Perfect Scrambled Eggs


The Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Perfecting the soft-cooked egg has made me curious about which other methods of cooking eggs I can learn to do just right. Eggs, after all, are one of the most delicious additions to any meal—don’t you agree? They’re simple, and yet deceptively so: they can go oh-so wrong. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to write a series of posts on perfect cooked eggs.

Up today: Scrambled. Though I know I few folks with a preference for well-done scrambled eggs, it’s my belief that they are, well, wrong. Most likely they just grew up with overcooked eggs (because that’s the most common sin when it comes to the otherwise easy—and sure, default when your omelet failed–task of scrambling eggs). In fact, scrambled eggs should be fluffy and tender, neither dry nor wet but more the latter than the former. They should be creamy and seasoned and rich.

How to Make the Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Of course I turned to my favorite resource once again, Cooks Illustrated, for suggestions. I especially liked their suggestion of adding an egg yolk for every four eggs.

In fact, there are two keys to perfect eggs: higher fat and a mindful eye. (Again, don’t overcook!)

Most recipes, I discovered, advocate increasing the fat level in your mix—often through the addition of half-and-half. But I find that while I’m likely to have an extra egg on hand any given morning, it’s more rare that I have half-and-half. Increasing the yolk content means you still have a higher fat content (which helps prevent overcooking), but that you also have a richer flavor. If you would prefer to skip the step, just be sure your dairy is half-and-half (or add a little cream).

So starting with 2-3 eggs per person, add one yolk for every four eggs (or one for three if you’re making a single serving).

To separate an egg, you have two options. First option: Crack your egg at the midline and hold your two cups (one with egg white, and one with yolk and white) over a bowl and slide the yolk back and forth as you discard the whites from one half-shell into a bowl (or the drain, if you have no intention to use egg whites). Careful not to pierce the yolk. Repeat until the yolk is as clean of egg white as it can be (some white with the yolk is fine, especially in this case). Second option: Wash your hands carefully. Crack the egg into your slightly spread hand (over a bowl or the sink) and gently catch the yolk, keeping it intact while the white drain through your fingers. Add the yolk where needed and wash your hands again!

How to Make the Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Once you have your desired number of eggs, you’re ready to mix them in a bowl. Start with:

4 eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 T milk (or half-and-half, if you have it)
salt and pepper (be generous, roughly 1/8-1/3 t of each)

Beat the mixture with a fork until everything is combined and you have a sunny yellow mix.

Grab a smaller pan than you might initially think (8 or 10-inch is better than 12) to trap more steam.  Next, set your burner to medium heat. When you add your butter (about 1/2 T), it should be hot enough that the butter melts right away but doesn’t immediately rush to foam. If it does, turn your burner down. Once you are happy with the temperature and have coated your pan with butter, you’re ready to pour in the egg mixture.

The Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Constantly scrape a rubber spatula, along the bottom and sides of the pan until the eggs begin to clump, letting the runnier bits fill in the gaps. This should happen quickly (a minute perhaps). Reduce heat to low and keep gently folding the eggs until just slightly wet, perhaps a minute more (or less). The second all of your eggs are clumped (yet still creamy and loose), transfer them to a warm plate and serve immediately.

The Perfect Scrambled Eggs

At a bare minimum, you’ll want to add some more salt to taste. They’re plenty delicious with nothing more. But my favorite scrambled eggs of late are a version of the Cacio e Pepe Eggs I once had at Maialino in New York City. You can add Pecorino and a generous serving of black pepper while the eggs are still cooking, folding it all in, or just add cheese and pepper once you’re done. I opted for the latter.

For 4 eggs, I’d add anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2-cup of Pecorino cheese and at least a tablespoon of freshly ground pepper (white would look lovely if you have it).

How to make the perfect scrambled eggs

The key is to use a fresh, coarse grind of pepper so that you get both the creaminess of the eggs and melting cheese and the sharp bite of the pepper in every mouthful. So delicious!

 the perfect scrambled eggs

P.S. Perfect soft-cooked eggs. Sticky buns. And lemon-rosemary buckwheat pancakes.

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Let’s Discuss

    • The same thing sometimes happens to me… its better for my diet when I post about eggs than, say, frosting (as I may be equally apt to do, favorites and all). 😉

    • Aha, well crispy may be worth trying. What do you serve them with? When we were in Bali, I recall having a hard boiled egg where the whole thing was fried and served in a crispy skin, then sliced over nasi goreng (I think)–really interesting and tasty!

  1. Alexis

    This made me think of the scene in Runaway Bride where Julia Roberts makes and tries every type of egg because Richard Gere accused her of being such chameleon in her relationships she didn’t even have a personal favorite. Anyway, great post. I look forward to trying this method. I have a mini-obsession with scrambled eggs and cook them for dinner at least three nights a week.

  2. Oh! I’m so glad to see that someone else out there has opinions about how to scramble an egg that are as strong as mine!! I’m the chief egg cooker in our house (this despite the fact that my husband is a chef), and here’s my method: It’s all about the fat. For two eggs, I add a few chickpea sized pieces of butter while I’m scrambling the eggs in the bowl. No milk, no cream. Then, I put them on really low heat, and scramble till they begin to set. I again add a few chick pea-sized peaces of (cold!!) butter to the eggs. When they’re just short of being done, I get them out of the pan and onto a plate where I season them and then (if I’m feeling really decadent!) add a bit more butter.
    In my opinion three elements help make for super silky eggs: extra fat (triple butter!!!), a really low heat, and no salt until the end of cooking.
    I’m going to try your method of adding an extra yolk and reducing the butter content. Eggs for breakfast this weekend!

  3. Danielle

    These look delicious and I know exactly what i’m having fro breakfast tomorrow morning!

    One extra tidbit about cooking scrambled eggs: if you actually allow the butter to melt at the same time as the eggs cook, it leads to a creamier scramble. So instead of putting the butter in the pan first to let it melt, put the egg and milk mixture plus a teaspoon of butter in the hot pan at the same time. Try it next time, you won’t regret it!

    • Ashley

      I’ll definitely try that! Thanks for the suggestion! As Julia would say, everything’s better with butter.

  4. John Ashworth

    Excess butter, large free range eggs (which have naturally larger yolks) and the winning secret ingredient – chopped chives!