The ultimate guide to perfectly poached eggs

poached eggs and bacon on breakfeast muffin on plate

Tianna Nadalin

Posted August 26, 2019

Attica owner and chef Ben Shewry’s foolproof guide to perfectly poached eggs.

There’s a reason Victorians are happy to pay $18 for a couple of poached eggs on sourdough with a side of avocado: the eggs. I mean, can you even put a price on restaurant-quality poachies that are just the right amount of runny? 

But what if you could have poached eggs that are every bit as good as any from a hipster cafe, without leaving the house? Picture it, a cooked-through but tender egg white wrapped around a silky yolk centre that oozes out when the skin is punctured. Well folks, we’ve cracked the egg code. 

Though many methods claim to produce poached perfection, Australia’s best chef, Ben Shewry – whose restaurant, Attica, consistently ranks among the world’s best and was just crowned Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year – says there is only one true way to poach an egg. 

The basics

When it comes to poached eggs, freshness is fundamental to achieving those oh-so-sublime sacks of liquid sunshine. Fresh eggs have an egg white thicker near the yolk, which means they hold their shape better as they cook. To test how fresh your eggs are – pop them into a glass of water and see if it floats. If it sinks to the bottom and rolls over, it’s fresh. If it floats, it’s past its prime. 

Ben Shewry’s secrets for the perfectly poached egg


You need a deep saucepan

Using a deep saucepan gives your egg plenty of room to move and makes it easier to get the whirlpool going. 

Add a splash of white vinegar 

Around two to three tablespoons should do it. This helps the eggs stay together in the water.

Bring water to a boil then reduce to just below a simmer

You want it to be very gently bubbling. Too high can cause the egg to burst.

Swirl the water to make a little whirlpool 

This is only meant to be gentle. The idea is that it keeps the eggs moving in the pan instead of sticking to the sides or bottom. 

two poached eggs on a slide of multigrain toast

Can you even put a price on restaurant-quality poachies?


Crack egg and drop it into the pan

You can crack the egg directly into the water or crack it into a little ramekin first and then gently slide it into the pot from as close to the water as possible. Cook for three minutes (for soft/runny) or five minutes (for hard). 

Use a slotted spoon 

Remove eggs from the pan using a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels. 

Serve with toast and your choice of sides

We recommend avocado, crispy bacon, roast tomatoes and, if you feel like getting really fancy, some hash browns.


The cheat’s method

If white vinegar and whirlpools are too complicated for you to deal with at 9am on a Sunday, or you’re the kind of player who collects more than $200 when you pass go in Monopoly, this is the method for you. 

Also known as the cheat’s method, this is ideal for cooks of all skill levels and is particularly helpful if you’re cooking for lots of people. 

Introducing egg poaching pans! Simply fill the bottom with water, spray with cooking spray (if stainless steel), then break the eggs into the cups. Lid on and three to five minutes later you’ve got yourself some Instagram-worthy toast toppers.