a fried egg with molten golden egg yolk on top of a slice of toast on a plate with two slices of canadian bacon and a fork

fried egg with perfectly runny egg yolk

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A perfectly fried egg, imo, should have a bright, crispy-edged egg white and a molten, slightly runny egg yolk that bursts when you cut into it with the side of your fork.

Most of the time, when I make fried eggs I use the low-and-slow technique I shared in the paprika fried egg post. But even that method sometimes results in an egg yolk that has cooked through slightly on the bottom.

an overhead close up of a fried egg with molten golden egg yolk on top of a slice of toast on a plate with two slices of canadian bacon and a fork

Which, honestly, I’m fine with. But… Jimmy is far, far pickier about what his ideal runny egg yolk should look like. They have to be cooked, but still completely runny.

He eats his egg-and-toast breakfasts in a very specific order. First he cuts the egg white away from the yolk with near-surgical precision to avoid bursting it, then he assembles an egg white and bacon (or ham) sandwich before finally bursting the yolk with a slice of toast, which he uses to mop up all the golden goodness.

So when Jimmy makes eggs, it’s very important to him that he achieve that perfectly runny egg yolk. The method he uses is a little bit extra, I’ll admit. But it works! And you can’t argue with these results.

a close up of a fork slicing sideways through a perfectly runny fried egg yolk on top of a slice of bread

cook the egg white first, then add yolk

It really is that simple.

Separate the yolk from the white and set the yolk aside. Cook the white in the pan until it’s opaque and mostly set. Then, add the yolk back into the pan on top of the white and cook a few minutes longer just so it’s not completely raw and has set in place on the white. Boom. Perfectly runny egg yolks. Every time.

a hand holds an egg yolk inside of an egg shell about to place it on a fully cooked egg white in a skillet
a hand tips an egg yolk out of an egg shell onto a fully cooked egg white in a skillet

This method also gives you two opportunities to season your egg: season the white in the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper, then another pinch over the egg yolk once you add it back in.

You can also add any other seasonings (like paprika or everything bagel topping) to the egg white before adding the yolk.

perfectly runny egg yolk cooking notes:

  • To crack an egg, whack it firmly against a hard, flat surface, then use your thumbs to separate the two halves of the shell. Do not crack it against the edge of a bowl, because that pushes the shards of the shell inside the egg where they risk piercing the yolk.
  • If your stove or burners are uneven like ours are, you may need to tilt the pan to keep the yolk centered while it cooks.

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a close up of a fork slicing sideways through a perfectly runny fried egg yolk on top of a slice of bread

fried egg with perfectly runny egg yolk

For a fried egg with a perfectly runny egg yolk, this simple two-step technique will ensure you get a molten golden center every time.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Total Time 12 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 1 egg


  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 TBSP oil (or cooking spray)


  • Heat nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or a small drizzle of oil. When a few droplets of water flicked onto the surface of the pan sizzle, you’re ready to cook.
  • Crack 1 large egg against a flat hard surface (not against the edge of a bowl, which can push shards of the shell into the egg) and gently open the shell over the pan, letting the egg white out while keeping the yolk in one half of the shell.
    Carefully transfer the yolk back and forth between the egg shell halves to separate the yolk from the white. Set the egg shell with the yolk in it aside. Use the spatula to prevent the egg white from spreading out too far.
  • Sprinkle the egg white with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. When the egg white is mostly firm and no longer translucent, slide the spatula under the edges to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan.
  • Carefully tip the reserved egg yolk onto the center of the cooked egg white. Be gentle and delicate. Tilt the pan slightly if needed to keep the egg centered in the white.
  • Season the yolk with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 2-4 minutes until the yolk has just set in place.



  • If you want to be even more extra, crack your egg white into a round 4″ cookie or biscuit cutter (sprayed with cooking spray) to get a perfectly circular fried egg shape.
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5 stars
I can’t believe I never thought of this! My partner and I eat eggs for breakfast almost every morning, and we really like them fried. Both of us also like runny yolks, but we HATE that part of the white clinging to the yolk that always stays undercooked, unless you fry the bejeesus out of the eggs, which, of course, sets the yolk firm. I will try this tomorrow and see if it takes care of the problem – it should. Great! Thanks for this tip 🙂