I've seen people mention how eggs shouldn't become white after they are dropped in the pan. This keeps happening to me even though I use the "water test" and my eggs keep sticking to the pan (I add oil after the pan heats enough). The eggs are already brown around the edges while the top is still liquid. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

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    As a filthy heathen, I'd like to say nothing. Seriously though. Use a good amount of butter, brown it, fry your egg so the white has lots of crispy bits and the yolk is still molten, then use a piece of toast to soak up all the brown stuff. Magic. And if you've got a piece of cheddar? Fry that too. Then you can soak up the cheese juice too! XD
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 5, 2019 at 13:32
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    A funny moment in the UK Hell’s Kitchen (series 3 ep 1) has Marco Pierre White criticizing model Abbey Clancy on a similar problem with her eggs, space under the yolk was crunchy on the bottom. He looked at her very intensely and in all this intimidating demeanor said “Your pan is too hot. The secret to frying an egg is basically to poach it in butter. Never forget that!” I remember laughing hysterically because that is ultimately really lighthearted advice in a really tense context.
    – CR Drost
    Aug 6, 2019 at 15:41
  • A few comments, not sure I want to post an "answer" yet ... 1. Yes the conventional wisdom is that perfect fired egg has NO crunchy or brown bits (type A); but IMNSHO giving the egg a "frilly brown petticoat" (I think it was Denis Norden coined that phrase) can every good indeed, its a matter of taste not rules (type B); 2. depending on answer to that, the techniques etc will differ. In you specific case pan is too hot. 3. Olive oil, at a low-medium temperature gives excellent type A results. 4. "proper" bacon fat at medium+ heat for type B eggs.
    – RFlack
    Aug 8, 2019 at 17:00

5 Answers 5

  1. Your pan is too hot. To perfectly fry an egg--without browning--you want medium to medium-low heat; what you want is the heat at which butter will juuuust sizzle. And don't use oil.
  2. The easiest way to ensure that the residual white is cooked on top (assuming you want sunny side up) is to put a lid over the egg when it's almost cooked. Optionally splash a tablespoon of water into the pan (but not on the egg) immediately before putting the lid on.
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    @user3711671 What do you mean by "how is the pan too hot"? The pan is so hot that it's making your fried eggs start browning very fast. That's how the pan is too hot. Aug 4, 2019 at 2:50
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    @user3711671 A droplet of water will roll around the pan on a layer of vapour once the pan is at or above a certain temperature, according to en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidenfrost_effect - so your "water test" will pass on a 200°C pan (reasonable) just the same as it does on a 400°C pan (way too hot).
    – RJHunter
    Aug 4, 2019 at 6:02
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    Butter versus oil is a matter of preference. In the USA butter is much more common, but using oil is perfectly acceptable and common in many places. Aug 4, 2019 at 7:52
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    @MartinEpsz one advantage of using butter is that it is really obvious when the pan is too hot as the butter burns. As expensive as butter is, that’s something you quickly learn to avoid.
    – Spagirl
    Aug 4, 2019 at 15:01
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    @Bee There’s nothing wrong with frying in olive oil. You (generally) don’t want to deep fry in it (or stir frying, i.e. at extremely hot temperatures). Normal pan-frying in olive oil is fine, and often desirable; Mediterranean cooking is defined around it. On the topic of eggs, frying in (any) oil, and especially spooning it over the eggs, while common, gives eggs a greasy, oily, and generally unappealing texture. I urge you to try butter instead, it might just change your life (or it might not, if you’ve gotten used to the oily texture). Aug 5, 2019 at 11:11

As @Sebastien has pointed out, your pan is too hot. His advice is spot on. While you can achieve the results you are looking for this way, you would increase your chances quite a bit by using a non-stick pan.

Cooking is about controlling heat. The "water test" you describe might be good for some applications, but it is not always necessary, and it isn't what creates a non-stick surface. In this case, especially, it is causing you to brown your eggs before they are cooked to your liking.

You might be interested in the very low heat method for cooking what the authors describe as an "emoji" egg.

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    The pan was definitely too hot.Lower heat worked better but sticking is still unavoidable. Aug 5, 2019 at 17:05
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    @user3711671 get a non-stick pan...even an inexpensive one can be useful. Check discount stores. You will not be sorry.
    – moscafj
    Aug 5, 2019 at 17:12
  • Just to add: if you're squeamish about Teflon pans, try carbon steel. A well-seasoned carbon steel pan is nearly as non-stick as Teflon with just a little fat, and I find it easier to maintain than cast iron.
    – Bloodgain
    Aug 5, 2019 at 20:23

The honest answer to this is what you are lacking is experience.

Cooking fried eggs, especially on a stainless pan, takes a lot of experience to get right. You need to try different combinations of things on your cooktop in order to figure out the right combination. "Medium low" means a lot of different things depending on the pan and the cooktop, and it takes a lot of eggs to get to where you can get it right.

So my suggestion: make a lot of eggs. Make a dozen, one or two at a time, and adjust things each time. Then make another dozen. Get to where you know what a little more or less heat will do, or a little more or less oil/butter.

I can make great fried eggs on my pans at home on my own burner, but if I go on vacation, I'll probably make six eggs before I have one yolk stay together. Especially when they have an electric burner, it's nearly inevitable I'll get it wrong for a few times, because I'm not used to the kind of heat they put out versus my (nearly professional quality) gas burner.

Pay attention to which egg you usually make "best" also - if your first egg is best, then you're probably overheating. If your second or third egg is better, then you might not be preheating enough. Ideally all of your eggs will come out the same consistently, but in my experience that takes a long time to get to the point that all of the eggs are consistent.


The water test isn't appropriate for eggs.

To be on the safe side, crack the egg into the oiled pan when you know that it's not hot enough. Then let the heat rise under the egg until it starts cooking. And then turn it down so that it doesn't just keep getting hotter and hotter.

If you can hear the egg frying, the pan is too hot.


I too had problems with the egg sticking - I found that I had to wait longer before flipping the egg. It seems like when more egg gets cooked, it prefers to stick to itself instead of the pan.

This will require a cooler cooing temperature. So you can almost judge what the temperature by how quickly it cooks. Pay attention by looking carefully.

When I flip the egg, it should be almost done. After flipping, I let the top cook for maybe 10 or 20 seconds to have a well done egg for my son.

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