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From Sunny-Side up to Over-Hard

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Fried eggs are a classic breakfast food, and super easy to prepare at home with just a few ingredients —  eggs, butter, or oil, and your seasoning of choice. Jonathan Katz is the executive chef of Bardonna, and he always has a few different variations of fried eggs on the menu at the Santa Monica brunch hotspot. 

There are four basic styles of fried eggs: sunny-side up, over-easy, over-medium, and over-hard. Each type indicates the level of doneness of the yolk, depending on if you prefer them runny or cooked all the way through:

  • Sunny-side up: The egg is fried until the white is just set and the yolk is runny. It is not flipped and is served with the yolk up. 
  • Over-easy: The egg is fried, then flipped, and cooked briefly on the yolk side. 
  • Over-medium: The egg is fried, then flipped and cooked until the yolk is only slightly runny.
  • Over-hard: The egg is fried, then flipped and cooked until the yolk is cooked hard.

Cook eggs over-easy, over-medium, or over-hard

Over-hard eggs on a plate with other breakfast foods.

Make over-hard eggs by breaking the yolk, then flipping the egg over, and cooking on the yolk side for 1-2 minutes.

Africa Studio/Shutterstock


To cook over-easy, over-medium, or over-hard eggs, flip the egg over and cook yolk side down depending on how creamy or cooked through you prefer the yolk.

For over-easy eggs, flip the egg and cook until the white sets (about 3 minutes), but the yolk is still runny, for about an extra 5 seconds. Katz recommends counting to five seconds on the yolk side, then flipping it back over to plate it. “These eggs are perfect for people who want a runny yolk, but don’t want it too runny,” he says. 

For over-medium eggs, flip and cook the egg a little longer on the yolk side. “The perfect over-medium egg has a little of the yolk set and the middle of it is still runny,” Katz says. He recommends 10 seconds yolk-side down for over-medium before turning the burner off, and letting it rest another five seconds before plating. “Eggs over-medium is a new development in the world of fried eggs and it’s difficult to get just right,” he says. “There has always been over easy and over well, and this is kind of in the middle for people who can’t make up their mind.”

For over-hard eggs, cook the egg like a sunny-side-up egg, but break the yolk with the spatula, flip it, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Press down a little and make sure the yolk has completely set. According to Katz, over-hard eggs are like “the egg version of a well-done hamburger.”

Things to keep in mind when frying an egg

While butter is the classic fat option, any fat or oil can work. “I like to keep a jar of bacon drippings next to my stove and cook the eggs in the rendered bacon fat,” Katz says.

Katz says you can also make the edges of the egg crispy by giving it a hard sear. Get the pan hot, over medium-high heat. Add a little extra virgin olive oil and let it heat up for a few seconds. Crack the egg and let it cook undisturbed on medium-high heat for 20-30 seconds. Loosen it up around the edges and continue to cook to the desired doneness.

Insider’s takeaway

Fried eggs are a versatile breakfast food that takes just a few minutes to prepare. You can use butter or any oil to fry eggs in a non-stick pan, and then cook the egg to the preferred doneness. The only difference between sunny-side up, over-easy, over-medium, and over-hard eggs are whether you flip the egg over and how long you cook it on the yolk side. Season the eggs with salt and pepper, or get more creative with spices. Enjoy a fried egg atop avocado toast, in a breakfast sandwich, or as huevos rancheros for a hearty and protein-rich breakfast.

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