It’s always surprising how folks use different methods to make scrambled eggs. I’m always a little pained when I see people whisking raw eggs in a bowl, or throwing salt in eggs before they cook. For me, there are two ways to make correct scrambled eggs — and only one of them is “legit”–which is the one I’ll go over in this post. I use the “non-legit” method when I’m in a rush, but otherwise, for me, this is THE way to cook scrambled eggs.
Your definition or expectation may differ, but with scrambled eggs, I want creamy yet light, fluffy yet not separated.
When you cook scrambled eggs and end up with 268 “nuggets” of egg bits, that’s a broken-up fried egg– not a scrambled egg.
If you plate it, and you see any water on the plate — those aren’t scrambled eggs.
If it’s one piece and slides off your fry pan in one piece leaving no remnants or sign of the egg having been there, that’s also not a scrambled egg.
And healthy or not, you don’t mess with the oil source: only butter is allowed for scrambled eggs! No olive oil. No coconut oil. No grapeseed oil. No margarine.
Good, old-fashioned, REAL butter.
Let’s aim to make this below, which I quickly cooked up in about 15 minutes this past Sunday. I like something like this for breakfast on the weekends because it requires exactly two pans and can easily be coordinated to be cooked quickly.
You can use a small fry pan if you are only doing 2-3 eggs, but in my case, I was doing six eggs, so I opted for a saucepan. In particular, I picked the large size from the Ikea Kavalkad collection that I’ve been testing out lately.
It’s extremely light, and while I’ve used better non-stick surface in other brands, this one is really nice to have for a variety of kitchen functions like scrambling eggs. It heats up quickly, and stays pretty evenly hot even on my God-forsaken electric stove. I also like that it’s pretty resistant to scuffs; I’ve used wooden utensils on things I try to scramble and ended up scuffing other non-stick pans, and so far, other than some wear on the rims, this one is working out nicely.
I recommend a sauce pan over a dry pan only because you will be aggressively stirring and don’t want the eggs to spill over the sides. Having some height on the pan helps in the stirring process, too. (You’ll see why this is important below.)
There’s a big difference between breaking up and whisking all of the eggs in a bowl before you heat, vs. doing it over heat. If you think about it, how your eggs react to heat in their broken down state (whisked) versus how they react being broken down over heat yields different results. The same applies to salt; how raw eggs react to salt is different than cooked eggs.
The ingredients you will need are as follows — keep them ready:
- Wooden spoon or a rubber spatula (heat-resistant)
- Salt — coarse is better but any will suffice
- Heavy Cream or Milk, or a dollop of Creme Fraiche if you have it
- Diced chives or dill, whatever you have on hand
For the sides:
- Sausage meat or patties – premade is fine
- Vegetable oil
- 2 Fresh tomatoes (1 per person)
- 4 pieces of toast — I used day-old sourdough that was already hardened but the bread choice is up to you
With breakfast, when you’re not in a commercial kitchen with assistants — the key is to time everything so they all finish together. Some things, like the sausage, can take some cooling off and still yield great flavor, but some other things, like the eggs, can’t be served cooled down. If you can’t cook it all in sync, then it’s best to do them in the order of sausage, tomatoes then eggs to ensure that the star of this meal, the eggs, retain full flavor.
I’ll show you how I prepped breakfast in the order I did it.
First, begin your sausage patties before you’ve cracked an egg.
I had some breakfast sausage in the fridge which would need to be defrosted, which I often make into patties, but I used fresh pre-molded sausage patties this time from Johnsonsville. From the brands I’ve tested, this one keeps great flavor while not dripping out with oil and keep their shape nicely without turning into little saucers in the pan. Much love to the Johnsonville folks!
Drizzle a little bit of oil into the hot pan (which helps with the browning) then brown each side. (I used Wesson Vegetable Oil.) I suggest you do this over medium-high heat, not high heat. The whole process should take 6-8 minutes, ensuring that you cook them through thoroughly. Sausage is one meat you do not want to eat raw! If you have the color shown above on both sides, your meat is done.
In the meantime, drop the eggs and butter into a saucepan as shown below.
Add butter — I’m using an organic unsalted butter here but if you only have salted, that will do. But the objective here was to keep the salt out of the equation until later, if possible. In other words, do not add salt at this time. I’m using 1T of butter for six eggs; if you’re doing three eggs, you should halve that.
Put aside for now until the sausages are done.
Once both side of the sausage patties are brown, remove from heat and lay gently on a paper towel to allow the oils to drain for a little while.
Next up, put two tomatoes, sliced in half, in the same pan that the sausages came out of without cleaning the pan — lay the tomatoes insides down, like this:
Cook each side for about 3 minutes each to cook through and leave a slight char on the skin, if possible.
This is when you take your bread and put them in the toaster! I used slightly old and hardened sourdough bread — good for not much else beside this, french toast or croutons — but use whatever you think will hold the eggs up nicely without flopping over. You’ll see why below.
Now, we cook the eggs in a separate sauce pan (the one you cracked the eggs in) while the tomatoes cook.
On the stovetop which should now be hot, start stirring rapidly as soon as you put your eggs on top. I leave the stove to high to get the process started, but continue stirring until you see the heat begin to cook the eggs; you should be able to feel it in your spatula or spoon as the eggs begin to become attracted to the bottom of the pan. Immediately turn the heat to medium-low.
I usually start the process with a rubber spatula but quickly change to a wooden spoon when it starts to cook, as the spoon lifts up the eggs from the bottom more effectively than the spatula does without my having to exert too much strength. (This photo is about as clear as it’s going to get when I am the one whisking and I am the one with a heavy SLR on my shoulder, haha.)
As soon as you feel the eggs “begin” to cook, set the heat to medium-low, around a 4 on your electrical stovetop. You can go lower, which will merely make the process take longer, but not higher or else you’re frying, and not scrambling the eggs.
As shown above, the egg will begin to cook. You continue stirring as fast as possible to ensure no part of the eggs remain on heat for long. If you can’t keep up with how fast they are cooking, lift up the pot off the burner and stir off the heat and put back for moments at a time. (If you do this on low, it won’t be a problem but will take considerably longer.)
Continue stirring rapidly.
The photo above is right after I moved it off the heat for good — and continuing to stir, also put in 2T of milk or heavy cream, or even half and half is fine — but it should be cold. Stir the cream in and immediately, it will cool off and stop cooking.
At this point, sprinkle in the salt to your taste while it’s still warm. I use approximately 1/2 teaspoon of salt for this amount of eggs.
Right about now, your tomatoes should be finished as well and the toast should have popped up out of the toaster.
Plating the Scrambled Eggs Breakfast
As shown, lay down the toast and layer the patties beside it. Pour the creamy, buttery and absolutely divine scrambled eggs on top of the toast, and take the “fried” tomatoes and place them on top. Sprinkle with fresh pepper and chopped chives, or dill — or whatever herb you feel goes with scrambled eggs. (The only thing I had in the house that day was chives, so there you go.)
I simply divide the eggs between the two toasts, and eat the scrambled egg topped toast by hand. You’ll notice that the scrambled eggs are almost like a buttery topping you put on the toasted bread. There’s no water forming from the eggs – and the eggs are not “separated” into bits. Combined with the sausages (or bacon, if that’s your thing), it tastes wonderful, and an intermittent bite of the tomatoes breaks up the creaminess nicely.
Give these scrambled eggs a try, and if you think your method makes for a better scrambled egg, post it below in the comments so I can try it!
Added June 5:
Another way of serving up scrambled eggs:
Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.