Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I tend to break a lot of yolks when preparing eggs over easy. I also can't do it too fast, making it hard to cook multiple eggs at once (they tend to overcook).

Sometimes the spatula I'm using doesn't want to slide under the egg very easily. Is there anything special about the type of spatula or special preparation with the pan or eggs that might make this harder or easier?

share|improve this question
    
    
Are you breaking the cooked side or raw side of the yolk when you flip? Either way, farm fresh eggs (preferably free range, sustainably farmed) generally hold up better in cooking than factory farm eggs. I rarely break yolks when frying eggs unless I mean to for sandwiches. –  mghicks Oct 24 '11 at 21:16

12 Answers 12

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The best thing I've figured out about turning eggs is: do not do it too early. You need to wait for the cooked part of the egg to develop a strong texture before it will support its own weight. It's very difficult to turn a floppy, soft egg, where it's comparatively easy to flip an egg that has been cooked more completely on one side. I also use a relatively high heat, as this "crisps" the cooked surface. It also makes the egg more attractive.

The spatula you use can make a difference, also, though I believe this is minor. The spatula you want is a plastic one with a relatively thin, flexible blade. The really heavy spatulas tend to be too tall, in my experience, and push the egg rather than sneak under it.

share|improve this answer
1  
I should note: my grandmother uses a rounded metal spatula with great success. She has 60 some odd years on me. –  Andres Jaan Tack Jul 14 '10 at 8:31
2  
Metal spatula is the correct tool only for cast iron. It will scratch the heck out of your other pans. –  RI Swamp Yankee Sep 21 '12 at 16:02

Spraying or wiping your spatula with a little cooking spray may help you slide it under the egg.

share|improve this answer

The pan must be as clean as possible, and the fat as pure as possible. Also, you can try cooking the egg on a lower heat so as to stop it sticking to the pan.

share|improve this answer

if you spoon a little of the frying oil over the top of the egg whilst it is cooking this will help to 'set' the top of the egg, making less likely to tear apart or break the yolk when you do flip it. Also try and flip with the yolk near the bottom of the spatula so it has less distance to travel and will be less likely to break.

share|improve this answer
    
Good point, about yolk placement. –  Andres Jaan Tack Jul 12 '10 at 14:01
4  
A basted egg is better than "over easy" any day. Basting will completely cook the white and leave the yolk deliciously golden and runny. Isn't that what you're looking for an an over easy egg? –  ant Jul 21 '10 at 15:53
1  
Just did one in butter, spooning the butter over top as it went, still flipped it near the end to finish up the top. Came out great, cooked whites, running but hot yolk. I've known of the technique, seen it used on fish and such, never thought about on an egg, thanks. –  ManiacZX Jul 29 '10 at 1:27
1  
This is how I was taught to cook an over-easy egg by my mother when I was probably about six years old. And of course the oil was bacon grease stored in a coffee can next to the stove, which just made it all the better. –  Carey Gregory Oct 13 '11 at 0:28

First thing first, may be obvious but use a non stick pan.
Let your egg cook till the bottom is hard
Flip with your spatula with care

If the heat is stronger the bottom will be ready faster and the yolk wont cook like it is hardboiled

Another way to cook egg (IMO easier) is to put a lid on your pan an let the heat cook the top of the egg

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for a lid. I always prefer to cook my eggs with a lid. –  Sam Holder Jul 13 '10 at 8:35

A nice technique I learned a few years ago would be to cook the bottom to nearly done, then toss a teaspoon or two of water into the pan (not too much, as you don't want to get rubbery eggs), then clap a lid on it. The steam will cook the tops of the eggs nicely.

Cook off all the water. If you had enough fat in the pan, the egg edges recrisp well, and you've got a pretty nice looking 'over easy' egg.

share|improve this answer
    
I find I don't need any added water either: just cook the eggs in a medium-hot pan (with some oil) for 4-5 minutes with a lid on. Results in something between poached and over-easy. –  Bruce Alderson Oct 11 '11 at 22:52

If im using the grill (e.g doing bacon at the same time), I usually put the frying pan under it for a minute or so (ideally basted with fat as suggested above) which generally cooks it without the need to turn it.

It can cook and harden the yolk if you do it for too long however.

share|improve this answer

Don't use a spatula. Use a non-stick pan with curved edges like these*.

Use a 9" pan or similar, for cooking 1-2 eggs, or a 12" for 3-4 eggs or omelets.

Put a little butter in the pan before the egg(s). This adds to the flavor, as well as provides lubrication necessary for the spatula-less flipping.

When you're ready to flip the egg, pick the pan off the burner, swirl the pan around gently, to make sure the egg is "loose," and isn't sticking to the pan. If it is stuck, you probably didn't use enough butter. Use a spatula to loosen the egg only--not to flip it!

Once you are confident the egg is loose, flip it in the air with your wrist, by making a forward, then quick upward motion. The egg should flip in the air only a couple of inches. With practice, you'll be able to get the egg to land perfectly every time, without breaking the yoke, and without folding. But it does take practice. But it's worth it, in my opinion. Not only does this produce the prettiest eggs possible, but it also makes you look like a Kitchen Ninja if you're cooking in front of friends. :) I use this method for over-light/easy/medium/hard eggs, as well as omelets.

Practice with a piece of bread and a cool pan, until you can get the bread to flip over exactly once. Of course the bread won't break if you flip too hard... so practice until you can get your bread to flip clean over with the least amount of force possible. Once you have this down (maybe 1-2 dozen bread flips of practice?) try with real eggs.

You will "ruin" a few eggs this way (meaning they'll break or fold), but it won't take long until you get most or all of your eggs coming out right this way.

When I worked at a diner using this method, we would throw away the broken eggs. At home, you can still eat them, as long as you aren't too offended by ugly eggs that still taste good :)

*Disclaimer: I don't own or recommend these specific pans; the picture just looks similar to the ones I own and like. You can buy suitable pans anywhere.

share|improve this answer

First, your egg should not be too fresh. I mention this in case you happen to have your own chickens or buy eggs straight from the farmer. Otherwise ignore it.

Second, your pan needs to be super nonstick. I have a small cast iron pan that is used only for frying eggs in butter. Never anything else. And it was used once or more a day every weekday for years - my youngest especially liked to head off to school "on an egg" as they used to say in the UK. It is truly well seasoned. Usually before I flip the egg, I give the pan a bit of a shake to confirm the egg moves around. If it's stuck, when you try to flip you will rip it. If so, move the flipper around under the egg to free it before attempting any kind of lifting. Remove the flipper and shake again to make sure it's free.

Third, and probably most important, the thing you're flipping with needs to be thin and smooth. A lot of things they sell to flip eggs with really suck. It also needs to be wider than the yolk by a good amount. Most of the plastc utensils for non stick pans are too thick and also not very slippery. Mine is metal but the pan doesn't mind, and it doesn't have those slots cut in it that so many slices (UK) or flippers (US) do.

Then you need the confidence to get in there and flip it all in one motion, not mess about pushing it around and suspending it in midair for too long. The yolk breaks when you lift up half the egg while the other half is stuck to the pan, when you lift it in a way that has a weight of white hanging down on either side pulling at the yolk, or when you put it in at an angle. Practice is part of it, but practice with the right tools is key. When my ideal flipper was dirty, I used to use different ones. I stopped when I realized I broke the yolk with substitute flippers quite often, and never with my preferred one. So I take a moment to wash the flipper if I need to.

share|improve this answer
    
Hm, mghicks' comment and Aaron's answer say that fresh eggs are better for frying. I've heard that anecdotally too, and see some support for it around the internet. Why do you say not to use too-fresh eggs? –  Jefromi Oct 25 '11 at 18:23
1  
A fresh egg means a thicker white, so the egg will spread out less in the pan. That means you'll have to wait longer to be sure the white is cooked, and that means the yolk is less likely to be runny. –  Kate Gregory Oct 25 '11 at 19:03

Fresh eggs = stronger membrane on the yolk.

Pan should be 100% non-stick, and very slick. If the egg sticks at all, you've already lost.

Flipping should be done without a spatula. You should lift the pan, use your wrist to flip the egg(s) in the air, then when the egg reaches the crest of the flip, you should move the pan up, so it doesn't gain much momentum on the way down.

share|improve this answer
1  
I second the pan flip technique. Practice with a slice of bread until you get the motion down. –  Chris Cudmore Oct 25 '11 at 19:39

Don't flip the egg. I always fry my eggs in vegetable oil and "baste" the top of the egg by spooning the hot oil over the top.

I'm not suggesting that there should be so much oil in the pan to float the egg, but enough to be able to spoon the hot oil over the top of the egg with a decent size tea spoon and cook the top.

I get a perfect fried egg every time (if you like a runny yolk).

share|improve this answer

Similar to Kev's answer, I don't flip the egg. However, instead of basting with the oil, I simply cover the pan with a lid. The steam will cook the top side of the egg without flipping.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.