poached eggs cut in half on bread

Perfectly cooked poached eggs are a hard thing to beat. Served on hot toast with a crack of black pepper, it’s the best breakfast going. But while it can be a little tricky to get right, just a couple of fail-safe rules will get you making perfect, super-silky eggs in no time at all.

For an unbeatable breakfast or brunch, here’s how to poach an egg to perfection. There are endless ways you can serve them up; on grilled asparagus with shavings of Parmesan cheese and fresh mint sprinkled on top, kept it simple on a buttery, toasted muffin, or to make a classic eggs Benedict. To get that oh-so-satisfying oozy yolk, just follow the steps below to cook a poached egg at home. 


  1. Fill a wide casserole-type pan with boiling water from the kettle.
    Image of boiling water being poured from a kettle into a saucepan to poach eggs
  2. Bring to a light simmer over a medium heat and season with a pinch of sea salt.
    Image of boiling water on the hob
  3. Crack a large free-range or organic egg into a cup.
  4. Gently pour the egg into the simmering water in one fluid movement.
    Image of an egg being poured into the pan of boiling water
  5. You’ll see your egg begin to cook immediately – don’t worry if the edges look a little scruffy. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft-to-firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the egg and whether you’re using it straight from the fridge).
  6. To check if it’s done, carefully remove your egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle prod with a teaspoon. If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back in the pan and give it a minute or so more to firm up.
  7. When your egg is ready, remove it with the slotted spoon and place it on some kitchen paper to dry off.
    Image of a poached egg being removed from the pan of boiling water
  8. Serve with hot toast and a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper.
    Image of poached egg on toast being cut open with a knife and fork

Follow these steps and you’ll get spot-on poached eggs, every time. For more egg poaching tips and tricks, including how to get the perfect round shape, watch Jamie in action:

For more information on free-range eggs and welfare standards, check out the British Hen Welfare Trust.

Adapted from Jamie’s Ministry of Food.