Eggs rule supreme in the kitchen. They are the “Swiss army knife” of the culinary world and can be used in so many ways. They act as binders in burgers, emulsifiers in sauces like mayonnaise, and they can even be used as the hero of your dish. What other ingredient can claim that?

Eggs are loved globally. They traverse virtually every cuisine, culture and country in the world.

A common phrase that gets tossed around goes something like this: “he’s such a bad cook, he couldn’t cook an egg”. Although it’s not rocket science, there are a surprising number of people who seem to mess up cooking eggs. They’re either too runny and raw, over cooked and rubbery, lacking seasoning, there’s bits of shell in the dish… The list goes on. It doesn’t need to be like this (queue sobbing).

Today, we’ll focus on how to cook an egg the right way. Whether you’re a boiled, scrambled or fried type of egg lover, we cover it all below along with some handy egg hacks.

What’s to love about eggs?

  • They’re highly nutritional, packing 6g of protein in 1 egg.
  • Use them as the hero in any dish and they’ll never let you down.
  • They are a key ingredient in most baked foods like cakes and cookies.
  • As an emulsifier, eggs are a very effective, natural option.
  • Eggs are cheap and readily available all year round.

Types of eggs

The most common type of egg is the chicken egg; however, there are are various other egg types available at restaurants and in some stores.

Various eggs in a line showing different sizes
An egg size guide.

Quail eggs are a popular choice for many restaurants as they have a larger, extra creamy yolk and a slightly stronger, gamey flavor. You’ll also find quail eggs in Japanese bento boxes.

One important skill you need to learn with quail eggs is how to crack one open. You’ll discover that quail shells are very flimsy and break easily. This makes it really hard to crack them into a bowl like chicken eggs. The solution is to use a knife tip to carefully cut a hole into the shell then let the egg run out.

3 ways to tell if an egg is still okay to eat

1. Check packaging

This one’s kind of obvious. The sell by date will give you an indication of the egg’s age. It’s important to remember that just because the date may have expired, it doesn’t mean the eggs are rotten. They could still be perfectly fine.

2. Do a visual check and smell

Although egg packaging has a sell by date (or expiration date), we often store eggs in the fridge and toss out the container. It’s okay though, you can crack open an egg and do a quick quality check. First, smell the egg. If it’s off you’ll be hit by an unmistakable odor that is far from enjoyable.

A pile of eggs
As eggs lose freshness, the white become more runny.

You can also run a visual check. A fresh egg will have an egg white that’s tight and compact. As eggs lose their freshness, the white separates and runs like thickened water.

If the egg whites are really runny or you smell something nasty, toss the egg out and wash the plate thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

3. Float test

Fill a saucepan or bowl with water and add the egg. If sinks, the egg is okay – if it floats then toss out the egg. As an egg ages, its water content reduces and is replaced by an air pocket. A fresh egg won’t have an egg pocket large enough to make it float.

Keep in mind that just because an egg floats, it may not have gone off. It’s is merely indicating that the egg has lost its freshness.

How to cook an egg

Cooking eggs doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s mostly about getting the cooking times right and obeying a couple of rules. Cooking an egg is like riding a bike, once you work it out, it’ll be easy after that.

Cooking Boiled eggs

There is no right answer to boiling an egg. It comes down to personal preference.

The following guide gives you the cooking time for stage of egg boiling.

A cooking guide for boiling eggs

5 minute egg

The egg white is firm and the yolk is soft and a little runny.

7 minute egg

Also known as the breakfast egg, this egg has a yolk that’s firming and losing its intense yellow colour.

A boiled egg in an egg cup.
Delicious boiled egg ready to eat.

10 minute egg

The egg yolk and white are now equally firm. This is the definition of a hard boiled egg.

Overcooked egg

When you’re trying to hard boil an egg, be careful not to take the egg too far. Boiling the egg for over 10 minutes will result in a yolk that has a ring of green around it. Once it gets to this stage the white will have become rubbery and the yolk will be dry.

How to easily remove the shell from a boiled egg

To make your life a little easier, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water you’re boiling the egg in. This will allow the egg shell to come off in one piece instead of breaking off in tiny fragments.

If you are going to slice your hard boiled egg then simply take a sharp knife and slice through the egg. The shell can then easily be removed.

Scrambled eggs

Scrambling eggs adds a layer of extra flavour and creaminess that is hard to beat. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. Once you perfect this one, you can add additional ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

Makes 2 servings. Prep time: 2 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Method

  1. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until the yolk and whites are combined.
  2. Add cream, salt and pepper and whisk until combined.
  3. Add butter to a pan and allow it to melt then pour in the eggs. Stir eggs until they thicken. The eggs are ready when they are creamy and shiny. Don’t overcook as they’ll become rubbery.
A plate of scrambled eggs garnished with chopped chives.
Scrambled eggs are so much better with added seasoning.

3 tasty variations of scrambled eggs

Follow the above recipe but change it up a level with these tasty additions.

1. Mushroom

Chop 1 cup of mushrooms into slices and fry in a small pan with butter before stirring into the scrambled eggs just before they’ve finished cooking.

2. Cheese

Toss ½ a cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the scrambled eggs just before they’ve finished cooking.

3. Herbs

Add 1 Tbsp of minced marjoram and 1 Tbsp of minced oregano once the eggs are cooked. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives.

Fried eggs

The perfect eggs with bacon, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns and toast.

Frying eggs is probably the easiest method of cooking eggs. Simply add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a pan on medium heat then crack the eggs into the pan. You have the option to cook them sunny side up, which means you don’t flip the egg. The yolk will be soft.

If you like your yolks cooked, then go for the over easy option. This involves flipping the egg over just before serving.

Fried eggs on toast
Add fried eggs to toast to soak up any fat.

Poached eggs

Poaching an egg involves cooking the egg in a deep pan filled with simmering water. Fill a large pan with 2 litres of water, heat until simmering then add vinegar. Add egg and cook for about 4-6 minutes. Your egg is poached!

Tips for the perfect poached egg

  • Add ¼ cup of vinegar to the water before adding the egg.
  • Crack the egg into a small bowl before adding it to the water.
  • Cook a medium sized egg for 4-6 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the pan.
  • Don’t add salt to the water as it causes the egg to break up.

Eggs Benedict Recipe

Serves 2. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 6 Tbsp hollandaise sauce
  • 2 English muffins
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley to garnish

Method

  1. Poach eggs as mentioned above.
  2. As your eggs cook, add butter to a shallow pan on a medium heat. Once butter is melted add bacon and cook until crispy.
  3. Microwave spinach in a bowl for 2 minutes or until tender.
  4. Add your muffins to a toaster. Once they’re done, pop them on a plate. Top with spinach, bacon, egg and hollandaise sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add a garnish of parsley.
Poached Eggs on muffins
Eggs Benedict: the perfect brunch.

Devilled egg recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 oz butter (softened)
  • pinch paprika
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Add eggs to a pot of cold water and heat on med-high. Once boiling, cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Peel eggs and cut in half length-ways. Remove the yolk and place in a small bowl.
  3. Beat the butter, paprika and mustard until combined.
  4. Season with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt.
  5. Mix in yolks to the butter mixture until combined.
  6. Scoop egg yolk into the egg whites
  7. Garnish with cayenne pepper and finely chopped chives.

Bonus Tip:

Before adding the yolks to the egg white, push the mixture through a sieve to get a smoother consistency. You can also add the yolks to a piping bag (use a star nozzle) and pipe the yolks into the white for a more impressive presentation.

Devilled Eggs
Devilled eggs are perfect for parties.

5 Egg hacks

1. Onion rings

Use onion rings when frying for a perfect shaped egg. Take a large onion, peel it and chop in half. Take the larger rings in the centre and place in a pan. Now break the egg into the ring.

2. Slice the egg

Once you hard boil the egg, slice it in half with a sharp knife, egg shell and all. Now the shell falls away effortlessly.

3. Use a muffin tray

Muffin trays aren’t just useful for muffins. If you’re having lots of guests, place an egg in each muffin cup and bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes depending on whether you want soft of hard boiled.

4. Microwave eggs in a small dish

Break and egg into a ramekin and mix in a little milk and salt with a fork. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir then cook another 45 seconds. Keep an eye on your eggs to make sure they don’t overcook.

5. Scramble eggs in zip-lock bags

Beat an egg with a fork then place in a zip lock bag. Now drop into simmering water (carefully) and remove once it looks cooked. The beauty of this method is that everyone can make their own and add whatever seasoning they prefer. Then just write their name on the bag.

Final words

Eggs are a wonderful ingredient to have in the kitchen. Versatile, robust and a lovely meal on their own.

Cooking eggs is an easy task once you get the timings right. Under or over cooking will result in a disappointing meal. There’s nothing worse than a raw looking egg or a rubbery egg.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with the seasoning you use, especially with scrambled eggs or omelettes. They are calling out for extra flavours to be added!

Now that you’ve read this guide it’s time to get cracking (literally). Put your new-found knowledge to good use today. Eggs, well cooked and seasoned, are one of the best meals you’ll eat.

Reference:
Egg boiling times guide: By I, Wikisearcher, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link