Before you learn how to make the perfect over easy fried eggs, you need to know exactly what over easy eggs are. There is certainly a lot of confusion about the different ways of cooking fried eggs. So much so that I created a post explaining all these terms including over easy, over medium, over hard, and sunny side up. Even if you don’t want to know how to cook them, you may want to know how to order them to your liking when you’re out for breakfast (or dinner!) This post, however, is dedicated to over easy eggs. They require a delicate touch!
What are Over Easy Eggs?
You can get the low-down on over-easy eggs in the post I linked above. But, here’s a brief recap: In an over easy egg, the white is set (or cooked) completely on one side. Then the egg is flipped over and the whites are just allowed to barely set on the other. The yolk is warm and runny and has not begun to set at all. Within this there are various opinions and preferences as to the degree of doneness of the white. You can read more about this in the longer overview article. The idea here is not to set rules as to just how you should like your eggs! The idea is to lay a general groundwork as to how to cook an over easy egg. You can then adjust from there.
Let’s start with equipment. You’ll find the most success using a nonstick pan. To fry eggs, ideally, you want a pan with sloping sides. Even if you are not going to flip your eggs without a spatula, sloping sides will make it easier to get at the egg. But if you are going to flip it like a pro, then you must have a sloped pan. Depending on how good your nonstick pan is, you’ll need a rubber or plasticized spatula or a slotted spatula like a fish spatula. In the video below, chef uses plain butter. I would recommend clarified butter or ghee. So, besides fresh eggs (the fresher the better for frying), the three things I would recommend you have are:
Cooking Over Easy Eggs
Follow along with the video below. But as a former short order cook who’s turned out thousands of eggs, I have a few tips to use instead which I’ll explain.
Start with room temperature eggs for best results. Cold eggs are much more difficult to cook properly.
Heat pan and melt butter or ghee on medium-high heat. Although ghee will not brown like butter, for over easy eggs, you do not want to overcook the whites and have them brown or start to crisp, and you do not want the yolk to over-set. So don’t let the pan get too hot
If you are cooking more than one egg at a time and you intend to flip them without a spatula, go ahead and crack them into a bowl and then carefully transfer the eggs into the pan. As you can see in the video, if you crack two eggs into a small pan, the whites will meld together. This makes them easier to flip. If you use an over-large pan, you will need to use a spatula. If you crack them together into a bowl first, the whites will meld even more, making them even easier to flip.
Once the eggs are in the pan and begin frying, lower the heat. It’s fine to cook eggs slowly but don’t start them out in an under-heated pan. The better the quality of your pan, the more successful you’ll be as the pan will react to the change in heat setting more quickly.
Cook the eggs on one side until the whites begin to set and are not translucent around the edges. Then flip the eggs over and cook for just a few seconds on the other side before transferring to a plate. You can flip them over again before serving depending on what side you want to present, but this is not strictly necessary.
If your eggs are cooked properly, the whites toward the middle one the second side of the eggs will just be barely set, if not a little runny (this depends on preference) and the yolks will be warm and runny with no set at all.
Flipping an Egg Without a Spatula
I learned to flip eggs the hard way. It was a trial by fire. When I took my first job as a cook, the manager asked me if I could flip eggs. Being completely ignorant, I said sure I could flip eggs. I was a Southern boy. We all learned how to cook and who couldn’t flip an egg? I didn’t realize he meant without a spatula. Boy was I shocked when I got to the line and found they expected me to flip eggs without a spatula. It was sink or swim. I lost about, I don’t know, six eggs before I got it, all while hungry customers were waiting. In a couple of days, I could do it with my eyes closed. In fact, I could flip eggs behind my back and do other tricks, which I frequently did to put on a show for the kids. I was a flair cook before that was a thing I guess. No more! I lost that skill long ago. It isn’t like riding a bicycle.
Since you are not taking a job as a short-order cook you can practice your flipping using the bean method like chef does in the video. I will tell you, however, that although this will help you get the basic movement committed to “muscle memory,” it will not allow you to just go from beans directly to eggs with no hitches. Beans are not eggs. The key to flipping an egg, though is to keep in mind that the sloped edge of the pan is doing much of the work for you. You are not throwing the egg up in the air, having it flip over, and catching it. You are gently sliding the egg up along the slope of the pan and then moving the pan forward underneath the egg to cause it to rotate and flip before you catch it on the other side. You want a minimal movement of the arm or wrist, whichever works best for you. The rest is just practice to get the technique down.
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