When you’re in the mood for something quick, but you also want a nutritious, high-protein meal, eggs are a kitchen staple that will start your morning off right. There are so many ways to cook eggs, which makes them an extremely versatile food that pretty much guarantees things never take a turn for the boring. You can poach, scramble, whip them up in an omelet with some cheese and veggies, or try your hand at making one of the different kinds of fried eggs.
But even though you love eggs, you may not know how to answer the question: “How do you want your eggs?” You may wonder: Is an egg cooked “sunny-side up” the same as an egg fried “over-easy? Let this egg crackdown solve all of your egg-related woes.
How to Cook Fried Eggs
Regardless of how you like your fried eggs prepared, the process of cooking them requires these essential steps:
- Let your eggs come to room temperature: Don’t overlook this step because cooking cold eggs can cause you to overcook the yolk while you try to get the whites of the eggs to set.
- Use just the right amount of oil: It’s completely up to you as to which kind of oil you use to cook your eggs, but it’s nice to have options. For example, olive oil is a popular choice, as is butter. If you’re going the olive oil route, use enough oil to coat the pan generously.
- Set the stove to the right heat: The basic principle when it comes to frying an egg on the stove is to start with a low-to-medium heat. Cooking them at too high a temperature can cause the whites to become rubbery and the yolks to toughen. It’s also important to use the right temperature to ensure you kill any bacteria and microorganisms.
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Eggs 101: The Different Types of Fried Eggs
An egg fried sunny-side up looks like its name: the sunny (yolk) side of the egg faces up in a perfect circle, sort of like the sun. It’s one of the easiest ways to cook eggs (perfect for kitchen novices!) since it doesn’t require flipping, one of the main causes of broken yolks.
Instead, you can simply leave the egg until the whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny when sliced into. The goal is to fry eggs that are solid, not slippery.
“Over-easy” means that the egg is fried on both sides, although not for very long since you don’t want the yolk to be cooked all the way through. Fry the raw egg until its white is slightly cooked with the edges curling inwards and then flip it over to the other side.
This is where the name “over-easy” comes in: “Over” means flipping the egg, and the “easy” part of the name refers to the doneness of the yolk, which should still be runny.
To order an egg with a runny yolk, ask for sunny-side up or over-easy.
Over-medium eggs are flipped, but the yolk isn’t as runny as it is on a sunny-side up or an over-easy egg. The cooking time on each side is longer, too. Each side should be cooked for about a minute or 2, just long enough that the yolk is slightly creamy and runny.
This style of fried eggs is also called “over-hard.” It means that the egg is flipped and cooked enough on both sides that the yolk becomes hard. The end result should be a white that’s cooked all the way through, possibly even with a golden brown color along the edges, and an egg yolk that has the same consistency as a poached or hard-boiled egg.
Three Most Popular Ways to Cook Eggs
If you were to sit down and try to count the number of egg dish recipes available, it would take a long time. While they all seem easy to master, just like many other foods, eggs require lots of practice and special techniques to get them right.
Start by mastering the different ways to cook eggs:
- Hard-boiled eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a protein-rich snack, and they make a great addition to your next week’s meal prep rotation. Use them as a snack to take on the-go, to create a nutritious topping for a variety of healthy salads, and as the main ingredient of delicious egg salad sandwiches.
Making them is super easy, too, since you can cook them in batches. The process requires simply some eggs, a pot and enough water to cover the eggs by about 2 inches.
Once you’re brought the water to a boil, add the eggs and let them cook for around 10 to 12 minutes. Several nifty hacks are available for peeling the shell off the eggs once they’re done, but one of the easiest ways is to soak the eggs in a cold-water bath immediately after boiling. Then, roll them gently on a counter before peeling.
- Scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs are an easy dish to prepare since you don’t have to worry about keeping the yolks from breaking. The level of doneness varies with both kinds of scrambled eggs: hard- or soft-scrambled.
In both cases, break both the whites and yolks and cook them together, but when making hard-scrambled eggs, cook the whites and yolks all the way through. If you regularly eat scrambled eggs at restaurants, they’re usually prepared this way.
Soft eggs, on the other hand, are sometimes described as “wet.” Preparing them this way requires a lot more supervision since one distracted look away from the pan means they can become too hard.
Frequent flipping is required for this style of eggs as well. You want to pull, lift and fold them repeatedly to prevent overcooking. In the end, they should still look “wet,” with light reflecting off them.
- Poached eggs
If you’re a fan of eggs Benedict, then you’ve had poached eggs before. They are similar to hard-boiled eggs since both are cooked in boiling water. However, poached eggs are cracked into the water; whereas, hard-boiled eggs remain in their shell.
To cook a poached egg, begin by bringing a pot of water to a boil with a tablespoon of vinegar added to it. To ensure the eggs don’t break, crack the eggs into a small bowl first, and after the water is boiling, transfer the eggs from this bowl into the boiling water.
Do this by first reducing the water to a gentle simmer and then dipping the bowl with the egg into the water. Let the water cook the egg briefly before sliding the egg directly into the water. Repeat until you have as many poached eggs as you want.
As the eggs cook, keep the water moving with a spoon. For a soft-poached egg, let the eggs cook for 3 minutes; for a hard yolk, leave them for 5 minutes. Once done, remove the egg with a slotted spoon and drain off as much of the water as possible before serving it on its own or on a piece of bread or English muffin.
- Huffington Post: Egg Cooking Methods
- Cooking Light: What’s the Difference Between Over Easy, Over Medium, and Over Hard Eggs?
- The Kitchn: What’s the Difference Between Eggs Over Easy and Sunny-Side Up?
- Breakfast With Nick: HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR EGGS?” ELEVEN WAYS TO COOK AN EGG
- Eggs: How to Poach an Egg Like a Pro
- Incredible Egg: EGGCYCLOPEDIA
- Plated: There Are 8 Perfect Ways to Fry an Egg
- The Guardian: How to cook the perfect fried egg
- Incredible Egg: HOW TO MAKE SCRAMBLED EGGS ON THE STOVE
Sarah is a multi-platform writer and editor. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Vital Proteins, Healthline, Diply, and more. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her border collie, Emmy.