How to Fry an Egg – Learn All 4 Ways!

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Knowing how to fry an egg is a must-have kitchen skill and it’s easy if you know the right way and have the right tools. Learn 4 different ways to fry an egg – sunny-side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard.

Fried eggs on a griddle cooked 4 different ways: sunny side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard

When To Use Fried Eggs

Fried eggs can be made in a variety of ways and in a variety of recipes. You can serve them on toast for breakfast, over rice, potatoes, over roasted vegetables, with steak… the possibilities are endless! My favorite way to have a fried egg is on some avocado toast with cheese and a slice of fresh tomato. Fried eggs are a quick (and cheap) way to get a healthy boost of protein.

What Type of Pan is Best for Fried Eggs?

A non-stick pan, skillet, or griddle is the easiest to use and I would recommend it to everyone starting out. Nonstick skillets are by far the most fool proof way to go. If you want to use a cast iron skillet, be sure to use one that is well seasoned. The more seasoned the pan, the more non-stick qualities it will have. Stainless steel pans are my least favorite because they stick the most and you have more of a risk of breaking the yolk.

A carton of eggs, a stick of butter, and a frying pan on a counter top

Fried Eggs 4 Ways:

There are 4 basic ways of frying eggs and you have probably heard of most of them: Sunny side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard. We will go through each method in detail so you will get perfect fried eggs, your favorite way, every time. The nice thing about fried eggs is they are basically all done the same way, just for different amounts of time. No matter what pan you use, keep the heat on low to medium low heat. Pan-frying over medium heat or medium-high heat will make your oil too hot and will discolor your eggs.

1. Sunny Side Up:

Sunny-side up eggs are the easiest to identify. The egg whites are fully cooked and the bright yellow yolk is resting on top. The yolk stays visible because the egg is never flipped. With this method you get the most runny yolk. Sunny side up eggs are great for dipping toast and great for presentation with dishes like Chilaquiles and Shakshuka because of the colorful yolk.

A sunny side up fried egg being pierced with a fork

How to Make Eggs Sunny Side Up:

Break the egg (fresh eggs are best) into a greased pan over low heat. You can use butter, bacon fat, olive oil, or just plain cooking spray. Do not cover you pan with a lid in attempt to cook faster. The yolk will start cooking from the top and lose its beautiful color. Add a teaspoon of water after 30 seconds or so to help the egg cook a little faster. Cook until the whites of the egg become opaque and the egg can slide easily around the pan. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

2. Over Easy:

Over easy eggs have a runny yolk, much like a sunny side up egg, however the yolk isn’t as visible. They hold up better when served in sandwiches because the yolk doesn’t break as easily.

An over easy fried egg being pierced with a fork to show runny yolk

How to Make Eggs Over Easy:

Cook egg according to sunny side up directions. Flip and cook for another 20 seconds. Only cook long enough to harden up the egg whites a little more. The yolk should still be completely runny.

3. Over Medium

Over medium eggs can have yolks that are still quite runny to only slightly runny. The spectrum here can be quite wide. Most of the time, over medium eggs have yolks that are only about half way cooked through. When you cut it open, you can see the runny yolk surrounded by hardened yolk.

A fried egg on a griddle cooked to over medium

How to Make Eggs Over Medium

For over medium eggs, you simply cook another minute longer than you would cook an over easy egg. You should be able to tell the doneness by pressing on the outside of the yolk. It should still be somewhat soft and bounce back.

4. Over Hard

Over hard eggs have yolks that are completely cooked through. You can either break the yolk to hurry the process or you can allow the yolk to harden without breaking it. One advantage to breaking the yolk is that it can be more evenly distributed throughout the cooked egg. For those who want to still experience the taste of the yolk can keep it intact. There really is no wrong way here as long as the yolk is totally hard and cooked through. Over hard eggs are great on sandwiches, especially when you don’t want to make a yolk-y mess.

A fried egg on a griddle cooked to over hard. The egg is cut open to show hard center

How to Make Eggs Over Hard

Continue cooking the eggs until the yolk cooks through. When you flip the egg, you can press down on the yolk until it breaks or you can puncture it with a fork before or after cooking. Remove from the pan as soon as the yolk is cooked through, no longer. Even though the egg is over hard, you don’t want it to get rubbery.

Recipes Using Fried Eggs:

More Easy Ways to Cook Eggs

Now that you know how to fry an egg, now try some of these other easy and delicious ways of cooking eggs:

Fried eggs on a griddle cooked 4 different ways: sunny side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard

How to Fry an Egg – Learn All 4 Ways!

Knowing how to fry an egg is a must-have kitchen skill and it's easy if you know the right way and have the right tools. Learn 4 different ways to fry an egg – sunny-side up, over easy, over medium, and over hard.
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 2 mins
Total Time 3 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 1 serving

Equipment

  • Non-stick pan

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle on low to medium low heat. Coat with butter or spray with cooking spray and crack an egg directly into the pan. If you are worried about egg shells getting into the pan, you can break the egg into a small bowl and then pour it into the pan.
    An egg that has been broken into a pan and is being fried
  • After 20-30 seconds, sprinkle 1 teaspoon water over top of the egg to help egg steam and cook through. Do not flip. Continue to cook an additional 1-3 minutes or until egg whites are completely cooked and opaque but yolk is still runny.
    Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately or continue to cook to one of the doneness levels below.
    A sunny side up egg in a frying pan

For Over Easy:

  • Using a plastic, flat spatula flip the egg and cook an additional 20 seconds. Yolk should remain runny. Season with salt and pepper.
    An egg being fried in a frying pan and being flipped with a black spatula

For Over Medium:

  • Flip egg and continue to cook until yolk is only cooked about half-way (about 1 additional minute). Yolk should only be slightly runny. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
    An egg cooked to over medium on a black frying pan

For Over Hard:

  • After flipping egg, cook for an additional 2 to 2 ½ minutes or until yolk is completely cooked through. You can also gently break the yolk to assure the yolk completely cooks. Season to taste and serve.
    A fried egg on a griddle cooked to over hard. The egg is cut open to show hard center

Nutrition Information

Calories: 122kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 6gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 201mgSodium: 116mgPotassium: 71mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 445IUCalcium: 30mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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