Take a crack at it
Those of us who thrive on a diet of mostly fried eggs have done some wacky stuff to keep it interesting. (I know I’m not alone here.) We’ve put an egg on everything in sight, we buy ourselves egg-only skillets, we dress them up with sauces and salts. We have some fried egg flops, but pick ourselves up—because they’re worth it.
While I reach for fried eggs when I’m beyond hungry, or in need of sustenance to steady shaky, over-caffeinated hands, they’re not only good in a pinch. Whether your fridge is overflowing or understocked, a fried egg can make a meal.
As good as a simple fried egg is, sometimes you need to jazz it up a little. So, I came up with 30 different ways to eat your sunny-side-up masterpiece. While some ideas suggest putting an egg on a thing, most suggest doing a thing to the egg. That’s because even before the egg leaves the skillet, you’re got so many possibilities.
While you can fry your egg how you want, the majority of the below assume you chose the take-no-prisoners method, which involves olive oil, high heat, and basting—but no flipping! Heat your preferably nonstick skillet to high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, plus a little more for basting. Once the olive oil is shimmery, even smoking, carefully (repeat: carefully) crack an egg into the oil. There will be splattering. Watch the egg white bubble and crisp. If you’re eating it plain, baste it by spooning olive oil from the pan over the whites of the egg. If you’re eating it in one of the fun and friendly ways that follow, basting may come with flavors.
A full month of fried eggs, coming right up.
With garlic chips
This one comes from David Tanis Market Cooking. Once the egg is nearly ready, turn off the heat, and add slivers of garlic to the oil. Let it turn golden while you baste the egg in the garlic oil. Serve with the oil.
With curry paste
Once the egg is nearly ready, turn off the heat, and add a spoonful of Thai red or other curry paste to the oil and swirl it around the oil. Baste the egg in the infused oil. Serve with the oil, of course.
With tomato paste
In culinary school, you learn about “pincé,” which involves frying tomato paste for sauces. So do the same thing here: Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and a spoonful of tomato paste and swirl it into the oil. Baste the egg with the seasoned oil, then serve the egg along with it.
With sour cream
Thanks to the internet, I discovered the Romanian dish called “ou cu smântână” (egg with sour cream). When the egg is just about done, lower the heat and add a spoonful of sour cream to the oil. Swirl it in with a spoon, then serve alongside the egg. It’s really good! Like a tangy, warm sauce.
With salsa verde
Once the egg is nearly ready, turn off the heat, and add a spoonful of salsa verde to the oil. Baste the egg in the sauce.
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and add a spoonful of salsa to the oil. Baste the egg in the salsa and serve together.
With a ground spice of choice
Once the egg is nearly ready, turn off the heat, and add a few dashes of nearly any savory spice. Once you can smell it, baste the egg in the sauce.
With breadcrumbs on the bottom
Learned about this one from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. When your oil’s hot, add an even layer of breadcrumbs roughly the size of your egg. Crack your egg on its breadcrumb bed and cook until done.
With hash browns on the bottom
Start with the Josh Ozersky method for making hash browns—grate a thin layer of potato into the hot oil so it looks like a snowflake. When one side starts looking done, gingerly flip, then crack your egg on top. Cook until done.
With frico on the bottom
First, pick your cheese and grate about 2 tablespoons of it. I usually go for Parm or Pecorino, but you could also use cheddar or another melty cheese. When your oil’s hot, add an even, tight bed of grated cheese. When it starts to melt, crack your egg on top and cook until done.
With fish sauce, lime, and herbs
Once the egg is nearly ready, turn off the heat, and add a few dashes of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Once you can smell the ingredients, baste the egg in the sauce. Serve with the sauce and a shower of herbs, like cilantro.
With fried capers
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and add a spoonful of capers to the oil. Let them fry up, then serve the egg with the capers on top.
With shallot and thyme
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and a few slices of shallot and leaves from a sprig of thyme. Once you can smell the ingredients, baste the egg with the seasoned oil, then serve the egg with the shallots.
With ground turmeric and mustard seeds
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and a dash of ground turmeric and mustard seeds. Once you can smell the ingredients, baste the egg with the seasoned oil, then serve the egg along with the flavored oil.
With anchovy and chile
Add your oil, one anchovy, and a dried chile (like arbol) to your skillet and warm over medium heat. As the anchovy breaks down, stir it into the oil. After a few minutes, remove the chile, crank up the heat, and fried your egg, basting with the anchovy-chile oil.
With cumin and fennel seed
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, and a dash of ground cumin (or whole cumin seeds) and fennel seeds. Once you can smell the ingredients, baste the egg with the seasoned oil, then serve the egg along with the flavored oil.
With ginger, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar
Heat your olive oil with a bit of sesame oil. Add 2 or so slices of ginger. Once it’s aromatic, add the egg. When it’s just about ready, add just a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar to the oil, baste the egg with the vinegar, and serve.
With hot sauce
Once the egg is nearly ready, turn the heat off, then add a few dashes of hot sauce to the oil. Baste the egg with the spicy oil, then serve with with the oil drizzled over.
This one is inspired by Roger Vergé. Start the eggs in butter instead of oil. When they’re done, remove them and add two tablespoons of wine vinegar to the pan. Let the vinegar reduce by half, then drizzle it over the egg. Deborah Madison has been known to add more butter to fashion a pan sauce.
With sesame seeds and chili flakes
Once the egg is nearly ready, lower the heat, then add a few dashes of sesame seeds and chili flakes to the oil. Baste the egg with the seasoning, then serve with with the oil drizzled over.
A super traditional Turkish way to eat poached eggs is atop a bed of yogurt that’s been spiked with grated garlic and/or lemon juice.
On a fried tortilla
Get your oil to medium heat, then add a tortilla. Let it crispy on one side, flip, then crack your egg on the tortilla. Baste the egg as you need, then serve.
In a bread hole
You know about this one. An Egg in a Hole, Egg in a Basket, or one of its 64 other names.
In a bagel hole
Put your bagel half, cut side down, into your warmed oil. Gingerly add your egg to the center, season, and cook until the egg is done (either by confidently flipping it or covering the pan).
In bacon bits
Cut a piece of bacon into lardons, then let them fry up in your pan. Remove the bacon but leave the fat. That’s where you’ll fry your egg.
Remove one chorizo from its casing and fry up in your pan. Remove the cooked chorizo but leave the fat. That’s where you’ll fry your egg.
In brown butter
Warm two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until the butter bubbles and then browns. Add your egg and cook until done. Serve the egg with a drizzle of browned butter.
In your egg skillet in warm olive oil, sauté your greens of choice (spinach, kale, collards). Then, make a little bed out of the greens, crack your egg over top, and baste until done.
In maple syrup
You can, in fact, fry (or poach) eggs in maple syrup. Over medium-high heat, warm enough maple syrup to coat the bottom of the pan. Crack your egg into the syrup and baste with syrup until done.
Because sometimes, even when you can do so much to it, an egg, straight up, can’t be beat.