Eggs are a staple of my diet, and while I eat plenty for lunch and dinner, they're still most often seen on my breakfast table. Versatile, affordable, with a nice dose of protein to kick off your day, it's no wonder that eggs are more closely associated with American breakfasts than almost any other food.
Though cooking eggs seems like an inherently simple task—they're frequently one of the first items we learn how to make for ourselves—getting them just right can be another story. Producing scrambled eggs that are soft and creamy, with no trace of browning (assuming that's how you like them!), or poached eggs that form perfectly tight orbs, takes some practice to master. To get you off on the right foot, we're starting the list below with basic techniques for frying, scrambling, poaching, and boiling eggs. After you get comfortable with those fundamentals, we have a whole range of delicious recipes to put your newfound skills to use: chilaquiles with bright chile verde and homemade tortilla chips, classic eggs Benedict, and hearty scrambled-egg biscuit sandwiches with dill.
Got burning questions about egg labeling, what size to get, and what those grades really mean? Stop by our Definitive Guide to Eggs first to learn everything you need to know.
The Basics: Easy and Classic Egg Recipes
For a lovely presentation and minimal work (no flipping required!), you can't beat a pair of classic sunny-side up eggs—perfectly intact, bright yolks framed by softly set white. Cracking an egg into a pan and seasoning with salt are all it takes. Just remember to keep the heat down around medium so that the whites are just set before the yolk overcooks.
Not wild about the texture of egg whites that are just this side of runny? For more firmly set eggs, over easy—carefully flipping and serving the eggs upside down—is the way to go. You'll cook them almost all the way through on one side, then flip and continue cooking for just five to 10 seconds more, allowing the white to firm up while the yolk stays liquid.
Unlike a traditional sunny-side up egg with its snowy, unmarred white, these fried eggs are really fried, with crispy, lacy, browned edges. To get there, use medium-high heat and a generous amount of oil, giving you enough to baste the whites with as they cook, which puffs them up and helps them cook faster.
Like fried eggs, scrambled eggs come in a range of styles. This is the type you're most likely to see in an American diner, with large, fluffy curds. To achieve that, we cook them over medium-high heat and keep the stirring to a minimum. Though these naturally come out a bit drier than other scrambled-egg preparations, pre-salting the eggs keeps them plenty tender.
If you prefer your scrambled eggs soft, moist, and creamy, turn the heat down and stir frequently to keep the curds fairly small. To maximize the effect, start the eggs in a cold pan to keep them from seizing, and remove them from the stove just before they're done—residual heat will take them the rest of the way. Turn the heat down even lower and stir constantly to end up with rich, spoonable French-style scrambled eggs—they might be a little out there for breakfast time, but they're wonderful served on toasts and topped with caviar for a fancy appetizer.
Poached eggs have a reputation for being difficult, but with our technique, anyone can make them—really. All you need to do is start with fresh eggs, drain off the excess whites with a strainer, and carefully lower them into water heated to just below a simmer. Making brunch for a crowd? Poached eggs can easily be made ahead of time and reheated in hot water for serving.
A soft-boiled egg, served in a quaint eggcup with a small spoon to tap into the shell, makes a nice, slightly old-fashioned addition to a breakfast spread—and it couldn't be easier to make. All you have to do is gently lower eggs into simmering water and let them cook for exactly six minutes to get tender whites and liquid, golden yolk.
Ready for something a little trickier than fried or scrambled eggs? Once you've learned the basics, the next step is conquering a perfect French omelette, which should be part of every chef's repertoire. Start with a flawlessly unscratched nonstick pan over medium heat, pour in beaten eggs, and stir them rapidly with a plastic fork—safer for the pan than a metal one. Once the egg starts to set, spread it in an even layer, roll it down onto itself by tilting the pan, then turn it out onto a serving plate. There are a million ways to flavor a French omelette—for starters, check out these variations with cheese and fines herbes.
Beyond the Basics: Flavor-Packed Egg Recipes to Up Your Game
Unlike their pale, dainty French cousins, American diner-style omelettes are thick and hearty, with big, fluffy curds and a lightly browned exterior. This style of omelette is sturdy enough to stand up to all sorts of fillings; here, we heap in diced ham and grated cheddar for a breakfast big enough to share. When asparagus is in season, you'll want to try our variation filled with asparagus, Gruyère, and bacon, too.
If you're anything like me, there's a good chance that at any given time, you have an embarrassing assortment of leftover cheese bits turning stale in your fridge. Rather than let them go to waste, you can easily combine them with eggs to fill a simple quiche that's great for brunch. This recipe requires just a handful of ingredients—a single pie crust, cream, milk, eggs, and your cheese scraps—and a couple of hours to make.
Ever since I learned how incredibly easy it is to make fluffy drop biscuits, I've been cooking them all the time. I usually serve my biscuits with sausage gravy, but these sandwiches, packed with dill-infused scrambled eggs and a ton of melted mozzarella and feta, might be an even better way to use them. Diced onion cooked in butter provides a background of savory depth for the eggs.
A classic Turkish breakfast dish, menemen is made by lightly scrambling eggs in a flavorful sauce made with olive oil, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The dish is traditionally made with Aleppo or Urfa peppers, which may be tricky to find in the States, but shishito or Padrón peppers work well as substitutes. Serve this with plenty of crusty bread, salty cheese, and olives.
I wasn't exposed to migas until I befriended a Texan in college, and I quickly regretted not eating the dish all my life. These gut-busting breakfast tacos are stuffed with scrambled eggs cooked with onion, chilies, and fried tortilla strips. (You can use store-bought tortilla chips if you like here; we find that frying our own tortillas offers better flavor and texture.) Migas are known as great hangover food, which they certainly are, but our cheesy version made with Doritos might be even better on a rough Sunday morning.
The soggy tortilla chips in migas might bring to mind another dish: chilaquiles. It's made by cooking tortilla chips—we definitely recommend frying your own here, as store-bought chips will get too mushy—in a sauce of diluted salsa verde, then topping it all off with a fried egg and garnishes like sliced onion, chopped cilantro, and crumbled Cotija cheese. For something a little meatier and more complex, try our variation made with chorizo and served with radishes and quick-pickled red onion.
Ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, this North African breakfast has also become a hip menu item in the US in recent years. It's somewhat similar to menemen, but instead of being scrambled, the eggs are poached directly in a pan of chili-spiked tomato sauce. The sauce is infinitely customizable—our version uses lightly caramelized hot and mild peppers and onion, spiced with paprika and cumin.
Once you've gotten over your fear of poached eggs, eggs Benedict—the classic combination of poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, an English muffin, and Canadian bacon—is transformed from a restaurant-only brunch treat to something you can easily make at home. Intimidated by the Hollandaise, too? Don't worry: Our immersion blender–based recipe makes it absolutely foolproof. I like the most traditional version of eggs Benedict, but if you're after something a little different, try our recipe with smoked salmon and dill. Whatever your style, any Benedict is improved when it's served with homemade English muffins.
Next time you make Yorkshire pudding (an airy, crisp pastry that's more or less equivalent to an American popover) for a prime rib dinner, save some batter for brunch the next morning. These "eggy puds" are essentially giant, bacon-studded Yorkshire puddings, topped off with fried eggs and Hollandaise sauce. Even if you're not baking Yorkshire pudding for dinner the night before, you'll still want to make the batter ahead of time. Letting it rest overnight produces taller puddings with a nuttier, more complex flavor.
Kids today don't know how good they have it—when I was growing up, if you wanted an Egg McMuffin after 10:30 a.m., you had to take matters into your own hands. How to do that? Steam an egg in the lid and screw top from a Mason jar, which is just the right size to create that signature round. Then sandwich it in a toasted English muffin with Canadian bacon and American cheese. What you'll end up with is a startlingly accurate McMuffin clone, but with far superior flavor from better ingredients—definitely worth the effort, even with the McDonald's All Day Breakfast Menu at your disposal.
Eggs en cocotte is an elegant, delicate brunch dish made by baking eggs in individual ramekins, accompanied by your choice of flavorful ingredients. Here, we layer the eggs on rosemary-scented tomato jam and top them with goat cheese; alternatively, try eggs en cocotte with mushrooms and Gruyère or crab imperial.
Hash with baked eggs is one of my favorite easy dishes for any meal—it's as satisfying at dinner as it is at breakfast. Though you can honestly make hash with whatever's in your fridge, this recipe, which uses diced chorizo, potatoes crisped up in chorizo fat, and seared green chilies, is great to either follow to the letter or use as inspiration. Once all of those ingredients have started to cook together, crack in a few eggs and move the whole skillet to the oven until they're barely set.
Resembling baked eggs combined with creamed spinach, this hearty, vegetable-packed dish is made with mushrooms, leeks, and a trio of greens—lacinato kale, Swiss chard, and spinach—cooked in a creamy béchamel-style sauce. Using a variety of greens results in a nice diversity of flavors and textures. Forget your silverware and scoop this up with toasted bread instead.
Learning how to make basic French crepes is a small investment of time and effort that yields endless rewards—they can be used for all sorts of sweet and savory preparations. Here, we fill the crepes with ham, Gruyère, and fried eggs, whose runny yolks provide a rich sauce. Minerally buckwheat crepes are delicious filled with eggs, too.
Perhaps not every sandwich is improved with a fried egg, but I'll never pass up the opportunity to add one atop a croque monsieur (which turns it into a croque madame). Toasting bread in butter, sandwiching ham and cheese inside, and smothering it all in Mornay sauce is already a fairly over-the-top endeavor, so why not gild the lily? Do be careful not to overcook the egg; you want the yolk to remain liquid, so it soaks into the bread.
This ultra-simple Japanese comfort breakfast doesn't even ask you to cook an egg. Instead, just crack the egg into a bowl of hot rice and season with soy sauce, plus additional flavorings like MSG powder, mirin, and/or furikake. The key is to vigorously whip the egg into the rice with a pair of chopsticks until the mixture takes on a light, airy texture. If our eggs are fresh and clean, we don't fret too much over the safety of consuming them raw; if you're nervous about it, you can buy pasteurized ones.
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