The hangover egg and cheese sandwich. Sick day scrambled eggs. A poached egg with a yolk as bright as a mimosa. Eggs are the ultimate culinary shapeshifter, and they show up in nearly every cuisine. Yet as anyone who’s struggled to flip an omelet can attest, cooking eggs is harder than it looks.
Which is why it’s not surprising that there are so many gimmicky egg cooking gadgets out there, like a $20 hard-boiled egg contraption or a special egg poaching pan. But if you want to expand your egg repertoire or really nail the execution of a classic dish, go with the essential tools the pros use — the best of which are the most basic.
You need a quality pot or pan.
You can use a stock pot for perfectly boiled eggs. Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery, co-chefs and co-owners of Konbi in Los Angeles, boil dozens of eggs daily for Konbi’s signature egg salad sandwich using an 8-quart stock pot by Made In.
For poaching, Nick Korbee, chef at Egg Shop in New York, likes “a medium saucepan at least four inches deep. I cook at home with restaurant quality stainless steel, and my brand of choice for sauce and stock pots is Sitram.” He poaches eggs in 200 degree water and isn’t afraid to get burned when dropping the eggs in: “Get your fingertips in there, or pretty close… it only hurts for a minute!” (Ed. note: We do not endorse putting yourself or your limbs in harm’s way for food.)
For other types of eggs, nonstick is the way to go. A French omelet expert, Ludo Lefebvre of Petit Trois in Los Angeles relies on a nonstick pan, as does Korbee of Egg Shop. “Non-stick pans, or extremely well cared for cast iron pans, are best for fried eggs and scrambled,” he says. “When it comes to nonstick brands, I’m into Greenpan nontoxic nonstick pans, and the cast iron of choice is an 8-inch pre-1950 Griswold.”
(Korbee and Lefebvre also both recommend watching the heat. “It’s important to be gentle with your eggs — let them cook slowly and don’t be too aggressive with your heat,” says Lefebvre. And don’t leave them on too long, says Korbee: “When scrambling or making sunny-ups, the residual heat from the pan is usually enough to finish the cooking process — so be sure to let your eggs finish off the fire.”)
… or a whole grill.
Frankel’s Delicatessen in Brooklyn puts its own spin on the bodega classic, the bacon-egg-and-cheese, with pastrami or bacon. Partner and executive chef Ashley Berman cooks the eggs omelet-style on a flat top grill in Cabot clarified butter, adding salt, pepper, and cheese as the eggs cook. At Mi Madre’s Restaurant, a breakfast taco spot in Austin that goes through over 150,000 eggs a year, manager Christina Torres says the team also uses a flat top grill (also known as a plancha) to scramble eggs for the tacos. “Our most popular egg taco is the number zero taco with Egg, Bacon, Potato and Cheese,” she says.
A timer for precision
Timing, for both poached and boiled eggs, is everything. The Konbi team urge home cooks to “always, always use a timer. They are very helpful for almost all egg-related tasks. When boiling, we bring the water up to a boil, then drop eggs in and start the timer.” They cook soft-boiled eggs for eight minutes and hard-boiled eggs for 14 using this chef favorite, the Taylor Splash ‘n’ Drop timer... or frequently just an iPhone timer.
A blender for fluffiness
Making an omelet or scrambled? Before you fire up the pan or grill, give the eggs a fluff: The lightest ones at restaurants get their lift from a blender of some kind (or an espresso machine steam wand, if you do it Buvette-style). Berman of Frankel’s Deli mixes “[eggs] with a Waring immersion blender, to whip in some air to get a fluffier texture.”
A really good spatula
Once you’re done cooking, to get the eggs from pan to plate, Korbee uses a silicon spatula for a smooth transfer, “especially when using a nonstick pan. No surface scratching, please!” For poached eggs, he uses “a medium-sized slotted spoon with rounded holes or slots.”
Torres prefers to use metal spatulas at Mi Madre, while Berman recommends a 6-inch offset stainless spatula for flipping and folding the eggs for sandwiches. She also adds the cheese during this process. At Konbi, Akuto and Montgomery also use offset spatulas for the other egg sandwich on the menu, which features an omelet.
Bonus: an ice cream scoop for artfully arranged sandwiches
Konbi’s signature sandwich requires a 4-ounce ice cream scooper for loading up the egg salad. Try it for any salad fillings and your sandwich will be more evenly filled, and yes, more photogenic.
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