From America's Test Kitchen Season 1: Cooking Eggs
Anyone can make fried eggs, but few and far between are the cooks who can make them perfectly every time. Eggs can stick to the pan, yolks can break, and over- or undercooked eggs seem to be the norm. We decided to eliminate the guesswork and figure out the best and easiest way to fry the perfect egg every time. For us, this meant a white that is firm and a yolk that sets up high and is thick yet still runny. We discovered that the first thing to do when about to fry an egg is to reach for a nonstick pan; there is no point in frying eggs in anything else. The initial heat setting is also important. A five-minute preheating of the pan over a very low fire puts it at just the right temperature to receive the eggs. Cover the pan as soon as the eggs are added and cook just a couple of minutes for evenly cooked whites and a yolk that is perfectly set up.
A nonstick skillet is essential because it ensures an easy release of the eggs. Since burners vary, it may take an egg or two before you determine the ideal heat setting for frying eggs on your stovetop. Follow the visual clue in the recipe and increase the heat if necessary. If you’ve just fried up some bacon or happen to have some bacon grease around, use it in place of the butter for really tasty fried eggs. Unlike butter, however, bacon grease will not go through visual changes that you can use to gauge the pan’s heat.