Whatever you call this egg-and-toast preparation — bull's eye, toad in a hole, egg in a basket, eggs in the basket, egg with a hat, etc. etc. — it gets a serious, simple upgrade inspired by cheesy, peppery cacio e pepe pasta.
This cacio e pepe "egg in a basket" recipe started with an idea I had for a very simple cacio e pepe fried egg. But, as I started testing different techniques and preparations, I realized a crucial flavor and texture was missing: carbs!
Cacio e pepe is nothing without the pasta. And a cacio e pepe fried egg is nothing without toast.
Naturally, I had to take it one step further and put the cacio e pepe egg inside the toast.
And, omg, I'm never going back to plain eggs in a basket again. These are so good.
Why this recipe works
The cheese helps the bread crisp up and brown beautifully in the buttery skillet with lots of fresh cracked pepper. And the layer of crispy cheese helps hold the egg in place without sticking or making a mess.
The thickness of the bread contains the egg in the center allowing it to cook slowly over low heat. So, unless the yolk breaks when you flip it, you get a perfectly set egg white and perfectly runny egg yolk every dang time.
My favorite part, of course, is that it takes just a few minutes to make cacio e pepe eggs in a basket! They're just such a fun way to be a little bit fancy at breakfast time.
how to make cacio e pepe eggs in a basket
Making eggs in a basket with a cacio e pepe twist is super easy! Use low and slow heat so that the egg cooks through, but the bread doesn't burn.
First, cut a hole in the center of a piece of bread. Then, melt butter over low heat in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. As soon as the butter melts, sprinkle a layer of finely grated pecorino romano cheese down in the pan — cover an area about as big as your piece of bread. Press the bread into the cheese, then crack an egg into the hole in the center of the bread.
Then, season the egg with additional pepper. You don't need to add salt, because the cheese is super salty! Sprinkle another layer of cheese on top so that it has time to start melting before you need to flip the bread.
Once the egg white has mostly set, flip your egg in a basket to brown the cheese on the other side of the bread. If you aren't sure if the egg white is set or not, try sliding a spatula under the toast. If the egg white is still pretty loose, it will "squish" together. If the egg white is set, the hole in the center shouldn't move too much when you try to slide your spatula under.
Once you flip the egg in a basket, how long you cook it for depends on how done you want your yolk to be! It will likely still be runny after a minute or two. The best way to check is to gently press down on the egg in the hole — if it seems liquid inside, your yolk is still runny.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make cacio e pepe eggs in a basket.
- Bread - I used a classic slice of plain white bread here, but you can use whatever bread you like. Just avoid anything with a large, open crumb and lots of air holes because that won't contain the egg and cheese as well.
- Eggs - I used large eggs, but any egg will work as long as the hole in the bread is big enough to contain it.
- Pecorino Romano cheese - This is the classic, traditional cacio e pepe cheese. It's a harder grated cheese than parmesan and takes a little longer to melt. I like it freshly grated. (See FAQ below for cheese swaps!)
- Black pepper - I use freshly cracked black peppercorns.
- Butter - Butter helps you get nice browning on the outside and brings a lot of flavor to the toast.
A few quick recipe notes
- I use these round cutters to cut out the center of the bread. If you're just cooking for yourself, you can fold the bread in half and take bite out of the center. Otherwise, look for a cutter that's about 2½-3" across, it should take up most of the center of the bread with about ¼" at the top and bottom still connected.
- A thin, flexible fish turner spatula is the best way to get your egg in a basket cleanly off your skillet without making a mess. (Read more about my favorite spatulas).
- I tested these in a few different pans and the best experience, by far, was my well-seasoned 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. They actually worked so well in the cast iron that they actually helped season the pan and left it shinier and sleeker than it was when I started cooking.
- If you don't have a well-seasoned cast iron pan, the next best pan to use would be a non stick one. Carbon steel would also work well, if you've got one. Avoid stainless steel pans, as the cheese tends to stick.
- Let the pan heat up before you add the butter. You don't want the butter to brown!
- Don't add too much salt to your egg. You might not even need any. The cheese has lots of salt in it, and it's very easy to over do it.
- How much cheese you use is really up to you! I found a very thin layer was best — a thicker layer insulates the egg from the heat of the pan and slows down the cooking time. But if you want to use even twice as much cheese you can. It will work.
Cacio e pepe fried egg in toast recipe FAQ
Yes! I tested this egg in a basket recipe with both.
With the powdered Pecorino Romano you'll want a very very very thin layer in the pan — that stuff tends to have a much stronger flavor and be very salty.
Both pre-grated and powdered cheese doesn't melt as well on top of the bread before you flip it so just be careful when you go to flip the bread that the cheese doesn't go flying everywhere.
Sure! It's not traditional to cacio e pepe but there are lots of cacio e pepe recipes (including mine) that use a blend of parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. Again, you'll get the best melting experience grating it yourself, but pre-shredded or ground parmesan will work too.
Yes, with reservations. An artisan style bread with larger holes in it won't do a great job containing the egg. It'll work, but it'll be a lot messier, especially when you need to flip it. I would recommend sticking with a bread that has a tighter crumb structure.
Yep! You can definitely use your favorite gluten free bread to make cacio e pepe eggs in a basket.
I haven't tested this so I don't know. If you do try it, please leave a comment below so I can update the post!
This will work, but it won't taste as good and you might have a harder time getting an even browning on the bread.
Butter adds a lot of flavor to the bread, giving it that distinctly "breakfast toast" vibe. It also has a lower smoke point than oil which means you'll be able to get the nice browning on both sides at a lower temperature without overcooking the egg in the center.
cacio e pepe fried "egg in the basket" (aka "toad in a hole")
- 1 slice white bread (or bread of your choosing)
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (.2 oz / 6 grams)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 pinch salt (optional)
- Use a large round cutter to cut a circle out of the center of a slice of bread. Grate cheese onto a bowl or plate. Set both aside.
- Heat cast iron skillet over low-medium heat. Reduce heat to low, then melt butter in the center of the pan. Add pepper and stir until it starts to fizz.
- Sprinkle half of the cheese in a thin layer about the size of your slice of bread in the bottom of the skillet.
- When the cheese bubbles and melts, press the bread down into the skillet.
- Crack the egg into the hole in the center of the toast. Sprinkle with additional pepper and pinch of salt, then add remaining cheese on top of the bread and egg.
- Cook 2-3 minutes over low heat until the egg white is mostly opaque and set (it will sink slightly) and the bread doesn't squish when you try to slide a spatula under it.
- Flip toast, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until egg white is no longer jiggly and yolk is cooked to desired doneness. For a firmer egg yolk, cook for 2-3 minutes after flipping.A thermometer inserted into the egg white should read 145°-155°F.
- Serve hot!