How-To / Recipe

How to Fry an Egg Perfectly

Learn how to fry an egg perfectly every time using any pan! Make the best crispy fried eggs or easy fried eggs made sunny-side-up, over-easy, over-medium, or over-hard.

How to Fry An Egg Recipe

One of the first things I learned as a child was how to fry eggs perfectly. There is nothing worse than an over-cooked egg, with an egg white that is so burnt that you think it beat the tan that you got this summer. Sunny-side-up eggs with a little salt and pepper are an easy staple for a quick breakfast.

It’s easy work when you get the hang of things! What do I find to be a perfectly fried egg? An egg, sunny-side up, cooked in butter or oil with no chewy whites or burnt edges.

Learning to fry eggs perfectly is essential, especially if you like to eat them regularly. They’re very simple to prepare. Just be sure to keep an eye on the egg when you’re frying it because it does cook rather quickly!

Fried Egg in Pan

What is the best way to fry eggs? What kind of oil should I use to fry an egg?

Depending on what you are going for at that moment, you always want to use some sort of fat– be it butter, oil, bacon grease, goose fat, chicken fat, or even duck fat (like in these potatoes).

Do keep in mind, however that using butter will result in a luscious, soft-edged and soft-bottomed egg. Fats such as olive oil–depending on temperature, pan, and how much is used– will result in a crispier edge on the egg.

How do I make crispy fried eggs?

Crispy fried eggs– the kind that are golden at the bottom and crispy-edged are perfect over dishes like fried rice. These kinds of eggs are a staple in a lot of Asian cuisines.

Truth be told, I often crave this kind of fried egg with fresh Indian flatbreads, such as parathas. The ultimate method for making this kind of egg is using enough oil- you want enough in your pan for it to be almost on the verge of a shallow fry. Enough fat in the pan means you’ll be able to spoon the hot fat onto the egg to achieve the ultimate crispy fried egg.

Feel free to experiment with the type of fat you use.

Growing up, my grandmother often used ghee or even a combination of oil and ghee. And this is the kind of egg that I often crave. Ghee literally makes for the most luscious and indulgent fried eggs.

What do I need for fried eggs?

Ingredients for Fried Eggs And The Right Pan:

  • Eggs – We are talking about chicken eggs here, but this would work for duck, or even quail eggs.
  • Butter – Unsalted, preferably. You can also opt for oil, bacon grease, goose fat, chicken fat, or even duck fat.
  • Skillet – Preferably non-stick, but cast-iron or carbon steel will work.
Frying an Egg in Oil in a Cast Iron Skillet

How long do you fry an egg for?

Generally, you fry an egg for about 3 minutes, or until the white is set. Depending on how you like your eggs, you may want to cook it longer if you prefer not to have a sunny-side up egg.

Do you flip a fried egg? What does it mean when an egg is over-easy, over-medium, or over-hard?

You only flip a fried egg when you cook an egg to be over-easy, over-medium, or over-hard.

Over-easy means that you are still preserving the integrity of the runny yolk inside the egg without showing its vivid yellow yolk like a sunny-side-up egg would.

Over-medium means the egg is fried until the egg white is completely set and some of the egg yolk is set as well– it is not entirely runny.

Over-hard means the egg is fried until the egg white and yolk are completely set and not runny.

Breakfast of Sunny-Side-Up Egg with Pepper

What is the right pan for frying eggs?

For ease and comfort when it comes to making eggs, the best pan for this job is a non-stick skillet. Non-stick skillets allow you to use a smaller amount of fat compared to a cast-iron or a carbon steel pan (more on those in a moment). Something between 8-in / 20 cm and 10-in / 25.5 cm works perfectly.

Avoid using stainless steel pans when frying eggs– eggs tend to stick to them, and they can be more headache than necessary (though if you must, you may need to shallow-fry your egg using the same method to fry eggs in a cast-iron skillet).

Easiest way to make fried eggs

What kind of non-stick skillet do I need to fry an egg?

The non-stick you use to fry eggs is your choice; go for something affordable and well-made. Non-stick skillets tend to have short lives, no matter how nicely we treat them, so go for something you’re comfortable buying if you don’t have one already. You do not want a skillet that is super-inexpensive– you want a pan that you feel comfortable using for all your other cooking as well.

I’m currently enjoying my Sardel non-stick skillet; it’s durable, dishwasher safe, and it gets the job done. However, I don’t suggest shelling out $90 on a non-stick skillet, especially for this task. I have used this pan by Farberware that I really enjoy. It makes amazing eggs, including omelets. I’ve also used this Rachael Ray one, and that is great too. The size of the pan is up to you.

Dipping into a runny yolk fried egg

What should I do if I prefer to use cast iron or carbon steel to fry eggs?

If you prefer not to use anything but cast-iron or carbon steel to fry your eggs, make sure your pan is well-seasoned and expect to use more fat than you would when using a non-stick skillet (about 1/8-inch of oil). It’s just the name of the game, and it’s worth it.

When I want a more crispy-edged egg, I use my Iwachu cast-iron skillet from Japan, though this pan is quite versatile and does allow me to achieve a soft-edged egg as well. I’ve also used my ever 100-year-old cast iron skillet that is well-seasoned, but I always gravitate back to my Japanese cast-iron. It’s just perfect.

Using a non-stick skillet? Stick to butter or oil.

  1. To fry an egg in butter or oil in a non-stick skillet, heat the skillet over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add in the butter. Quickly crack an egg into a small bowl and make sure the egg is fine and doesn’t have any any egg shell in it. 
  2. After that, gently slide the egg out of the bowl into the skillet, then cover the pan with a lid and cook until the egg white is solid. 
  3. Continue cooking the egg until it is sunny side up, then remove it from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you used salted butter, keep in mind that you will need less salt.
Lifting a fried egg in cast-iron skillet

Oil is Best for Frying an Egg in a Cast-Iron Skillet 

  1. On medium-low heat, heat around 1/8-inch of oil in the cast-iron skillet for about 1 to 2 minutes, until hot and shimmering. In the meantime, crack an egg into a small bowl.
  2. Once the oil is hot, gently slide the egg into the hot oil. Let the egg sit for a few seconds. Tilt the skillet very slightly to one side and repeatedly spoon the hot oil over the egg. Ensuring that the whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny.
  3. For shallow-frying in a cast-iron pan, it is easy to get an over-easy, over-medium, and over-hard egg without flipping the egg. Continuously spoon the hot oil onto the egg until the desired doneness has been met. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste, and that’s all she wrote!
Sunny-side up runny yolk egg with herb toast

How to fry eggs over easy

To fry an egg over-easy, you are cooking the egg until the white is set and the yolk is white on top and is still runny. So, while cooking the egg, once the white and the yolk have set, flip the egg over and cook for an additional 20 seconds. After that, remove and serve as per your liking.

Eggs Over-Medium

To make an egg over-medium, let the egg cook for about 35 seconds after flipping. Make sure the egg white is set and the center is slightly firm and a little bit runny. 

Eggs Over-Hard

To fry an egg over-hard, cook the egg for an additional 1-2 minutes after flipping it. Cook until the egg white is puffy and the yolk is firm and no longer soft and runny. 

Sunny-side-up fried egg with toast

More Cooking and Baking How-Tos

Yield: Makes 1 Egg

How to Fry an Egg

How to Fry An Egg Recipe

I have used both of the following egg frying methods for years and they always results in a perfectly cooked egg with no burns, no chewy whites, and no burned edges! This is truly the perfect way to fry an egg!

To properly fry an egg, you want the freshest and best eggs that you can afford, but honestly– anything that falls within the sell-by date will work.

The crispness, or lack thereof, of the bottom and edges of the fried egg all comes down to the fat and the heat of the pan. For a softer-edged egg, use butter (or a healthy butter alternative) and a non-stick skillet. For a crisper-edge use something like olive oil or sunflower oil or a combination of oil and ghee (clarified butter). Below are two different methods for frying eggs, as frying an egg with butter or oil can have different results.

When it comes to the salt, I like to either use fine-grain sea salt, Pakistani pink salt (also marketed as "Himalayan"), or something nice and crunchy like Maldon sea salt. Use whatever you’d like to season your eggs– there’s no right or wrong here.

Do note: you will need more butter or oil for frying your egg if using cast-iron.

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 3 minutes
Additional Time 1 minute
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter (or another fat of your choice)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

How to Fry an Egg in Butter or Oil in A Non-Stick Skillet:

  1. Crack an egg into a small bowl, make sure there aren’t any shells in it.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Once it’s hot, add the butter to the pan.
  3. Gently place the egg in the skillet, then cover the pan and cook until the egg white is solid.
  4. Keep cooking the egg until it is sunny-side up, then remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Just keep in mind that if you are using salted butter, you might not need much salt.

How to Fry an Egg in Oil in a Cast-Iron Skillet:

  1. Meanwhile, crack an egg into a small bowl, ensuring there is not any shell in it.

    Crack egg into a small bowl
  2. Over medium-low heat, heat about 1/8-inch of oil in the skillet for about 1-2 minutes, until hot and shimmering.

    Add oil to pan
  3. Once the oil is hot, gently place the egg in the skillet. Let it sit for a few seconds. Tilt the skillet very slightly to one side and repeatedly spoon the hot oil over the egg. Ensuring that the white is cooked and slightly puffed, and the yolk is still runny.

    Frying an Egg in Cast Iron Skillet
  4. For shallow-frying, especially in cast-iron, it is easy to achieve an over-easy, over-medium, and over-hard egg without flipping the egg over; continuously spoon the hot oil over the egg until the desired doneness has been met.
  5. Serve with a sprinkling of salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste.

Notes

Other Ways to Fry Eggs:

  • How to Fry an Egg Over-Easy: To fry an egg over-easy, carefully flip the egg over and cook for about 20 seconds, then remove and serve. You are cooking the egg until the white is set and the yolk is white on top and is still runny.
  • To Fry an Egg Over-Medium: To fry an egg over-medium, allow the egg to cook for about 35 seconds after flipping the egg, ensuring the white is set and the center is slightly firm and a little bit runny.
  • To Fry an Egg Over-Hard: To fry an egg over-hard, allow the egg to cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the egg white is puffy and the yolk is firm and no longer soft and runny.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1 Egg

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 217mgSodium: 162mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Update (April 15, 2020): This post was updated from the archives with more images and information.

48 Comments

  • Raj
    January 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Lol, yknow, I always thought fried eggs were the easiest things in the word-until I got married last month. My husband likes his over hard-lets just say we had a lot of eggs that looked like they’d been through hell fire before I got it right!
    also, I LOVE the skillet you’ve used. Could you send me a link for where i could find it plz?

    Reply
  • kamran
    January 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Hey Rajika- I honestly don’t remember where that skillet came from… I’d have to do some searching online and get back to you on that… :)

    Reply
  • jenn (Bread + Butter)
    January 11, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    A fried egg sandwich seems good right about now. Yum! I cook my eggs in a similar way, too.

    Reply
  • Paula
    January 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Love this post! Cooking eggs always seems easy but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Maybe you could share your tips on perfect scrambled eggs. ;)

    Reply
  • Eleanor Hoh(wokstar)
    January 12, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Hilarious. I have to say I like my eggs with crispy edges, not burnt or deep fried but crispy. Glad you mentioned cast iron to fry eggs, they just slide right out. My hubz didn’t use to like it this way but when I presented it with a drop of Lingham’s hot sauce, he devoured it with relish. We’re just strange like that.

    Reply
  • Tokyo Terrace
    January 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Nice post! It is definitely important to know how to fry an egg. Seems simple but can be tricky. My husband is actually much better at frying eggs than I am. I have trouble when I go to flip them. Getting better with practice though! Thanks for the laughs :)

    Reply
  • my spatula
    January 12, 2010 at 2:11 am

    that is one perfect lookin’ egg. bravo!!

    Reply
  • diva
    January 12, 2010 at 7:41 am

    i flippin love this post.

    Reply
  • Tangled Noodle
    January 12, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Frying an egg isn’t as easy as boiling water! I remember when I was a child, fried eggs in our house were made with a rather large amount of oil in the skillet. To ‘cook’ it sunny side up, the oil was flicked over the top of the yolk. Talk about greasy! Now, I cook them only in butter but as long as I don’t let the butter start browning . . . Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • thebreadlist
    January 12, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Fun post. Nice egg.

    Reply
  • El
    January 12, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I’m telling you…English professor, writer or attorney. Another great description…utterly convincing.

    Reply
  • Hummingbird Appetite
    January 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Your fried egg looks beautiful!

    Reply
  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    January 13, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Great post… Makes me want to make a fried egg, just to do it right. And I don’t even like fried eggs… :)

    Reply
  • Tiffany
    January 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    My kitchen slowly became my domain, and it has taken a lot to let my husband even scramble some eggs in there. I cook on a stainless steel frying pan, and I don’t care who you are, the only thing that will make a perfect sunny side up egg is butter and low heat.

    Reply
  • Michelle (What's Cooking)
    January 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    This post makes me appreciate the fresh eggs that I can go get, right in my own backyard!

    Reply
  • Hélène
    January 14, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I cook my eggs the same way as you do. It’s so good. :)

    Reply
  • Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)
    January 14, 2010 at 3:53 am

    You have a real knack for writing, I must say! I fry my eggs in the same way :)

    Reply
  • wasabi prime
    January 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

    It’s so true, for something as simple as an egg, there’s a list of techniques and do’s/don’ts a mile long over the cooking of an egg. I feel the same about scrambled eggs, which are done poorly so many more times than correct — which can be sublime when cooked the right way.

    Reply
  • Lauren
    January 15, 2010 at 12:41 am

    I never really thought about there being a right or wrong way to make an egg – I just do it! These look perfect. So very yummy!

    Reply
  • Chez Us
    January 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Great fried egg & yes, it is hard to find a place that makes an good one – I am a picky egg eater. We did an entire series on eggs last year, from breakfast to dinner and the proper way to do all different kinds. Eggs are good!

    Reply
  • amy
    January 16, 2010 at 4:48 am

    i adore egggs! I am not all that picky even though I am really picky with how my eggs are done but yes, I would refuse to eat an egg that looked like it had gone through the fiery pits of hell! :P

    Reply
  • Ciaochowlinda
    January 16, 2010 at 9:51 am

    You really started my day off with a laugh. Fun post to read. Fried eggs are tricky to cook and I use a cast iron skillet too. But even with that, if you turn up the heat too much, it can turn the eggs to hellfire.

    Reply
  • Natasha
    January 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Great post!

    Reply
  • Barbara Kiebel
    January 24, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Great post…and guess it’s easy to forget how something so simple can get so ruined if a cook doesn’t pay attention to details.

    Next…we’re waiting for your ‘how to boil’ water experience…I know you’ll make it fun!

    Reply
  • Fuji Mama
    February 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Awesome post Kamran.

    Reply
  • Joy
    February 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Hey Kamran, I found your site through Divina’s and let me just say you are incredibly talented. It shocks me to know that you are so young yet your work is so sophisticated and well written. Great work, you are awesome :)

    Reply
  • Diwa
    March 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Honest to God, I’ve been looking (and wondering) how to fry the most perfect sunny side up eggs possible. I do believe this post saved my life. *grins*

    Two thumbs up.

    Reply
  • John
    January 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Great story! I’m very picky about my eggs too. One step you left out, however, when frying eggs: don’t add the egg(s) until the butter stops foaming. You want all the water to boil off before adding the egg.

    Reply
  • Jen Shaw
    April 29, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Great story! Thanks to you and the great instructions I can now make Milanese Asparagus!!!

    Reply
  • Eirik
    May 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    i use oil first to cook it in, and then melt a bit of butter on the side and slowly pour it over the egg when it starts getting finished. very good. best with olive oil if you’re putting it on white bread with ruccula, tomatoes and salt

    Reply
  • parrish
    February 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I am considered a gourmet cook, but cannot fry an egg. It either sticks to the pan or the whites on top don’t cook. Frustrating. Will try this tonight with patience and expectations – many thanks –

    Reply
  • Charnol
    February 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Medium heat with melted butter. Wait till butter is melted. This applies to both scrambled or fried eggs. I thought I was pretty good at doing eggs until I got married. The first time I did breakfast my wife informed me that her eggs had to be flipped once, do not break the yoke and no snot. It can be a challenge to get that right every time.

    Reply
  • Zooey Lalond
    February 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I think these direction are good; I am really going to consider them. I hope I can now fry an egg!

    Reply
  • Rebekah
    May 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Love the post. Agreed on the need for butter! I always add a tiny splash of water to the skillet before putting on the lid- if the skillet is hot enough, this creates steam that cooks the top of the egg, so I don’t need to flip it.

    You are, by the way, an excellent writer.

    Reply
  • Yearn
    June 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

    the first time i saw an egg cooked was when i was five years old. I opened the fridge door and two eggs flew out… :-) my ibu scooped them up into a pan and just like that – fried them, gave them to me for lunch. Soooo yummy…
    But is it impossible to cook them completely without flipping? And which is healthier? Butter or oil?

    Reply
  • Anthony
    September 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I like mine sunny side up (so I can dip my toast in the egg yolk) and a crusty brown fringe for crunch

    Reply
  • GloriaJo
    October 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Like Tangled Noodle mentioned, the way I was taught to fry an egg was with lots of oil which is definitely not the healthiest method. With your method, my fried eggs were done quickly and they turn out just how I like them using a simple frying pan! Thanks!

    Reply
  • MhaiS21
    January 7, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Laughed my ass off reading this phrase: “To properly fry an egg, you want the freshest eggs as possible. Not the eggs that have been in your refrigerator since last month (you know who you are).” — ooops! Guilty!

    Reply
  • Jono
    January 10, 2013 at 6:20 am

    I cook mine the same way. I can never decide between over easy and sunny side up, so I usually cook two, one sunny, one over easy but split the yolk after I flip it.
    Also, tastes amazing with the sprinkled salt and pepper, but with shredded cheese added. Only takes half a second to melt if you flip it over, makes a nice layer over the top depending on how much you like.

    Reply
  • Rebecca
    August 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Good post!! I Have always had a problem with fixing eggs. they were always burnt eggs with globes of white here and there or broken yolks. Gonna try your way, Love fried eggs over medium on a hamburger! YUM! Sounds like dinner tonight! My mom always had the same problem as me and I remember hearing my dad on many mornings ask my mom “are they calling for rain again today? I see the eggs have their rain jackets on” LOL :) I will share your post with her!

    Reply
  • Chuck
    September 22, 2013 at 9:07 am

    This recipe is for the purist. Very practical, indeed. There are more ways to fry an egg that are delicious. For example, in Spain they will use a liberal amount of olive oil heated before adding the egg to the skillet. While the egg is cooking you keep splashing some of the hot oil onto the egg with the spatula causing the white to become bubbly and crisp and cooking rhe top of the egg in the process. No need to flip it over. I guess you would cook it a little longer for medium or hard yolks. Then finish by sprinkling with salt and Pimentón de La Vera.

    Reply
  • Laura
    December 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    This post helped me make my first perfectly fried egg. Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
  • Dave
    May 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Never, ever use butter or oil in a non-stick pan. Prefer to brush a cast iron skillet with pre-melted butter or a very light oil immediately before dropping the eggs in. With practice you can learn to flip the eggs by “rolling” them at the side of the pan. This is how restaurants do it.

    Reply
  • Holly
    April 16, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    I just cooked the best fried eggs I have ever managed. Thank you for the tips!

    Reply
  • Caroline
    May 22, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Curious why you crack the egg into a bowl first instead of directly into the pan. Does that help to keep the shape under control?

    Reply
    • Kamran Siddiqi
      May 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Caroline, it does help with the shape. But most importantly, it helps insure that you’ve a good egg (no blood spots). Plus, if you accidentally get shell in the bowl you can take it out before cooking it beforehand. I hope that answers your question!

      Reply
  • Kyle
    July 11, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Cover the pan with a lid, especially with sunny side up. You won’t have to do as much spooning. The results are equally good.

    Reply
    • Kamran Siddiqi
      July 13, 2020 at 12:09 am

      Kyle- that does work, however that doesn’t ensure a perfectly sunny-side up egg. It steams the egg and the yolk turns white instead of remaining a beautiful deep yellow color.

      Reply

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