Unexpected Ingredients To Upgrade Fried Eggs

When it comes to breakfast, fried eggs are a classic. And they don't need much — it only takes a dash of salt and pepper for perfection. But even though fried eggs are delicious on their own, it's worth it to spice them up once in a while, especially if you eat eggs every day. In fact, there is a laundry list of ingredients that can add a whole new dimension to this breakfast staple. And most of them might surprise you.

From brines to sauces, these ingredients add unique textures, flavors and aromas that change the way you think about breakfast. We'll be exploring some of these transformative fried egg additions so you can learn how to upgrade this humble dish into something you'll crave every day. We guarantee these combinations are so good, you'll never want to go back to plain fried eggs again.

Wine vinegar will add some tang

Vinegar isn't the first thing you think of when frying up eggs. But when you mix these two things together, it becomes a flavor punch. The creaminess from the yolk pairs wonderfully with the acidity of the vinegar, creating a subtle tang to your egg dish that's seriously addictive. Vinegar also contains a special ingredient called acetic acid that can make egg yolks even creamier than they already are.

To cook with vinegar (you can use either red or white), fry up your egg as you normally would. Once it's done cooking, add a few drops of vinegar on top of your eggs and let sit. After a few seconds, your fried egg and vinegar combo will be ready to eat. Vinegar and butter also taste great as a pair, so consider adding a splash of white vinegar into melted butter for a sauce to pour over your fried eggs.

Use water for evenly cooked eggs

While water might not be the most exciting ingredient on this list, it's a major boon when it comes to upgrading fried eggs. By incorporating water into the frying process, the end result is a healthier, more evenly cooked egg.

So how does adding water make your fried egg healthier? In this case, water acts as a substitute for cooking oil, which means you'll be using a whole lot less of it (oil) while frying. And the best part is that your egg will still have those crispy edges you'd get by using a standard amount of oil. And thanks to the steam from the water, heat will transfer more evenly throughout the eggs, so you'll never have to deal with runny yolks or overcooked, rubbery egg whites.

To fry eggs using water, simply simmer about a ½ inch of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar in a pan and gently slide in one or two cracked eggs, letting the eggs cook for two to four minutes. Another easy and effective technique is to fry your eggs in a bit of oil for about 30 seconds before adding hot water to the pan, then letting the eggs cook for around five minutes.

Pickle juice adds a salty punch

Pickle lovers everywhere, rejoice — you can enjoy this favorite food with your morning eggs. And while surprising to some, fried eggs and pickle brine are actually a delicious flavor combination that brings out the best of both worlds.

By adding pickle brine to your fried eggs, you'll get a well-seasoned dish that sports a salty and herby flavor that pairs well with the creaminess of egg yolk. So if you're a fan of dill or pickled eggs, you'll definitely want to add this ingredient to your breakfast rotation.

For the perfect eggs cooked in pickle brine, pour in a little pickle juice right before your eggs are done. For more heat, use brine from spicy pickles. And for a sweeter taste, try bread and butter pickle juice. Add even more of that pickle flavor by including fresh dill — or drizzle extra brine on your eggs before serving.

Sesame seeds will give more crunch

Sesame seeds are the perfect fried egg addition for those that like a little crunch with their meal. In an Instagram video from chef Christine Anne Flynn, she cooks her eggs on top of a layer of sesame seeds before sprinkling even more seeds on top of that. The result? The crunchiest fried eggs you've ever tasted. Plus, the sesame seeds add a nutty flavor infusion that makes the eggs extra savory and delicious.

Bringing sesame seeds into the frying process is easy. First, heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil or butter in a pan, then add in a layer of sesame seeds. Crack an egg over the sesame seeds, and once the egg is cooked on one side, flip it over and cook on the other side until it's done to your liking. Finally, sprinkle extra sesame seeds on top for even more crunchy goodness.

Brown butter add richness

The key to the perfect fried egg is crispy edges. It's that crunchy texture that adds a much needed contrast to soft, creamy eggs, and makes fried eggs the irresistible breakfast staple that it is. Getting the best crisp on the outer edges of your egg can be difficult to achieve, though, but luckily there's a hack to guarantee it comes out flawless every time.

The secret is brown butter, which is basically butter that has been cooked until the milk solids brown. When you fry eggs in brown butter, it helps promote a crispiness outside the egg while keeping the center of the egg creamy and delicious. And the best part is that the butter adds another level of flavor by infusing the eggs with a rich, caramelized flavor that's slightly nutty.

Simply add 1 tablespoon of butter in a hot pan and let it simmer until it starts to turn brown. Add your eggs on top and let them cook until the edges are crispy and they're done to your liking.

Get spicy with buffalo sauce

Buffalo sauce is an oil-based condiment, so it can be a tasty substitute for frying your eggs in place of butter or straight oil. Instantly your eggs will transform into an irresistible vessel for your favorite wing sauce. But home cooks, beware, it can leave a very bold flavor that only a true buffalo sauce lover will enjoy. It's also a bit spicy, and might leave you in a coughing fit if you breathe too deeply near your simmering sauce — so keep that in mind.

To cook with buffalo sauce, add 1 tablespoon of the condiment directly into the pan (you don't need to add other oil or butter) then crack your egg on top. Right before the eggs are done to your liking, take a spoonful of the buffalo sauce and use it to baste your egg to finish cooking and add extra flavor. Serve on top of toast with crumbled bleu cheese or parmesan to complement the spicy, saucy eggs.

Anchovies add a unique savory flavor

Anchovies have a bold, salty flavor that pairs perfectly with eggs. While some might be hesitant at first, don't knock it until you try it. This tasty combination is much more satisfying than using just plain ol' salt. It adds a complex, savory flavor profile that's undeniably delicious — even if you don't like anchovies.

The best part about cooking with anchovies is that they will completely melt in a hot pan. This means you won't deal with chunks of anchovies in your eggs, just the delicious flavor left behind in the form of a sauce.

To prepare fried eggs with anchovies — a couple anchovy fillets should do the trick — add the small fish to a hot pan with butter or oil. It should take a few minutes for your anchovies to melt. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn, and whisk occasionally. Once your anchovies are fully melted, add your eggs and fry them until they've reached their desired doneness.

Color your eggs with beet brine

Have you ever seen pink eggs? Cooking eggs with beet brine adds a bright pink hue that makes them look like they've been tie-dyed. And it doesn't just look cool, the brine adds a tangy, earthy flavor that's just a little sweet. The result is a subtle flavor infusion beet enthusiasts and casual beet eaters will enjoy. And the best part is you don't have to wait hours for the eggs to marinate in beet brine to take on the flavor, you simply add a little on top and it's ready to go.

Keep in mind, however, since there's no oil in beet brine, you can't technically fry your eggs in it — so you'll need to use butter or oil first. Cook your eggs like normal, then, once they're nearly done, add 1 tablespoon of beet brine on the eggs. Gently mix until the egg whites are set.

Heavy cream is delectable

Oil and butter are the standard when it comes to frying eggs. But as long as there's a significant amount of fat, you can get creative with what you use.

Take heavy cream, for example. When heavy cream boils, the water evaporates and the remaining fat solids start to brown and caramelize. And when you add your fried eggs, it brings a rich, creamy and almost nutty flavor to the dish that's irresistible. Serve with toast and herbs for the final touch.

To fry eggs in heavy cream, make sure to use a thin layer of cream (3 tablespoons will work) in a nonstick skillet. If too much of the cream evaporates before the eggs are done, you can add more cream or water. Keep an eye on the cream in the hot pan, since it can burn easily. Once the egg whites are set and the cream starts to caramelize, your eggs are done.

Lemon is refreshing on eggs

Citrus might not be the first thing you think of when making eggs. But surprisingly, a little lemon is a great addition for both scrambled eggs and fried eggs. The key is the acidity of lemon, which can make your eggs soft and fluffy, while also adding in a hint of brightness to your dish. The zest of lemon cuts through the richness of fried eggs, giving the dish a refreshing and invigorating flavor — which is a great way to start the day. 

One of the best ways to add citrus to fried eggs is by including whole lemon slices to your oiled pan alongside your eggs. While your eggs are frying, use a spoon to baste the eggs with the lemon-y oil concoction. The lemon slices should develop a nice sear to them that adds a smoky flavor to the lemon juice which can be squeezed on your eggs once they're done. For extra tang, sprinkle lemon zest on top of the final dish.

Tomato paste packs flavor

If you've never had tomatoes and eggs, you're missing out. The two ingredients taste great as a pair — take classic recipes like Chinese tomato eggs or Shakshuka for example. Tomato paste, which is essentially concentrated tomatoes, pairs especially well with neutral eggs since it packs a punch of flavor. The natural sweetness of the tomato paste complements the savory notes, turning basic fried eggs into a tastier, more complex breakfast.

To make fried eggs with tomato paste, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your pan and add your paste. Once the tomato paste starts to caramelize, gently crack your eggs on top. Before the egg whites are set, baste your eggs with the olive oil and tomato paste mix to cook the top and add more flavor. Once your eggs are done to your liking, and the edges are crispy, they'll be ready to serve. Add on top of toast or rice for a satisfying and delicious breakfast.

Bread crumbs

Sometimes you just need more crunch with your eggs. And that's when you should reach for the bread crumbs in your pantry. It's a simple yet effective ingredient that adds a delicious crust to your eggs that's extremely satisfying. It's also tasty — the toasted flavor of the bread crumbs is the perfect pairing to the rich, creamy yolk of the egg.

You can use panko for a more light and crispy crust or traditional breadcrumbs at any size, depending on what you want or have handy. To cook with breadcrumbs, drizzle your crumbs with 1 tablespoon of oil and add salt to taste. Heat the bread crumbs in a pan until they start to brown, then add another tablespoon of oil, any spices you'd like, and your eggs. Fry your eggs until they're done to your liking, then serve with a splash of vinegar on top for some tang. You can skip the toast, since the breadcrumbs effectively take its place with their toasty goodness.