J. Kenji López-Alt's Easy Method To Cook Fried Eggs In No Time Flat

Eggs can be frustratingly difficult to get perfect for such a simple food, but if you can trust one person to figure out the exact right way to do something in the kitchen it's J. Kenji López-Alt. The chef, cookbook author, and all-around culinary sage is known for his exhaustive, scientific approach to cooking, so you know he has fried an egg every which way just to see what would happen. The best processes López-Alt discovers can be long and complex, like his crispy French fries, but just as often they can be simple, and that is exactly the way he makes his eggs. For ideal fried eggs López-Alt opts for a basting technique that gives you an evenly cooked, crispy-bottomed result in no time at all.

The goal of López-Alt's fried eggs is to make eggs that actually taste fried, and that means high heat and oil. He uses a cooking surface that can handle high temperatures well, like cast iron pans or a wok, to make sure the bottom gets well-seared and browns quickly while creating a crunchy patchwork of lacy egg whites. The eggs are cooked in oil that has been heated until shimmering so they fry as soon as they hit the pan, and as they cook the result of the hot oil is spooned over top, cooking the rest of the egg just enough to set and bubble. The whole time spent in the pan is two minutes or less.

J. Kenji López-Alt uses high heat and oil basting to fry up crispy eggs

The challenge with fried eggs is normally the uneven application of heat, as the bottom can be overcooked before the tops are set and no longer slimy. A lower heat can get a nice, evenly cooked fried egg with a longer cooking time, but it won't crisp up the way you want. The oil basting technique, however, gives you the advantage of both heat and control. You can spoon the oil over the whites to cook them while the bottom fries, and avoid the yolk so that it stays runny. You can also limit your basting if you want a more tender white instead of one that's more airy and bubbly.

The key to oil-basted eggs is, unsurprisingly, using enough oil. López-Alt uses 3 tablespoons for two eggs in a 10-inch pan. You need enough oil to make sure the eggs don't fuse to the pan over high heat, and you also need enough so that you can easily spoon it out of the pan. The only trick beyond that is tipping the pan once the eggs are frying so the oil pools at the bottom and you can scoop it up. After less than a minute of basting all they need is a little salt and pepper, and you're good to go. You don't get eggs much faster, or tastier, than this.