Perfecting scrambled eggs is what sets great chefs apart from good ones, and celeb Chef Gordon Ramsay would back us up on this claim, too. He’s admitted that he gives new chefs a “scrambled egg test” to determine whether they have what it takes to work in his kitchen. Most of us will never have Ramsay judging our food, but you can still avoid some common scrambled egg mistakes.
What does it take to make light, fluffy, delicious scrambled eggs every single time? We asked chefs to share 13 of the most common scrambled egg mistakes people tend to make, as well as how to fix scrambled eggs that are less than perfect. With these tips, you can excel in the art of scrambled egg making once and for all.
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Mistake: Storing eggs wrong
Before we even get cracking, let’s talk about egg storage. If you’re not keeping your eggs in the fridge correctly, the rest of these points will all be for nothing.
How to fix it: It’s best to keep store-bought eggs in their cartons. Or, if you’re getting fresh eggs from your neighbor’s backyard hens or something, be sure to stash the eggs in cartons you keep on hand.
“Eggs can actually absorb odors via their shells from other foods. So if you’re not storing them in an egg carton, you’ll want to keep them away from strong-smelling foods like seafood,” says Brent Hudson, executive chef of Hole in the Wall NYC.
Also, you’ll want to store eggs in the main part of the refrigerator, because the temperature of the side door is too warm for egg storage, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Here are a few more tips on how to arrange your refrigerator, according to food safety professionals.
Mistake: Cooking at too high a temperature
It’s easy to burn your eggs if the cooktop is too hot, explains Andrew Whitney, executive chef and owner of Dell’anima in New York City. And is there anything worse than overcooked scrambled eggs?
How to fix it: Rather than using high heat on your pan, “keep it at a medium-low temp to make sure the eggs aren’t overcooked,” Whitney says. He starts with a non-stick pan on medium-low heat, adds a tablespoon of soft butter to the pan, and lets it begin to melt. He adds in the eggs before all the butter is melted and begins slowly mixing them with a rubber spatula.
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Mistake: Seasoning too soon
Seasoning eggs before cooking them is a no-no, says Hudson. “Adding salt in before the cooking process will break down the eggs and result in a watery scramble,” he says.
How to fix it: Instead of seasoning your eggs before cooking them, add salt and fresh cracked pepper after you turn off the heat and before serving.
Mistake: Cracking eggs on the side of the bowl
No one wants to feel the granular crunch of wayward eggshells in their scrambled eggs. Yes, this might be the easiest option, but is it worth it to risk a stray piece of eggshell in your food?
How to fix it: Crack your egg like a pro by giving it a solid smack at its center region on a flat surface, like a countertop, rather than a bowl. Here are more tips on how to crack an egg properly, according to a chef.
Mistake: Forgetting to whisk
A common mistake people make when they’re in a hurry is to break the eggs straight into the pan. This doesn’t give you a chance to whisk the eggs, which is a key step in making perfect scrambled eggs, explains Lucile Plaza, executive chef of Le Coq Rico in New York City.
How to fix it: Take the time to whisk your eggs before they hit the pan. “Whisking helps incorporate air in your eggs and makes them more fluffy,” Plaza says.
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Mistake: Using a metal spatula
Metal utensils are great for many things, but cooking scrambled eggs isn’t one of them.
How to fix it: A rubber spatula is the key to a perfect scramble, Hudson says. “The edge of a rubber spatula is thin and flexible, which helps you work the base and the edge of the pan,” the chef says.
Mistake: Walking away from the pan
You might think it’s OK to step away for a second, but with scrambled eggs, you’ll want to keep a close eye on things.
How to fix it: Always keep your eggs moving, says Chef Andrew Bland, owner of ART Catering and Events and The Purple Onion Cafe, both in North Carolina. This will help you achieve nice, fluffy scrambled eggs.
“If they sit in the pan while you are working on other breakfast foods, they will be cooked too much in some areas and not enough in others,” Bland says. It might be annoying to devote all your attention to the eggs, but it will be worth it.
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Mistake: Not paying attention to quality
Scrambled eggs are a simple dish, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on top-notch ingredients. If you have the means to splurge on organic eggs or a fancier type of butter, you might be able to taste the difference in your food.
How to fix it: Kevin Atkinson, executive chef of Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago, suggests using the freshest-possible organic eggs. He also opts for a high-quality organic cultured butter to melt in your pan. “Add a touch of buttermilk for tang, the additional water content helps create steam to fluff the scramble,” he says.
Mistake: Skipping cream
Are you noticing your scrambled eggs are turning out a tad too dry? Cream could be the answer.
How to fix it: Add in some cream, which will also make your eggs more flavorful, suggests Ryan Stewart, executive chef and culinary director for the Peli Peli Hospitality Group in Houston. A good cream-to-egg ratio, Stewart says, is one to five. So, if you have 10 ounces of eggs, you’ll want to add in two ounces of cream.
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Mistake: Overlooking an immersion blender
Yes, it’s another tool to invest in, but this hand-held blender can work wonders for scrambled eggs.
How to fix it: Executive Chef Kevin Templeton of San Diego’s barleymash and The Smoking Gun says his secret to making fluffy scrambled eggs is using an immersion blender to whisk the eggs. Once the egg mixture is blended, he strains it through a fine strainer to catch any egg particles.
Mistake: Turning the heat off too late
If your scrambled eggs end up looking overcooked, they might be spending too long on the heat source.
How to fix it: “You want to turn off the heat when the eggs are slightly underdone, as they will continue cooking for a bit longer,” Templeton explains. Once the scrambled eggs reach a vibrant yellow hue, you can take them off the heat source and plate them.
Mistake: Using pre-shredded cheeses
Love your eggs with cheese? To get this right, avoid using pre-shredded packaged cheeses, says Whitney. They dry out your egg mixture and don’t bind correctly with the eggs, he says.
How to fix it: “To avoid this mistake, I always like to finish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano,” Whitney says.
Mistake: Forgetting herbs
Sure, salt and pepper are great, but you can make scrambled eggs even more flavorful with some more inventive herbs.
How to fix it: “Nothing beats a soft scramble finished with sea salt, too much fresh black pepper, and any combination of fine chopped soft herbs such as tarragon, chervil, chives, and parsley,” Atkinson says.
Now that you know how to make the best scrambled eggs, you won’t fall for any of these scrambled egg mistakes again.