The Ultimate Egg-Ordering Guide, From Sunny Side Up To Soft Boiled

Finally know the terminology to describe how you want your eggs cooked.

Everyone has a food résumé. On it are the defining, personal preferences that make every individual unique. Your food résumé explains why you always pluck the olives off of your salad and give them to your mother (because you hate olives and she loves them) and why you are the beneficiary of your girlfriend's pickles (she can't stand 'em).

There are particular topics that should appear on every food résumé. For example, the way you make your coffee should be something so unwavering you could get the order tattooed on your body without any regrets. You should own a precise technique for roasting a marshmallow over a campfire. And, very important, you should be certain of how you take your eggs in the morning -- regardless of whether it's while nursing a hangover at the diner or while enjoying a home-cooked meal in your kitchen.

The thing is, there are so many ways to cook an egg (which is why we love them) and the terms can get confusing. You know you like a runny yolk, but it's embarrassing to ask what the difference is between "over easy" and "sunny side up." Luckily, you'll no longer need to. Check out this handy definition guide below to get the scoop on the many ways to prepare eggs, and once you've got it, shout your favorite cooking method from the rooftops.

Soft Boiled
A soft boiled egg is cooked by placing the egg, still in its shell, in a pot of boiling water for about three to five minutes. After that time, it is removed and peeled and served warm. While the egg whites are completely solid, the yolk should be drippy, great for soaking up with a piece of bread or toast soldiers.
Hard Boiled
Hard boiled eggs are cooked all the way through. Just like soft boiled eggs, they are cooked in a pot of boiling water, but for about seven to nine minutes so that the yolk solidifies completely. The eggs can be eaten warm but are generally refrigerated. Hard boiled eggs are often used to make egg salad.
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To make scrambled eggs, the eggs are usually cracked into a bowl and whisked to blend the whites and the yolk. Sometimes water or milk is added to the mixture, which is then poured onto a heated pan and stirred until full curds form and all of the liquid solidifies. When scrambled eggs are prepared correctly they are soft and fluffy.
Sunny Side Up
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Sunny side up eggs are the dream order of any chef who has trouble with the spatula. An egg is cracked onto a heated pan and kept in tact: The yolk and the whites are not meant to meddle. The egg is fried on one side until the whites form a solid (signaling that they're fully cooked) and the edges of the whites begin to crisp. The egg is then removed from the pan and served. Sometimes the pan is covered while the egg cooks to speed up the firming process of the egg whites. This method better guarantees that the whites are solid and not slippery.
For poached eggs, eggs are cracked into a bowl and then carefully poured into a just-beginning-to-simmer pot of water. The water is gently swirled so that, as they cook, the whites of the egg encase the yolk. The eggs are removed after two to four minutes, depending on the desired firmness of the yolk. Poached eggs are typically the star of any Benedict brunch.
Over Easy
When eggs are described as being cooked "over" something, the egg is being fried on both sides. The "easy," "medium" or "hard" refers to the consistency of the yolk.

In the case of "over easy," the egg is fried on both sides so that the egg whites are firm while the yolk remains runny (like the yolk of a poached or soft boiled egg). It is prepared the same way as a sunny side up egg, but turned over with a spatula. This method better ensures that the egg whites fully solidify.

(Photo College Recipes)
Over Medium
To cook an egg "over medium," the egg is fried on both sides long enough so that the yolk is semi-solid.

(Photo by College Recipes)
Over Hard
To cook an egg "over hard," the egg is fried on both sides long enough so that the yolk is fully solid, like that of a hard boiled egg.

(Photo by College Recipes)
Food & Wine
Baked eggs are cooked in the oven -- often with additional ingredients, like half an avocado or in a tomato sauce base (pictured). The dish is usually prepared in a ramekin (or another oven-safe dish) and the egg is baked so that the yolk is mostly runny.

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