Scrambled eggs were one of the first dishes I learned how to cook. While it’s not hard to make scrambled eggs, as I have learned over the years, the difference between ho-hum and spectacular versions is a matter of subtle technique.
Perfect scrambled eggs are all about nuances: the heat of your pan, the quality of your eggs, the tools you use. By refining your techniques and tools, you can reduce the likelihood of over-dry or snotty-textured eggs, instead getting perfect, golden, creamy eggs every time.
11 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making Scrambled Eggs. If your eggs come out less than stellar, chances are, it’s due to one of these common errors. Here, we’ll discuss the common mistakes and how to fix them.
- You don’t use the proper pan. The type of pan you use will affect your scrambled eggs. While in recent years the cast-iron skillet has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, the form of a modern nonstick or well-greased stainless steel pan is far better suited to the function of making scrambled eggs.
The smooth surfaces of such pans will allow for the eggs to glide in the pan as they are frequently stirred. The more textured surface of a cast iron skillet will snag more, resulting in more egg debris left in the pan and less eggs on your plate.
- You use low quality, or too-old eggs. The better the quality of the eggs you employ for your scrambled eggs, the better they will taste. Some store-bought varieties are actually already weeks old by the time you buy them in the grocery store; the age will affect the texture and flavor.
To test the freshness of your eggs, you can perform a simple test before you crack: place the eggs in a bowl of water. The lower they sink, the fresher they are. If eggs float on the other hand, they may be past their prime.
When possible, buy local eggs from a trusted source. The flavor will be worth any added investment.
- You crack the eggs right into your cooking pan. You might save yourself the time of washing an extra bowl, but cracking the eggs right into the cooking pan is not the way to go.
For one thing, if you crack the eggs right into the pan, the yolk and white won’t be mixed and cohesive, and you’ll end up with streaky scrambled eggs. You’ll have dueling textures in the finished eggs, as well as an unbalanced flavor. For best results, mix the eggs up before adding them to the pan for an even texture and flavor.
- You don’t use a suitable utensil for mixing. You might think that it’s fine to stir the eggs in the pan as they cook with any old utensil you’ve got lying around, but you could end up with a ragged mess of egg rather than a smooth, perfect scramble.
A metal spatula is great for flipping, but it can scrape the curds of scrambled eggs, not to mention the bottom of your pan. Metal forks or spoons will yield a similar result.
In my opinion, a rubber spatula spoon is the best choice for the job. Its flexible tip can reach right between egg and pan without damaging anything, and the spoon shape makes it easier to stir your mixture. A regular rubber spatula will do, as well.
- You mask the flavor of the eggs with cream or milk. If you’ve ever had an actual farm-fresh egg (as in, laid that day), you know that it’s a thing of flavor beauty. It doesn’t need any dressing up–in fact, as wonderful a thing as cream can be, it can dull the flavor of a great egg.
Many chefs advocate using water to scramble good quality eggs so that the flavor can shine through; if you really crave the richness, cook the eggs in butter. You’ll never miss the cream.
- You don’t stir the eggs. If you don’t stir the eggs, you’re going to end up with an omelette. That’s fine, but it’s not scrambled eggs. Be sure to stir the eggs right after they are added to the pan, to keep them from “setting” from the get go.
Keep stirring the eggs as they cook, to ensure that the eggs “break up” into curds, giving them the signature texture of scrambled eggs, rather than forming a solid pancake-like portion of egg.
- You set the heat too high. If the heat is too high, your eggs will get dried-out. Medium heat is the way to go for smooth, creamy-textured eggs.
That having been said, you can experiment with adjusting the heat at the beginning or the end of the cooking. Personally, I like to start the heat on medium-high, and let the butter or fat melt in the pan. Once I add the eggs, I immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. That initial blast of heat will help the eggs form a “crust”; then, the lower heat will allow them to cook without sacrificing moisture.
Or you could follow the lead of Alton Brown, who works in reverse but attains a similar result by starting the eggs on medium-low and finishing them on high heat to ensure crispy edges.
- You cook them too long. It might sound nutty, but for the best eggs, you should take them off heat when they are just a touch underdone. When eggs are close to done, they can progress from perfect to dry and overdone quite quickly.
Removing the pan from heat before they’re all the way done can help slow down the cooking process. The residual heat in the pan will continue to cook the eggs even after they are removed from heat. This will help your eggs progress from slightly underdone to just perfect.
- You season too soon. Salt and pepper can bring scrambled eggs to a new echelon of edible delight. But when should you apply said seasoning? Toward the end of the cooking process. When cooked so quickly, the salt can draw out moisture, and you want to keep all of it. So hold back until closer to the end of cooking so that you can get all of the flavor but none of the dryness.
- You don’t cook mix-ins first. Take a cue from another eggy breakfast, the frittata–if you want to add ingredients to your scrambled eggs, cook them first. Eggs cook fairly quickly–more rapidly, in fact, than most mix-ins. For instance, if you want to make a sausage and pepper scramble, make sure that the meat and vegetables are cooked before you add them to the eggs. This way, your eggs can cook but you don’t have to worry about food safety issues like meat not being cooked through.
When mixing in cheese, you can take a different approach. Many insist that you should use cheese as a finishing ingredient, especially if it is soft or crumbly. Add it near the end of cooking or when you remove the pan from heat, and it can gently melt in the brief time the eggs finish cooking.
- You don’t enjoy them right away. Some foods taste even better the next day. Nope, scrambled eggs are not one of them. The eggs will lose their creaminess and run the risk of becoming rubbery as they cool. For the best eating experience, eat the eggs shortly after they’ve finished cooking.
Conclusion: Scrambled eggs are easy to learn how to make, but a little trickier to master. Armed with the tips and tools discussed in this post, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to take your scrambled eggs from merely palatable to completely crave-worthy.
Do you like scrambled eggs?