13 Mistakes You’re Making When Cooking Eggs

Learn how to cook eggs perfectly every time. Whether you’re making poached, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, avoid these common egg cooking mistakes today.

fresh scrambled eggs frying pan

Eggs – the breakfast staple that everyone has their unique way of preparing and cooking. But despite their everyday use, eggs are easy to get wrong. We’ve taken the 13 biggest crimes against yolks that we see bring committed all too often. Are you guilty of them too? Let’s find out.

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? It is a mistake as it can lead to shards of eggshells making their way into your food. To prevent this, you need to crack them on a flat surface. This ensures a cleaner break without any bits of shell falling into the bowl.

Always break the egg into a separate bowl, as it will help you identify and remove pieces of the shell before they find their way into the food.

Tip: Don’t tap an egg softly as light pressure causes the shell to crack into smaller pieces.

Dropping Eggs Directly into Boiling Water

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

There are two solutions to this problem. The first solution is to put the eggs in cold water and bring eggs and water to boil together. If you forget to place eggs in cold water, you can bring the boiling water down to a simmer before dropping the eggs in it. You can raise the temperature back again to boil the eggs.

Eggs will continue to cook as long as they are hot, so ensure a cold water bath when you want the eggs to finish cooking.

Tip: When aiming for simmering eggs instead of boiling them, aim for a temperature of 160-180°F (71-82°C).

Removing Hard-Boiled Egg Shell Immediately

Patience is a virtue and is best seen when removing the shell of hard-boiled eggs. Besides the obvious reason of not being able to handle the eggs properly, it is also important to wait for the egg to cool down, as the cooler the egg is, the firmer and tighter it will be. A cooled egg is 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 the glass’s mouth with your hand and shake for several seconds. The eggshell will peel off in one piece easily.

Cooking Scrambled Eggs Over High Heat

If you don’t want to eat scrambled eggs that are dry and tasteless, cook them over low to medium heat while stirring them with a spatula or fork. Low heat will help keep the moisture in the eggs and form a silky texture.

Tip: Whisk eggs in a bowl before transferring them to the pan. Beating the eggs incorporates air in them, which helps keep them fluffy.

Overbeating

This is another easy and common mistake that can leave anything you’re cooking looking flat and tasting dense.

Overbeating eggs causes too many of the proteins to bond, leading to loss of moisture and air.This is easy to spot as the egg whites start looking curdled and dry.

When beating egg whites, you want to aim for the ‘soft peak’ stage. This is where the egg whites will mound, but no sharp tips will form.

Tip: To prevent overbeating, add a drop of vinegar to the eggs. Vinegar helps to keep eggs fluffy.

Poaching Old Eggs

Poaching eggs is a science. It is why it is so easy to get wrong too. But the main problem lies in not using fresh eggs.

Old eggs spread out faster than fresh eggs due to air pockets formed in them over time. These air pockets don’t make them bad but make old eggs unsuitable for poaching. The key to poaching an egg is keeping its shape intact and avoiding using old eggs for poaching. You can keep them for scrambling or hard-boiling instead.

Tip: Before poaching an egg, remove the water from the heat so that the temperature drops to a point where there are no bubbles.

Not Using Nonstick Cookware

It is imperative to use the right equipment for cooking eggs. A nonstick pan will help remove cooked eggs easily and will keep them from overcooking and turning brown. 

Tip: Always measure the temperature of the cooking pot when cranking up the heat while cooking. Even nonstick equipment can ruin eggs on high flame.

Sprinkling Salt over Poached Eggs

We always abide by this rule while poaching eggs: don’t salt the water while poaching your eggs.

In salty water, the whites of the eggs tend to loosen up, the exact opposite of what you want when trying to create a firm, well-rounded poached egg.

Tip: Dress your finished poached egg on the plate with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Seasoning at the Wrong Time

Season too late, and it’ll distribute unevenly; too early and your eggs will become watery. While adding salt during whisking ensures that eggs will be seasoned consistently, it also risks breaking them down.

The best approach is to try to season eggs towards the end of cooking so that you can stir the eggs while they have already started to form.

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

Using the Wrong Pot

As tempting as it might be to save on time and dirty dishes, avoid cramming all your eggs in one pot when boiling. Overstuffing the pot will result in unevenly cooked or cracked eggs.

Tip: Ease the eggs in any recipe one by one. Also, ensure that you only have one layer of eggs sitting in the saucepan at a time.

Not Freezing Eggs Whites

Just like when freezing scrambled eggs, you can easily store unused egg whites in a freezer for future use. Frozen egg whites usually whip better than fresh whites when thawed in recipes for macaroons and meringues.

Tip: Egg whites can be frozen for up to 12 months. If you end up with too many egg whites, label them with the date just to be safe.

Boiling Fresh Eggs 

Boiling fresh eggs do not necessarily mean that the boiled egg will be of inferior quality. However, freshly cooked eggs can be much more difficult to peel.

Older eggs are more suitable for boiling as eggs tend to lose moisture over time and stop sticking to the shell’s inside, making them easier to peel.

Tip: Use eggs that are about a week old for boiling.

Cooking Until Done

Eggs continue to cook even after you remove them from heat. This makes it easy to overcook them and why so many people end up with dry, tough eggs. To avoid overcooked eggs, be sure to make scrambled eggs off the heat just before they look done and run poached and boiled eggs under cold water.

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