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How to Cook Scrambled Eggs That Taste Better Than Your Favorite Brunch Spot

Self logo Self 5/21/2022 Marygrace Taylor
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We all think we know how to cook scrambled eggs. But while the ones you make at home probably turn out fine, they tend to lack the oomph of that delicious plateful you get at your favorite brunch place. Are we all doing something wrong?

While you might not be cooking scrambled eggs “wrong,” you also might not be doing your breakfast any favors. If your standard operating scramble procedure involves cracking a few eggs into any old pan and stirring them feverishly over high heat to have breakfast ready in two minutes flat, you might want to rethink that method.

Everyone's got their own preferences, of course, and the debate over what constitutes the ideal plate of scrambled eggs can get pretty heated. But for the sake of argument, let's say you're looking for scrambled eggs that are lighter and fluffier.

"The best scrambled eggs should be tender, with semi-large curds, and a uniform yellow color,” Marisel Salazar, a professional recipe developer and food writer based in New York City, tells SELF. “They’re moist without being overcooked or too dried out.” In other words? We're talking soft, luxurious, and creamy with an eggy, buttery flavor, as opposed to, say, tough and rubbery with notes of, uh, burnt egg.

This kind of eggy glory is actually very easy to achieve, even for a weekday breakfast, and even for a total kitchen newbie. But you do need to know a few tricks, and most important, you have to be a little patient. Here's what the pros say on how to cook scrambled eggs that are as good as what you get when you go out.

1. Gather your tools.

No fancy equipment is required here, but you do need a few essentials to help you get the best results. Your winning lineup of kitchen tools includes:

  • A nonstick pan. The slick surface is key to being able to slide the eggs around the pan as they cook and avoid ending up with those stuck-on bits that are impossible to clean off your pan, Maggie Trujillo, executive chef and culinary director at AQUA by El Guacho in Seattle, tells SELF. This one from OXO gets the job done, will last for years, and is dishwasher safe ($40, Amazon.)
  • A flexible silicone spatula. It's the best tool for gently stirring and folding your eggs around the pan—and, crucially, lifting away any curds that might start to stick. The silicone will also keep your pan from getting scratched up, Trujillo points out.
  • A mixing bowl. You'll use this to whisk up your eggs before cooking them, Trujillo says. Whether you go big or small depends on how many eggs you want to cook. A cereal or oatmeal bowl is fine for two or three eggs, but pick something bigger (like a bowl you’d use to make cake batter or cookie dough) for more so eggs don’t splash everywhere. This durable three-piece set from Pyrex has you covered ($17, Amazon).
  • A whisk or a fork. For the aforementioned whisking. Both get the job done, so don't sweat if you're whiskless.

2. Whisk your eggs.

Cracking your eggs directly into the pan scores points for convenience, but it'll leave your eggs heavy and dense. Instead, crack them into a bowl and beat them with a whisk or fork for about 30 seconds, or until they increase in volume just a bit and turn slightly paler, Dan Bearss, chef and culinary arts instructor at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, tells SELF. "This helps incorporate air into the eggs and makes them fluffier."

This is a good time to add in some salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper per two eggs), so the seasonings can get evenly distributed among the eggs. You can also mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons (per two eggs) of whole milk, heavy cream or creme fraiche to make the texture more velvety, Bearss says. "This will be enough to bring creaminess and airiness to the eggs but not so much that you're eating cream of egg soup."

And if you wanna do a super pro move, you can also blend up the eggs with an immersion blender, Kevin Templeton, executive chef of Barleymash in San Diego, tells SELF. That'll incorporate even more air, making your eggs—you guessed it—even fluffier.

3. Warm your pan and add your fat.

It’s important to get your pan ready while you're prepping your eggs, so the mixture will start cooking as soon as it hits the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low, letting it warm up for a few minutes before adding the eggs. "This makes sure the heat is evenly distributed not only throughout the pan, but when cooking your eggs," Salazar says.

As for the fat? You might be wondering why you need any if you're using a nonstick pan, but a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil will act as extra insurance to keep your eggs sliding around the pan's surface, Salazar notes. You don't need much—think 1 teaspoon per egg. The extra fat will give your eggs a creamier flavor and a richer texture, too.

4. Cook low and slow.

All of our pros agreed: Trying to scramble in a minute or two with the heat cranked up is the number-one way to mess up eggs, and it’s an incredibly common mistake. "High heat gives you firmer, more rubbery eggs and can cause the eggs to caramelize or brown," Templeton says.

So pour in your whisked eggs and keep that heat at medium-low. "If you hear a sizzle, your pan is too hot," Trujillo says. That's your cue to turn down the heat a notch, even if it seems like it'll take years before you'll be able to eat breakfast. (Don’t worry, it won’t: Even with your heat at medium-low, a pan of two to four scrambled eggs should cook in a few minutes, Bearss says.)

5. Stir, but not too much.

Let the eggs sit undisturbed for a minute or two after pouring them into the pan. That'll help them start to set up texturally and form those big, fluffy curds, Trujillo explains.

Once the edges of the eggs have set, use your spatula to lightly move, pull, and fold the eggs around the pan. "Let them set up a bit more and repeat this one more time," she says. "Excessively stirring your eggs results in a smaller, crumbly-looking scramble." If you notice any bits of egg sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan when you stir, use the spatula to gently lift those up too, so they don't burn.

6. Stop before they're totally done.

Take the pan off the heat when your eggs are about three-quarters of the way cooked, recommends Salazar. The scramble should appear just set and still a bit runny—but don't worry, you're not eating them yet.

"Even though you've taken the pan off the heat, the residual heat will cause the eggs to continue to cook," Salazar says.

In another minute or so, this very low carryover heat will finish cooking the eggs while helping them maintain some moisture, so they stay creamy instead of drying out. They're done when they look slightly firm and glistening with a solid yellow color and no runny or undercooked yolks, says Salazar.

7. Finish and eat ASAP.

If you want to flavor your eggs with extra add-ins (think chopped fresh herbs, grated cheese, or a sprinkle of hot sauce), now's the time to do it. Then transfer the eggs to a plate and chow down.

"You should always eat scrambled eggs immediately after cooking so they are still warm and haven't had a chance to dry out," Bearss says. After all, that would kinda defeat the purpose of all the work you did in the first place, right?

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