Scrambled eggs may be one of the first things we learn to cook as kids, but they aren’t one of the first things we master. We’ve all encountered dry or watery or flavorless or (gulp) browned scrambled eggs that could have been avoided with just a little bit of effort. The art of scrambled eggs is a delicate one, but a few very small shifts in technique can take a C-grade skill set to an A and ensure you a lifetime of perfectly pleasing scrambled eggs—provided you’re the person rocking the skillet. Here are a few tips to get you started on your path to scrambled egg excellence:
Season the beaten raw eggs, not the cooked ones.
This is a matter of debate. Some say this breaks down the eggs, rendering them watery; others believe this makes them moister. I say that it simply seasons the eggs more uniformly, and since scrambled eggs should be served right away, there’s not too much opportunity for any wateriness to occur.
What’s more, as culinary brainiac Harold McGee writes in the “Egg Cookery” chapter of On Food and Cooking, adding salt to the eggs just before you put them in the pan accelerates and eases the coagulation of the proteins in the egg. This translates to creaminess and fluffiness, both very good things when it comes to eggs.
Add a little lemon juice before—or after—cooking.
Sounds strange, right? Reserve your judgment. In the same line Harold McGee writes the above about salt, he says the same about adding a little acid to the beaten eggs. A wee bit of acid encourages the egg’s proteins to hook up and be creamy and tender. You don’t need much juice—just about ½ teaspoon per 2 to 3 eggs.
You can also add a touch of lemon juice just before serving. Think about the wonderful combination of a gooey, buttery grilled cheese and a snappy pickle. The acidic pickle cuts right through the rich grilled cheese, and the presence of one makes the other taste even better. It’s the same with lemon juice and a pile of buttery scrambled eggs; a teeny squeeze of lemon juice brightens the whole thing.
Start in a cold pan.
You know how hot pan can set a thin layer of the eggs the moment they’re poured in? That interrupts your scramble’s potential for ultimate creaminess by cooking one portion of the eggs faster than all the rest. Instead, start the eggs in a cold pan (with a pat of butter) and set it on a low flame. Then go to work, stirring regularly, knowing that your eggs are cooking through at an even rate.
Cook bacon first, then cook your eggs in the same pan.
Because your eggs will be creeeeeeamy and flecked in the nicest way with bacon fat (and will taste, you know, like bacon). You could also do this with fat that renders from cooking breakfast sausage. If you’re not a meat eater, use a generous amount of olive oil or, preferably, butter. Say, a pat that’s not quite a tablespoon per two or three eggs. Never start in a dry pan.
Take the pan off the heat at least a minute before the eggs look “done” to you.
In fact, even if you like your eggs on the dry side, they should look almost wet. Both the pan you scramble the eggs in and the eggs themselves will hold the stove’s heat even after they’re off the flame. This is called carryover cooking, and it means that your eggs can go from runny to dry in the time it takes you to refill your coffee cup. When the scramble looks two hairs softer than you’d usually like it, take it off the heat, grab a plate, and they’ll be just right.