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The Quick Guide to Everything You Can Do With Eggs

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

The Incredible, Edible Egg

Eggs are probably one of the most versatile foods in the world. As a stand-alone food, they can be prepared in myriad ways, but they’re also extremely important in baking and cooking. Not to mention, eggs are one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. So what all can this magical aliment do? Let’s explore every possibility!

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Sunny Side Up

Sunny side up eggs are simply eggs cracked into a pan and cooked on one side until the whites are opaque and set and the yolks remain runny. A little bit of fat may be added to the pan before frying, but you don’t need a lot if your pan is non-stick. They should be cooked over a medium-low heat and cooked through in 2-2.5 minutes. You can eat sunny side up eggs on their own, add them to sandwiches or burgers or plop them on a bed of fried rice or homemade pizza.

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Hard-Boiled

Hard-boiled eggs are cooked in their shells in boiling water until both the egg yolks and whites become solid. There are many methods to getting perfect hard-boiled eggs (before the yolk gets that ugly gray ring around it). Try this one: Place your eggs in a pan covered with an inch of cold water (for six or fewer eggs; two inches for seven or more). Bring the water to a full, rolling boil. You can add vinegar or salt to the water, which might make peeling easier. Boil the eggs for a full minute, then turn off the heat. Let them sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Peel and serve.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Scrambled

Scrambled eggs are eggs that have been lightly beaten and seasoned before being cooked over low heat in a pan and stirred constantly until desired doneness. Again, almost everyone has different methods and preferences for their scrambled eggs—some like them thick, chunky and well-done; others like them runny and creamy. Some don’t beat them before adding to the pan. Others add cream or milk. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you get the results you want. You can also add chopped veggies or bacon to make a breakfast “scramble.”

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Soft-Boiled

If you like your boiled eggs more runny and conducive to dipping your toast or eating with a spoon, simply cook them in their shells in simmering water for 5-7 minutes. Run under cold water to cool slightly, then remove the tops and serve.

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Omelette

Omelets or omelettes make for a wonderful light meal option at any time of day. While Americans are more accustomed to eating them for breakfast, omelets are served all day long in many places around the world. They’re made from eggs that are lightly seasoned and beaten before being fried up in a skillet and often filled with vegetables, herbs, cheese and/or meats. You can make them with whole eggs or just the whites if you’re watching your cholesterol.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Frittata

A frittata is like the omelet’s heftier, thicker Italian cousin. It originated in Italy and can best be described as a crustless quiche. The eggs are beaten more vigorously to incorporate more air, then combined with a savory ingredient (or several) before being poured into the pan and cooked on a very low heat. Once the bottom is set but the top isn’t quite cooked, the frittata is flipped over and baked in the oven. 5 minutes should do it!

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Over Easy, Over Medium Or Over Hard

Over easy eggs are cracked into a pan and cooked on both sides until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. Once flipped, you only need to let them cook for a few seconds. Over medium eggs are cooked just slightly longer so that the whites are less runny, but the yolk is still creamy. And over hard eggs are cooked all the way through, until you get a similar texture to hard-boiled eggs. These can all be eaten with toast, tucked into sandwiches or served any other way your heart desires.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Poach

There’s nothing quite like the taste and texture of perfectly poached eggs, made with pillowy egg whites that ooze runny yolks when pierced. Poached eggs can be difficult to prepare, as they’re cooked without the shell in water that’s heated to about 167 °F (lightly simmering.) You want to be sure they don’t “break” when dropping them in the water, so it’s best to crack them into a small bowl one-by-one and slide them into the water when ready to cook. Let them simmer for about 4 minutes, until the whites are firm and opaque. The yolk should still be liquid inside. Remove with a slotted spoon. Poached eggs are delicious in egg’s benedict, snuck into hot sandwiches or simply served on a bed of asparagus with salt and pepper.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Bake

Baked eggs, shirred eggs, or eggs en cocotte are a French recipe for eggs that have been cracked into individual ramekins and baked in the oven in a hot water bath. To make, pre-heat your oven to 375 °F. Grease the ramekins with butter or olive oil. Crack the eggs into the ramekins and place in a baking dish that can hold liquid. Season the eggs, then pour hot water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the whites are set. If you like your eggs runny, take them out within 12-15 minutes. For harder-cooked eggs, leave them for up to 20 minutes. Enjoy with a spoon or toasts for dipping.

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Salt-Cure

Have you ever heard of this amazing way to eat egg yolks?! Turns out you can salt-cure them, in the same way you do salmon for gravlax. Also known as ‘graving’ eggs, this method is so easy and safe to try. All you need are fresh egg yolks and equal parts sugar and salt (enough to cover the yolks completely). Mix the sugar and salt together in a bowl. Pour 2/3 of the mixture into a casserole dish. Make wells in the mixture, and delicately slide the egg yolks into them, one by one. Cover with the remaining sugar-salt mixture and let sit at room temperature for 75 minutes. Carefully remove the egg yolks and brush off the excess salt and sugar, taking care not to break them. Serve as desired. They should have a similar texture to poached eggs.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Emulsify

Eggs are natural emulsifiers, which makes them an ideal ally for creamy sauces and condiments made of otherwise incompatible ingredients (oil and water), such as hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise. Their emulsifying power comes from lethicin contained in the yolks. If you’re worried about getting sick from salmonella (though according to this Slate article, it is very rare), you can use pasteurized eggs over raw. Eggs also serve as great emulsifiers in desserts, such as crème brûlée.

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Leaven

Soufflés wouldn’t exist without eggs. They’re a French dish that originated in the early 18th century, made of egg yolks and beaten egg whites—the latter of which act as leavening agents to give soufflés their nice, puffy appearance. Egg whites are especially effective in this role, thanks to their protein molecules, which stretch out to encompass the air being beaten into them. The egg whites are sturdier than yolks and can even expand up to 8x their volume. This makes them indispensable in soufflé recipes (which can be sweet or savory) and desserts, such as angel food cake or lemon meringue pie.  Here’s a recipe for mouthwatering chocolate soufflés.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Bind

Another coveted quality that eggs possess is the ability to bind ingredients. That’s why we add them to burger patties, meatballs, meatloaf, crab cakes, casseroles and a variety of baked goods. Their proteins aid in providing structure and maintaining a stable shape to certain foods that would otherwise fall apart when cooked or served. Here’s a delicious recipe for gluten-free crab cakes. 

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Coat

There may be certain vegan solutions out there that replace egg wash with something else when breading foods, but for best results, we simply can’t acquiesce. Egg wash is usually a mixture of beaten eggs and milk or water, an essential ingredient in helping loose breadcrumbs and flour stick to the foods they’re coating. Without it, you can pretty much forget about a crispy, golden brown outcome. Speaking of coating, you know how everything bagels are able to hold all of those seeds and spices on its exterior? Egg wash.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Glaze

Another use for egg wash that appears to be mostly aesthetic is its ability to generate a golden brown, glossy sheen when brushed onto baked goods, such as croissants, pies, breads, cookies, biscuits, etc. This is simply because the egg proteins brown when heated. Here’s our recipe for golden mini Nutella croissants. 

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Clarify

In order to get your homemade broths and consommés crystal clear, you’ll need to clarify them. This is easily done by adding beaten egg whites to your lightly simmering broth. When you stop stirring, the egg whites rise to the surface and coagulate, which attracts tiny stray particles and fat. You can then easily strain off the purified liquid, using a sieve covered with a cheesecloth.

food, the quick guide to everything you can do with eggs

Thicken

Eggs are capable of holding up to 4x their weight in moisture, which makes them an excellent thickening agent for puddings, custards and sauces. When working with hot foods,  it’s key not to overheat them, otherwise they will curdle and turn into scrambled eggs. Ideally, the yolks will be heated to between 149 °F and 158 °F, which is when they start to thicken. You can even use a liaison (a culinary term used to describe a mixture of eggs and cream) to thicken up soups.

Want more cooking ideas for eggs? Here are 30 egg hacks you need to try.

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