HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Scrambled eggs: sometimes the basics are the hardest

It startles me that I can make a fantastic vinaigrette, I'm not intimidated by dishes that take hours to put together, I can perform many complex kitchen tasks...but I can't scramble an egg to save my life. How does one get fluffy solid eggs that are neither runny nor overly dry?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: c oliver

      slow cook in butter.....add a little cream cheese to make them dilectable!

      1. re: mledet

        It's fun that this thread has reignited. It's got some great messages. I came to this party a year ago.

    2. Don't be so hard on yourself. Although they are sometimes thought of as "basic", scrambled eggs are delicate and require practice to prepare properly.
      A few things to consider. Scrambled eggs are easier to prepare in a shallow pan with gently sloping sides. I prefer to use a pan that is just large enough to hold the egg batter in a deep pool, but I find that cooking small amounts of scrambled eggs requires that I slant the pan briefly to pool the eggs slightly on one side. Scrambled eggs require constant attention; you can't walk away from them once they're in the pan.
      Place the pan on medium/low heat and, once preheated to the point where any butter in the pan is foamy but not yet to the browned stage, pour in the egg batter. Allow the eggs to cook for a short time (less than a minute) then lift one side with a narrow spatula and allow the uncooked egg batter to run underneath. Fold the cooked portion of the egg over the top of the uncooked egg and begin stirring the eggs gently, turning them as you stir. The stirring method I use is stir/turn, turning them modestly as I stir them with the spatula. Too much or rapid stirring action breaks the eggs up into small pieces and causes them to dry out. Too much heat causes the eggs to set too quickly generating sheets of egg that are not really scrambled - and can leave pockets of uncooked egg inside the "sheets". Just stir/turn to maintain a fluffy consistency. When they have reached the point where they show just a tiny bit of moisture on the surface, remove them from the heat and plate them. They will continue to cook , albeit it not much, after they've been plated. A warm (not hot) plate can help keep them at a good temperature for a pleasurable eating experience.
      I know what you mean about "overly dry" eggs. My wife prefers hers to be browned; ugh!

      1. My Mom's trick: small non stick saucepan (I spray first) or a non stick frypan also on the small side. Small knob of butter, then two eggs per person and one extra whisked with a fork adding salt and pepper but ONLY just before you put the eggs into the saucepan - don't let them sit and don't add milk or water. Then take a wooden spoon and stir over a pretty low heat until eggs start to set. Watch them at this point because you want to turn off the heat before everything has completely set and let the heat of the pan finish them off. Try a few times but remember last instruction. People have cried for my eggs, honest.

        1. I thought I made great scrambled eggs until I read this. Keith Froggett is one of the top chefs in Toronto. He even makes this breakfast basic better than ordinary humans.

            1. re: AndrewK512

              I use a non-stick pan and a small amount of olive oil (I try to avoid butter) over medium heat. It is crucial not to mess too much with the eggs before or during cooking. I use a fork to break up the eggs in the bowl. Into the pan they go, where they cook for a bit before I use a spatula to gently move them around in the pan, which allows the liquidy top to be exposed to the heat, without really breaking up the eggs. I do this a few times, until the eggs look mostly set, yet a touch wet. I turn off the heat and give one more gentle turn/stir, then remove to a serving dish or plates. The eggs continue to cook once off the heat source, so keeping them a tiny bit wet allows for them to finish in the time between removing from the heat and hitting your plate.

              From cooking shows, I learned that a Tb of water added results in lighter eggs, while a Tb or so of milk makes them tastier, but heavier/tougher. I've been known to season with a dash of Vietnamese fish sauce instead of salt. The flavour is incredible, as long as you only use a small amount. The ultimate in decadence is my grandmother's recipe, which called for 1 TB of sour cream (14%) for every 2 eggs, to be gently whisked into the eggs right before they went into the pan. They were great, but serious artery cloggers, particularly since she used butter as well.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Thanks for that, Alan. I'd been meaning to watch it. What a great way to do it. Makes my mouth water.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I have tried the scrambled eggs the GR way, without adding the creme at the end, and I like them that way, but my husband thinks they are "too mucsy" and accused me of putting something in them to make them that way, so I will do his his way and mine that way!

                2. re: alanbarnes

                  IMHO, this guy can't even prepare a slice of toast without burning it and he over stirs his eggs; they're not fluffy - they're broken up into wet globs. Putting tomatoes into a skillet with stems attached looks good for the video but it looks to me like more show than go. I suppose his professional certificate carries some weight but I'd never ask him to prepare eggs in my kitchen.

                  1. re: todao

                    Tell us how you really feel, todao :) But GR is awfully cute! He can scramble eggs, burn toast, and do silly stuff with tomatoes in MY kitchen any time that he wants.

                    1. re: todao

                      I agree I would be, "I ordered eggs not pudding."

                      1. re: Bryn

                        Whereas really properly done scrambled eggs do have a resemblance to custard, rather than the broken omelet style favored in US diners and thus other breakfast places.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          Isn't there some exotic sounding French term for 'properly done scrambled eggs'? Using that would save a lot of confusion in the US where scrambled usually means the 'broken omelet' style.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Oeufs brouillés

                            I would prefer to have "scrambled eggs" be the English for this (as it used to be a long time ago, IIRC) and "broken omelet" be the perfectly understandable term for the Eggs Formerly Known As Scrambled.

                            Realize that those of us who yearn for the soft, moist clouds of scrambled egginess will often settle for a broken omelet, but we know the wonder that is the Real Deal.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              It is a thing I noticed. In the UK scrambled eggs is more like fish roe in size. The American version is more like wafers of egg. I still prefer the UK type I was raised with.

                              There are so, so many things which you would assume to be the same but are different: in name or meaning, from bacon, biscuit, muffin, meat cuts to custard, apple pie and so on.

                              But that's should be another thread. I think I shall call it:

                              "As English as apple pie."

                      2. re: todao

                        Well, that certainly is different. I have never seen scrambled eggs done this way. I would be interested to try the method, but I doubt that it would make me stop wanting "regular" scrambled! I just don't think these eggs would make a very good bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, which is mostly the way I eat scrambled eggs.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          Yes, for a sandwich, the American broken omelet style works better.

                          But for topping dry english muffins, the French style soft curd style works better.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            I remember reading a cookbook (a French one, I am sure) where the recipe for scrambled eggs was similar to Ramsay's style, except that they used about a stick of butter. My reaction way, "Hey, have some eggs with your butter." It just doesn't appeal to me, although GR used considerably less, which makes me want to try HIS, as opposed to the other, which I never wanted to do.

                      3. re: alanbarnes

                        Well his on heat/off heat approach is a great way to do it, low and slow.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Jfood loved the video and he is glad GR has the confidence to allow the tape to continue with the burnt toast. Jfood also loves the idea of the tomatoes on the vine, great idea. He would vote against the mushrooms as there is no way the would cook through in that timeframe.

                          Now wrt the eggs, jfood likes the idea of the butter and eggs together and will give it a whirl over the next couple of weekends. He'ss refrain from the creme though and will be a littel more gentle and cook a little longer since he likes them a little firmer and in bigger pieces.

                          Thanks for the link. Jfood always looking for new ideas.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Gordon Ramsay's method works for me. I always make scrambled eggs that way now.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              I enjoyed this variation and the chives are a must. I didn't add the cream but instead once a bit of la tur and another a bit of milk and it worked out. The flame needs to be high enough to take it out of the soup stage.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Sorry to bump this old thread up again, but I just watched his video and made the eggs his style, even tho it went against everything I thought was correct.

                                Best scrambled eggs ever. Thank you New Year's challenge to try to do everything in a new way.

                              2. One trick is to remove them from the heat while still moist, since they will continue to cook from the retained heat. Practice and observation may be needed to get the timing just right.

                                1. low heat, gentle movement of the eggs in one direction, take off the heat when they still look wet and let rest, covered a minute.

                                  i usually add a tablespoon of plain yogurt which makes them creamier. i add salt before cooking, but pepper only when i turn off the heat. cooked pepper in eggs tastes acrid to me.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    I don't want to get todao started :) but Gordon Ramsey added some creme fraiche at the end which sounds wonderful.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      I use a half shell of skim milk for every egg. The dairy/water mix of skim works for me. They never turn out hard or dry.

                                      1. re: Googs

                                        A little mayo also does the trick. Especially if you are doing shortcut micro-eggs (don't boo me)

                                  2. I use a non-stick pan with a little butter and low heat. I give an occasional slow stir, and take 'em when they're ready.

                                    1. Hi!

                                      I understand completely!

                                      I make three eggs in a nonstick skillet with about 1/2 tablespoon butter over very very low heat and stir gently with a rubber spatula until they're still somewhat moist in spots and then remove them from the heat and continue gently stirring for about 30 seconds more until everything looks dry enough to be done, but not dry, if you know what I mean!

                                      Good luck!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MEH

                                        Mary, that's exactly how I do it - good non-stick pan, butter, and a silicon spatula. As long as the pan heat stays constant, they are perfect!!

                                      2. Cooking the eggs over med-low heat allows you to be a lot more precise in getting them exactly the way you want them. If you cook them over high heat, things can go bad *fast*.

                                        Beyond that: practice makes perfect, in my opinion. Take some time and a couple cartons of eggs and stand in the kitchen till you get them the way you like them, and then repeat that in the future. It's the best way to learn how to fry eggs, too.

                                        1. Thank you everyone for your tips, suggestions and encouragement! I guess I'll just have to have scrambled eggs for breakfast again and again and again until I get it right.

                                          1. I watched Sara Moulton make scramble eggs years ago.
                                            She whisked the eggs until the color was even and the consistency was smooth and poured like a liquid. She said that the whisking, the nonstick pan, and the low heat mattered more than what you add to the eggs. Whether you use water or dairy, seasonings, butter or oil does not really matter so much and is a preference. She also encouraged using the freshest eggs possible for scrambling, but older eggs for boiling.

                                            1. Honestly, these are eggs we are talking about.

                                              Even the worst of the worst scrambled eggs taste good to me.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I think the key is med-low heat and PUSH the eggs into the center of the pan instead of stirring them.

                                              2. Wow, thanks for everyone's input -- who knew scrambled eggs could inspire such debate? I clearly asked a worthy question, but I think I have some good ideas for the next time.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ksherk

                                                  I struggled with this same question for years. About a year ago I came across Alton Brown's method (see foodnetwork) for scrambled eggs and it works! Perfect eggs that please everyone!

                                                  Good luck!

                                                2. My old stove is an electric cooktop, which takes a while to preheat my nonstick pan well. I set it at med-high for several minustes first, add some fat and 2 whisked eggs, then turn the heat off and stir gently until there's little "wet-look" left. Plate right away and they finish on their own by the time the toast is buttered.

                                                  1. If you like creamy (not runny) eggs, go for the double boiler method. They come out fluffy and supercreamy, and they're hard to mess up if you do them over low enough heat!

                                                    1. Me:
                                                      medium low heat
                                                      1 teaspoon +water per two eggs
                                                      salt and pepper
                                                      which well
                                                      non skillet sprayed lightly with non stick a 1 teaspoon butter
                                                      Put in pan and wat a minute, then wick again well
                                                      let sit another minute and wisk and then watch closely, well moist but not runny remove and serve. They will finish on the plate.

                                                      Water makes them fluffy, a little seasoning, cook medium to medium low and remove before done.

                                                      Sometime I like adding some garlic cheese at the end if you want more of a cheese creamier texture which is fine, but I prefer not too

                                                      1. This scrambled egg recipe is from "The Nero Wolfe Cookbook".

                                                        6 large eggs
                                                        1 cup light cream
                                                        1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                        2 grindings fresh black pepper
                                                        2 tablespoons butter
                                                        4 tablespoons clarified butter
                                                        few drops tarragon wine vinegar

                                                        In the bottom of a double boiler, heat water to a bare simmer. Use an asbestos pad if necessary. Beat the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper vigorously with a whisk. Melt the butter in the top of double boiler, add egg mixture. Cover and allow to cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Uncover, stir with wooden spoon until desired doneness / firmness is reached. The clarified butter should be cooked until dark brown in a heavy little pan. Add the tarragon vinegar to clarified butter and serve as sauce with eggs.

                                                        I've never added THAT much cream, but have tried this slow slow cooking method and it's lovely. Also, I can't recommend the "few drops of tarragon wine vinegar" enough--it was a revelation to me!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                          Great to come across words from Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe, personal favorites.

                                                        2. If creamy eggs are English perfect, and fluffy sheets are American, what would you call mine?

                                                          They are an old family recipe that is not fried or scrambled but a wonderful combination of both. Fry a couple of pieces of bacon, about one piece per two eggs, set aside, crumbled. In the bacon grease, crack your eggs as if frying. Cook eggs until whites are half-done, then break eggs up, toss the bacon back in, and stir until desired doneness. Yum!

                                                          I usually soft-boil my eggs, but I eat these eggs when I can afford the extra calories, and cholesterol.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: eratosthanes

                                                            On one of these scrambled threads, someone called these 'marbled'. It may not the common name, but I like it.

                                                            Or with the crumbled bacon, marbled eggs with ants? (by analogy to the Chinese 'ants climb a tree' dish).

                                                            1. re: eratosthanes

                                                              One cookbook writer, Nika Hazelton, pontificated that "marbled, streaky scrambled eggs are disgusting," at which point I decided this woman was not gonna be on my team. I love, I adore eggs done eggzactly that way, and always have. My daily eggs are broken omelets, because we need eggs fast and we like them that way, but I do so love the soft globs of white and yellow, and the big flakes of bacon on weekends.

                                                              1. re: eratosthanes

                                                                I'm not sure what I would call mine either. I make scrambled eggs in two ways. One, if I have creme fraiche is similar to the Gordon Ramsay way. The other is how they were made in my house growing up; I've never seen it elsewhere:

                                                                1/3 whole milk. Add 1 large tb of butter over low heat. Melt. When melted, stir so that the milk and butter are combined. Add 1 egg, very lightly beaten, or else break in the pan in the pan. Stir constantly and gently on very low heat so milk is at a very gentle simmer. Initially, the egg will disappear into the milk, and then curds begin to form. When still very moist, lift out the egg: only milk or a watery whey should remain behind. Serve on toast, and grind salt and pepper over it. This makes a less creamy scrambled egg, but definitely something in the European rather than the American sphere. It might be the British way to do it before French inspiration took hold, as I wouldn't be surprised it's a relic of the Raj in Pakistan.

                                                              2. Scrambling starts at 1:10 into the video.


                                                                "If they look done in the pan, they'll be over cooked at the table"

                                                                1. Well, I'm going to go against the grain and say that I don't much care for scrambled eggs cooked the "right" way. Personally, I don't really care for light, fluffy, delicate eggs. On the rare occasion that I eat breakfast, I want something that sticks to my ribs and tastes GOOD.

                                                                  So here is my method, perfected over many early morning campfires after cold restless nights. Get a cast iron skillet. It must be cast iron, and I actually prefer a dirtyish one. If little bits of bacon stick to it, in this case it is good. Fry up some bacon in it. Three half rashers of the cheap fatty stuff for each egg seems right to me, more if the bacon is leaner. When done, remove the bacon from the pan but do not pour out a drop of that grease. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and let them cook for about 15 or 20 seconds before stirring pretty vigorously, with the intention of evenly incorporating the grease and the bacon fond into the eggs. You can go overboard with the stirring and get it too slimy tasting, but a fine curd is good because it gives more surface area to carry all of that grease with. Just before done, salt and pepper it and stir it in. The eggs will end up overcooked by normal standards, but you really won't notice because of the ridiculous amount of fat incorporated into them.

                                                                  As I said, they aren't made the right way but if you are cold and hungry (the only time I eat bacon and eggs), then these will taste a hundred times better than any light and fluffy scrambled eggs. No doubt because they have ten times the calories.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: slopfrog

                                                                    I've called this style 'marbled', because the whites and yolk are not thoroughly mixed.

                                                                    Some bread cubes or torn tortillas fried in the bacon fat is a good addition. Texas 'migas' takes that tortilla addition to greater heights. And at certain times of the year you'll see threads about Matzah brei - eggs scambled with matzo.

                                                                    1. re: slopfrog

                                                                      i love bacon and love bacon fat, but i don't like my eggs to taste like bacon.

                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                        "i love bacon and love bacon fat, but i don't like my eggs to taste like bacon." You may be in the minority here. Don't feel bad, please - it's just that many of us can't think of anything we don't like tasting like bacon. Tuna sandwiches, mashed potatoes, pea soup … tastes like bacon? Yummy!

                                                                        However, I'm inclined to agree with MazDee that BUTTER is the best flavor for scrambled eggs, though I'd put bacon as a close second. And as for the classic soft scramble, I honestly find that unctuous gooeyness to be just a bit sickening. Perhaps I'm simply becoming used to my rubbery quick-cooked daily eggs, but I find their solidity to be satisfying.

                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                          i don't feel bad at all, lol. i am quite happy to have alternating bites of scrambled eggs that taste like butter, and then bacon that tastes like bacon.

                                                                      2. re: slopfrog

                                                                        I'm surprised I haven't put in my 2 pesos on this subject before, since I love eggs so much. I think my favorite scrambled eggs were the fluffy kind, cooked with so much butter it's about all I could taste, at a resto in San Francisco a long time ago. Today, I do my eggs differently. I love to cook them in a non-stick pan with a little butter, and cook until the whites are mostly done on low heat. I add sea salt and fresh ground pepper and give them one turn with the spatula to cook anything slimy for a moment, then I scrape them onto a piece of toast. The yolks are broken at this time, so what I get is a river of egg yolk mixed with gently cooked egg white. So yummy I could eat them every day.

                                                                      3. Here's a detailed look at soft boiled eggs, at sous vide temperatures. It gives an idea of how different proteins in the egg cook at different temperatures.


                                                                        and from the same source, 'espresso' scrambled eggs

                                                                        1. When I was a kid, my dad used to cook eggs for me with the steamer wand of his espresso machine. I remember them being incredibly fluffy and not at all runny. They were amazing and fast! Plus, they were a true one-dish meal, a coffee mug though!

                                                                          1. I don't particularly care for the "slow cooked fluffy uniformly-colored etc etc" / "classic" (French or not) type of scrambled eggs, though I will eat them and enjoy it when I do.

                                                                            No, when I scramble my eggs I do something like what slopfrog says he does (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5799...) but I use a clean pan, preferably NOT cast iron, and/or NOT non-stick. Medium-high heat, GENEROUS good veggie or olive oil (I have used bacon fat before but usually do not). Break the eggs (2-3 at a time) directly into the hot pan w/ hot oil. [No salt, pepper, or seasoning. Nada.] They will sizzle, the egg whites begin to crisp at the edges. Using a spatula (with maximum end-edge contact with the pan surface) the egg yolks are rapidly broken and the eggs agitated - and scrambled, yes! - around the pan, till the (now) semi-combined eggs are HALF-cooked, still substantially wet/runny, and the flame is shut off (if gas) or the pan removed (if electric). The eggs are banged around, scraping the crispy bits off, in the beginning-to-cool pan (during which the eggs continue to cook more) then transferred to a plate or bowl. The whole process takes a minute or so. Devour. Yum.