How To Make Eggs Taste As Good As Bacon

by | May 30, 2012
Fried Eggs

Fried Eggs

Something magical happened a few weeks ago. While trying to figure out what to do with the first fresh eggs I’d found at the farmers market this season, I discovered the greatest egg ingredient in the history of mankind.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little (truffles are pretty darn good on eggs), but not much.

Generally I am a big fan of adding some kind of ground red pepper (usually chipotle or ancho) to fried or scrambled eggs. But this day I tried something a bit different.

Digging through my pantry I remembered that I had a ton of smoked paprika left over from the hummus I made. I decided to do an experiment and sprinkle the smoked paprika onto my eggs.

I can’t believe I went all my life without knowing about this.

But before I explain why exactly the smoked paprika made my eggs so amazing, I want to address what I’m sure many of you are wondering:

How healthy are fried eggs?

Answer: Eggs are perfectly healthy, and frying doesn’t make them any less so.

Personally I cook my eggs in olive oil (it’s just easier), but even if you use butter it isn’t a problem since the amount you need to cook is so small.

What scares people about frying eggs is an irrational fear of dietary fat. But theoretically the amount of oil you use to fry an egg should be about the same as you need to scramble eggs, so it isn’t clear why fried eggs would pose any more of a problem. I use olive oil to scramble eggs as well.

The other issue people have with eggs is the yolk. It amazes me how often people proudly inform me that they eat eggs but “only the whites,” as if this were some unique virtue.

I understand that the public health message we’ve heard about eggs for the past few decades has been extremely negative, but eggs have since been completely exonerated from heart disease accusations. There was a time when it was assumed that dietary cholesterol (which is definitely higher than normal in eggs compared to other foods) would raise blood cholesterol, but it doesn’t for most people. In fact, the healthy fats in egg yolks are likely to positively impact your good HDL cholesterol.

Moreover, dietary fats in general have been shown to be excellent at satiating hunger, and are thus a terrific replacement for calories from refined carbohydrates. That makes egg yolks your ally in fighting heart disease and burning fat, not your enemy.

Then there’s the fact that egg yolks are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, since they are meant to be nourishment for a developing life.

And finally there’s the most important part, that farm fresh egg yolks are out-of-this-world delicious.

Which brings me back to how to make the best eggs in the universe.

First you must start with high-quality eggs. Two factors have the biggest impact on egg flavor. The first is the diet of the hen who laid the egg, and the second is the egg’s freshness. Thus for best results you want to find the freshest pastured eggs you can get your hands on. Pastured means the hens that lay the eggs are allowed to peck around on grass eating bugs and whatever else they find.

Your best shot at finding pastured fresh eggs is at a farmers market or direct from a farm, since if they are already on a grocery shelf they probably aren’t very fresh. Try to find eggs less than 1 week old. Their day of boxing should be clearly marked on the carton. It requires a little math, but I’m not the one who made up these rules.

Chances are good that if your eggs are very fresh then they are from pastured hens, but this is not guaranteed. Ask the farmer and try to hold out for hens that are allowed to roam free in grass during the day. If you cannot get fresh pastured eggs, “cage-free” is your next best bet for flavor (though these may still be fed a limited diet).

Without asking the farmer it is hard to tell the difference between real pastured eggs and industrial eggs labeled “cage-free” that are still fed standard or organic chicken feed. One good indication will be the price, since pastured eggs tend to run $6-10/dozen here in SF. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I do not endorse the taste or healthfulness of industrially produced eggs (even the fancy kinds), and if you do eat them you should be careful to cook them completely.

(Aside: I never worry about the safety of eggs from farms I trust, so I always eat them runny. If you think runny eggs are gross, I don’t blame you. Runny industrial eggs are gross, and before I had fresh eggs I would have completely agreed with you. But fresh egg yolk is incredible, and it is something you have to taste to really appreciate. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone on this one.)

Once you have great eggs, fry them one at a time in 1 tbsp olive oil or butter on medium low heat and sprinkle with sea salt, course ground black pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika. The paprika adds a depth and complexity above what even chipotle peppers can offer, and the smokiness is reminiscent of—I kid you not—bacon. Needless to say, it is the perfect compliment to eggs.

Fry your eggs for just two minutes or so on each side, being careful to keep the yolk intact while turning. You really don’t want to overcook eggs, which will turn them rubbery and ruin the effect.

I haven’t actually tried these eggs with bacon yet, though I certainly plan to. But bacon is no longer a requirement for making a show stopping breakfast of champions. Here I served them with some ruby chard sautéed with pistachios and garlic.

Did you guys know about smoked paprika on eggs and if so, why was I not informed?

Originally published March 3,

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115 Responses to “How To Make Eggs Taste As Good As Bacon”

  1. Andy says:

    I’m hungarian, and I’ve never seen eggs without paprika. (Sprikle it with parsley-salt-white pepper-paprika combo)

  2. Cindy says:

    Hi from Arkansas
    We just this past spring bought ourselves some baby chicks and are now getting our own eggs straight from the backyard where the chickens have free run of about an acre of pasture and you are so right… Fresh, grass fed chicken eggs are wonderful.
    My Grandmother, Mother, and now my sister have all been diagnosed with macular degeneration and we have all learned how truly important lutein and the other carotenoids are for eye health. It turns out paprika and orange egg yolks are two of the very best sources for these vitamins so your recipe not only tastes great but is an awesome way to protect your vision. I’ve been eating my eggs with regular paprika… now I have to get some of the smoked. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Liana Walsh says:

    After finally tracking down some smoked paprika, it has become my new favorite spice! And on eggs?? Good googly moogly, it’s awesome! Thanks, Darya! 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    My family always sprinkled Spice Islands Old Hickory Smokes Salt on eggs… So good! I need to try smoked paprika too!

  5. Logan says:

    Never tried Paprika on my eggs, will definitely give this a try!

    Speaking of eggs, ever tried Iranian Kookoo Sabzi? Given your fondness of herbs I think you might like it:

  6. Fenster Moop says:

    yes i figured paprika out too–excellent

    a few more ideas for ‘meaty’ eggs–extra umami

    1. i see you put chard on side. i take trader joes arugula and wilt in hot oil. put egg right on top.

    2. chiu chow chili oil lee kum kee or homemade

  7. Mary says:

    Why would losing weight, even rapidly, contribute to elevated LDL?

    • Darya Pino says:

      When body fat is broken down it can release components into the blood stream. I don’t know the specific mechanism for LDL, but if it is raised in the blood by weight loss it is likely temporary and not unhealthy.

  8. Wilma says:

    Mmmm, I love smoked paprika on my eggs. It’s a little trick I picked up while living in Spain. I didn’t share with you because I just assumed you would already know how delicious it was 😉 I either use butter, EVOO or coconut oil for frying my eggs and all taste great! As far as the issue of pasture raised farm eggs goes, I believe that the bad hype eggs have gotten over the years is related to the fact that most people eat factory farmed eggs from chickens in cages. It’s like comparing apples with oranges as you couldn’t really find 2 more different food types as pasture raised happy farm eggs and miserable (dirty) factory farmed ones. I wonder do you know any research that has compared the health benefits of the 2 different sorts of eggs? now that would be interesting…..

  9. David says:

    $6 a dozen? OOF!

    We happen to have a friend who raises chickens – we get all the eggs we want for a returned carton and 25 cents.

  10. Will says:

    I have to admit that sounds interesting. I had never thought about adding any spices to fried eggs. I am definitely going to give that a go.

    The way I add that bacon flavor to eggs is to cook some bacon and then use the bacon grease to cook the eggs. I really love that, but it seems like I am always running out of bacon so keeping some smoked paprika around seems like a great idea. I generally don’t end up eating the bacon but I love the bacon fat flavor, I imagine it is probably not the most healthy solution.

  11. Sue Wachtel says:

    A few years ago, on the advise of a TV chef, I bought some smoked paprika. I don’t like paprika usually, but this spice came highly recommended, so I bought it. Since then, I use it on so many things. I mostly use it to add flavor to foods I cook on my gas grill or indoor grill pan. Every time I use it, it tastes like I cooked on an open fire. It adds just the right amount of smoky flavor! And about the eggs, my favorite dish is 1 fried egg, oozzy and gooey over a bed of salad greens. This is my perfect lunch!

  12. Ian Dixon says:

    I could not agree more with you on fried eggs because they are wonderful. Well maybe less so these days because they seem to disagree with my stomach at times. Doesnt stop me eating them though 🙂

    One thing I would do different is that I would fry eggs in sunflower rather than olive oil. I think it gives a better flavour when I make up my Egg Butty.

  13. Deni says:

    Eggs are the perfect food for consumption and practical at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. First, the eggs never branded as unhealthy food. But as many recent studies that prove the health benefits of eggs, the egg was bad judgment to fade away.

    Actually, there are many health benefits that you can obtain from the consumption of an egg. Here are five reasons why you should choose eggs as a source of food:

    A. Healthy Heart

    Most of the bad reputation is because of the cholesterol in egg yolk. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one large egg yolk has about 186 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol and the number was sufficient to satisfy one’s cholesterol intake (which according to the recommendation to 300 mg per day). The AHA recommends that people with normal cholesterol levels can eat eggs as many as four eggs per week. Meanwhile, for people with heart disease just two items each week.

    It is assumed, egg whites contain no cholesterol at all and therefore there is no limit to eat egg whites, because it can promote heart health. In fact, a 2001 study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, found that lutein, a nutrient found in egg yolks, can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

    2. Lose weight

    Eggs are an excellent snack for anyone who wants to lose or manage their weight. With 6 grams of protein and only 80 calories contained in a large egg, hard boiled eggs can be a satisfying snack. You can also add a handful of fresh spinach as a running mate. Keep in mind, the egg white has only 15 calories per egg. No saturated fat and cholesterol content in egg white so it is good for you who want to lose weight.

    3. Foods rich in nutrients

    In addition to helping control weight, egg also provides many important nutrients, including vitamin A, and the minerals iron, phosphorus, zinc, and DHA, which is key to brain health. For vegetarians who still eat some animal products, eggs could be the best choice because it is rich in vitamin B12 – essential nutrients that most humans get from meat, fish, and milk. Absence of high nutrients contained in eggs is also highly dependent of how the production process. When poultry laying hens feeding omega 3, it will produce eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve heart health.

    4. Secure raw eggs?

    All kinds of raw eggs – even organic eggs – can carry the risk of disease from bacteria salmonella.Secara historical, raw food eaters feel that can make a fried egg on egg nutrition is lost. But in fact such an assumption is not correct.

    5. Healthy ways to eat eggs

    Boil an egg or cook without using oil or butter is the best way to cook eggs for a low calorie content. Eggs can be an option for a healthy lunch and snacks in the evening.

  14. Karen b. says:

    Salt and smoked paprika make fried eggs taste like pretzels for some reason. It’s my favorite way to eat them. I’d like to try truffles, though.

  15. mikael says:

    Try the book “The flavor Thesaurus”. It is full of tips on flavors that go well together. Some flavors that go together well with eggs include:

    Anchovy, anise, asparagus, basil, beetroot, bell pepper, cabbage, celery, chilli, cumin, dill, nutmeg, oyster, parsley, sage…


  16. Jason says:

    Eggs are awesome so many ways, especially the pastured ones. May I suggest Darya draft an updated egg post regarding the health benefits, or perhaps how to make the perfect soft boiled egg? I understand it is the lecithin in the yolk that counteracts the cholesterol and they are a great source of B-12 and selenium. I eat at least 1 dozen per week most of them hard boiled. Two hard boiled eggs and a cup of fresh fruit is my go to breakfast.

    P.S. if you can’t find smoked paprika try Red Rooster hot sauce. I use about ten different hot sauces and Red Rooster is in my quiver specifically for eggs.

  17. Zachary says:

    First – this is probably the best egg idea since the egg itself. Thank you!

    Second – my understanding of the problem with fried eggs is not the fat, but the oxidation of the fat. It’s why I use coconut oil, which is a long chain fatty acid that is resistant to oxidation, and I cook the eggs longer at lower temperatures (no brown spots) to avoid the creation of free radicals, which damage your body.

    What do you think about the oxidation issue? Especially with frying them in olive oil which burns/oxidizes at lower temperatures? You probably have a better understanding on this than me.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Darya Pino says:

      I’ve read a bit about the oxidation but haven’t been convinced that it’s a real world issue. Sure oxidation and free radicals are “bad” (though that is a massive oversimplification of the science), but are they really bad enough in those quantities to negate the entire bunch of collard greens and root vegetables I ate with this meal? It’s impossible to avoid every toxin in the universe, so the question is how big an impact does this have on a healthy person’s life? My bet is very little if any.

  18. Sigrid Trombley says:

    Love the idea of using smoked paprika. I have some from Penzeys and I will try it. If you like frying your eggs in butter, try ghee. The taste is SUBLIME. One can purchase ghee from any store that sells Indian food items, but my favorite ghee is from Pure Indian Foods in New Jersey. Their ghee is organic, from grass-fed and pasture-raised cows. The company was started by the current owner’s great-great-grandfather in India in 1889. It’s not the cheapest ghee you can buy, but it’s worth the splurge in my opinion.

  19. Fleur says:

    I cannot wait to make this tomorrow morning… Usually I use smoked paprika in my homemade soups and homemade baked beans which make them fantastic. I’ll also start to use it in my hoummos. Thanks for the tip!

  20. krissy knox says:

    Hi Darya! Yes, that’s also how I eat my eggs! Fried in olive oil, yolks very soft, sea salt, coarse pepper, LOL. And smoked paprika. I’ve made them this way for as long as I can remember.. At least with the smoked paprika if not the coarse salt and pepper.

    Okay, now you may be wondering why. It’s bc my mother cooked w the smoked paprika. Actually any kind of paprika. It went everywhere, even on eggs, and that’s where my siblings and I learned it from. Know why? My Mom is Hungarian. I’m a large part Hungarian also. It’s a Hungarian thing! Also a Chek thing. My Mom was taught by her Hungarian grandmother Hungarian and Chek cooking, which included using huge amounts of smoked paprika, hence us learning to use it to put on fried eggs.

    I suppose if you’re not of Hungarian descent, or are not a descendant of an Eastern European country in close proximity of Hungary, that could be the reason you’ve never tried the spice on fried eggs — as it wasn’t passed down to you, all the way from your your great great great grandmother.

    I’m not saying people don’t pick up cooking recipes/ ideas / etc from neighbors, friends, cooking groups, etc. I’m just saying I had a better chance than others, I guess, to learn about the dish of fried eggs w/ smoked paprika! And many other Hungarian dishes! Now I feel truly blessed!

    BTW, Darya, thanks for a great post, I learned a lot about the pasteurization of eggs. Thanks for the help. 🙂

    krissy knox 🙂
    connect w Krissy on Twitter:
    want to be friends on FB?

  21. Darlene says:

    Darya, great tip I’m going to have to try that because we love eggs and get them from a farmer that raises pasture eggs just like my grandmother used to. I’m spoiled since childhood, I’ve always had farm eggs and can’t stand the store ones. Now that I know what goes into them I won’t touch them.

    Just curious why you use olive oil to cook? Generally most people say that you should not cook with it because it has a low smoke point “smokes and goes rancid at low heat” so you lose all of its good healthy qualities by cooking it. We use it but only on salads raw. We only cook with coconut oil which is a healthy option and high smoke point.

  22. Henry says:

    Virgin or Extra Virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, but “Light” olive oil’s smoke point is much, much higher. It’s not any worse for you, is cheaper, and has a very light flavour (as it’s name suggests), so I always use it for frying, and leave virgin for dressings/non-heat-related use.

  23. lilly says:

    I already knew that, I’ve been doing it since I was thirteen. I was trying to come up with a unique recipe for my home ec. class and decided to experiment.

  24. Paula says:

    I am going to paprika my eggs so hard.

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