How to Fry an Egg the Right Way

There are few things as beautiful as a dish topped with a perfectly fried egg. Learn how to fry an egg like a restaurant pro.

There are several ways to cook an egg, but fried eggs are arguably the most beautiful. There’s something about the look of a fried egg that turns a boring piece of avocado toast into an Instagram-worthy egg-topped avocado toast. Eggs aren’t just for breakfast, either. Knowing how to fry an egg allows you to add a level of depth and flavor to everything from hamburgers to rice bowls. While it’s true that fried eggs aren’t as easy to make as scrambled eggs, the technique behind how to fry an egg is relatively simple. With a little practice, you’ll be flipping eggs like a pro!

Here’s How to Fry an Egg, from Runny to Firm

The technique for all four methods of frying eggs is the same: Grab a small, nonstick pan and heat a tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When the butter melts, reduce the heat to low and crack two eggs into the pan. Resist the temptation to crank up the heat to cook the eggs faster, as higher heat can cause the egg to stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the whites are completely set, swirl the eggs in the pan to make sure they release easily (if not, gently run a rubber spatula along the bottom of the eggs until they release).

From there, you’ll flip the eggs over (except sunny-side up eggs, which are a little special) and continue cooking until the eggs reach the indicators mentioned below. Once you get the hang of the technique, it’s easy to flip eggs in the pan with the flip of your wrist. If you don’t feel confident enough to flip the eggs without breaking the yolk, start by frying one egg at a time. Of course, you can always turn eggs with a wide spatula, too.

How to Fry an Egg Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up EggTaste of Home

Sunny-side up eggs are the only type of fried egg that doesn’t need to be flipped. Once the whites are set and the eggs swirl freely in the pan, cover the pan with a lid and continue cooking until the yolks thicken but are not hard. The egg whites should be fully cooked, but the yolks should be bright yellow and runny when pierced with a fork.

How to Fry an Egg Over Easy

Over Easy EggTaste of Home

Eggs cooked over easy are characterized by set whites and very runny yolks. After flipping the eggs over, continue cooking for about 30 seconds. You can test to ensure the whites are fully set by shaking the pan. The yellow area where the yolk is should be very jiggly, but the whites should remain firm without moving.

How to Fry an Egg Over Medium

Over Medium EggTaste of Home

Over-medium eggs have firm but runny yolks. After flipping the eggs over, continue cooking for an additional minute. You can test the yolks by shaking the pan and gently poking the yellow area with your finger. If they feel firm to the touch but still jiggle, you’ve cooked your eggs over medium.

How to Fry an Egg Over Hard

Over Hard EggTaste of Home

Over-hard eggs have fully cooked yolks. After flipping the eggs over, continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. The yolks should not jiggle when you shake the pan, and they should feel firm to the touch when poked with your finger. If you’re in a rush when making over-hard eggs, you can break the yolk with a spatula before flipping the eggs over. The end result won’t have the same fullness as a properly cooked over-hard egg, but a broken yolk will cook much faster.

Tips for Frying Eggs

What kind of frying pan is best for frying eggs?

The best type of skillet to learn how to fry an egg is a nonstick pan. Traditional nonstick and ceramic nonstick pans are specifically designed to heat up quickly, and the pan’s surface contains a coating that prevents eggs from sticking. Alternatively, you could use a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Just be sure to preheat the pan for a few extra minutes to ensure the heat is evenly distributed. Depending on how well-seasoned your pan is, you may want to use an extra tablespoon of cooking oil as an insurance policy.

Can you fry an egg without butter?

Our base recipe for frying eggs uses butter because it infuses a creamy flavor into eggs. That said, you can swap in your favorite cooking oil instead. Olive oil imparts a pleasant flavor, so it’s an ideal substitute for butter. We’ve also used canola oil, ghee, bacon fat or coconut oil when frying eggs. Just keep in mind that some cooking oils are strongly flavored (we’re looking at you, coconut oil), so make sure you want your eggs to contain that taste before proceeding.

What’s the best way to crack an egg?

The most essential component of learning how to fry an egg is ensuring the yolk doesn’t break. Broken yolks are fine when you want to make scrambled eggs, but fried eggs rely on the yolk remaining intact throughout the cooking process.

The best way to crack an egg without breaking the yolk is to use a flat surface. The side of a bowl or frying pan can penetrate the membrane that holds the egg together, causing the yolk to run prematurely. Gently tap the egg on the counter or on a cutting board until you see a vertical crack in the egg. Position the cracked egg about 6 inches above a preheated frying pan or a bowl. The higher you hold the egg, the more likely it is that it’ll break when it hits the pan. Using your fingers, gently pry the two sides of the eggshell apart to release the egg.

Is it better to cook eggs on high or low heat?

The best heat level for cooking eggs is definitely low heat. Since eggs are so small, they naturally cook quickly, so there’s really no need to crank up the heat. Using too-high heat is a common mistake you might be making with eggs as it can cause the eggs to cook unevenly. It may also cause them to stick to the pan.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.