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Cooking Fried Eggs

Cooking Fried Eggs

It never ceases to amaze me when we go to a restaurant and order eggs how many people don’t know what is what.  The questions that arise go something like this . . . “What is the difference between over easy and sunny side up?  What is over hard?”  And so on and so on. . .

So here is a pictorial tour of what is what.  That way, when you order your eggs, you know what you’re getting.

Cooking Fried Eggs-Whole Eggs

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A very important part of cooking eggs is first not breaking the yolk.  If you crack the egg just above the pan so that it falls only a short distance, you will risk less chance of breaking the yolk.

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Now, you are cooking fried eggs, you will get various degrees of doneness.  For example, the above picture is “sunnyside up.”  This is done by cooking fried eggs in the pan without flipping.  This would be similar to a “rare” steak, its the least done of the egg cooking.

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After sunnyside up you will be cooking fried eggs over easy, over medium and over well.  All three of these will look very similar because they will all be flipped over (hence the preface “over” to each) before being served, but be different in the following ways.  Cooking fried eggs over easy will have the egg yolk and the closest surrounding white uncooked and still in liquid form.  Cooking fried eggs over medium (my personal favorite) will have the egg yolk in liquid form, but the white will be completely cooked.  Cooking fried eggs over well will have almost the entire white and yolk completely done.

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You also have the designation of over hard, that completely cooks the egg.  For this one, you can just break the yolk (or just keep going if you initially broke the yolk) and cook the egg white and yolk until there is no longer any liquid texture.

Now, here is everybody’s favorite, scrambled eggs.

Cooking Fried Eggs-Scrambled

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You will notice that I crack them into a bowl first and then whisk, this serves two purposes.  First, if I cracked the egg into the bowl and a few stray pieces of shell just happen to come with it, no big deal, I just take them out.  Second, if the eggs are all in the bowl, it makes them a whole lot easier to whip into a nice even consistency before I pour them into a hot pan.

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Now, you could just pour the eggs into the pan after they are whipped but I like to add a little bit of cream or milk to the mix, I found that it helps them come out fluffier.

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Now that we have mixed our eggs we pour them into a nice hot pan and move them around frequently to make sure that they cook evenly.  Cooking fried eggs requires constant attention, so don’t walk away.

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Now the big question when cooking fried eggs, when are they done?  Well the answer to that question is another question, how do you like them? When cooking fried eggs and scrambling them is alot like cooking whole eggs, there are different degrees of doneness.  So if you go to a nice diner and order up some scrambled eggs, they may ask you how you want them cooked, soft, medium or hard?  The difference in these is very minimal, just know that soft is less dense than medium or hard.  Most places don’t even ask anymore, once you say you want scrambled eggs the server will usually just put in “scrambled medium” on the ticket that gets sent back to the cooks. Its a nice middle ground and chances are you aren’t going to be able to tell a difference or even care for that matter.  But just for the record, I like mine scrambled-medium.

Want to see the science behind cooking fried eggs?

Check out more on cooking fried eggs and other baking and cooking tips from The First Timers Books & DVDir?t=httpwwwfirs09 20&l=ur2&o=1 - Cooking Fried Eggs


Like this guide to cooking fried eggs? Get The First Timer’s Cookbooks or DVD right here!

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About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.


  1. Derek on 05/22/2009 at 1:25 PM

    Good to know, now I’m sitting at work wishing I had eaten breakfast.

  2. K. Broadbent on 05/22/2009 at 5:43 PM

    What about boiling eggs? What’s the difference between hard-boiled, soft-boiled, hard-cooked, soft-cooked, etc?

  3. Dave Lee on 05/24/2009 at 1:53 AM

    Hey Shawn,
    You did miss a few, boiled eggs being one (though I find that I often can’t get boiled eggs at Restaurants(Friendly’s comes to mind). Also you didn’t mention anything about my personal favorite, poached! (Which can also be done many different ways, including many WRONG ways!) Also there is omelets, eggs in a basket and Eggs Benedict, though I guess these go under a different category, technically.

    Did I ever tell you that I used to hate scrambled eggs? It what my mother used to make because they were the easiest. She did overeasy as well, but that was a special thing reserved for weekends, when Dad wanted them.
    But any other time, I was praying for cereal, because I HATED scrambled eggs, up until I was a teenager. She’d given u trying to cram them down my throat for a few years by the time I was on a week long school trip, at a place that only had scrambled eggs one morning. There was something like bacon to go with it, I guess, but how much bacon can you really eat?
    So I ended up eating the eggs, and I LOVED them! Well, that might be a little strong, but I didn’t hate them, and this realization was pretty amazing for me.
    As soon as I got home the next week, I asked mom to make me some scrambled eggs, and after her initial surprise, she obliged me, and they were just awful.
    Turns out she would just crack them into the pan and mix them up right there as they cooked. Didn’t like them at all.
    We learned together how to make good scrambled eggs, though she resisted the idea of putting milk in the cup with the eggs, or garlic powder, or cheese, but once she got past this, her eggs were AWESOME.
    Moral of the story, you put a little effort into everything you make, except cereal; that, you can quickly throw together.

  4. Keesha on 09/24/2009 at 7:02 PM

    I find if you boil an egg for 12 min that will give you the perfect boiled egg.
    I just finishd taping a demo on how to make an omlett.

  5. Bruce on 09/27/2009 at 4:15 PM

    And for those people out there wanting to cut cholesties.. maybe on whole egg and two egg whites. Right?

  6. rob - electricshopping on 10/13/2009 at 1:47 PM

    And just as I post a note about teaching someone to fry eggs….

  7. all three on 07/13/2011 at 9:31 AM

    I would love to see more posts like this!.. Great blog btw! vakantie Subscribed..

  8. we are at war on 07/18/2011 at 6:46 AM

    Good points

  9. cevon on 07/20/2011 at 10:45 AM

    I didn’t know that.

  10. […] For a step-by-step picture tutorial on how to scramble and fry eggs go to . . . […]

  11. […] For a step-by-step picture tutorial on how to scramble and fry eggs go to . . . […]

  12. […] Image source: First Timers Cookbook […]

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