Scrambled eggs are — for all intents and purposes — perhaps the simplest, most immediately accessible preparation for a slapdash weekday morning. In addition to typically taking no more than five to 10 minutes to prepare, they don't call for much more than butter, oil and some simple seasonings.
Scrambled eggs are a generally healthful, protein-forward-forward way to go about starting your day. While there is some excitement or fanfare associated with poached eggs or an omelet, scrambled eggs for breakfast can sometimes feel uninspiring. They can be flat, overcooked and a little pedestrian in comparison.
Over the years, there have been scores of articles that promise industry secrets and amazing tips to ensure the creamiest, softest, most amazing scrambled eggs ever, demonstrating that there is clearly a chasm between "good scrambled eggs" and "the scrambled eggs that I'm capable of making." But that doesn't have to be the case any longer.
Here are 10 rules of thumb to close the gap and start enjoying the breakfast you deserve:
Of course, it's important to start with a good quality egg (which can obviously get rather expensiveat the moment). Generally, opt for large eggs, organic if possible, or perhaps even farm-fresh. Pasture-raised is good, too. Personally, the more orange the yolk, the better.
Use the right tool
Be mindful of using the proper tools in both pan and cooking utensil. I like a rubber spatula (some swear by a whisk or wooden spoon). I'm not super picky about the pan itself for scrambled, but other egg preparations do require a particular pan.
Some chefs advocate for room temperature eggs, while some chefs swear by feverish, intense whipping in order to introduce volume prior to cooking. Some are adherents of purism (nothing but salt and pepper) while others love butter, milk, water and the like. What is non-negotiable, however, is whisking the eggs well prior to adding them to the pan. You want the yolks and whites to essentially become one and you want the eggs to become a bit frothy. There are some methods which do not whisk or manipulate the eggs prior to adding them to the pan, but that's a bit of a challenging technique.
Choosing a fat
Some swear by oil, but I always use unsalted butter for scrambled eggs. Wait for it to melt and foam before adding eggs.
Many enjoy a "soft scramble," which eludes that oft-unappealing brown egg issue (I remember Gail Simmons once saying or writing that brown, overcooked eggs is one of her all-time least favorite flavors and consistencies). Keep an eye on your eggs and temperature to ensure they are scrambled to your liking.
While some incorporate items such as creme fraiche, herbs, mustards or higher end, fancy-schmancy ingredients like truffles or caviar (I sometimes like a touch of heavy cream), this can sometimes gild the lily. There's a simplicity inherent in scrambled eggs that sometimes can get bogged down by seemingly unending toppings, inclusions, or additions.
The cooking itself
As far as cooking the eggs themselves, keep the heat low and using a circular, fluid gesture with your wrist, fold the egg over itself, making sure you're scraping the sides, incorporating any errant cooked eggs clinging to the sides or walls of the pan. Don't put the heat too high, don't dry out the eggs and don't over season! A slow scramble is almost always preferred.
There's also seemingly silly additions — like mayonnaise or even peanut butter — or techniques like passing the eggs through a fine mesh strainer prior to cooking, which I cannot speak to (and don't think would do much other than causing frustration and dirtying a fine mesh strainer). I've also read about chefs using immersion blenders for perfect scrambled eggs, but I think that's a bit much.
That said, also swear by adding dashi or soy sauce, which then takes you off the hook seasoning-wise, since you won't need to salt the eggs at all because the sodium from the soy will come through. You also can never go wrong with cheese, mushrooms (clearly, eggs plus umami is a good combination), or chives, but keep in mind that this is scrambled eggs, not an omelet. The focus should be on the eggs.
Many like to turn the heat off just before the eggs are fully cooked and let the residual heat finish the cook, which can result in creamier, softer eggs that don't run the risk of overcooking.
How professional chefs make scrambled eggs
Some "fussier" practices involve alternating between stirring off-heat and on-heat in 30-second intervals a la Gordon Ramsey, or Martha Stewart's method of using clarified butter, which is a great fat to use for scrambled eggs. Anthony Bourdain was a fan of a "figure eight stir" when making scrambled eggs, which is really helpful in terms of giving a visual of precisely how to stir or manipulate the eggs while they cook.
"The best way to make scrambled eggs is to make them very soft, so low flame and lots of butter, finished with a sea salt," professionally trained chef Joseph Cuccia, formerly of 17 Summer Restaurant in Lodi, NJ, told Salon Food. Cuccia also added "but for a non professional approach, I can never say no to a frittata."
Generally, you want to keep your eggs soft, gentle and succulent, with a tender curd. There are myriad ways in which to achieve this. Try out different methods and see what fits best for your family, your tastes and proclivities. And if scrambled isn't your favorite ... maybe take Cuccia's advice and explore the realm of frittatas?
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By Michael La Corte
Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.