You Should Never Use Salt When Making Poached Eggs. Here's Why.

In many recipes, salting the water is key. Neglecting to salt your pot of water for pasta, rice, broth, or vegetables can lead to some depressingly bland concoctions (via Food & Wine). Eggs should be no different, right? But eggs are complex, and break a lot of rules. 

Like when it comes to poaching — slipping the fresh eggs into a pan of bubbling water. While salt is essential in most pots of boiling water, you want to forgo salting your water when it comes to poaching eggs. Salted water could jeopardize your chances of ending up with the perfect, delicate, poached egg: the one with the velvety yolk that you can slip over your avocado toast, or use to construct your eggs Benedict (via Spoon University).

Salt can cause the egg white to break apart while cooking (via BBC). And since the art of poached eggs is tricky enough, we don't want to take any chances of ruining our results.

Preserving your egg whites

Let's be clear; a lot of recipes will encourage you to salt your water before poaching your eggs. Technically, the addition of salt will increase the water's density, which allows the eggs to float toward the top of the surface as they cook (via NPR). It's not exactly a death sentence for your poached-egg experiment. 

But interestingly enough, when the staff over at The Kitchn experimented with five different methods of poaching eggs, two methods clearly outperformed the rest. Can you guess which ingredient didn't appear in those two winning techniques? When The Kitchn poached eggs without salt, they emerged from the simmering water unscathed — neat, creamy, and tender. The recipes that used salt (and sometimes vinegar) produced eggs that were visibly more agitated and fragmented. And, for what it's worth, the saltless eggs are a lot prettier.

This doesn't mean you must say goodbye to salt forever. Simply season your poached eggs once they're cooked. After all, they're usually not the most flavorful part of the dish. But they're the perfectly soft, subtle complement to your ramen, your rice bowl, or your buttered toast (via Bon Appétit). Adventurous cooks have used them as a garnish for salty, parmesan-packed carbonara, and cooks in North Africa and the Middle East have spent generations poaching eggs in spicy tomato sauce to craft a flavorful shakshuka. Poached eggs are wonderfully versatile. When you cook them right, we promise, you'll be proud.