How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave

How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave

Every now and then I happen upon a shortcut that revolutionizes the way I eat. This is one of them.

I adoooore poached eggs. Whether on an english muffin, on a bed of sauteed greens, on a salad, on pasta as a take on carbonara, on a bare plate with some crusty bread to mop up the silky yolk… poached eggs make regular appearances on my table, and they don’t care whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

But they are a big finicky – you have to haul out a deep pan, wait for the water to simmer, and they need to be babysat so as not to overcook them. A bit too much trouble when you only want one egg.

This morning, I had my water boiling for tea and I had my bread in the toaster when an intense poached-egg craving struck. It was unpleasantly early in the morning, I was bleary-eyed and in a hurry, but from this rough state, the microwave poached egg idea was born.

I ended up going through 6 trials and 6 eggs to get it right, plus 15 minutes of snapping photos (incidentally, all photos on this post were taken with my iPhone). So much for my hurry. But the outcome? Game-changing. A poached egg in 45 seconds with the teakettle and the microwave. Perfectly formed whites, and luscious, runny yolks.

White egg + white dish. Can you spot him?

How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave

A few tips for success:

The egg cooks unevenly, so you need to gently turn it over part way through. If you don’t, the visible half of the egg will overcook, while the underside remains raw.

Take it out of the hot water with a big spoon as soon as it’s done cooking, as it will rapidly go from perfect to overdone if you let it sit in the water.

The vinegar is very important – it keeps the egg white intact. I did one trial without it and the white became a stringy mess.

How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave

Instagram-ed!

I think it’s going to be a poached egg on toast every morning from now until Easter…

How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave

  • 1 egg
  • boiling water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Pour boiling water into ramekin to 3/4 full, and add the vinegar. Crack an egg and gently slip it into the water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Use a soup spoon to gently turn the egg over. Cover again and microwave 15 seconds longer. Remove immediately from water and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

This produces a runny poached egg. Increase cooking time to 60 seconds total for an egg that is fully cooked.

  • susan

    can’t believe how excited I am to try this. when’s breakfast?

    • Anonymous

      It is right now!! Run for the kitchen! ;-) 

  • http://unhipsquirrel.blogspot.com/ Unhip Squirrel

    OMG… I am obsessed with poached eggs!!! Seriously!!! If I am able to successfully do this, you will have changed my life.

    • Anonymous

      hahah I LOVE your enthusiasm!  :-) My life has been changed.  I believe yours will be too. 

  • http://twospoons.wordpress.com/ Zo @ Two Spoons

    Awesome! Am so trying this for breakfast, but thanks to you it’ll only take a minute :D Would putting a small plate over the ramekin or cup work instead of plastic wrap? 

    • Anonymous

      I don’t actually know how that would affect the transfer of heat… you’d could try it, but you’d have to be willing to sacrifice an egg if it doesn’t work!

      • http://twospoons.wordpress.com/ Zo @ Two Spoons

        I don’t think it did, although the yolks did start to go un-runny on the very edges. Might just be my microwave power though. Yay thanks for this, will be such a lifesaver.

  • http://emilialiveslife.wordpress.com/ Emilia

    What a brilliant idea!  I really like eggs, but rarely make them that much because I’m terrified of undercooking them…I’ll definitely have to include this microwave poached egg in my quest to improve my egg-cooking skills.  Seriously amazing :)

  • Judy

    I tried it this morning and yes you did find a easy and quick way to microwave the PERFECT poached egg!  Thanks looks like I will be having poached eggs alot more often.

    • Anonymous

      Great!! :-)

  • Lauren

    YOU ARE AMAZING!  i absolutely adore poached eggs but i don’t even know how to make them the “old fashioned” way so i can only get them when i go out to restaurants!  for breakfast this morning i had poached eggs and toast and a cup of tea and it was the perfect way to start my day!  you are a genius, i never would’ve thought to add the vinegar…oh by the way, did i mention that i was able to have this fabulous breakfast out of my on-campus college apartment?? yum. :)

    • Anonymous

      Haha love that I could help! Gee with words like “amazing” and “genius” floating around, I might start to get a big head… ;-)

  • Sweetpeasmommy3

    I am Thrilled with this AMAZING idea of yours!  Thank you so much!  I ran to my micro ~ followed your instructions exactly and I now have a beautiful, buttery poached egg sitting a top a perfectly toasted english muffin! 

  • Sarah

    That was delightful! Good call.

  • dbelle

    Delicious. This was my first time making poached eggs at home. Loved it. Also, I didn’t have plastic wrap so I left it uncovered, and it still worked beautifully!

    • Anonymous

      I found it didn’t cook as evenly and needed more time when it was uncovered… but I’m glad it worked out for you!!

  • http://twitter.com/bullokie bullokie

    This recipe is fantastic. Now to atone to the chicken gods for all the rubbery abominations I’ve microwaved in the past…
    Pro tip: if you prick the yolk with a toothpick you reduce the chance of explosion by 63%.

  • Tiffany Dunois

    I just tried this and it worked out great! I used a a cereal bowl and my microwave is 900volts so it took 45 second then a turn and then another 30. Your times were a great starting point, I didn’t even have one lost egg!

    • foodess

      Glad to hear it, Tiffany!! Enjoy :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.mittelstadt.5 Laura Mittelstadt

    Just made this. First try followed the directions exactly but it exploded in my ramekin. Ooops. Second try it worked beautifully except not all the white stayed on the egg even with the vinegar.But of course it tasted amazing. Thank you for sharing!

    • foodess

      Yikes, it exploded?? That hasn’t happened to me in the hundreds of eggs I’ve made this way… glad you gave it a second go, though!

  • S

    I just made two poached eggs using this method but skipped the vinegar since I didn’t have any. They turned out beautifully and were not even a stringy mess! Thank you!!!

    • foodess

      Good to know that they’ll still turn out without the vinegar!! Glad you liked :-)

  • http://profiles.google.com/waldrongirl Erin Parcher-Wartes

    I typically eat breakfast in my office (gym schedule precludes eating earlier). So here I sit at work, Day 1 of sugar detox, with my avocado & simple cabbage slaw on my plate, and one raw egg, thinking I’ll find a way (online) to scramble my egg in the microwave. Thank goodness I came across your recipe instead! I had no vinegar, no ramekin, no plastic wrap. But I had water, an egg, a glass bowl & a paper plate to cover it with. I overcooked my egg a tiny bit, but it was still great, and so fast! Thank you thank you thank you! You’ve changed my breakfasting life forever!

    • foodess

      Hi Erin! Glad you enjoyed!!! Good luck with your sugar detox – sounds… um… fun… ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jay.parnell.50 Jay Parnell

    I aint no cook, but that was awesome. I truly surpassed myself!!

    • foodess

      Haha glad you enjoyed :)

  • Vic

    No need to fuss with the plastic wrap. Just cover with a dessert sized paper plate.

  • Ash

    Does it need to be white vinegar? I only have malt :( I’m going to try it anyway haha

    • foodess

      Any acid will do :)

  • Ash

    Turned out great!!

  • stewball

    I love love love poached eggs. How would I do 3 at a time? Blush!

  • http://www.seriouslyspain.com/ Seriously Spain

    You need to buy a microwave poached egg gadget. I own one. It cost me two dollars and all you do is put the eggs in the plastic base, add the lid and bung them in the microwave Makes awesome eggs perfectly every time and no messing around to ‘get it right’. Nice photos though :)

  • Perfectly Poached

    Perfection. I’ve tried the old school method and I own a 2-egg microwave gadget (pierce the yolk, add a little water, lock it.) Old school is too messy and the microwave gadget consistently overcooks parts of the egg. Your microwave technique is perfect. 
    For convenience I usually use a silicone lid instead of plastic wrap but the wrap is better – tighter seal. And I usually use a wider glass bowl so I can flip the egg a little more neatly. I haven’t tried holding the poached eggs in hot water while I finish the rest. Have you tried that or another holding method?

    Thank you and the six eggs sacrificed in your quest. This is a poaching game-changer.

  • Katelyn Sidley

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Every food blog i have come accross has the yummiest ideas of meals with a poached egg on top, but as a busy young professional i just dont have the time my mom used to take poaching an egg for me in the mornings. I will most definitely be trying this the second i get home from work! I have a feeling my roommates will love it too.