Fried eggs are straightforward eggs. A little fat, a hot pan, an egg — that’s all you really need to make one. But they’re also more riffable than a lot of people realise.
By manipulating the temperature, switching up your cooking fat, or frying them atop piles of cheese or herbs, you can fry up an almost endless variety of sunny-sided beauties. These are our favourites. (And if you prefer your shell buddies all mixed up, we’ve got plenty of suggestions for superior scrambled eggs, too.)
Fry them in too much fat
If you want a fried egg with crispy, lacy edges and a runny yolk, you have to cook it fast and hot, and to do that, you’ll need a lot of fat. You may think that by “a lot” I mean “a large, but reasonable amount.” No. I mean an amount that looks slightly unhinged. Whether you’re using butter, olive oil, or bacon grease, you want to add at least three tablespoons for two eggs — enough so the hot, sizzling fat comes up over the whites, which allows them to finish cooking before the yolk gets too firm while ensuring the edges are as lacy as can be.
Fry them in cream
Frying an egg in heavy cream isn’t the fastest way to cook your eggs, but the flavour the method infuses into the whites is worth the wait. The water boils off of the dairy, leaving behind butter-like fat and milk solids that caramelize and brown, resulting in a rich-tasting egg with a texture that’s sort of halfway between poached and fried.
Fry them on top of a pile of cheese
Cheese and eggs are a natural pairing, and frying an egg on top of a lacy bed of shredded cheese is by far my favourite way to combine the two. Add some cheese to a nonstick pan and wait for it to get all bubbly, greasy, and lacy. Once that happens, crack an egg right on top of the cheese, cover the pan, and let it cook until the white is set. Then, behold your frico egg in all of its crispy glory. Then, eat it.
Fry them on top of herbs
If cheese doesn’t please, you can always fry your egg directly on top of some crispy herbs, or add some everything bagel seasoning to the white as it cooks in a swirling bath of hot olive oil. Or combine herbs and seasonings and take your egg to a very interesting and flavorful next level. You can even add some crispy fried onions to your whites. There are no rules.
Fry them in squash rings
It is fun to fry eggs in holes, and the delicata squash just happens to naturally come in a perfect little circle. You’ll want to give the squash a bit of a head start in the pan — get it soft and browned on the edges — then slip in your egg into the hole and fry until the white is opaque and set. Serve with toast for dipping into the yolk.
Hard fry them every once in a while
I am a known lover of soft, runny yolks, but every once in a while I crave something harder. Hard fried eggs get a lot of hate, but try subbing them in for hard-boiled the next time you make egg salad — or just chop a few up and toss them with a pile of greens and a zippy vinaigrette.
Strain away the loose, watery whites
If you want a fried egg that looks like an emoji — and has a higher ratio of yolk to white — you’re going to need to strain away the loose, watery outer portion of the white. This is very easy: just set a little sieve over a coffee cup or small bowl, crack an egg into it, and let it sit there while you heat the (nonstick) pan. Cook the strained egg with just a swipe of oil and over medium-low heat until the white is set.
Fry them in a pile of potato chips
Potato chips make a great Spanish tortilla, but they also make a fantastic foundation for a couple of fried boys — particularly when combined with whatever cheese, meat, and vegetables you have hanging out in your fridge. The combination of salty, crispy chips and rich, runny egg yolk is both texturally pleasing and excellent tasting, and it’s a great way to use up that last handful of potato chips, no matter the flavour.