This paprika fried egg recipe might seem counterintuitive, but will help you get a well-seasoned egg yolk and flavorful egg white every time. You can really get creative with this!
Try combining this technique with my two-step trick for a perfectly runny egg yolk for best results.
UPDATE 8/25/2021 — I've refreshed this post with new photos, clearer instructions, more links and information on types of paprika, a more robust FAQ, and even more tips.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making any non-scrambled egg is getting your seasoning into the egg white.
Whether you're serving your fried egg sunny-side up, over-easy, over-medium, poached, hard-boiled, or fried, by the time you add salt and pepper, the white has begun to set. And if the yolk is whole, it's hard to get salt and pepper into that golden center.
Since I've been working at home for the past few months, an egg on toast (or egg-in-toast) has become one of my quick go-to breakfasts. I've always seasoned fried eggs with a little salt and pepper; occasionally mixing it up and using Trader Joe's lemon pepper instead.
But my current favorite way to eat a fried egg is with a bit of paprika bloomed in oil before the egg even hits the pan.
Salt intensifies the egg flavor, pepper adds some spice, and the paprika adds a mild sweetness. Fresh peppers are a classic addition to scrambled eggs and omelets, so it makes sense that paprika — which is made from red peppers — pairs excellently with a fried egg.
In fact, paprika is also commonly sprinkled over deviled eggs, so when you think about it it's kind of weird that we haven't always served fried eggs like this.
My technique is perhaps unconventional, but it's how I ensure that the flavor penetrates the egg white and egg yolk as much as possible. And when you keep your yolk runny, you can still dip your toast in it without feeling the need to add more salt — the flavor is already there.
(BTW, in doing some research for this post I was delighted to learn that a similar technique is featured on Food 52 as a "Genius Recipe" so perhaps not as unconventional as I thought!)
🍳 How to make a paprika fried egg
Instead of cracking the egg into the pan and then seasoning it with salt and pepper, start by blooming the salt, pepper, and paprika in the pan and then add the egg. (As always, remember to heat your stainless steel pans before adding oil.)
The hot oil helps intensify the flavor of the paprika, which will fizz a little and become fragrant and dark red very quickly. By blooming the spices first, when the egg settles into the pan, the oil is already packed with flavor that cooks right into the egg.
Once you crack the egg into the pan, all it needs is one last teeny-tiny pinch of salt and a grind of pepper over the yolk before it firms up to seal the yolk between two layers of flavor.
Letting the egg it cook low and slow gives the yolk and the egg white time to absorb the flavors in the pan without overcooking it. A teaspoon of water added to the pan before you cover it creates steam, which helps the surface of the egg cook more evenly.
TIP: At high heat, paprika burns quickly and takes on a bitter, unpleasant taste. Always cook low and slow to bloom the paprika, rather than burning it.
🌶 Types of paprika
There are Hungarian paprikas and Spanish paprikas and within them, even more variations. There's a lot of room to explore! Be careful though — with the hotter paprikas...a little goes a LONG way.
Here are some types of paprika to try:
- Hungarian Paprika - Spicy taste but not hot.
- Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika - A sweet, rich smoky flavor.
- Smoked Paprika - Adds a woodsy, smoky flavor.
- Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika - Tastes like a combination of red bell pepper and fiery cayenne pepper.
There is no "right" paprika to use for a paprika fried egg — whichever one you like best (or already have in your kitchen) is the one you should use.
📋 Take your paprika fried eggs to the next level
Now that you know how to make a paprika fried egg, consider serving yours:
- On a slice of cheddar-jalapeño bread
- Inside a bell pepper ring
- With finely grated fresh parmesan over the top
- Cooked in bacon fat
- On a burger
- Over smashed avocado or guacamole
- With a potato pancake
- With a zig-zag of hot sauce
- Others???? Leave a comment below and tell me how you serve yours!
🧂 Other great seasonings for eggs
You don't have to stop with paprika. There are lots of other herbs and spices that benefit from being bloomed in oil before you add your egg. Here are some to try:
- Za'atar - A Middle Eastern spice blend made from sumac, sesame, cumin, and other herbs.
- Pepper & Lemon Seasoning - A well-balanced blend of black pepper and tangy lemon zest.
- Berbere - A hot spice blend made from paprika, salt, coriander, ginger, cumin, methi leaves, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and garlic. (Berbere is also great on popcorn!)
- Chives - Fresh or dried, perfect if you want that onion-y flavor without the punch of raw onion.
- Girl Carnivore's Over Easy Egg & Everything Seasoning - A spice blend designed specifically for eggs featuring citrus, dill, and tomato flakes.
- Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle - This spice blend has a cult following for good reason. It's a great addition to sandwiches, but the combo of salt, garlic, black pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram is also great with a fried egg.
- European Peppercorn Blend - Freshly cracked peppercorns bloom beautifully in warm oil and this blend of Tellicherry and white Sarawak peppercorns is the perfect pairing for a delicate protein like eggs.
- Chile De Arbol and Cumin Seeds with a pinch of Chile Powder - This combo from Priya Krishna's Indian-ish cookbook makes up a condiment called Chhonk which can be stirred into stews or drizzled over toasts. It's so good, and a great base for frying eggs.
- Rosemary Dijon - Tangy dijon with the herbal freshness of rosemary.
- Amore Pizza Seasoning - A blend of minced garlic, basil, salt, garlic, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, pepper, chili flakes, and minced onion.
🔪 Suggested tools
- Wide slotted turner (aka fish spatula) for removing the egg from the pan.
- Small, non-stick skillet with lid (if the lid doesn't fit perfectly, that's okay, as long as it will cover the egg without squishing it).
💭 Recipe FAQ
You can but I don't recommend it. Fresh herbs are much more delicate than their dried counterparts and will quickly wilt and become brown and unappetizing looking. Fresh herbs are better added at the end of the egg cooking process.
Nope! You're cooking low and slow so you shouldn't be hitting the smoke point of the oil. You could even use butter if you wanted.
For this technique, I recommend it. The idea is to bloom the spices in the oil and infuse the oil with flavor. Without the oil, you're just toasting the herbs and spices which is fine but will give you a different flavor profile. It's also much easier to accidentally burn the spices this way.
Check out the gifs in my post about heating stainless steel pans for good visuals and a detailed explanation of what "shimmering" oil looks like!
paprika-fried egg on toast
- Non-stick pan
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large egg
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- 1 slice toast
- unsalted butter (room temp)
- Toast and butter a slice of bread. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a small non-stick skillet on low heat.
- When oil is shimmering, add the salt, pepper, and paprika to the pan. Swirl to distribute. The spices will quickly sizzle slightly and become fragrant.
- Crack the egg directly into the skillet on top of wherever the oil and spices have collected. Add an itty-bitty-teeny-tiny pinch of salt directly over the yolk, along with another quick grind of pepper.
- When the egg whites become translucent (about 30 seconds), gently shake the pan side to side to loosen the egg so it can slide around the pan.
- Carefully tilt the pan forward so the egg and oil slide into the curve of the pan, and so the oil comes up over the top of the egg just slightly to encourage the surface of the egg to cook. You can also spoon the oil over the egg.
- Add a small splash of water to the skillet and immediately cover it to steam the surface of the egg. Reduce temperature to simmer.Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, checking periodically to make sure the egg isn't sticking to the bottom and to prevent overcooking. Adjust the heat or add additional teaspoons of water as needed.
- The egg is done when the egg whites have completely solidified and there's no uncooked egg white on the surface of the egg. The egg yolk may have a thin layer of cooked egg white over the surface, but the yolk itself should still appear jiggly when you shake the pan.
- Use a spatula to transfer the egg from the skillet to the buttered toast.
- If paprika isn't your thing, you can use this technique with any of your favorite egg seasonings.
- If you aren't confident about cracking directly into the skillet, crack the egg into a small bowl first so you can remove any shell pieces before adding to the skillet.
This post was originally published on 1/16/2020.