Butter Vs Olive Oil: Which Is Better For Frying Eggs?

There are countless different ways to cook eggs, but when you are hungry and not feeling like getting creative in the kitchen, your best bet is to opt for the simple satisfaction of a good old-fashioned fried egg. You do not need any fancy cooking equipment or even a recipe, but you do need to decide what kind of fat you want to fry your eggs in. Butter and olive oil are both good options, but when it comes down to deciding which is better, the answer is tricky because in this case 'better' is a matter of taste.

Barring a dairy allergy that would disqualify butter from being an option in the first place, the main elements to consider in this comparison are texture and flavor. If you are craving a rich and creamy fried egg, throw a knob of butter in the pan; however, if your ideal fried egg comes with crispy edges and complex flavors, go for a drizzle of olive oil.

For decadent and soft eggs, butter is better

Frying an egg in butter gives the egg a soft, almost velvety consistency, and enrobes the entire dish in a slightly sweet, distinctly decadent buttery flavor. This method makes it extra easy to ensure that the egg whites are cooked through while keeping the yolk at your preferred level of runny since the butter facilitates the process of flipping the egg from one side to the other. You can also bathe the egg in the butter, much like you might a steak, to cook the white without flipping.

For the best experience frying your egg in butter, melt butter in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat (about one tablespoon per egg), allowing it to become hot and slightly foamy before cracking your eggs into it. If you enjoy the nutty taste of browned butter, allow the butter to cook slightly longer. For an extra flavor boost or to add some textural contrast, upgrade your fried eggs with unexpected ingredients like sesame seeds, bread crumbs, or tomato paste. You can also cook your egg in compound butter flavored with fresh herbs or spices.

For crispy fried eggs, olive oil is optimal

If what you love most about a fried egg is the lacy, crunchy rim around the edge, then olive oil is the right choice for you. A generous glug of good oil in a hot pan is the key to creating a range of textures in your fried egg — from the golden crust to solidly set whites to the runny yolk at the center — all while adding the complex herbaceous flavors of olive oil to every bite.

The trick to frying eggs in olive oil is to heat the pan and then the oil before carefully cracking the egg into it, ensuring a delicious sizzle. As it cooks, baste the egg by tilting the pan toward you, then drizzle spoonfuls of hot oil over the whites. Olive oil has a higher smoke point, which is one reason why you get that nice, crusty edge to your egg. It cooks quickly, doesn't need any fancy additions (save for maybe a pinch of salt and pepper or a dash of hot sauce), and you don't need to bother flipping it and risk breaking your runny yolk.