Why You Shouldn't Fry Eggs Over High Heat

Frying an egg should be a simple task. It should be as easy as making a cereal bowl, buttering toast, or cooking instant noodles. And yet, the way to cook the perfect egg has proven quite difficult. You might know what type of fried egg you want, but can you actually make it? Sometimes you're trying to fry your egg sunny-side-up, leaving the egg untouched after you crack it in your oiled skillet, but the bottom burns. Or maybe you decide to have it over easy. You flip your sunny-side-up egg over and cook it briefly, but instead of a runny yolk, it has a jammy or even completely set center. You ended up with an over medium or over hard egg by accident.

For some reason, it seems impossible to get egg whites set perfectly while tempering that gooey center to their preferred degree of doneness. When an egg meets a pan, there are endless possibilities, which also means endless potential for mistakes. Most of the time, the reason why your eggs aren't coming out restaurant quality is high heat.

Too much heat is a recipe for disaster

The delicate protein of an egg should never come into contact with a sizzling pan on high heat. When you crack your egg onto a griddle that is too hot the whites of the egg bubble up, creating a thick outer layer of crunchy, brown lace, per Southern Living. The slowly moving protein molecules in the egg whites become agitated in extremely high heat, breaking and forming bonds with one another. The result: A long chain of connected proteins, which make the egg whites rubbery and dry, according to Exploratorium. This chemical reaction, also known as the Maillard reaction, is great for cooking meat, which is why meats are seared in hot cast iron skillets to bring out more flavor. This may be desired in a nice grilled steak, but most definitely not in your over-easy eggs. To make things worse, high heat makes the yolk come out tough and crumbly. It is not a pleasant experience; your crispy, chewy egg isn't texturally harmonious with the rest of your breakfast.

The only way to be in control of how your eggs turn out is to cook them on low to medium heat, according to Southern Living. Medium heat gives you the ability to cook to your desired level of doneness while maintaining a flawless egg white. Whether you like your eggs over easy or hard, your egg whites are guaranteed to be perfectly set. Once you've mastered the fried egg, you can move on to more exciting egg dishes.