Perfectly Poached Eggs


Alisa Fleming ~ In the past, unless it was worked into a baked good, I avoided eggs like the plague. I despised their taste and texture … yet, in just the last few years, they have begun to grow on me a bit.  I still have my limitations.  In an omelet packed with veggies or poached is just about the only way I like’em, and even then they have to be prepared just right. Of course, in my picky demands of my husband (our in-house chef) and restaurant chefs, I had never actually cooked an egg myself!  However, a few recent bits of knowledge encouraged me to finally take on this minor cooking challenge …

My husband and I have decided to cut back on starches and sugars.  No, we aren’t going “low carb” … we just realized how we are constantly hungry, and that our diets consist of far too many grain-foods and sugar. In trying to find that balance, it was made clear that breakfast was the first place I needed to start.  Not a day goes by when I’m not hungry just 2 hours after breakfast no matter how many calories of oats I consume.  But what to eat? In the midst of my searches for some breakfast options, I stumbled across a study (a small one yes, but I was willing to become a guinea pig myself) from the Rochester Centre for Obesity Research and Treatment in Minnesota, which found that women given two boiled eggs for breakfast went on to eat 400 fewer calories during the remainder of the day compared with other women who were given a bread-based breakfast.

I must be honest, on my very first day of 2 poached eggs with just a small 1 ounce serving of leftover smoked salmon I had tons of energy and was satiated, yet not overfull, until lunch!  I don’t know about you, but this was an absolute godsend for me with all of the holiday goodies floating about.

Today, I went vegetarian, enjoying two poached eggs with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips (roasted in just a touch of grapeseed oil, and sprinkled with salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and some chopped garlic), served over a bed of boiled spinach.  I placed a little less than 1 cup of baby spinach in the boiling water of the eggs to use up some of the greens in our fridge that were on their last legs. This actually filled me up a little bit more than needed, yet it was still only about 300 calories!

Perfectly Poached Eggs

What eggs do I use?
I purchase organic medium-sized eggs from a market called Fresh & Easy.  They obviously run a bit more than your average egg (right now they are $2.73 per dozen), but I feel it is worth it for a better quality (i.e. no antibiotics) and better tasting egg. Trader Joe’s also offers fair prices on organic eggs.

But aren’t eggs dairy?
I know what some of you are thinking (because I get this question all the time!), “What are eggs doing on a dairy-free website?” In the most common modern day use of the word, dairy includes all products made from milk, but does not include eggs.  For the simplest reference, see the National Dairy Council, they represent the dairy industry, which includes milk, but not eggs.  That said, many of you are vegan or have egg allergies, so you will find many egg-free resources on this site too, and Go Dairy Free is an excellent milk-free and egg-free resource. Hopefully, we can help create a universally acceptable definition of dairy, to avoid continued confusion!

Perfectly Poached Eggs

  • Fill a saucepan about 2/3 full with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Crack an egg into a bowl (I do one at a time since I am a newbie; also, if the yolk breaks it won’t work for poaching, but you can scramble it or use it in a recipe)
  • Reduce the heat to medium (you want the water simmering, but not boiling for the best cooked eggs), give the water a quick swirl, and gently slide/pour the egg into the simmering water.
  • Allow the eggs to cook for 3 to 5 minutes – 3 if you like the yolk runny, 4 if you like it partially cooked but still a bit runny, 5 or more if you like those eggs solid!
  • Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, sifting out any excess water, and serve while still hot / warm.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe it was that easy!

Vinegar Note: Some recipes recommend adding a dash of white vinegar to help the eggs appearance.  Honestly, I can’t stand the taste of the eggs when vinegar is used.  Even a tiny amount seems to permeate their mild and delicate flavor. Also, aren’t we taught that appearances don’t matter?

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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