RECIPE

Want creamier scrambled eggs? These are the best dairy products to add for texture and flavor

From crème fraîche to a teaspoon of mayonnaise, Salon Food tests out the most popular options

By Ashlie D. Stevens
Published August 7, 2021 5:30PM (EDT)
Various fresh dairy products, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and butter on a light stone countertop (Getty Images/Elena Hramowa)
Various fresh dairy products, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and butter on a light stone countertop (Getty Images/Elena Hramowa)

I was in graduate school when I decided to master scrambled eggs. Like many students, I didn't have a ton of disposable income. But I loved good food, and I took this quote by James Beard to heart: "It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available and to waste nothing."

Eggs are cheap, but good eggs done right are almost heavenly. 

Some of this is, of course, dependent on technique. To this day, I still have "weekday scrambled eggs" and "weekend scrambled eggs" coming out of my kitchen. 

Especially when I was commuting to work, weekday scrambled eggs were a matter of sustenance, cooked hot and quick and rendered slightly rubbery, but good enough to slap on a piece of toast as I was heading out the door (five minutes late with wet hair that I prayed would dry if I drove with the windows down). Weekend scrambled eggs were — and remain — a whole different production. 

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This is a low and slow process that involves a little more butter and time than weekday eggs. Some cooks recommend a 20 to 30 minute process; others say that 10 minutes is sufficient. I just stand and stir gently until soft, velvety curds form. This simple alteration in heat and time results in a radically different end product. 

Adding various add-ins to my scrambled eggs resulted in pretty different results, too. There was something luxurious about splurging on the best dairy products I could afford. For months, my shopping basket included rice, beans, chives, a dozen eggs and a precious bottle or tub of organic cream, whole milk, crème fraîche and sour cream.

I learned a lot. The steam from a splash of water, for instance, gives you springier eggs if that's your thing. Some chefs, notably Anthony Bourdain, eschewed adding dairy products because, as he told "Tech Insider" in 2017, "You're not making a quiche here — you're making scrambled eggs." Bourdain preferred more texture to his final product. 

Through that process, I learned that I'm a sucker for a creamy soft scramble. If that's something you're looking for, too, here's the lowdown on what add-ins make for a better breakfast. 

Crème fraîche

Crème fraîche is a soured cream product with up to 45% butterfat. It's thicker than typical supermarket sour cream — which contains about 12% butterfat — and richer in flavor. The higher fat content makes it good for cooking because it's less prone to curdling, which is why it's a better add-in than sour cream. 

Unlike milk or cream, I wouldn't recommend whipping the crème fraîche into the raw eggs before cooking. Instead, add a dollop to the pan just as the scrambled eggs begin to set up. Pull the mixture off direct heat to swirl the crème fraîche throughout the eggs before returning it to the heat to finish cooking. 

It gives the eggs a subtle, tangy flavor and a really velvety texture. It's one of my favorite additions by far.

Cream, half-and-half and milk

I follow America Test Kitchen's lead here. They recommend half-and-half as the ideal dairy product for producing puffy, stable curds. A combination of milk and heavy cream is a good substitute, as well, while using only milk tends to produce watery scrambled eggs that are prone to "weeping" excess liquid.

Mayonnaise or an extra egg yolk

At the most basic level, fat helps create creaminess, and an egg's fat is in its yolk. A simple way to achieve creamier scrambled eggs is to simply add an extra yolk to the mix. Another way to achieve this is by taking a page out of "Good Eats" host Alton Brown's book: Add a teaspoonful of mayonnaise to your scrambled eggs. 

Mayonnaise is a mixture of egg yolks and oil — a one-two punch of fat — and it really does help create creamier scrambled eggs. 

Cream cheese 

The addition of cream cheese is more of a flavor enhancement than the aforementioned dairy products, but thanks to its at-least 33% butterfat, it will add a nice boost of creaminess to your scrambled eggs. Fold it into your eggs using the same technique as the crème fraîche. Only 1 or 2 teaspoons go a long way. 

 

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Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's deputy food editor.

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Breakfast Cream Cheese Crème Fraîche Dairy Eggs Food Half-and-half Mayonnaise Milk Recipe Scrambled Eggs Vegetarian