Wherever in the world you take cooking inspiration from, it is highly likely you will be faced with having to produce a poached egg at some point.
No New York City-style eggs Benedict, steaming bowl of Japanese ramen or British buck rarebit is complete without them.
Poaching transforms eggs from a humble breakfast food into an impressive element that can be enjoyed with any meal.
Few things on a plate are as gratifying as piercing a silky white and letting the gloriously oozy, golden yolk run out.
Poached eggs look fantastic crowing a dish, are healthy thanks to the protein and micronutrients they contain and require no or little added fat in cooking. They are not, however, always easy to get right.
Like every complex job in the kitchen, tools are available to help create the perfect poached egg in a flash. Pans with removable poaching cups are great if you have the cupboard space, while silicone pods that float, boat-like, in a pan of boiling water are excellent for storing in the tiniest of drawers.
Either way, you will soon be eager to add restaurant-quality poached eggs to every meal.
The best egg poachers for 2021 are:
Best overall – Oxo good grips egg poachers: £11.99, Johnlewis.com
Best for a good shape – Chef’n Swirl’n perfect egg poacher: £10.94, Onbuy.com
Best investment poacher – Le Creuset stainless steel saute and poaching pan: £135, Lecreuset.co.uk
Best for fluffy eggs – Chef’n Yolkster egg poacher: £11.95, Amazon.co.uk
Best multi-use pan – Lakeland induction-safe 20cm egg poaching pan: £29.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Best for even heat distribution – ProCook gourmet non-stick egg poacher: £39, Procook.co.uk
Best budget buy – Addis microwavable egg poacher: £1.99, Bmstores.co.uk
Best for the microwave – Poachpod silicone egg poaching pods: £5.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Oxo good grips egg poachers
These ingenious little silicone cages create perfectly cooked and shaped poached eggs without any hassle or mess. Add the poacher to a pan of boiling water – a marker on the inside takes the guesswork out of how much water is needed – and break an egg into the hole in the top half of the hourglass, which allows the egg to glide in without breaking the yolk. The holes in the bottom half of the hourglass mean water flows around the egg efficiently for an even cook, and the silicone stays cool for safe handling when it is time to remove from the scorching water. They are also incredibly easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and collapse inside themselves and stack for compact storage.
Buy now £11.99, Johnlewis.com
Chef’n Swirl’n perfect egg poacher
Best: For a good shape
This gadget cooks the eggs inside what could be described as a mini pan with a silicone jacket. Sit it in a pan of boiling water and when the water begins to swirl in the pod, break the egg inside to cook. After a few minutes, depending on how runny a yolk you like, the poacher can be lifted out of the pan, the water drained away and the egg removed. We found the egg came out easily and in a good shape. Washing up is easy because the poacher can be taken apart and it is dishwasher safe.
Buy now £10.94, Onbuy.com
Le Creuset stainless steel saute and poaching pan
Best: Investment poacher
This is a fine piece of kitchen kit, with the degree of quality one would expect from Le Creuset. The three-ply stainless steel pan features a poaching insert with four craters into which eggs are cracked once the water below is boiling. Eggs cooked quickly and evenly in a few minutes and came out of the moulds with ease. The saute pan that holds the poaching insert doubles up as a pan for cooking anything you wish, and the use of the moulds is not limited to poaching eggs – they can cook anything small enough to be contained within them. This pan is an investment that will last a lifetime, just like the warranty.
Buy now £135.00, Lecreuset.co.uk
Chef’n Yolkster egg poacher
Best: For fluffy eggs
A funny-looking thing to match the punny name, but it gets serious when it comes to poaching eggs perfectly. This device sits in a pan of boiling water and features a sieve-like basket in which to break the egg. The egg remains submerged throughout cooking, which helps to keep the white fluffy and creates a good shape. We like the hook that clips onto the side of the pan for drainage because it removes all the excess water to prevent soggy bread or a watery plate. We also found it easy to clean, and it is dishwasher safe.
Buy now £11.95, Amazon.co.uk
Lakeland induction-safe 20cm egg poaching pan
Best: Multi-use pan
Here we have a serious contender to rival the Le Creuset pan. The poaching insert holds four eggs and we found that they slipped out easily from the non-stick cups when cooked to avoid any breakages. Like the pan from the French cookware brand, Lakeland’s offering can also be used as a saute pan with the poaching attachment removed. It is heat resistant to 180C, so a frittata can be started on the hob and finished in the oven, and it is suitable for use on induction hobs.
Buy now £29.99, Lakeland
ProCook gourmet non-stick egg poacher
Best: For even heat distribution
ProCook’s poacher is another pan that cooks four eggs using an insert. This one is made from coated aluminium, which makes it light and brilliant for distributing heat evenly, and it can be used in the oven up to an incredible 260C. Like the other poacher pans in this round-up, it can be used as a saute pan with the insert removed. The pan is dishwasher safe and comes with a 10-year guarantee.
Buy now £39.00, Procook.co.uk
Addis microwavable egg poacher
Best: Budget buy
For those mornings when breakfast is needed in a hurry, this poacher is the answer. Like most microwave cooking, it is rapid and this bit of kit helps take eggs from raw to deliciously poached in less than a couple of minutes. And because it is non-stick, the eggs slide out of the cavities easily to prevent any heartbreaking last-minute yolk breakages.
Buy now £1.99, Bmstores.co.uk
Poachpod silicone egg poaching pods
Best: For the microwave
These silicone boats are the no-frills solution to poaching eggs. They are super straightforward to use, simply add a touch of oil and break the egg inside before floating on top of boiling water in a pan. We found that eggs took a little longer to cook with the Poachpod, but they are safe for microwave use to speed things up a little. As well as poaching eggs, the pods can also be used for a multitude of other kitchen tasks, including baking and as jelly and rice moulds.
Buy now £5.99, Lakeland.co.uk
Egg poacher FAQs
What to look for in an egg poacher?
Ease of use
If you want something quick and fuss-free, go for microwave egg poachers where you simply break eggs into the cups with a dash of water before heating in the microwave. Poaching pans are also pretty simple and don’t require any vinegar in the pan, but there’s more clean-up involved. It’s also best to butter both types of poachers to help ease the eggs out.
Effectiveness of poaching
Poaching eggs without the help of a poacher requires a more refined technique and you’re more likely to waste an egg when attempting it.
When it comes to which kind of poacher to buy, it’s down to personal preference and how you like your eggs, but pans can be harder to regulate than silicone poachers, and have a reputation for creating a more rubbery texture.
Ease of cleaning
Most poachers are very easy to clean, particularly microwave cups that tend to be dishwasher safe, while poaching pans can be hand-washed the same as saute pans.
Compactness for storage
Microwave silicone cups can be easily folded up and tucked away in a drawer, while poaching pans are larger and will need their own space in the cupboard.
The verdict: Egg poachers
For making poached eggs that look like they have been cooked in the traditional way, but with a little help from a kitchen aid, the Oxo good grips poachers are ideal. They help to cook evenly and quickly, and the shape of the eggs is organic rather than moulded. The ease of cleaning and compact storage are also big pluses. The Le Creuset poaching pan would be the one to go for, if budget allows, for a multitasking pan that will endure year-upon-year of usage.
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