Scrambled eggs are fairly straight forward and are often amongst the first foods children and young adults learn to make for themselves. They make for a nutritious breakfast, but you can eat them any time of day!
So What’s the Best Cooking Oil for Scrambled Eggs?
When cooking scrambled eggs over high heat, you should use a neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point such as avocado or grapeseed oil. If you cook your scrambled eggs using a low heat, slow cooking method, it’s safe to use butter which adds more flavor than oil, but a neutral oil will work just as well.
Scrambled eggs may be a simple meal, but one which has many different preparation methods. I’ll review some of the techniques and optional add-ins to get you the best results possible. You’ll never have to go to the diner again!
Is it Better to Make Scrambled Eggs with Butter or Oil?
Butter is my choice for scrambled eggs with the best flavor. One important thing to note with butter is that it has a relatively low smoke point of about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, you’re limited to lower heat cooking methods, not higher than medium-low heat, or the milk solids in the butter will begin to burn. If you prefer to cook scrambled eggs quickly over high heat, you can and should use oil instead of butter. Opt for a neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point like vegetable or canola oil.
When it comes to making scrambled eggs, most people have strong preferences whether to cook low and slow or quickly over high heat. Both methods, if done correctly, can produce beautiful, soft and fluffy scrambles. However, in my opinion, the low and slow method is a lot more foolproof. Over high heat, the scrambled eggs need to be taken off the heat at the exact right time, usually before the eggs actually look done, because the egg curds trap steam and continue to cook even after being removed from the hot pan. If left in the skillet for too long, scrambled eggs cooked over high heat will turn out tough and dry.
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Cooking scrambled eggs low and slow, with butter, is the best way to achieve both optimal flavor and texture. Scrambled eggs cooked on the stovetop over low heat will take several minutes to cook through—even up to ten minutes. The ideal texture of the eggs can be easily attained based on when you start to mix the eggs in the pan. Some prefer larger curds with a more varied texture throughout while others desire smaller curds resulting in a more even, fluffy, almost custard-like texture. If you prefer large curds, let the eggs cook undisturbed for the first few minutes, or for smaller curds, stir the eggs more frequently while cooking.
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Can You Use Olive Oil for Scrambled Eggs?
You can really use any type of cooking oil to make scrambled eggs, as long as you pay attention to smoke points that match your preferred cooking method. Olive oil is a heart-healthy option that will add some extra flavor to the eggs. Avocado oil, which has a higher smoke point and neutral flavor, is another great choice for those who are looking for a healthier option. Refined oils tend to have higher smoke points and less flavor than their unrefined counterparts. For more information about healthy cooking oils and their respective smoke points, check out this article from Recipe Recon.
In most cases I would recommend using a neutral oil for scrambled eggs. While olive oil does have a distinctive flavor, I think it’s one that compliments the flavor of scrambled eggs. This holds especially true if making a scramble with Mediterranean mix-ins such as olives, feta, tomatoes and spinach. Olive oil is often used in egg-based frittatas for the same reason.
How Much Oil Do You Use for Scrambled Eggs?
Scrambled eggs do not require a lot of oil to prevent sticking, especially if using a non-stick pan—usually just a couple of teaspoons will do. If you are using a pan that isn’t nonstick (such as stainless steel) you will need enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pre-heated pan, and you should swirl it around to coat the edges where the egg mixture might touch. I highly suggest reading this article on the best type of pan for cooking eggs. Nonstick pans tend to work much better for delicate applications like eggs.
If you’re trying to limit oil for health reasons, I would use a cooking oil spray. Sprays make it easier to control the amount of oil and project evenly to cover the pan using as little oil as possible. Another good option for those watching their health is using one of the healthful oils with a high smoke point mentioned above.
Scrambled eggs in their most basic form don’t require any ingredients except for eggs, and that includes oil. Especially when using high-quality farm fresh eggs, you don’t need to add anything to your scramble that would potentially mask the flavor of the eggs. However, adding oil has another added benefit aside from its nonstick properties—it makes the eggs taste a little richer and creamier.
It’s also common for people to add milk or cream to scrambled eggs. Like oil, adding milk or cream also helps add richness and aids the creamy texture. Especially when using the high heat cooking method, adding some dairy helps create steam which further tenderizes the eggs. This is also true with low heat methods—it gives you a wider window in which the eggs will turn out moist and tender rather than dry.
Additionally, I always season my scrambled eggs with salt and black pepper. Salt should not be added to the eggs until they are almost done cooking—since salt draws out moisture, if you add it too early, they will turn out dry. To personalize your scramble, the options are endless. Cheese is my personal favorite addition because like milk and cream, it turns the eggs nice and creamy. You can also add chopped up cooked meat and vegetables to make for a complete, one-pan breakfast.
Can You Cook Scrambled Eggs Without Oil?
If you have a new nonstick pan it’s possible to cook scrambled eggs without any oil or butter. Being relatively new with an in-tact nonstick coating is important for ensuring the eggs won’t stick to the pan.
Additionally, when cooking eggs without oil, you need to be mindful of the heat level. Applying lower heat will make the eggs less prone to sticking than using higher heat without oil. Using a lid is also helpful to prevent sticking. The lid will trap the heat creating steam, and the extra moisture inside the pan will inhibit sticking.
Another way to make scrambled eggs without oil is by utilizing your microwave. Make sure the scrambled egg mixture is in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave on high for about 45 seconds, up to a minute and a half for larger quantities. I’d suggest checking every 30 seconds or so, stirring occasionally, until they are set according to your preference.