Alton Brown's Scientific Hack For The Creamiest Scrambled Eggs

Chef, television star, and cookbook author Alton Brown has been charming his fans with his mad scientist cooking methods that are surprisingly approachable for more than two decades. He's known for diving into the science behind the cooking and baking processes, as well as why ingredients react with each other in the ways that they do. His topics often focus on everyday, unpretentious meals that are staples in many kitchens, such as scrambled eggs. While there are a number of different ways to prepare the breakfast protein, his suggestion takes a lot of people by surprise.

You've heard of adding water or milk to your scrambled eggs, but Brown is keen on including a dollop of mayonnaise to the mix. After the shock subsides, consider this: mayo is just egg yolks and oil combined. Scrambled eggs are just eggs and oil (or butter) combined. In essence, it's just eggs added to more eggs. 

But in true Alton Brown style, it's the science behind the combination that makes this hack so good. If you're concerned that your morning scramble is going to come out tasting like the creamy white condiment, don't worry — that's not the idea here.

It's all about the texture

Assuming you like your scrambled eggs more creamy than dry (i.e. overcooked), adding mayonnaise works wonders. Mayonnaise is a combination of egg yolks and vinegar or lemon juice, ingredients which don't naturally combine with one another. However, the yolks contain a natural emulsifier called lecithin which binds to the vinegar, preventing the two from separating. When oil is slowly whisked in, everything begins to thicken and remains stable creating what we know as mayonnaise.

When you add thick, creamy mayonnaise to scrambled eggs, it will enhance the texture, making them richer than those made with any other ingredient, such as crème fraîche or heavy cream. Part of this is also because scrambled eggs by themselves are already a creamy emulsion, so to add another is to add an extra boost of creamy goodness. 

You don't necessarily need to cook these eggs super-slowly, the way you'd prepare soft scrambled eggs. A medium-low, even heat should be fine, but you definitely don't want the temperature too high.

The method to the madness

When it comes to testing this method out for yourself at home, feel free to make homemade mayonnaise (it's not too difficult to pull off), or use a good store bought one. 

Alton Brown's instructions are to whisk together three room temperature eggs, a teaspoon of water, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, some salt, and an optional bit of harissa for flavor. The mixture is poured into a hot pan with melted butter and cooked until just set but still creamy. He also includes specific instructions of the precise way to stir the eggs and how many seconds to let go before you stir again once they're in the pan.

As you can see, the amount of mayonnaise is relatively small; It's not enough to add the flavor or mayonnaise but adequate to achieve the consistency it's intended for. The eggs can be flavored any way you'd like, with fresh herbs, smoked salmon, vegetables, or cheese. Brown's fans and followers hang on his every zany idea, including this one. But he never disappoints, so you can assume it's another good eat.