How to make the perfect poached egg

Perfect poached eggs – the type you get for breakfast in smart hotels and restaurants – can look impressive but if you master a few simple techniques, you can achieve the same results at home. What you're looking for is a smooth, not wispy, ball of tender egg white enveloping a soft yolk that gently spills out when broken into. There is little more tempting on a dish than this simple pleasure – it's no wonder Instagram is crammed with videos of punctured poachers.

Follow our simple method for the perfect poached eggs. You’ll need a deep frying pan or saucepan and a slotted spoon. You don’t need an egg poacher – they tend to increase the cooking time for the egg which will give you a rubbery white.


  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • eggs, as many as you want to poach


  • STEP 1

    Fill a large saucepan with water and add the vinegar. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.

  • STEP 2

    Crack the egg into a small bowl. For a perfect egg with no wispy white bits, crack into a fine strainer and allow the runnier egg white to drain off.

  • STEP 3

    Stir the water to create a gentle whirlpool which will help the egg white wrap around the yolk. Then carefully slide the egg into the water making sure the heat is low enough not to throw the egg around - there should only be small bubbles rising.

  • STEP 4

    Cook for 3-4 mins, until the white is cooked through.

  • STEP 5

    Remove gently using a slotted spoon and blot any water from the base on a tea towel or kitchen paper. You can add more than one egg to the pan but make sure each one has enough room.

Like this? See other egg guides...

How to boil an egg perfectly
How to fry an egg
The health benefits of eggs
10 ways to serve eggs


The water should not be boiling, but more than simmering so that the movement in the water can be seen.


Never season the water with salt because this will cause the white of the eggs to break up and go wispy.


Use the freshest egg you can find for the best result and flavour.


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