I have been told by two different cooks who's opinions I trust that adding salt to a beaten egg mixture before cooking will dry out and/or toughen the eggs, but also that adding salt at this stage seasons the eggs, and does not affect texture. I can't tell the difference in texture, but my palate isn't the most refined. I imagine the salted eggs taste better, but it's a slight rather than dramatic difference, if there is a difference. Can anyone with a golden tongue or superior scientific method tell me whether to season before or after?

  • FYI -- Additional experimental evidence on this point by Serious Eats here.
    – Athanasius
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


Per Harold McGee, in On Food and Cooking (page 86 of the 2004 edition), there is no truth to this common assertion.

Acids and salt do pretty much the same thing to egg proteins. They get the proteins together sooner, but they don't let them get as close together. That is, acids and salt make eggs thicken and coagulate at a lower temperature , but actually produce a more tender texture.

McGee explains that the salt separates into ions, which cluster around the charged regions of the egg proteins, allowing them to get closer before being denatured because they don't repel each other. This causes them to bond together earlier, before they become unfurled and could form tighter (and thus tougher networks).

McGee concludes:

So eggs end up more tender when salted, and especially when acidified.

So salt them when you beat them, or in the pan, in practice it will make little difference compared to many other factors, such as the temperature and technique with which you cook them.

  • On the contrary I find that when i salt my scrambled egg mixture when i cook it, there is always a pool of liquid at the bottom of the pan that seem to separate from the egg. This never happens when i dont salt the mixture. I will try to do a little experiment later on.
    – Jay
    Apr 11, 2013 at 3:57
  • That pool of liquid is more likely a result of simply overcooking the eggs. The tightened protein network then squeezes out more water.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Apr 11, 2013 at 3:58
  • Can you explain why that doesnt happen with unsalted mixture then? And as the liquid gets drawn out, the end product is of course tougher than the unsalted.
    – Jay
    Apr 11, 2013 at 3:59
  • I haven't had your experiences, but I always salt my eggs in the pan, and with good technique, I haven't had watery eggs in many years...
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Apr 11, 2013 at 4:00
  • 1
    Cooking too quickly over too high of a heat source will cause some syneresis and therefore liquid in the pan after cooking. A properly cooked batch of eggs will create a nice thick network that will trap the liquid within the eggs and keep it more tender. In practice, salting the mixture should denature proteins and actually make it easier to retain more moisture like in brining.
    – Brendan
    Apr 11, 2013 at 19:48

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