Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Scrambled Eggs

print recipe card posted in Breakfast and Brunch, Eggs, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

If all you’ve got in your refrigerator is eggs, milk and butter, you’ve got yourself a meal.

There isn’t a single time of day that scrambled eggs don’t taste good! Who knows, this simple meal may become one of YOUR signature dishes.

Here is a list of the equipment you will need to make scrambled eggs:

  • A small cup to first crack the eggs into to check for shells
  • A small bowl to put the eggs in for mixing
  • A fork or whisk for mixing
  • A small sauce pan or fry pan, preferably non stick
  • A silicone spatula
  • Measuring spoons

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For 2 servings, or 1 ½ eggs per person the Ingredients are;

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to your taste

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When you buy eggs in the grocery store, check that there are no broken eggs in the carton.

In the United States, by USDA requirement, eggs come already washed so you can use them straight away.

Begin by cracking each egg individually into the small cup. Check the egg to see that it looks okay and that there are no shells. Then add the egg to the mixing bowl.

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Now add a sprinkle of salt and black pepper (to your taste), and 2 Tablespoons of milk to the eggs. (There is some debate – see comments below – about when to add the salt – before or after cooking.)

Beat this mixture with a fork, or a whisk, in a vigorous elliptical motion until the yolks and the whites are all a nice bright yellow and completely blended together.

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(Graydon, in the comments below, likes to skip all these steps and just mix everything up in the pan you are cooking in!)

Put the beaten eggs to one side, and melt 2 teaspoons of butter over medium low heat in a non-stick pan. If you turn the burner up too high the eggs will cook faster, but you will end up with very watery, soggy tasting eggs. So be sure to keep the temperature at medium-low.

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(Non-stick pans make cleaning up so much easier! However, Non-stick pans can easily be scratched with metal utensils. You’ll need to buy a silicon spatula or scraper. Caution: if you have an old fashioned rubber spatula and not silicone, it will eventually melt when you cook with it.)

When the butter has melted, add the eggs to the pan. As the eggs begin to cook, GENTLY move them around with the spatula so that they cook evenly.

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GENTLY and slowly stir the eggs.

Continue cooking the eggs until they are thickened but still soft.

Some people like really soft scrambled eggs, other people like really dry scrambled eggs. Just keep gently stirring the eggs until they look like what you think the perfect consistency is.

Transfer the eggs to the plate and serve them immediately. (As Jon pointed out in the comments, the eggs continue to cook even when removed from the pan and will get rubbery if left in the pan.)

If you wish, you can add some extra ingredients while the eggs are cooking. For example, try tossing in some chopped ham, sprinkling in slowly as you stir the eggs. Or you might try adding some shredded cheese, or chopped green onion or chives. My favorite addition is chopped parsley.

To find out even more about eggs, be sure to check out my post “How to: Eggs“.

***

Five Second Rule lives!

YIKES! When I was taking the photographs for this blog post I dropped my camera into the egg mixture! I scooped it out and wiped it off. The automatic lens sticks a little but my camera still works! Who knew?

(Although some of the photos do look a bit hazy!)

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Enjoy!

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61 Comments

Jon (Sacker) said:

Interesting differences. I don’t use milk in my scrambled eggs – it does make for very rich eggs, but it’s how I like it :-).

My favourite day-to-day addition is chopped chives, but of course, if you’re going for the ultimate scrambled eggs, then it has to be smoked salmon!!

The other trick I learnt a while ago is to cook your eggs on as low a heat as you can (or have time for) – it really does seem to make much creamier eggs.

The other thing to watch out for is that scrambled eggs will keep on cooking after you take them off the heat, so take them off a few seconds before you think they are ready and get them straight onto a plate.

Please, please whatever you do, never leave scrambled eggs sitting in the pan – they will turn into rubber.

Happy cooking

Kathy (Maister) said:

You are so right Jon about cooking scrambled eggs on low heat. If the temperature is too high they get really watery. Yuck!

Graydon said:

I like the concept of the site but I never thought that scrambled eggs could take so much work…

2 bowls? a silicone spatula? a whisk?

I guess I can understand the problem… trying to get people to understand that they can cook, it isn’t that hard… but balancing out the best way to do something with the minimal way to do something….

pan
butter
eggs
fork OR plastic spatula OR wooden spoon OR silicone spatula (in order of ease of use)

heat pan on med
melt butter
break eggs directly into pan (use fork to get shell out if needed)
scramble and cook at the same time
salt / pepper
eat

1 pan to clean
1 utensil to clean

maybe 1 plate unless you ate from the pan.

Also, an ol’ fashion rubber spatula will not melt just by cooking with it… however, leave it in the pan sitting close to the bottom… then it WILL melt.

Still like the site and posts… but consider that your target audience may not have the things that you show above to start with… and if they think they NEED it in order to cook… well, you might not get through to them.

Kathy (Maister) said:

Graydon, thanks for jumping in and sharing another perspective.

You are quite right in pointing out that a lot of people want a “minimal” approach. For example, other participants in this blog have encouraged me to describe recipes that require the least amount of cleaning up, and I’m going to take that request (and yours) seriously.

But there are other considerations. I’m trying to help people develop good habits that will help them in all their cooking.

For example, you’re also right that a “an ol’ fashion rubber spatula” will do the job, but in this case I’ll stand by my advice that even an impoverished beginner cook should buy and use a silicon one. It will turn out to have a lot of uses!

Years ago Julia Child taught me an awful lot about cooking by going into great detail describing each step. Things like “continue stirring until that first waft of steam rises from the pan” seemed, at the time, like way too much information. But her technique worked for me! I am now trying to do the same. For people who have NEVER cooked, I would rather err on the side of providing a lot of detail, then leave them guessing.

Graydon said:

Valid points and well taken. However, I still have reservations about the silicone utensil “bubble” that is going on right now. I broke down and got some… and find myself going back to the wooden spoons more often than the silicone. But hey, if we all cooked the same way… then we’d all be like Emeril… or Julia… or eating at McD’s : )

Watson Oven said:

With all due respect to Graydon, I actually think the instructions are very good, with my minimal level of knowledge. You cannot give me too much detail; on the contrary, I find detail hard to find in general. One question, though, and this is the sort of thing that has kept me from trying to cook:
What constitutes low-medium heat? My stove goes from 1-10, but I don’t know what the terms correspond to. Is there a way to judge what it probably is? What if it was a gas oven, like my mom’s?

Kathy (Maister) said:

Hi Watson, you’re right – turning on a stove is not always that obvious.

If your stove goes from 1 to 10, then (very loosely)

1 means simmer
.
3 would be low

4 would be medium low

5 would be medium

7 would be medium high

9 would be high.

10 would be higher?

(Of course, there’s always the outside chance that, in your case, 10 is the lowest and 1 the highest. Put a pot of water on and see which setting boils it quicker!)

Some electric stoves give you text. You’ve just got a mysterious one.

In general, the settings on a gas stovetop should be the same, but there is little standardization. For example, on mine, all it says is “High” and “Low” and leaves it up to me to judge how much to turn the dial between those marks. Unfortunately, since the pressure in each gas stove is different, you just have to use experiment. Sorry, but that’s the way it is!

By the way, most gas stoves have an automatic pilot. Turning them on usually involves turning until you first hear the snapping sound. That’s the electric pilot turning on the stove. Once you see the flame, turn the dial so that the snapping stops. (You may get a whiff of gas, but that’s normal. It shouldn’t be more then a whiff, though!) You then can turn it up or down. Don’t leave it on the snapping setting.

I hope this helps!

Graydon said:

Watson Oven… ha ha I get it.. “what’s an oven”

No respect needed, I was just jabbing at the “need” for all the different utensils. The instructions are great!

I had been hoping that the previous post on how to crack an egg brought forth the trick to the one handed magic… but happy to see that the tried and true two hand method is alive and well.

Mike Schnabel said:

Hello Kathy,

After finishing a wonderful scrambled egg breakfast with Winnie, we felt compelled to drop a note. Your tips are wonderful!

We are especially pleased to know about the “new” 3-second rule with digital cameras!

Your photos and advice are wonderful and we look forward to reviewing more blogs.

Be well and thanks for the tips!

Mike and Winnie

Earl said:

Can anyone answer this? What makes eggs turn green after cooking them?

Kathy (Maister) said:

Hi Earl, I’m assuming you mean the green ring you sometimes see around the yolk of hard boiled eggs. That means you have overcooked the eggs. It is fine to eat, but it just doesn’t look very appetizing!

Bethany Riskin said:

My mother always put salt and milk or cream in her eggs, so I have also. However, I recently read or heard that adding salt to the uncooked eggs caused the whites to break down(?). No idea. I still add the salt.

Jon and Graydon, excellent comments. I used to religiously make my scrambled exactly as Kathy described (minus the small cup to break the eggs into—the number of spoiled eggs I’ve run into over the years amounts to exactly one). Then I came down with a disease that keeps me from spending much time on my feet, so by necessity I am now taking shortcuts in the kitchen. One of those shortcuts is making my scrambled eggs exactly as Graydon described, and to tell you the truth, they taste every bit as good. In fact, I like that some of the white and yolk cooks separately in the finished product, and the milk is not entirely necessary. Also, if you want to improve the nutritional value, scramble them in olive oil or nothing at all (possible in a non-stick pan). Of course, the butter is more delectable, but if you really want delicious, stick-to-your-ribs scrambled eggs, cook them in the bacon fat and bits left in the pan after frying the bacon. (One of the advantages of growing up on a farm.)

My signature scrambled egg dish is with dill. Oh yum!

Graydon said:

mmmm…. bacon fat, bits and pieces.

I gotta go get some bacon. That chipotle seasoned stuff might work well.

Molly said:

Hi Kathy, Thank you very much for help us with this. I have less than 2 years of married. I am from South America, so for me it’s very difficult cook here, because the food and the ingredients are differents. Today, I tried to cook some scrambles eggs for my husband and was terrible!..For that I started searching by internet some help. I found your web, and seriusly you help me a lot. My husband knows how cook, but he is too busy to teach me. I feel bad because his friends’ wifes know how cook. You show me step by step how do it. Most of the time I have very stupid questions, but it’s because all of this is new for me. Really I hate cook, but I want to learn and then love it!..I work and study, but I want to be a good wife and have a happy husband. I will start with these scramble eggs tomorrow morning. I’m sure he will enjoy it!!!..Thank you again, and don’t change your style..continue teaching step by step, you are helping us a lot!

Kathy Maister said:

Welcome Molly! I am delighted you found startcooking.com. Good luck with the scrambled eggs. My niece, who has only just started to cook, found the Sante Fe Chili to be an easy dinner make. The Pasta Salad is a great summertime dinner as well! Cheers!

Kim DiPietro said:

Hi Kathy. All through growing up and eating my moms scrambled eggs, which are the best :). she said never to put salt on the egss till after they are done cooking, for two reasons. One, bc the salt toughens the eggs, and two, bc you may not really need it. Have you heard this before, about toughening the eggs?

thanks, love your site!

kim

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Kim! Salt toughening scrambled eggs is a new one to me. I just checked “Joy of Cooking” and they add their salt in the beginning as well. Never the less, I think you should stick with your mom’s recipe-why mess with perfection!

Kyle said:

Drain the extra moisture off of a cup of store-bought salsa and toss that in during the cooking process. Good stuff.

Also, and it may seem strange, but try putting a Tbsp of honey (or 2, depending on your sweet tooth) in the pan shortly after putting the eggs in. Honey scrambled eggs…my 5 yr old daughter loves ‘em.

Kyle said:

I should probably add that the honey should be added while the egg mixture is still in a liquid state, and keep the concoction moving constantly to prevent scalding (burning). Medium low heat is VERY important. ;)

Kathy Maister said:

Kyle-Salsa…most definately! Not too sure about the honey. That’s a new one to me! :)

Sue said:

What makes eggs turn green after they sit in a steaming tray. Our school band holds a breakfast and this has been our biggest challenge

Kathy Maister said:

That’s a tough one Sue. It is really outside my experience. Does anyone else have any ideas on how to solve Sue’s green egg problem.

Kim DiPietro said:

Could it be because they use ‘fake’ eggs, like the powder that is mixed with water? Maybe from sitting out to long?

Kathy Maister said:

Kim, your comment made me go hunting around on the internet and look what I just found at What’s Cooking America:

“Scrambled Eggs Turning Green: Sometimes a large batch of scrambled eggs may turn green. Although not pretty, the color change is harmless. It is due to a chemical change, the formation of ferrous sulfide from iron in the yolks and sulfur in the whites, brought on by heat and occurs when eggs are cooked in an iron skillet, cooked at too high a temperature, or held for too long. Using stainless steel equipment, using a low cooking temperature, cooking in small batches, and serving as soon as possible after cooking will help to prevent this.”

Sue, I hope this helps!

Kim DiPietro said:

Kathy,

Thanks for looking that up! I know that sometimes when I hard boil eggs for too long the yolks have a greenish tint, but I couildn’t figure out the scrambled situation. :)

Kim

KGWagner said:

I have a love/hate relationship with electric stoves. On the one hand, once you find a setting that works for a particular recipe, it’s very repeatable. On the other, I don’t think I’ve ever used two electric stoves that responded the same way. “3” on mine is going to be wildly different than the “3” on yours.

Also, the range changes depending on the burner you use. On the larger burners on my stove, 1=just warm enough for the cat to sleep on, while 10=rearrange the molecular structure of your food. It’s taken me years to figure out what works where on the damned thing

The other thing I don’t like about them is their unavailability during a power outage. Obviously, you can’t cook, but without power your furnace doesn’t work, either, and your stove’s no help. In 48 years I’ve never experienced a gas outage, but power outages are as common as dirt.

ps – the cat doesn’t really sleep on the stove; I was just making a point

Jon (Sacker) said:

I hate cooking on an electric stove – particularly as I want instant control – when I want it ht I want it now and even more importantly for me, when I turn it down I want it to get cooler! We’re lucky here in the UK, because most homes are plumbed for natural gas and that really is my preference – I know just by looking at the flame what it’s doing, how can you do that on an electric hob?

My cat used to sleep in the sink (but that was cause it was the coolest place in the house when it was hot out)!!

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks KWG and Jon for helping everyone to realize that all cooktops are different and it takes time getting to know your own cooktop!

Elvira Lyden said:

I have a nuwave oven. I follow their recipe book but the eggs do not cook as well as they should. do you have any experience with nuwave ovens?Can you help me?

KGWagner said:

I’d never heard of a “Nu-Wave Oven”, so I looked it up online and found out why. It’s one of those shopping channel things that are “Not available in any store!” – as if that’s a good thing. What they’re actually saying is no self-respecting retailer will stock them, because they’ll get them all back. Looking around some more, I find that even the online dealers aren’t stocking them. There are no reviews of them. No explanation of how they work beyond what nuwave says, which is painfully little.

Just looking at the thing, I can’t see how you could cook eggs in it. If you did figure out a way, you’d end up with a substantial cleanup job afterwards.

All in all, it looks like a great gift for your mother-in-law’s birthday

Kathy Maister said:

Sorry Elvira, I have never used a nuwave oven. Perhaps nuwave has a web site for “frequently asked questions” on how to use a nuwave. Good Luck!

Kate said:

Kathy, although I’m not actually a beginning cook (more like a intermediate I guess), I stumbled on your blog not too long ago and I like it. It’s kind of fun to revisit the basics. My mother also always told me that salt added before the eggs were scrambled would toughen them and I also heard someone on a cooking show say that once, I think it might have been Alton Brown. At any rate, I think eggs salted after the cooking taste just as good as eggs salted before, so it likely doesn’t matter. Also as a tip, try adding some ground mustard powder to your scrambled eggs. It really brings out the flavor. :-)

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Kate! I’ve never heard of adding ground mustard to scrambled eggs. I’ll have to give it a try!

Kathy Maister said:

When to Salt Scrambled Eggs

From Cook’s Illustrated:
“How do scrambled eggs work? Can you salt them ahead of time? How can you keep them from becoming watery and weepy?

Investigating scrambled eggs further, we wondered if early salting (before cooking) makes scrambled eggs watery. We salted beaten eggs one minute before cooking and another batch right after scrambling in a hot skillet. Interestingly, tasters consistently disliked the eggs that were salted after cooking; these eggs were rubbery and firm. The eggs salted prior to cooking were tender and moist. (With these results in hand, we wondered if salting the beaten eggs an hour before cooking would make the eggs even more tender. It didn’t; they were nearly identical to the eggs salted just before cooking.)

A bit of investigation revealed an explanation: Salt affects the electrical charge on the protein molecules in eggs, reducing the tendency of the proteins to bond with each other. This produces a weaker protein network, which means more tender scrambled eggs. In the absence of salt, the protein molecules interact more strongly, forming a tighter network and resulting in a firmer, more rubbery texture. We recommend salting eggs just prior to cooking.”

Laika said:

I remember watching Graham Kerr and I think he was the one that talked about not adding salt during cooking, not because of how it affects the eggs, but that during cooking, the flavor is lost but the sodium stays. So you end up having to salt the eggs again to taste, and get extra sodium.

KGWagner said:

I miss Graham Kerr’s cooking show(s). They were very entertaining and educational, much like Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” is now.

Personally, I don’t often salt foods while cooking because I compulsively add salt at serving time. I find salt to be more effectively used at that point, and it leaves how much to be added to the diner instead of me. I tend to oversalt things, and not everyone appreciates or can tolerate that.

Kathy Maister said:

One of my very favorite chefs is Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa fame. Her recipes are a bit advanced but they are fool-proof. The one major problem is that she over salts everything! I have learned to cut back dramatically on the quantity of salt in all her recipes!

KGWagner said:

“Ina Garten of Eden, baby!
Don’tcha know that I love you?
Ina Garten of Eden, baby!
Don’tcha know that I’ll always be true?”

Hehe! I know. Lame. Couldn’t help myself

I’ve found that if you want to get that mouth-watering reaction and taste enhancement that salt gives, the best thing to use while cooking is the coarse-grained kosher salt. Unless you go nuts with it, you almost don’t know it’s there. Witness Campbell’s soup. That stuff has so much sodium in it you’d think it would make you squint after the first spoonful.

Table salt, on the other hand, is much more obvious. I’m not sure why that is, but I have a theory that it’s the iodine they put in it.

Either way, sodium chloride is sodium chloride, so if you have a problem with it, taste isn’t an issue. You need to use some other condiment such as one of the many varieties of vinegar.

Kathy Maister said:

Inna -Gadda-Da-Vida?!? You’re dating yourself!
(Amazingly enough, though, I do GET IT!)

KGWagner said:

I don’t mind dating myself. I’m less than a year away from 50 now, so I’m not proud anymore. It’s golden anniversary time! If I would have known I was gonna live this long, I might have taken better care of myself. Not likely, though. I’m such a hedonist

Turnabout’s fair play, though. You’re dating yourself by getting my obscure references

greg said:

Is there something better than milk—I’ve heard about half and half or light whipping cream—-Any suggestions!!!???

KGWagner said:

Greg –

The recipes I’ve seen that use cream use very little – maybe a tablespoon to 3 eggs, or a teaspoon per egg. I’m not sure if that’s really what differentiates them as much as the gentler cooking method used. They’re done slowly, in a double boiler. Seems like a lotta trouble for scrambled eggs, but that’s just me. Of course, if you’re going to jazz ‘em up to impress somebody, that’s different.

Kathy Maister said:

Cooking scrambled eggs on a low heat, slowly, and not stirring them too much is really the key to successful scrambled eggs. I agree with you KGW, a double boiler seems like overkill!

manny said:

I read the whole essays! Interesting how few can go into the kitchen! OK about cooking scrambled- Another dish! Don’t scramble(mix) in the pan ; when half cooked turn it over and cook for 15 seconds and Lo behold, you have an omlette! Could mix onion bits and even peas to the mix

Kathy Maister said:

For those of you ready to tackle making an omelet, you might want to check out my video on How to Make an Omelet!

Appliance Parts said:

I knew about this recipe. I have done it several times because my frigidaire was empty and I didn’t have anything else but eggs, milk and butter. Indeed, it is great and easy to cook.

Jessica said:

Hello there,

Yes, scrambled eggs often come to the rescue and they always taste great. Thanks for writing in!

Jessica
Startcooking.com

Saniyya said:

First of all thank you so much for all the wonderful tips and the delightful way you have of teaching! I am from Pakistan and can cook a curry any day but of course did not grow up cooking western cuisine so find it a bit harder :)

My little tip on scrambled eggs is adding a generous spoon of Philly cream cheese! Makes the eggs so creamy!!

Kathy Maister said:

Saniyya, that sounds delicious!

The thing about making good scrambled eggs is to remember to keep the temperature very low or the eggs end up very watery.

annabelle said:

i did that for dinner today and it was the best part of the meal. (:

Kathy Maister said:

Congratulation Annabelle!

Everyone should know how to make at least one thing perfectly! :-)

Victoria said:

Scrambled Eggs are so much better cooked this way! Its well worth the waiting to cook them slowly!

When I make scrambled eggs though, I add a little bit of garlic (I only ever use granules because its easier, but I’m sure you could use freshly crushed) to the mixture, it really adds depth to the flavour. Its important to use sparingly though, because it can be a little too much, but its definitely worth trying! Garlic works well when you’re making eggy bread too.

albert miller said:

I have the Escoffier cook book, and was surprised to read in it that he considered scrambled eggs as the ultimate way to cook eggs.

startcooking said:

It is often the recipes with the most basic ingredients that can be the most challenging. Scrambled eggs, when cooked well are fantastic, but when done poorly, are a nightmare!

Jon (Sacker) said:

Scrambled eggs have recently taken a very important place in our household. Our older daughter F (11) is a difficult, picky eater who will very rarely try anything new we put on the table. However she has a best friend she idolises who eats most things put in-front of her. F. recently returned from her friend having learnt how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave and she asked us if she could make them at home. Now when she wants her evening snack rather than crisps and sweets she is as likely to make herself scrambled eggs or she may have them for breakfast.

Subsequently C her 8 year old sister has now started making them as well and we now have the delightful situation that both girls are beginning to cook for themselves and both love their microwaved scrambled eggs they make independently.

startcooking said:

Wow! Scrambled eggs in the microwave – who knew?

I have only ever made scrambled eggs on the stove top. How do you do them in the microwave?

K.

Paula T said:

Microwaved scrambled eggs are super easy but need to be timed carefully. I use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup to cook them in. Rub the glass cup with a little softened butter. Crack two eggs and a tablespoon of milk into the cup. Whisk with a fork til blended. Microwave on high for 1 minute. It will puff up like a souffle with a liquidy middle. Remove and whisk again with a fork to break up the eggs and incorporate the liquid. Microwave again for 30 to 45 seconds. Voila! If they are still a little liquid (depending on the strength of your microwave) cook in increments of 5 seconds more until done. Very easy for teens and new cooks, and you can add cheese or herbs to your taste in the second cokking.

startcooking said:

Thanks Paula for the recipe!
Cheers,
Kathy

Mike P said:

Graydon’s Method is close to deer-camp cooking. Number of eggs vary from 3 to 24, depending on how many mouths there are to feed. Also, it is 3:00 o’clock in the morning, so estimates of amounts of food, (or anything else), is always rounded up. Dishes are usually done after they have been soaking for 5 or 6 hours, and usually consists of pans, forks, spoons and coffee cups. Left overs go in the pocket for a snack later. Eggs, biscuits, and ham, sausage, and/or bacon is also getting cooked. So, how about a good biscuit recipe?

Bear said:

I love eggs. I live in a dorm, so I make fluffy omelets with electric omelet maker. I put my electric omelet maker in a challenge with your scrambled eggs recipe and…

Jo said:

I scramble eggs without milk. It’s not necessary (I discovered this one morning when I was out of milk) and not using it eliminates a few calories and shaves off cooking time it takes for the milk to evaporate, and they’re never watery. I also use cooking spray on the pan; another way to cut fat and calories. I break two eggs into a bowl, add a dash of salt and pepper (one dash per egg), beat well, then pour into the heated pan. I like them firm, but not hard. The secret is keep them moving & not let them have contact with the pan for too long. MMM MMM. :)