After a lot of trial and error, we figured out how to poach duck and goose eggs to perfection. Using the tips in this article, you can too!
Chicken eggs vs duck eggs vs goose eggs
We’ve written all about the virtues of duck eggs and the differences between chicken and duck eggs elsewhere, so we won’t repeat ourselves here. (See: Duck eggs vs chicken eggs – how do they compare?)
However, we’ll give you a quick breakdown of the differences between chicken, duck, and goose eggs that are relevant to poaching each type of egg.
The easiest eggs to get are chicken eggs, as you probably know. Duck eggs aren’t nearly as common, but we’re starting to see them more frequently — even at major grocery stores. Duck eggs also seem to be getting much more common at farmer’s markets.
Goose eggs are the rarest of the three types of eggs. That’s because chickens and ducks are bred to produce an enormous number of eggs each year (hundreds), whereas even bred geese will only produce eggs for a relatively short time window in the spring.
Nope, we don’t raise geese, but our dear friend MJ Smith (aka the goose whisperer) does. She was kind enough to send us some of her goose eggs in the mail.
There is some variance in species-specific egg size based on breed (and individual animal), but the eggs used in this article are pretty typical to each species, with the following egg weights:
- chicken eggs: 2.0 ounces (57 grams)
- duck eggs: 2.5 ounces (71 grams)
- goose eggs: 6.5 ounces (184 grams)
On a yolk-to-white ratio basis, chicken eggs have much smaller yolks compared to duck eggs and goose eggs. Duck and goose yolks are also richer in flavor than chicken eggs.
Their larger overall size and higher yolk-to-white ratio means duck and goose eggs take longer to poach than chicken eggs. Their richer flavor and larger yolk size also makes them a better alternative to poached chicken eggs at mealtime.
Experiments and findings: 9 key factors to perfectly poaching duck and goose eggs
Below, we detail nine critical factors you’ll need to pay attention to in order to make a perfectly poached duck and goose egg. By “perfect,” we mean a tight rounded egg shape, fully cooked whites (but not over-cooked), and cooked but runny yolks.
1. Egg age/freshness
The fresher the egg, the better it is for poaching. Ideal age: within a week of laying.
This may be more challenging if you don’t raise ducks or geese. Older eggs will poach fine, they just won’t be quite as dense/tightly formed as a freshly laid egg.
2. Water depth
If your water is too shallow, you’ll end up with a flatter (rather than rounder) poached egg shape. Again, not the end of the world, but if presentation is important to you, go with a larger pot with deeper water depth.
How deep should your water be? At least 4″.
3. Water additives (use vinegar!)
Nope, you shouldn’t salt your water before poaching eggs. This will actually cause more of the egg whites to wisp rather than firming up more neatly around the yolk.
Adding about 1 tbsp of white/clear vinegar to your cooking water actually makes a big difference in helping form the perfect poached duck or goose egg. Nope, at this quantity, you won’t taste the vinegar at all on your finished poached egg.
4. Water temperature
If your water is too cold, you’ll end up with a messier, softer poached egg. Too hot and it will be overcooked and dense.
Nope, you don’t need to have a kitchen thermometer to poach your duck and goose eggs. You just need to have your water heated to the point that it’s simmering, e.g. tiny “fish eye” air bubbles form on the bottom of the pan but the water is NOT boiling.
If you do have a kitchen thermometer and want to be precise, you’ll want to keep your water temperatures between 180-190°F (82-88°C) when poaching your duck and goose eggs.
5. Pre-crack eggs
Don’t wait until you’re ready to put your duck and goose eggs in the water to crack them. Otherwise, you’ll inevitably break a yolk on a piece of sharp shell or accidentally include some shell along with the egg as you’re putting it into the water.
Instead, have your eggs out of their shells and in small bowls BEFORE you add them to the heated water.
6. Pre-straining watery whites
This tip makes a big difference in the final appearance of your poached eggs… Regardless of whether you’re poaching chicken, duck, or goose eggs (or what age the egg is), part of the white/albumen will be more watery than other parts.
Ideally, you can use a small, fine mesh sieve/strainer to remove the watery part of the albumen and leave the rest intact. Then pour the pre-strained egg into a bowl until you’re ready to poach it.
6. Water vortex
Should you use a spoon to make a spinning water vortex in your pot, into which you pour your raw egg? Yes, if: a) you want the perfect, more rounded poached egg shape, and b) you’re only poaching 1-2 eggs.
However, if you’re poaching 3+ eggs and trying to keep a tight schedule, poaching each egg individually via an initial water vortex isn’t going to make sense. Instead, you can add multiple eggs to your heated water.
7. Cook time
Exactly how long you poach a duck or goose egg is going to depend somewhat on personal preference. Do you want a more or less runny yolk?
Based on our yolk consistency preferences, here’s our ideal poaching times for both types of eggs:
- duck eggs: 3 minutes and 15 seconds
- goose eggs: 5 minutes and 20 seconds
Don’t forget to set a timer as soon as your egg(s) goes in the water!
You might find you prefer a slightly runnier or less runny poached egg yolk, but these time guidelines are a good place to start.
8. Eat immediately or use ice bath if not using immediately
Remove your poached egg from the water at the appointed time using a slotted spoon.
- You can blot excess water off the poached egg surface with a cloth or paper towel.
- You can trim off any wispy egg whites with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife.
Then plate and serve immediately.
Not serving your poached eggs immediately? No worries. Immediately after removing them from the hot water, dunk each poached egg into an ice bath for about 30-60 seconds. That way, you flash cool them and they immediately stop cooking.
From there, you can store them in a covered container in your fridge. You’ll want to quickly warm them up before serving by dipping them back into a pot of hot water for about 30 seconds (not too long or you’ll start cooking the yolks again).
Now you’re ready to make the most decadent poached eggs of all: duck and goose eggs!
Recipe: perfectly poached duck and goose eggs
Poached duck and goose eggs
How to make the perfectly poached duck and goose eggs.
- duck eggs, fresh and free-range
- goose eggs, fresh and free-range
- 1 tbsp white/clear vinegar for water
- water in pot filled to at least 4"
Ideally use duck or goose eggs no more than one week old, the fresher the better.
Over a bowl, crack and pour each egg individually into a small fine mesh kitchen strainer or sieve. Slightly swirl, allowing the watery part of the egg white/albumen to pour through the strainer and into the bowl below. Then pour each strained egg into its own small bowl or ramiken.
Add water to a large pot on your stove until it's at least 4" deep (the deeper the better). Add vinegar. Next you want to get your water into the 180-190°F (82-88°C) range - and keep it there throughout the egg poaching process. If you don't have a kithen thermometer, you can tell your water is in the ideal temperature range if small fish eye bubbles form on the bottom of the pot. Option 1: bring water to boil then turn down. Option 2: bring water to fish eye bubble stage and maintain at that temperature range.
Have a slotted spoon ready. If you're not planning to use your poached eggs immediately, you'll also want to have an ice bath ready (aka a bowl of ice water).
Once water is in the correct temperature range, it's time to start poaching eggs. If you're only doing 1-2 eggs, swirl the water with a large spoon to form a water vortex in the middle. You'll completely poach each egg, one at a time, by dropping it into the water vortex. If you're cooking 3+ eggs, the vortex method is probably going to be too slow. Instead, you can put multiple eggs into your pot of heated water (probably no more than 3 at a time or it's going to get difficult to manage).
Ideal poaching time: duck eggs: 3 minutes and 15 seconds; goose eggs: 5 minutes and 20 seconds. Set timer as soon as you put eggs in water.
Remove finished poached eggs from water with a slotted spoon, pat dry, then plate and serve immediately.
If not serving immediately, dip each finished egg in the ice bath for about 30 seconds (to flash-cool) then blot dry.
*Special thanks to Downshiftology’s deep dive into poached chicken eggs, which was very helpful when we were first trying to master the art of poaching duck and goose eggs.
More helpful articles for hungry eggheads:
- How to hatch duck eggs: complete guide
- Should you wash your eggs?
- How to tell if your ducks are laying eggs
- Recipe: Christmas tree cured egg yolks (made w/ edible conifer needles)
- Recipe: Duck egg stinging nettle pasta with white whole wheat flour
- Recipe: Duck egg Meyer lemon curd
- Recipe: Stinging nettle frittata
- How to make the perfect soft-scrambled eggs, with Chef David Porras