But for others (even those of us who know better) that pull of serving perfect poached eggs— whether it’s in eggs benedict, over hash, or alongside toast and homemade sausage—makes them throw the make-ahead game plan out the window. The result? A delicious meal, but a hectic stretch of time when you’re doing all the last-minute stirring, cooking, and draining while your guests sit patiently at the table.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Restaurants have their methods of making poached eggs ahead of time and then reheating them for service. When Cook’s Illustrated test cook Andrew Janjigian developed a recipe for Perfect Poached Eggs, he was determined to do the same. He found he could prepare the eggs up to three days in advance using this cook-then-reheat technique. No cooking to order. No stress. No loss of quality.
Here’s how to do it.
- Poach eggs as you normally would. Transfer up to four poached eggs to a bowl of cold water (for more than four eggs, use ice water).
- Refrigerate the eggs in the water for up to three days.
- To reheat, transfer the eggs to a pot of water heated to 150 degrees on the stovetop (use 6 cups of water for two to four eggs or 10 cups for six to eight eggs).
- Cover them for 3 minutes, by which time they should be at serving temperature.
This technique works whether you consider “make ahead” to be three days or 20 minutes. You can keep the poached eggs in the 150-degree water for up to 20 minutes, so use it to reheat cold poached eggs you made days ahead, or to “hold” ones you just made.
Poaching eggs doesn’t require a lot of time, but it does require your attention. Now you can devote it to your guests instead.