Perfect Scrambled Eggs

A pile of perfect scrambled eggs on a white plate with a spoon resting beside the eggs.

There’s a big divide in the world of perfect scrambled eggs between those who like them rich, dense, and creamy (that’s me) and those who like them light, relatively dry, and fluffy (that’s my wife). This is the kind of stuff that can really tear a home apart, so in the interest of maintaining marital bliss, I decided that it was only right that I figured out how to make perfect scrambled eggs that are light and fluffy.

Cooking perfect scrambled eggs is all about controlling the coagulation of egg proteins, the difference being that with scrambled eggs, not only are the proteins in the whites and yolks mixed together, but you also have the opportunity to mix in additional ingredients, as well as to control the way the eggs come together by moving them as they cook. For my testing, I decided to begin with just plain eggs in order to gauge the effects of stirring and other mechanical actions. The only additive I used was butter in the pan to prevent them from sticking.

A few things became clear immediately. The difference between dense and creamy scrambled eggs and light and fluffy scrambled ones has mostly to do with the amount of air they contain at the end. As beaten eggs are heated in a skillet, their proteins begin to set. At the same time, the moisture within them begins to evaporate, causing pockets of steam to build up within the eggs. Vigorous stirring or shaking will cause these pockets of steam and air to rupture, making the eggs denser. So, for the fluffiest scrambled eggs, your goal is to minimize the movement of the eggs in the pan, gently folding and turning them just enough to get them to cook evenly into large, golden, tender curds.

Heat had a great effect on final texture as well. When cooked over very low heat, even gently folded eggs won’t get too fluffy. This is because there’s not enough energy in the pan to cause water vapor to form or to cause air bubbles to expand vigorously. So, for fluffy scrambled eggs, you need to use relatively high heat (though if you let the pan get too hot, you risk overcooking—or, worse, browning—your eggs).

What about common additives to eggs—water, milk, and the like? There are basically two things they can do. First, they add some water to the mix, which makes for fluffier eggs (more water = more vaporization). Dairy ingredients also add fat, which can impeded egg proteins from linking with each other, creating a more tender curd.

ADDITION EFFECT ON TEXTURE AND FLAVOR   HOW IT WORKS
Nothing Eggs cook faster but are tougher
Water Increased fluffiness, diluted flavor Extra water means more vaporization
Milk Increased fluffiness and tenderness Milk is mostly water
Cream Not as fluffy, but rich, almost cheesy The fat reduces bonding of proteins
Cold butter Ultra creamy and dense Butter cools the eggs

With all this data, my light and fluffy perfect scrambled eggs were coming out great. I just had to make sure to whisk in some milk along with the eggs, to use relatively high heat, to keep the stirring and folding minimal, and to make sure to get ’em out of the hot pan before they were completely cooked. Even once out of the pan, moisture will continue to evaporate from the eggs, and the proteins will continue to set higher and tighter. Removing the eggs from the pan when slightly undercooked ensures that they arrive at the table perfectly cooked.–J. Kenji López-Alt

LC What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe Note

“Light, fluffy, slightly moist, perfect scrambled eggs.” “Some of the best scrambled eggs that I have ever made!” “The lightest, fluffiest eggs.” “Works perfectly.” “Very nice.” That’s what folks are saying about this perfect scrambled eggs recipe. Looks like all J. Kenji López-Alt’s efforts, for which we’re quite grateful, were definitely not for naught. Originally published October 3, 2015.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 5 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Combine the eggs, salt, and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous and frothy, about 1 minute. Let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. The eggs may darken in color significantly. [Editor’s Note: On some rushed mornings and evenings, we confess to having blatantly ignored this direction to wait 15 minutes. And to be honest, the eggs still turned out terrific.]

Melt the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet, carbon-steel skillet, or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, swirling the pan as it melts to coat it evenly.

Add the egg mixture to the pan and wait, without touching the eggs, until the eggs seem to have firmed a little at the edges and on the bottom. You may need to reduce the heat to medium so as to prevent any browning. Scrape the pan with a silicone spatula as the eggs solidify. Then continue to cook, scraping and folding constantly, until the eggs have formed solid, moist curds and no liquid egg remains, about 2 minutes. The eggs should still appear slightly underdone but don’t worry, the residual heat will continue to cook the eggs even after you remove them from the heat and onto a plate. Serve immediately.

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    Cooking for Two Variation

    • Follow the instructions exactly as above except use half the ingredients and a 6- to 7-inch skillet.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Light, fluffy, slightly moist, perfectly cooked scrambled eggs. What could be better for breakfast or a light dinner? The recipe is simplicity itself, and it works. I didn't really notice that the eggs darkened appreciably after sitting.

    This perfect scrambled eggs recipe is a great guide for basic, tasty, light and fluffy scrambled eggs. I cut the recipe in 1/3, using 3 extra-large eggs, and was able to get scrambled eggs on the table for breakfast in no time at all. My eggs were close to room temperature, so I did not let them sit for the 15 minutes. (Sorry, but breakfast rush did not allow for time to let the eggs sit prior to cooking. I don’t see the resting being very realistic to ever execute in our household.)

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    Comments

    1. I learned to cook scrambled eggs from my grandparent’s cook in the late 1940s and I have never had a reason to change. She was cooking for a very large, extended family and the eggs went into a chafer on the buffet and they had to remain fluffy and tender for at least 30 minuets or longer, until everyone had eaten.
      It involved heavy cream WHICH IS NOT ADDED TO THE EGGS! The cream is poured into the skillet so it is even from edge to edge, allowed to come to a bubbling across the surface and then the eggs are added. From there on, it is pretty much the same as every other method.
      It’s on my blog, see the “Website” pane.
      Also on my blog, How to cook the perfect sausage patty.

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