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I Tried 5 Poached Egg Hacks To See Which Ones Work

Some were perfect, others not so much.

Zoë Burnett / Getty / BuzzFeed

Poached eggs are SO easy to screw up.

Sometimes they disintegrate in the water, sometimes they turn out all scraggly looking — it's *not* an easy technique to master.

But I take my eggs really seriously, so I decided to test five hacks — from techniques to products — against the classic poaching method to see if any of them would work better. Here's how they went:

HACK #1: Pre-boil eggs in their shell for 10 seconds before poaching them. This will firm up the whites and keep them wrapped around the yolk.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The idea: You know those wispy whites that sometimes detach from old eggs while poaching? Well, Julia Child said that boiling them in the shell before cracking them open would firm up the whites just enough to prevent that from happening. After boiling them in the shell for 10 seconds, you follow a pretty standard procedure of poaching them in a simmering whirlpool of water with a bit of vinegar. (This is to help give the eggs a nice round shape — the whirlpool of water kinda forces the eggs to stay put.)

Did it work? Eh, it was hard to tell if boiling them in the shell actually did anything.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The result: It seemed like pre-boiling the eggs wasn't worth the effort — in fact, there was actually a tiny bit of cooked egg white stuck to the shell which kinda messed up the shape. The egg turned out soft and runny, but it wasn't perfectly round (which I think was caused by the stuck whites). Overall a pretty solid poached egg — and IMO, anything Julia says has to be accurate, so maybe my eggs weren't old enough?

See how to do it here.

HACK #2: Poach eggs directly inside a fine mesh strainer. This will drain the wispy whites and hold everything together.

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The idea: Just like Julia's method, this technique from Food & Wine is all about removing those watery egg whites. First you crack an egg directly into a fine mesh sieve to let those loose whites strain out — then you poach it in the strainer in a shallow pan of simmering water. Just scrape the sides a few times to prevent the egg from sticking to it, and that's it!

Did it work? Straining the whites DID work (perfectly!), but I'm not sure cooking it in the strainer was a good idea.

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The result: Straining the watery whites off with a sieve was genius. It totally did removed the watery part of the whites. However, cooking it in the strainer was difficult. The egg stuck to it and I had to constantly scrape the sides to get it off. Luckily, the egg did come out pretty smooth and looked nice, so maybe having to scrape it isn't such a bad thing. If I did this again, I would have done the first step (straining it), but then cooked it directly in the water instead of the sieve.

See how to do it here.

HACK #3: Poach eggs in little pouches made out of plastic wrap — this way, all you have to do is drop the pouches in boiling water and walk away.

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The idea: This hack, a favorite by Nadine Levy Redzepi's (cookbook writer and wife of famed chef René Redzepi), involves lining a tiny cup with plastic wrap and lightly coating it with oil. Then you just crack an egg into it, gather up the sides, twist it into a pouch and tie. Drop the pouches directly in boiling water to cook 'em and just snip them open with scissors to serve.

Did it work? For sure — but the eggs looked kinda funny.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The result: This method totally worked, and it was much easier and cleaner than traditional poaching. But the eggs take on the shape of the pouch, so as long as you're OK with your eggs having a funny wrinkly texture, go for it.

See how to do it here.

HACK #4: Poach eggs directly in a microwave mug to avoid all the fuss.

Jesse Szewczyk/Buzzfeed

The idea: Screw everything you know about poached eggs and just cook them in the microwave! (But really, according to The Kitchn, all you have to do is crack an egg into a mug, add a little bit of vinegar and water, then microwave them on 50% power for one minute.)

Did it work: Nope! (Unless you hate runny yolks — in that case, yes.)

The result: I tried this technique multiple times (making small tweaks each time), and it just never worked. The consistent problem was that the yolk would cook before the whites. I even tried lowering my microwave power as low as it would go, and it still left me with a jammy yolk rather than a runny one. If you like your eggs a bit more cooked, then this is perfect, but if you want a super runny yolk, this is not gonna do it.

See how to do it here.

HACK #5: Poach eggs in floating silicone cups so they stay together and you don't have to keep an eye on them.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The idea: You just place these funny yellow things in a pot of water, bring it to a boil, then crack the eggs into them. The egg falls down into a little basket that keeps them together. At the end, all just remove the baskets and fish your poached eggs out of the water.

Did it work? Yes, but not perfectly.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The result: The silicone cages did hold the eggs together (which meant I didn't have to mess with them), but they weren't perfect. While the eggs were soft and runny in the middle, they looked pretty scraggly. The problem is that the cage holds everything together including the watery, wispy whites, so you end up fishing out something that looks a bit messy rather than round. If having a perfectly round egg isn't important to you, then these can certainly come in handy.

See how to do it here and get a set of two online for $9.99.

Last but not least? I also wanted test a control method — to give the hacks a standard to live up to.

I went with the traditional whirlpool method — where you drop an egg into swirling water, with a bit of vinegar. The force from the water helps give the eggs their shape and keeps everything together.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The idea: This method (demo'ed here by Gordon Ramsay) is the classic — and arguably most popular — method of poaching eggs. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil and add vinegar, salt, and pepper — then use a whisk to create a strong whirlpool. Crack your egg directly into the swirl, then let it poach for 90 seconds to two minutes. The whirlpool keeps it together and gives it a nice round shape.

Did it work? Perfectly.

Jesse Szewczyk/BuzzFeed

The result: This is the method that I'm most familiar with (and how I personally make my poached eggs), so I may have had an unfair advantage — but these eggs came out perfect. The whirlpool method helped keep the egg round and made sure the yolk was completely enrobed by the whites. This is basically Julia Child's method — minus the extra step of boiling them in the shell. Some classic techniques can 't be beat, and I don't think I'll be straying from this method in the near future.

See how to do it here.

TL;DR: Nothing beat the tried-and-true whirlpool method, but straining the eggs before poaching them proved to be a real game changer and helped get rid of the watery whites. I suggest combining two of these methods and straining your eggs, then cooking them in a whirlpool. 🍳

How do you poach your eggs? Did we miss any hacks? Let us know in the comments below!