Breakfast is simple and routine in our home. There’s no reason to overthink an already stressful part of the day. Developing a predictable breakfast routine has been important for our family, allowing us to keep things simple and nutrient-dense during the busy week.
Today, let’s talk about one of our favorite breakfasts: the best and easiest way to cook sunny side up eggs without sticking (and without a non-stick pan!).
We eat eggs almost every day of the week, sometimes with fruit, other times with a smoothie or sourdough toast. Easy, simple, and super nutrient dense. There are 15 different ways to cook eggs for breakfast: sunny side up eggs, Instant Pot eggs, eggs in a basket, and fluffy scrambled eggs are on constant rotation.
Whenever I post a sunny side up egg on Instagram, the messages pour in: How do you make eggs like that without sticking?
Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense real foods you can consume. And they are relatively inexpensive when you consider the nutrients you get for just a few dollars per dozen.
Eggs are high in fat and protein, so they’re a great breakfast choice as the fat and protein keeps you satisfied and full for longer. Eggs are also rich in calcium, iron (helps with energy levels), zinc (aids in strengthening the immune system), iodine (thyroid health), selenium, B Vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.
Eggs are a clear favorite in our home and with over 16 different egg styles, there’s no way to ever get bored with this real-food staple ingredient.
What to look for when buying eggs…
Most eggs are produced in giant hen houses by mass retailers where the chickens are given very little room to roam (their natural behavior) and peck and scratch at the ground (chickens are not vegetarians, they peck at the ground and consume bugs). Living in this environment not only leads to disease (which leads to a greater need for antibiotics) and a less nutrient-dense food (hence the need to add to the chickens’ diet and entice the consumer with marketing: omega 3 eggs, vegetarian fed, etc.)
Look for eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Just like with meat, don’t focus on organic as much since this doesn’t tell you how the chickens are raised. Vital Farms is one of my favorite brands that you can easily find in stores, even Target. Also, look in your local area so you can talk directly with the source (farm). Check out a farmers’ market or eatwild.com for options. As Michael Pollan says, “Shake the hand that feeds you.”
- Pasture Raised: Chickens should be raised on pasture where they can scratch and peck, consuming a wide variety of grasses, bugs, worms, and then supplemented with grain. A great brand found in many stores is Vital Farms. The color of the eggs doesn’t matter. Contrary to popular opinion, brown eggs aren’t the healthiest. The color of an egg’s shell simply indicates what breed of chicken that egg came from. Some chickens lay white eggs, others brown eggs, and some green and blue eggs.
- Local Eggs: If you can, find a local source for your eggs. Literally shake the hand that feeds! Find local eggs at a farmer’s market, through a neighbor (lots of folks have chickens now), or online (check out eatwild.com). (My favorite local and farm-to-table food sources.)
How to cook Sunny Side Up Eggs Without Sticking (or Using a Non-Stick Pan)
What You’ll Need to Make Sunny Side Up Eggs
- Skillet: Any size will work, I usually go with a 9 or 12-inch skillet. Avoid non-stick pans for cooking, as they can leach various chemicals into food that are linked to serious health issues (read more). Instead, stick with either cast iron or enamel cast iron (Lodge, Staub, and LeCreuset are my favorite brands) or stainless steel.
- 1 Tablespoon Butter: A nutrient-dense, traditional fat that’s great for medium-heat cooking and preferably comes from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is my favorite). Go with real butter, not a processed “plant-based” margarine (one of the best healthy food swaps you can make). If you can’t tolerate butter, ghee is the next best choice (butter that’s been heated to remove the milk casein proteins). You can make your own ghee or buy it.
- Eggs: You can make just one sunny side up egg or make multiple at one time. I can usually fit about 4 eggs in my 9-inch skillet at one time.
- 1 Tablespoon Water: This is the secret ingredient that makes this the easiest and best way to cook sunny side up eggs! Water prevents the eggs from sticking to the pan by lifting the eggs and also steaming them during the last couple of minutes.
Step 1: Melt 1 Tablespoon Butter
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the skillet so the butter evenly coats the surface.
Step 2: Crack the Egg and Cook
Once melted, crack the egg (or eggs) directly in the sizzling butter in the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook the egg, uncovered, until the whites turn from opaque to white (about 1-2 minutes).
Step 3: Add Water
Once the whites have transitioned from transparent to a white appearance, add the water to the skillet (around the eggs), then immediately place the lid on the skillet. You don’t need to use all the water, just enough to lift the eggs from the skillet and lightly steam them to finish cooking.
Step 4: Cook the Eggs
Cook the eggs for 2-4 minutes, or until the yolk is cooked to desired consistency. I like a runny yolk so will go about 2 minutes. For a fully cooked yolk, you’ll need to go a bit longer.
Step 5: Season and Serve Eggs
Uncover the skillet and remove the egg(s) with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I also love to add a sprinkle of chopped parsley or chives, if available.
How to Serve Sunny Side Up Eggs for Breakfast
You’ve cooked the perfect sunny side up eggs without using a non-stick pan or any sticking issues (so easy, right?), now let’s talk about some ideas for how to serve those perfect eggs. Of course, you can enjoy the eggs as-is on their own, or you can change things up with the ideas below.
- Breakfast Sandwich: Serve a sunny side up egg on sourdough toast (learn about sourdough and what makes this bread different), or a bagel, or a burger bun, along with slices of avocado, cheese, bacon, tomato, or whatever sounds good.
- Avocado Toast: Mash an avocado with lemon juice and salt. Then top a slice of sourdough toast with the mashed avocado and a sunny side up egg. Here’s my favorite avocado toast recipe.
- Potato Hash & Eggs: Make a potato hash (this is my favorite hash with sweet potatoes and white potatoes), then serve a sunny side up egg on top of the hash.
MY Favorite & Easy
- 15 Different Ways to Cook Eggs for Breakfast
- How to Make Fluffy Scrambled Eggs Every Time
- Scrambled Egg Sandwich
- Ham and Cheese Omelette
- Eggs in a Basket
- Sunny Side Up Eggs
- Sheet Pan Breakfast Burritos
- Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
- Instant Pot Hardboiled Eggs
- Egg & Sausage Breakfast Casserole
- Make-Ahead Omelet Cups
- Bacon, Vegetable, and Kale Frittata
- Spinach Feta Omelette
How to Cook Sunny Side Up Eggs Without Sticking
- Melt the butter in a skillet (such as: cast iron, cast iron enamel, or stainless steel) over medium-high heat. Swirl the skillet so the butter evenly coats the surface.
- Once melted, crack the egg (or eggs) directly in the sizzling butter in the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook the egg, uncovered, until the whites turn from opaque to white (about 1-2 minutes).
- Once the whites have gone from translucent to a white appearance, add the water to the skillet (around the edge of the eggs) and immediately place the lid on the skillet. You don't need to use all the water, just enough to lift the eggs from the skillet and lightly steam them to finish cooking.
- Cook the eggs for 2-4 minutes, or until the yolk is cooked to desired consistency. I like a runny yolk so will go about 2 minutes. For a fully cooked yolk, you'll need to go a bit longer.
- Uncover the skillet and remove the egg(s) with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immeadiately.
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What to Serve With This Recipe
This is a great protein-rich breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Serve this recipe on its own or with a breakfast side. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes:
- Chocolate Protein Yogurt: Super high in protein, this yogurt tastes like chocolate pudding.
- Toast: Toast and eggs are a classic. I love sourdough toast.
- Egg Sandwich: Use the egg(s) to make a sandwich.
- Overnight Oats: Make chocolate peanut butter oats or high protein overnight oats without yogurt the night before. Then serve with this recipe for a protein-rich meal.
- Avocado Toast: Top a slice of toast with mashed avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice and salt.
- Avocado Slices: For a healthy fat, add half an avocado (sliced) with lemon and salt sprinkled on top. Enjoy each bite of the omelette with a slice of avocado.
- Fruit: Serve alongside your favorite berries or seasonal fruit.
- Banana Bread: A classic, make it advance and enjoy all week for breakfast: almond flour banana bread, sourdough muffins, or maple-sweetened muffins.
- Yogurt Bowl: Serve alongside a nutrient-dense yogurt bowl.
- Bacon or Sausage Patties: Serve with oven-baked bacon or cooked sausage patties.
- Potatoes: Roast potatoes or make a sausage and potato hash.
- Pancakes or Waffles: Serve alongside sheet pan pancakes, pancake muffins, or almond-oat pancakes. Or, serve with almond flour waffles or einkorn waffles.
- Roasted Tomatoes: We visited France a few years ago and our hotel served eggs and roasted tomatoes each morning (among other things). Give it a try during the summer when fresh tomatoes are in season. Make the tomatoes in advance and warm them up in a skillet.
- Tropical Mango Pineapple Smoothie: A great source of healthy carbs, paired with this protein-rich breakfast.
Hi Kristin . Just signed on , Like to cook , senior bachelor , interested in any tips aimed at reducing some recipes down to 1 or 2 serves.
Also new Air-Fryer to use ! Some difficulty for some chicken proteins , ( Leg quarters – Back attached with skin and bones .) Any suggestions ?
Thanks for your site , Jim.
Hey Jim, I haven’t dabbled in air fryer cooking. Skinnytaste would be a great site to check out for air fryer recipes: https://www.skinnytaste.com/recipes/air-fryer/
This seems like an amazing trick! Thank you for sharing. Do you think you could do a similar thing with scrambled eggs? We’re weaning ourselves off non-stick, but eggs are definitely the last hold out! 🙂
Hey Summer, I’m so glad it is helpful! For scrambeled eggs, I find using a good about of butter, like maybe 2 tablespoons, melting it, then using a low heat to scramble the eggs works perfectly!
Sounds good. And do you use cast iron or stainless? Thank you! 🙂
Hey Summer, I use both, just depends on what is clean ;).