Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
What Are Coddled Eggs?
Coddled eggs by literal definition are slightly cooked eggs, used as an ingredient in a number of dishes, perhaps most famously, caesar salad. While eggs can be coddled in their shells, the methods featured on this page focus on using dedicated egg coddlers. These small porcelain dishes have been in use since Victorian times for coddling eggs and allow the egg coddling process to be better managed in a number of ways.
Coddled eggs are normally cooked in water that is slightly below boiling point, and this, combined with the fact that the eggs are traditionally only partly cooked, has raised health fears among many in recent times. For this reason, this article will look at how the egg coddling process can be extended a little bit further to produce what amount to soft boiled, or lightly poached eggs, served with a variety of delicious accompaniments.
Why Should I Coddle My Eggs?
It may seem to many that if we are to effectively boil/poach the eggs, the coddling process is an unnecessary inconvenience. On the contrary, this method of cooking eggs still holds a number of advantages over the simple boiling/poaching process, including but not limited to:
- The egg can be effectively seasoned prior to cooking for maximum flavour.
- The coddler ensures a perfect presentation of the cooked egg, where poaching is prone to going drastically wrong at the worst possible time.
- Coddled eggs which are removed from the water and found to be slightly underdone can easily be further cooked while boiled eggs can not.
- Serving coddled eggs in the egg coddler makes for an attractive and original presentation.
How to Coddle an Egg: The Basics
- The coddlers to be used should be spotlessly clean and dry inside.
- As the water will be required to come around two-thirds of the way up the side of the coddlers during cooking, a good way to measure this is to place all the coddlers being used into a pot and fill with cold water to the required level.
- Remove the coddlers and put the pot on to the heat for the water to reach a boil while the eggs are being prepared.
- The coddlers should still be lightly greased on the inside with butter, even though they are going to be served in the dish that won't require them to be removed.
- Oil can be used but butter is infinitely preferable. Simply take a small amount of butter in each instance and use the first two fingers of one hand to smear it lightly and evenly around the inside of the egg coddler, not forgetting the inside of the lid.
Step 1: Break the Egg in a Small Bowl
There may be a temptation to simply break the egg directly into the egg coddler. This is not advisable for several reasons.
- Breaking the egg firstly into a small cup or bowl allows easy removal of any errant pieces of shell which may land in the bowl. This is not so easy from the egg coddler and may force you to pour the egg out again to take this action.
- The egg can be seasoned in the bowl with salt and pepper (perhaps some dried herbs?) and the act of transferring the egg to the coddler alone will combine the seasoning with the egg for full flavour. Seasoning the egg in the coddler can also leave an unattractive pepper crust on the top of the cooked egg.
- It is considerably easier to pour the egg into the coddler from a small cup or bowl than to break it directly from the shell.
Step 2: Put the Egg in the Coddler
- Pour the egg into the egg coddler, careful not to spill any and particularly not to break the yolk.
- Screw the lid on to the coddler but do not overdo it. The lid should be screwed on only until reasonable resistance is felt; if it is too tight, the vacuum that is formed will be akin to canning, and it will be extremely difficult to later remove.
- Place each coddler very carefully into the boiling water by holding it by the ring on top of the lid and note the time or start your egg timer.
- It is at this stage the procedures now vary from the traditional. If coddling an egg to simply partially cook it, the heat would be reduced to achieve barely a simmer and the eggs cooked for five or six minutes.
- To cook them equivalent to boiled/poached eggs, the boil should be maintained for seven to nine minutes, depending upon preference.
Note: It is important also to note that the eggs featured on this page were coddled from room temperature and eggs taken straight from the refrigerator will require a minute or two longer.
Step 3: Removing the Egg Coddlers From the Boiling Water
It should go without saying that although children may wish to help in many of the fun parts of egg coddling and preparing the accompaniments, this bit is very much for adults only.
- Switch the heat off under the pot, which should immediately stop the rolling boil.
- Wrap your hand well with a towel or don an oven protecting glove.
- Carefully lift the egg coddlers from the water, one at a time, by the ring on top of the lid, ensuring you have a firm grip in each instance.
- Sit the egg coddler on a hard, steady, heat resistant surface.
- Wrap the towel over and around the egg coddler. Use one hand to steady the coddler and the other to unscrew the lid. Unscrew the lid properly and not by holding the ring.
Coddled Eggs and Toasted Bread Recipe Ideas
If you wish to coddle an egg and serve it extremely simply, with toasted soldiers and nothing more, it is perfectly possible to do so and every bit as delicious as the conventional boiled egg and soldiers. Why not, however, go a little beyond the obvious to celebrate your new egg coddling skills? How would your kids enjoy mini pizzas with their morning egg instead of soldiers...?
The idea of having cheese for breakfast will be off-putting to many people but in some countries, such as Austria or the Czech Republic, different cheeses form a huge part of a hearty breakfast. This suggestion incorporates mozzarella cheese, roasted over French-style bread slices and scattered with fresh cress, as is often served with eggs.
Cut slices of around three-quarters an inch thick from a French-style loaf. Cutting at a forty-five-degree angle as shown gives bigger slices to work with and makes the process easier. Toast the bread under an overhead grill on one side only.
Take a piece of mozzarella cheese designed for use on pizzas (note that the soft balls of mozzarella sold in brine are not suitable) and cut some quarter-inch thick slices. When one side of the bread is toasted, turn the slices over and place the mozzarella on top. Put back under the grill to melt the cheese.
Scatter the cress over the mozzarella slices and serve with a freshly coddled egg.
Instead of mozzarella cheese, you may wish to use a grated/shredded hard cheese such as cheddar. In this instance, try mixing it with some finely chopped onion and dried sage, prior to placing it on the bread.
Coddled Egg Lunch Recipe Ideas
Coddled eggs are not just for breakfast and can easily be made to form a part of a tasty, light lunch or snack.
Eggs go particularly well with asparagus and these asparagus spears are perfect for dipping into a freshly coddled egg, just as toasted soldiers would be in a boiled egg. The asparagus spears were trimmed and steamed for eight minutes as the coddled egg was cooking and freshly ground black pepper makes the perfect seasoning. Fresh bread to accompany this dish makes the perfect snack or extremely light lunch where perhaps a large dinner is to be eaten later.
Coddled eggs go extremely well with smoked salmon. This incredibly simple salad is merely a few slices of oak-smoked Scottish salmon on some fresh rocket leaves and serving this dish with a fork and teaspoon allows the different tastes to be enjoyed in perfect combination. If you have access to them, Scottish oatcakes would be excellent with this dish but bread is again a perfect accompaniment.
Coddled eggs may be a concept with which a great many people were previously unfamiliar but hopefully, it can now be seen that they afford a great many possibilities for adding some additional variety to any family menu. By simply considering how boiled or poached eggs would normally be served, it should be possible to come up with a wide range of tasty ideas for getting the most out of your new egg coddlers, at virtually any time of day.
Thank you for your visit to this page and for your time spent reading through it. Any comments or feedback which you have may be left in the space provided below.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on March 05, 2019:
Thank you very much Paul and great to hear from you! I think you are right in that coddled eggs are in many ways a throw back to our past but that is also a shame as it is such a great way to cook eggs. Hope you have the opportunity sometime to give them a try.
The Bard from London, England & San Pablo City, Philippines on February 25, 2019:
Superb article and so very well presented. Thanks Gordon. Coddled eggs were something I heard from my grandmother years ago - never knew what she was talking about! Thanks for your brilliant explanation. So delighted to see you again!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 22, 2019:
Hello, Vivian. I'm delighted to hear that you have and enjoy using egg coddlers. Your recipe sounds absolutely delicious! It is amazing how the concept is new to so many people and it's great that you're able to share your knowledge with others. Thanks very much for reading and commenting.
Vivian Hanson on February 16, 2019:
I have 4 coddlers made in England. I have used them for years for both family and guests. Everyone loves them!.I butter the coddlers, add an extra dab to the bottom, thinly sliced scallions, fine diced cheese, and a bit of diced cooked ham. Then the egg, with another dab of butter on top, plus sat & pepper. My friend that I haven't talked to in 15+ years could not stop talking of my coddled eggs !!!That's what she remembers most!!
Patricia Robinson on July 07, 2017:
Well, here goes. I've just bought two coddlers from a charity shop and I'm going to have a go now. I love a soft boiled egg but either crack the shell during cooking or over cook. Nothing worse than a hard yolk when you want to dip soldiers. Thank you so much for the advice. It's coddled eggs for me from now on. Cheers.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on September 04, 2016:
You're very welcome, Katrhyme. I'm delighted you've found the joy of using your egg coddlers and thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Katrhyme on July 26, 2016:
Bought Royal Worcester containers at a thrift store years ago and always intended to try making coddled eggs. Well, finally did it using your instructions. Delicious! Thank you foe explaining the process so well and the photos.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 13, 2015:
I think you must have much bigger coddlers than me, LzbthCldwll. I have to make sure not to use large eggs, so as they fit in to my coddlers. They are definitely designed only to contain one egg at a time. Hope you have better results in future. Thanks for visiting and for letting me know how you got on.
LzbthCldwll on April 02, 2015:
I received an egg coddler from my mother, who did not know what it was :) Tried it this morning and like Jen ended up with a hard boiled egg at the bottom. My second egg (closest to the lid) was cooked medium at the yolk.
I am wondering if perhaps I should have only used one egg? It held 2 just fine, but maybe it isn't supposed to be full up to the top?
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 11, 2013:
Thank you for your comment and I'm glad you have discovered how to use your egg coddlers.
With regard to the problem in cooking consistency, I would suggest three possibilities.
1) You may not have enough water in the pan. Make sure the water comes around two-thirds of the way up the side of each coddler.
2) You may have the water boiling too hard to suit your particular type of coddlers. Trying reducing to a moderate simmer.
3) Are you remembering to grease the inside of the coddlers lightly with butter? This is important.
I hope one of these options is the right one for you and that you get to enjoy coddled eggs at their very best.
Jen Stanbro on July 11, 2013:
I have owned two coddlers that I think were my grandmother's and never really understood how they were untended to be used. (I think I have served jam in them once or twice!)
I love soft bouled eggs, butnhate peeling them. The coddler seems the perfect answer. And so elegant!
Now for my question on method: I have given coddling eggs a try and I found the bottoms to be well-cooked (maybe even over cooked), but the top was still a bit runny for my taste. Any ideas?
Thank you in advance.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on March 08, 2013:
Hi, Scott. If it works - great! Same result and being able to save money is always desireable. Thanks for visiting and commenting to give me this new idea :)
scott on March 05, 2013:
I know this is sacrilege, but I couldn't afford $40 coddlers. I have been using 4 oz Ball quilted canning jars with screw top lids. They look kind of funky-country chic on the the plate and work pretty well. I usually put 2 whole eggs plus one yolk per cup, along with seasoning and they are always a hit. I DO always serve the eggs with a proper ceramic or stainless steel egg spoon though. Lol.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 05, 2013:
Hello, healthwealthmusic. Thanks for stopping by and I'm delighted you now know what coddled eggs are. I hope you give them a try.
Ruth R. Martin from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York on February 04, 2013:
While I am not a great egg-lover, unlike my Dad and my brother, I have always wondered what coddled eggs were - I never had them :) thanks for explaining it all so nicely!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 24, 2013:
You're welcome, Jamscooks. Good luck with your ongoing development of your salads.
Jamscooks on January 23, 2013:
Thanks so much! I recently started doing Caesar salads "from scratch". They have rave reviews but I really didn't know about the eggs and whether I was doing them right. I'm happy to know that I'm right on track!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 23, 2013:
Hi, Jamscooks. Coddled eggs for Caesar salads are cooked a lot less than the eggs on this page so the white is largely still in its liquid form. Hope this hlps. Thanks for visiting.
Jamscooks on January 22, 2013:
How do you mix an egg that is cooked enough to have a hard egg white in a Caesar Salad dressing? How are you supposed to whisk oil into it?
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on October 18, 2012:
Thanks, James. I felt this was a process that definitely needed explaining in pictures. Glad you like them and hope you might consider egg coddling as a new egg cooking technique.
James Timothy Peters from Hammond, Indiana on October 16, 2012:
These pics are fabulous!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 03, 2012:
Hi, Mary. I'm glad to have been able to bring back a good memory for you. I hope that you get to enjoy a coddled egg very soon. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mary from Washington on April 02, 2012:
I have not had a properly coddled egg in so long. I had pretty much forgotten about them. Now I am hungry for one. Thank you.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 28, 2012:
Hi, RTalloni. Coddling is a great way of cooking eggs and I hope you like them when you give them a try. I sometimes think of them as a cross between boiled and poached eggs. Thanks for reading and commenting.
RTalloni on February 27, 2012:
I have heard of coddled eggs, but now this formal introduction has inspired me to give them a try. Thanks for a neat hub.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 21, 2011:
Thanks, Jamie. Yes, it is a great way to serve and enjoy eggs.
jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on May 20, 2011:
Wow, great this hub, I really love those.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 18, 2011:
@ Jane Bovary: I am glad that the Hub proved educational for you, Jane. That is always good to know. Thanks for the visit and the comment.
@ Debby Bruck: Thank you Debby and I hope very much you will try coddled eggs. Another good reason for greasing the inside of the coddlers with butter is that it makes them much easier to clean after use! :)
@ DzyMsLizzy: A boring world it would be indeed if all tastes were the same. Maybe coddling the eggs a little bit longer until the yolk is fully solidified would allow you to try and like eggs cooked in this way?
@ KidsPartyFavors: Thank you for your visit and comment. I hope you will be inspired to follow the steps and try the eggs and that you enjoy them very much.
KidsPartyFavors on April 18, 2011:
I love the recipes! Thanks for sharing, I want to follow these steps.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 17, 2011:
Well, Gordon, the truth be told, now that I know what they are, I doubt I will try them. I do not like at all either the texture or flavor in my mouth of runny yolks. For me, eggs must be either fried (yolks broken & cooked firm), scrambled until pretty dry, or hard-boiled. Coddled eggs, now that I know what they are, sound like a close cousin to soft-boiled eggs, which I've never liked.
None of that, however, detracts from your still-great article and superb explanation!
It would be a pretty boring world if we all liked exactly the same things, don't you think?
Debby Bruck on April 16, 2011:
I truly agree this hub deserves a prize. Beautifully presented with photos, complete descriptions, educational and personal touch. Now I wish to have an egg coddler, but not to have to clean them after each use. Maybe the chef will attend the production of these gorgeous eggs. Blessings, Debby
Jane Bovary from The Fatal Shore on April 16, 2011:
Gordon, I'd heard of egg coddling without ever knowing exactly what it was, so I've learnt something here. There's so much to like about this hub..in style and content. It's so beautifully laid out.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 15, 2011:
Thank you, DzyMsLizzy,
I hope that you are now going to try coddled eggs for yourself and that you enjoy them, whichever serving method you choose.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 14, 2011:
Well, well, well! Very interesting. I've heard of 'coddled eggs' over the years, but never really know what they were!
Great explanation with excellent photos! Voted up!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 13, 2011:
@ Ancilloti: Thank you - appreciate it
@ Peggy W: Thanks and yes, they do come in very attractive designs. Didn't realise how many until I had a brief search when doing this Hub, trying to find the precise origins of the ones I have, which go back a few generations
@ Blissful Writer: Thank you, though I have to hand the main merits for presentation to the attractive coddlers!
@ K9: Thank you. I was glad the way the photos turned out - especially as a few were taken while I was holding the egg coddler in one hand and the camera in the other :)
@ travel man: Thank you and I'm glad you're familiar with the process. Hope these techniques would have met with your former captain's approval...
@ Les Trois Chenes: Poached eggs advice? I feel another Hub coming on, as I do have a few tips actually... Thanks for the comment and the idea! :)
@sharing the sky: I hope this Hub has inspired you to give the coddling process a go. It's actually much simpler than egg poaching. Thanks for the visit and comment
sharing the sky from United States on April 13, 2011:
Great job on this hub! The photos and clean format are helpful to a coddled eggs newcomer. The closest thing I have done to this is attempting to correctly poach an egg.
Les Trois Chenes from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 13, 2011:
Never tried to coddle an egg, but no excuses now! Had to do poached eggs this morning, any advice for those?
Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on April 12, 2011:
I used this egg coddler when my European captain requested me to poach an egg for his breakfast. Congrats, Gordon. You nailed it twice! :D
India Arnold from Northern, California on April 12, 2011:
This is such a good hub Gordon~ you have missed nothing. The images are perfect and the information is very clear and easy to follow. This deserves the staff pick win you received today! Big congrats for your hard work and super detailed look at Coddled eggs.
BlissfulWriter on April 12, 2011:
Lovely photographs. Such attractive food presentation too.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2011:
I have heard of coddled eggs but have never tasted them. Those coddled egg containers are attractive and would add pizazz to a plate. Thanks for this interesting hub and congratulations on your win!
Ancillotti from Brasil, Vitoria - ES on April 12, 2011:
Great hub! Congratulations!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 12, 2011:
Wow. Thank you very much, Simone - twice! :) I hope you and more people do try coddled eggs because so far as I can see it is a dying concept and I really don't know why. They truly are delicious.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 12, 2011:
Oh, congrats Gordon Hamilton! This Hub on the Staff Pick prize for Day 12 of the So You Think You Can Write Online contest! Well done!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 12, 2011:
I had never heard of coddled eggs before this... I can't imagine why, especially considering how much food television I watch!!! GREAT Hub! I've learned a bunch and now I simply MUST give this a try! Voted up, useful, and awesome!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 12, 2011:
Thank you, bluestar! I don't want to be the one to encourage you to disrupt your display but I hope you will, one way or another, try coddled eggs for yourself. I very much hope you enjoy them as I am sure you will.
Annette Donaldson from Northern Ireland on April 12, 2011:
Snap, I have the very same egg coddlers. They were bought for a wedding present 23 years ago and stand on display in my cabinet, never used. Your recipies are great and I feel encouraged to take those little beauties out and give coddled eggs a try. Thank you