13 Mistakes You’re Making When Cooking Eggs

Ah, eggs. The breakfast staple that everyone has their own unique way of cooking up.

But despite their everyday use, they are also so easy to get wrong. We’ve taken the 13 biggest crimes against yolks that we see made all too often. Are you guilty of them too? Check out our infographic!

egg cooking mistakes infographic

Cracking eggs on the side of a bowl

We start our list with one of the most common mistakes made by novices and seasoned chefs alike.

Why is cracking eggs on the edge of a bowl a mistake? This practice often leads to shards of egg making their way into your food, without any opportunity to intercept them.

To prevent this, you need to crack them on a flat surface. This ensures a cleaner break, without any shell parts falling into the bowl.

After this, tip the egg into a smaller bowl first, before transferring it into your mix. This will not only help to prevent egg shell from finding its way into the food but will also help you identify rogue pieces of shell.

Tip: Don’t tap the egg softly. This little and often technique will cause the shell to crack into smaller pieces, making it much harder to pour out the yolk cleanly.

Dropping eggs directly into boiling water

Another mistake that most people do when preparing eggs is dropping them straight to boiling water. When you do so, not only do you risk burning your fingers or cracking the egg, but also you are leaving your eggs prone to turning tough and unpalatable.

So how do we approach this without having to watch a pot boil from cold?

The best approach is to heat the water up, then once boiled bring it down to a simmer, before lowering your egg into the water. You can then raise the temperature back to a boil from here.

Remember that the cooking process will continue as long as the egg is hot, so be sure to cool the egg under cold water after you have finished cooking and have removed it from the water.

Tip: When aiming for a simmer, aim for about 160-180ºF (71-82ºC).

Trying to remove the shell of hard boiled eggs immediately

Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to eggs this is best seen when removing the shell of a hard boiled eggs. The hungriest of us will want to get it done quickly once removed from the boil, but it’s important to wait until they have cooled.

Aside from the obvious, with the shell still being too hot to handle properly, the reason why this is important is that the cooler the egg is, the firmer and tighter it will be. This will make it less likely to form holes or craters when you pry the shell off.

Tip: Once cooled, drop the egg in a shallow glass of water, cover with your hand and shake for several seconds. The shell will then peel off in one piece easily.

Cooking scrambled eggs on a high heat

Oh boy, this is a big one. Most people usually cook their scrambled eggs over high temperatures without knowing that they are overcooking them.

If you don’t want to leave your scrambled eggs dry and tasteless, cook them with low to medium heat while stirring them with a spatula or a folk. This will keep the moisture in the eggs, helping to form silky scrambled eggs instead of tasteless dry ones.

Tip: Whisk your eggs in a bowl first, to help them incorporate a bit of air. This will help your scrambled eggs be fluffy..

Overbeating eggs

This is an easy mistake to make, but can leave anything you’re cooking looking flat and tasting horribly dense.

Overbeating combines eggs too well, making too many of the mixture’s proteins bond, which causes loss of moisture and air. This is easy to spot when mixing, as the egg whites will start to look curdled and dry.

When beating egg whites, you want to aim for what’s called the ‘soft peak’ stage. This is when, upon the removal of your whisk, the egg whites will mound, but no sharp tips will form.

Tip: To help prevent overbeating, add a drop of vinegar to your eggs. This helps prevent the eggs’ proteins bond as easily, helping to keep your eggs fluffy.

Poaching old eggs

Poaching eggs is almost a science, which makes it so easy to get wrong. But where so many people shoot themselves in the foot is when they don’t use fresh eggs.

Old eggs spread out faster than fresh eggs due to air pockets that form over time at the top, which makes them spread out much faster than fresh eggs. This doesn’t make them bad, but it does make them unsuitable for poaching, as the key to good poaching is keeping the shape of the egg more or less intact.

So, avoid using old eggs for poaching, and instead keep them for other cooking methods, like scrambling or hard boiling.

Tip: Before poaching your egg, take your water away from the heat so that it has calmed to the point where there are no bubbles in the water, and is on a very gentle simmer. No bubbles, no problem.

Not using nonstick cookware

A simple one here, but important nonetheless. It’s imperative to have the right equipment, and nowhere is this more important that using non-stick pans for cooking eggs.

Not only does this help prevent your scrambled or fried eggs being a challenge to remove once ready, but they will also stop your eggs turning brown from overexposure.

Tip: Always be measured when cranking up the heat while cooking. Even nonstick equipment will struggle to fend off the power of a searing heat ruining your eggs.

Adding salt to poached eggs

This is a controversial one, but one that we here at The Online Grill always abide by: Don’t add salt to the water while poaching your eggs.

Adding salt tends to loosen the whites of the eggs, which is the exact opposite of what you want when trying to create a firm, well-rounded poacher.

Tip: Dress your finished poached egg when on your plate with a pinch of salt and pepper to help create a beautiful and well-seasoned finished article.

Seasoning at the wrong time.

This is one for you scrambled and omelette fans out there. Season too late, and it’ll be distributed unevenly; too early and your eggs will become watery.

Adding salt while whisking them is often up for debate, as it does ensure that your eggs will be seasoned consistently. However, the salt risks breaking down the eggs, making it difficult to form a non-watery plate of scrambled eggs or an omelette.

The best approach is to try to go somewhere in between, and add it towards the end of cooking, so that you can stir them in while the eggs have already started to form.

Tip: Add herbs to complete your scrambled eggs, such as parsley or tarragon.

Using the wrong pot

As tempting as it might be to save on washing up and space, avoid cramming all your eggs in one pot when boiling. Overstuffing it will result in unevenly cooked eggs, as well as leaves you prone to having to clean up the mess of cracked eggs.

Tip: Ease the eggs in one by one, and ensure that you at the very most only have one layer of eggs sitting in the saucepan.

Not freezing eggs whites

Instead of throwing away unused egg whites, store them in a freezer for future use. Not only can it be really useful to have them at hand, but egg whites usually whip better than fresh whites when thawed for meals like macaroons and meringues.

Tip: Egg whites can be frozen for up to 12 months, but make sure that you label them with the date just to be safe.

Boiling eggs that are too fresh

Don’t worry: Fresh eggs do not necessarily mean that your boiled egg will be of inferior quality. However, fresh eggs do make it much more difficult for you to peel the shell once boiled. And as hard boiled eggs are difficult enough to peel, we thought we’d try to save you some trouble.

Older eggs lose moisture over time and stick less to the inside of the shell, making them much easier to peel.

Tip: Use eggs that are about a week old for boiling, and let them age in the fridge.

Cooking until done

For all approaches, eggs continue to cook even after you stop applying heat to them. This makes it really easy to overcook them, and why so many people end up with dry, tough eggs.

So, be sure to take scrambled eggs off the heat just before they look done, and run poached and boiled eggs under cold water as soon as they’re out the water.

Tip: Try an ice bath for freshly boiled eggs. This helps cease cooking immediately and also separates the egg from the inside of the shell.