The Kitchn: How to make the best sunny-side-up eggs

The Kitchn: How To Make The Best Sunny Side Up Eggs
Tara Holland/TNS

Sunny-side- up eggs keep the morning blues away.

There are many weird and wonderful ways to fry an egg, such as frying in cream, freezing the eggs for 48 hours first, or separating the yolks from the whites, but cooking a good old-fashioned sunny-side-up egg is easy to make and ready in only a few minutes. However, they can be tricky to get just right. There is nothing worse than raw egg whites or overcooked yolks when striving for a sunny-side-up egg. Ideally, the eggs should have whites that are just set and runny yolks that look like they are ready to burst. Here’s how to achieve that.

How do you make a sunny-side-up egg?

There are some key points to help make perfectly cooked sunny-side-up eggs.

  • You can use either a cast iron or non stick skillet, but you must heat the pan over medium heat for at least 3 minutes and the oil for another minute or two, until it’s shimmering. Otherwise, the eggs may stick to the pan when using a cast iron.
  • Crack the eggs individually into small ramekins and slowly pour the egg into the hot skillet to help set the yolk in the center of the white.
  • The edges shouldn’t be crispy or brown on a sunny-side-up egg, so if you hear the pan spit and sizzle when the egg hits the pan, you remove it from the heat immediately to cool for a minute or so before returning it to the heat.
  • Cover the skillet with a lid and cook over low heat to set the whites without having to baste with additional fat.
  • Use the freshest eggs wherever possible, as the fresher they are, the stronger the proteins are, and so they will hold their shape and not spread across the skillet.

The different ways to fry an egg

Interestingly enough, in England, where I am from, sunny-side-up eggs, eggs over easy, eggs over medium, and eggs over hard, do not exist in our vocabulary. We just collectively call them fried eggs! I learned this (embarrassingly!) the hard way when I was visiting the States for the first time, and I was in a diner ordering breakfast in Tampa, Florida.

When the server asked me how I would like the fried eggs cooked, I looked at her blankly and said, “Um … just fried, please,” and she eye-rolled and then reeled off this list of options and impatiently explained each one. I suddenly realized this was a whole different ball game when it came to ordering an American breakfast, and I quickly became an egg-over-easy kind of gal!

How are sunny-side-up eggs different from over-easy eggs?

Over-easy eggs are cooked so the whites are set then quickly flipped before serving, so the yolks remain runny, but they don’t have the bright orangey-yellow “sun-like” yolk sunny-side-up eggs have.

Should I use room-temperature eggs?

Although some people swear by using room-temperature eggs for frying — as it’s said that you can risk overcooking the yolk as you wait for the white to come to room temperature — I’ve tried both methods and room-temperature eggs honestly didn’t make a huge difference. When you’re strapped for time or quickly trying to fry an egg before heading out to work, it’s unlikely you’ll have 30 to 60 minutes to spare waiting for the egg to get to room temperature, so I kept things quick and easy by using eggs straight out of the fridge.

Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

Serves 1

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a medium non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, and heat until the oil is shimmering, 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, crack 2 large eggs into 2 separate small ramekins.

2. Slowly pour 1 egg into one side of the skillet; repeat with the second egg on the opposite side. Cover with a lid or plate and immediately reduce the heat to low. Cook undisturbed until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes.

3. Slide the eggs onto a plate (or use a turner if using a cast-iron skillet to help transfer). Season each egg with a generous pinch of kosher salt and a grind or two of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

  • Leftover fried eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking in an airtight container for up to four days.
  • The eggs must be thoroughly reheated in the microwave to 165 F before serving. However, the texture will not be as good as freshly cooked eggs.

(Tara Holland is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)