A Ladle Is The Secret To An Effortlessly Perfect Fried Egg

A perfectly fried egg with crispy edges and a runny yolk is a thing of beauty. Whether it's slipped into a bowl of spicy ramen, perched on a burger, or topping a piece of toast, there's always a little room for an extra egg in all kinds of meals. In fact, we'd all probably add eggs to even more dinners if it didn't require dirtying an extra pan. If you love having the option of a single fried egg, the good news is you don't need to get out a whole skillet. All that's required is a large metal ladle and a little bit of butter or oil, and you can fry a single egg for, say, leveling up a simple bowl of pasta.

Renowned chef Alice Waters ignited the trend during a "60 Minutes" interview in 2009 when she showed off her custom-made cast iron egg spoon, but you don't need to visit a blacksmith to get cooking. If you want to add a little more yolk to your noodles or on top of your grilled ham and cheese (add a little bechamel and make it a croque madame while you're at it), a regular standard metal ladle can cook an egg over a gas stove in just a couple of minutes.

How it's done

Alice Waters sparked a bit of controversy when she slid her specially-made egg spoon into the public consciousness, including some ire from the late Anthony Bourdain, according to the New York Times, who said, "I saw her on '60 Minutes.' She used six cords of wood to cook one egg for Lesley Stahl." You don't need to cook your egg over an artisanal wood fire, however — you just need a gas stove.

If you want to try the down-to-earth version of Waters' single egg, grab a metal ladle and hold the bowl over a burner to warm it up. With your free hand, add a little butter or oil. Give the fat a few seconds to heat up, then add your egg. It helps to be a little ambidextrous for this trick, and it's also a good idea to have your egg cracked into a bowl before you start if you're not good at cracking eggs with one hand. When the egg begins to cook, swirl it around slightly to keep it from sticking. Once the edges start to look slightly brown and the whites are opaque, your egg is ready, and you can simply ladle it into place on whatever dish you choose.

Ladle shape is important

While you don't have to cough up $300 to $400 for a replica of Alice Waters' infamous egg spoon to cook a single egg over an open flame, it does help to choose a model of ladle with a wide bowl and an arched handle.

A ladle with a wide bowl will let the egg white spread out flat, so it will look more like a pan-fried egg and have a flatter bottom so you can layer it on your burger or a pile of pasta. A deep ladle, on the other hand, will cook your egg into a more compact, round shape. As for the handle, you want to look for a model that holds the bowl away at more of a 45-degree angle than straight up and down. This shape will make it a lot easier to control the heat and will keep your hand further away from the stove. Chef Andrew Zimmern tried the method on TikTok.


I just had to try this viral way of frying an egg, and it did not disappoint. For sure going to be a #familyfavorite from now on! #andrewzimmern

♬ original sound – Andrew Zimmern

It might take a little practice at first to get the pan's heat just right so that the egg doesn't stick to the metal, but once you get the hang of cooking with your ladle, you can have an egg ready at a moment's notice.