How to Make Perfect Eggs in a Basket

By Jesse Szewczyk,
Jesse Szewczyk,
Jesse Szewczyk,
October 6, 2021 Updated: October 6, 2021

Out of all the ways to prepare eggs, none are as playful as eggs in a basket. There’s just something magical about an egg cooked inside a piece of toast that can instantly brighten any morning. And did I mention they also taste really, really good?

As simple as this dish is to make, there are a few techniques that will help you achieve a perfectly cooked egg inside a golden, buttery slice of toast every time. Here’s everything you need to know.

Are Eggs in a Basket the Same as Egg in a Hole?

If you’ve never heard of eggs in a basket before, chances are you know the dish by another name. In fact, some sources claim there are as many as 66 different names for this dish! Some of the most popular names include egg in a hole, eggs in a frame, gashouse eggs, and a one-eyed Jack.

Whatever you call it, just make sure you don’t confuse it with toad in the hole, which is a completely different dish (but also sometimes used to describe eggs in a hole). Confused yet?

What Are the Origins of Eggs in a Basket?

Eggs in a basket have a somewhat ambiguous history and no clear birthplace, although references of their existence begin as early as the 1890s, when a recipe for “egg in a hat” was published in Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cookbook.” The dish has also appeared frequently in popular culture, including in an episode of “Friends” and the romantic comedy “Moonstruck.” The dish appears to have been passed from home cook to home cook, with the name changing based on who was cooking it.

4 Tips for Perfect Eggs in a Basket

Before you head into the kitchen to make this recipe, keep these tips in mind.

Cut the right-sized hole: A 2- to 2 1/2-inch round cutter creates the perfect-sized hole for a standard large egg. If you don’t have one, use the rim of a small drinking glass, which is about the same size. Of course, feel free to get creative—a heart-shaped cutter for Valentine’s Day is always a cute idea!

Use a large nonstick skillet: The nonstick surface will help the egg release with ease, and the large size means you can toast two slices of bread and their cut-out centers at the same time.

Cook low and slow: Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat to move things along more quickly. A gentle medium-low flame ensures the toast browns at the same rate that the egg cooks.

Cover the pan: After cracking the eggs into the bread, you’ll want to cover the pan to help the egg whites set. If you prefer your yolks cooked through as well, cook a few minutes longer.

What Should I Serve With Eggs in a Basket?

Garnish your eggs with fresh chives, then serve with classic breakfast fare: bacon, orange juice, and plenty of coffee. A bottle of hot sauce would be a good addition too!

Eggs in a Basket

Serves 1 to 2 (Makes 2 toasts)

  • 2 slices hearty sandwich bread (1/2- to 3/4-inch thick), such as sourdough, whole-wheat, or multigrain
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

Using a 2- to 2 1/2-inch round cutter (or the bottom of a small drinking glass), cut out the centers of the sandwich bread. Reserve the centers.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan as the butter melts to evenly coat the entire surface. You don’t want to brown the butter—just melt it. The pan is ready when the butter just starts to sizzle.

Add the bread slices with the centers cut out, then nestle the bread rounds next to them. Cook until the bread is toasted and light golden-brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes.

Flip the slices and rounds over using a thin spatula. Crack 1 large egg into each hole. (It’s OK if some of the egg white seeps out from underneath the bread slice.) Season the eggs with kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper.

Cover the pan and cook until the egg whites are fully set, the yolk is still runny, and the other side of the bread is golden-brown, 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes. Check the eggs after 3 minutes: If the bread is not browning, increase the heat. For hard-cooked egg yolks, cook for 5 to 5 1/2 minutes instead.

Transfer the toasts and the cut-out rounds to a plate. Garnish with chopped chives, if using, and serve immediately.

Recipe Note: If your pan is not big enough to fit both the bread slices and rounds at the same time, toast the rounds separately in the pan after the eggs come out, about 40 seconds per side over medium-low heat.