How to fry an egg

Achieve the perfect fried egg with a crispy bottom and runny yolk. Simple yet satisfying, it can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes from breakfast to dinner.

Two fried eggs with chorizo and spinach in a frying pan

Fried eggs are an essential part of so many cuisines. Just consider a full English breakfast – it really isn’t the same with scrambled or poached. Further afield, a fried egg is de rigueur for a classic French croqué Madame, or a German schnitzel à la Holstein while, in exotic Indonesia, they are the crowning glory for nasi goreng.

Sunny-side up, a fried egg will cheer up a salad and go equally well with different grains and lentils. They are an excellent takeaway food slotted into burgers, pitta bread, bacon sarnies and Indian naan or roti, if you so desire. Your only decision is whether to cook them with a softly set white and just cooked yolk (see below), a frill of crispness around the edge (turn the heat up when cooking them) or over-easy (flipped to make sure the white is fully cooked). The yolk should always be soft.  

Choose the freshest eggs and note that hens' eggs are slightly easier to cook than ducks' eggs. The fresher an egg, the stronger the proteins are in the white, which means the egg will form into a neater shape in the frying pan. Old eggs will spread out very thinly.

You can fry an egg in any fat but choose one that will give you the flavour you want. For example, at breakfast you might use the bacon fat left in the pan or a knob of butter. If adding the egg to a rich dish, olive or rapeseed oil may work better, while for nasi goreng or dhal you may like the hint of coconut that comes from using coconut oil.
 

Basic recipe for a fried egg

Serves 1 (easily doubled)

  • 1 fresh egg at room temperature
  • 1 small knob of butter or 1 tbsp oil
  1. Heat the butter until it melts but isn’t yet hot enough to brown (or heat the oil).
  2. Crack the egg onto a small plate or saucer (don’t crack it straight into the pan in case some shell ends up in there as well). Slide it off the saucer into the pan.
  3. Cover with a lid and leave for 3 minutes over a low heat. Check the white is set and, if not, leave it for another 30 seconds and check again. Season.

Recipes to make with a fried egg

Fried egg Milanese

Fried egg on breaded chicken and salad

Similar to à la Holstein, this recipe for fried egg Milanese marries a crisp, crumbed escalope (chicken in this dish) with a fried egg. Heaven.

Fried egg Milanese


Avocado on toast with chorizo

Avocado on toast with chorizo, topped with a fried egg

Take avocado on toast up a notch with chorizo and a fried egg. A brunch that can’t be bettered.

Avocado on toast with chorizo


Sushi rice bowl with beef, egg & chilli sauce

Sushi rice bowl with egg, beef and chilli sauce

Make a quick dinner with a difference – top sushi rice and sesame-marinated steak with a fried egg. Once the yolk is broken you’ll have an instant sauce.

Sushi rice bowl with beef, egg & chilli sauce


Great British breakfast bap

Fried egg, bacon and chips in bread baps with baked bean pots

All of breakfast, including the fried eggs, in a bun. Simple but effective.

Great British breakfast bap


Easy bibimbap

Fried egg in a bowl with rice, bacon and sliced carrots

Here's a Korean classic with a twist. Bibimbap is usually made in a hot stone bowl with a raw egg yolk stirred in, but we’ve made things easy with a fried egg.

Easy bibimbap

Enjoyed this? Find more fabulous fried egg recipes...

Chorizo & kale hash with a fried egg
Fried egg Florentine toastie
Fried egg with rosemary sauteéd potatoes
Chorizo & fried egg wraps
Potato, pepper & chorizo stew with fried egg
Korean fishcakes with fried eggs & spicy salsa
Full English crumpets

Have you got any other tips for serving fried eggs? Leave a comment below...

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