttered toast. When it comes to fried eggs, there are many versions of perfection. We're here to help you find yours.

Method #1: Soft, Delicate, Loving

Heat a non-stick or cast-iron pan on high for one minute, then melt a pat of butter. Crack an egg in the pool of butter and turn the heat to medium. Pour in a small amount of water (around a half tablespoon) and cover the pan with a lid for 30 seconds, letting the egg steam. When the white is set, slide the egg onto a plate and season with salt.

Yields: soft, spoon-able white; runny yolk

Method #2: Take No Prisoners

Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan to high, high heat. Pour in a generous amount of olive oil, and heat until it shimmers. Crack in an egg and turn the heat down, then spoon the hot fat over the egg white until it's just set (focusing on the area of white just around the yolk). Or, if you're feeling a little crazy, simply cover the pan after cracking the egg, then slide it out when the white's set and crispy. Season, of course, with salt.

Yields: crispy, browned bottom; cripsy edges; runny yolk

Method #3: Press Down

Heat a half tablespoon of butter in a small non-stick pan over medium high heat. When the butter is sizzling but nowhere near smoking, crack 1 egg into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. As soon as the edges look brown and crackly, gently flip the egg. With your spatula, press on the thicker areas of white near the yolk so that they flood into the pan and cook quickly. Season again with salt and pepper. As soon as your whites are set, slide the egg onto one piece of toast.

Yields: crispy white; runny yolk

Method #4: Animal Style

Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan to medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of sausage or bacon fat. Cook using the take-no-prisoners or press-down method.

Yields: crispy edges and bottom; runny yolk; slightly porky finish

Method #5: Oven

Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat around a tablespoon of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm but not hot, crack the egg gently into the pan and cook without disturbing just until the white starts to set. Transfer to the oven and bake until the white sets completely, around three minutes.

Yields: browned bottom; speckled top; runny yolk

Method #6: The More Oil the Better

Check out this slideshow from the New York Times, which features how Jose Andres fries his egg. Prepare to be amazed.

Yields: brown, crunchy white; runny yolk

How to Make the Perfect Fried Egg [Food52]

Brette Warshaw is the editorial assistant at Food52. She's a reader, eater, culinary thrillseeker and food nerd.


Comments

    Do people generally want burnt eggs? Personally I crack them into a hot good non stick pan, no oil, wait until they're almost cooked through then flip them to cook the white on the other side, then quickly remove them to keep the yolk runny.

    Fantastic article! Thanks LH. Perfect Poach next please!

    I go with number 1, it works for me.

    Non stick pan, sometimes a little oil usually not, and then just cook with a lid on the pan and dont flip my own egg so the yolk stays runny, but will flip the missus' egg for a minute.

    poached eggs. easiest I found was in a pan bring 2 inches water to a simmer/boil then Turn the heat off. crack the egg straight in if your good and had practice otherwise crack into a small cup or saucer and slide them in. Cover and 4 minutes and your sweet. No vinegar no swirling and simple as anything to cook multiple eggs just start furthers away from you and go clockwise around the pan.

    I've got poachpods too http://www.fusionbrands.com/collections/products/products/poachpod but I don't like the way the egg comes out they're too perfect shape wise I don;t like the smoothness to it, it looks like a boob sitting on your plate lol.

    I usually go with a bit of spray olive oil in a cast iron fry pan, get it hot, crack the eggs in then cover it with a glass lid to essentially steam the egg. Turns out great in my opinion.

    For the "slightly too perfect" version:

    Plenty of a good quality flavourless oil (e.g: groundnut). Use a non-stick egg ring. Take off the heat as soon as the edge starts to sizzle. Spoon hot oil over the top continuously. Let it cook slowly ... it's not a race.

    Voila. Circular egg, firm whites, runny yolk, a slight amount of crisp around the edge. No burnt bits, no bubbly bits.

    That's assuming you want "perfect". I tend to want it now as the bacon's almost done. And appearance is less important as it's about to disappear between two bits of bread.

    Last edited 31/05/13 11:15 pm

    I just got my cast iron pre-seasoned lodge 28cm skillet 3 days ago, I got it as I got feed up trying to get a safe non-stick surface that actually works long time. So far (only 3 days)I am really impressed with them. Must of the comments I have seen and even the Lodge instructions in the web page mentioned that at the beginning it would be hard to fry eggs, and they suggest to use extra oil or butter to get good results. Well I have cooked eggs 3 times now, and I have only used half a teaspoon (that is right, half a tee spoon) of oil for a 28 cm pan, that I the spread around with a paper towel. Once my pan was nice and hot in a medium heat, y cracked the eggs, and left them do their thing for about 2 minutes (until there where bubbles on them, and then with the spatula I gently lifted the edges to make sure it was not sticking, and to my surprise, they came off without even leaving a mark in the pan. By the way the pan was only 30 au$ as opposed to at least au$80 for any non stick. I am no saying that you can actually cook entirely oil free with these cast iron ones, but come on, half a tee spoon of grape seed oil for a 28 cm pan is almost oil free.

    Update, In my fourth attempt to fry eggs, I messed around with the temperature, (lower than before) and it dis not work. so you need medium high towards high heat.

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