Josh Elkin loves eggs. It’s not his only passion — the self-taught chef and host of the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown is no stranger to making all sorts of monstrous mouthwatering dishes (many of which don’t even include eggs) which he shares via Instagram and TikTok. But no single food seems to capture his imagination and inspire him quite like the humble egg. Across his social media channels and on his YouTube series, TheJoshElkin, the chef tackles various egg-based dishes with such passion that you can practically taste his creations through your phone.
This egg obsession (eggsession?) extends to Elkin’s Instagram avatar (a photo of his face covered in perfectly fried sunny-side-up eggs), his #neverskipeggday catchphrase, and being named the CCO of Incredible Egg (that’s Chief Cracking Officer). But beyond the hype, Elkin also knows eggs — probably better than any other self-made chef in the game — so who better to get our egg-cooking tips from than the Undisputed Breakfast Champ?
Whether you’re looking to build that epic egg sandwich, need a quick and easy egg snack recipe, or simply want to know how to perfectly fry your egg every single time, we asked Elkin to reveal all his secrets and give us a few recipes off the top of his head in the process. Check out the interview below and be sure to follow Josh Elkin for more cooking tips.
Walk us through how to make the perfect fried egg from technique to seasoning?
For me, a perfect fried egg is low temperature. You don’t want it to be too high because you don’t want to burn the egg, obviously. I like using salted butter as a lubricant on the frying pan. I also like using non-stick pans, although that is controversial with more traditional professional chefs.
I like using salted butter for two reasons. One, butter is always delicious, it adds another dynamic to a fried egg plus it helps fry it well. Furthermore, a lot of the time people have reservations about whether or not it’s too liquidy or whether or not it’s not liquidy enough. That’s a personal preference at that point. I like a little bit of egg yolk in my fried egg, so I go on the medium-hard side. And if you really want to cook the entire thing properly, add a little bit of water, cover it and the steam will help cook it all the way through.
I wanted to ask you about pan preference actually, because I noticed the nonstick pan in all of your videos. Why is that your preferred pan? Is it just the ease of use?
I do that because I cook so much and to fry an egg on, let’s say a cast iron pan… to make one fried egg? It’s just a lot of work for that. There’s an interesting contrast between who you ask and what kind of chef you’re asking when it comes to equipment. I don’t care. Honestly give me an aluminum sheet pan and an open flame and I’ll make whatever I need to make. I’m not specific about whether or not this is better than that.
I’m trying to move away from ‘better’ and ‘best’ and just go with personal preferences. Non-stick is just super easy. You can flip the egg. No problem. You don’t have to worry about breaking it. It’s not going to stick to the pan regardless of what you use in terms of lubricant.
What’s the secret to not overcooking your egg?
I think eggs or really anything you’re using like on the pan, I think, the biggest misconception is the heat levels. In my experience, lower heat, although it takes maybe a little bit longer, is a lot easier to control.
Off the top of your head, can you give us a great egg breakfast recipe, something that’s really going to blow our minds?
This is an easy one. The five-minute egg, which is a soft-boiled egg over toast. Straight up just regular toast is such an easy and satisfying breakfast idea. I don’t like singling eggs out just for breakfast. It’s such an important item in all food.
But the five-minute egg: you boil water, you drop an egg in for five minutes, exactly, maybe six minutes if you want the inside cooked a little bit longer. And what this does, it creates a soft-boiled egg. The difference between a soft-boiled egg and a poached egg is, that a poached egg you crack into hot water and it cooks like that. Whereas a soft-boiled egg, you’re cooking it inside the shell and it looks like a hard-boiled egg, although, the inside is not chalky, it’s very gooey.
Do that, crack it open, cut it in half, and put it over buttered toast. It’s so satisfying.
Can you run us through an omelet that’s going to rival our local greasy spoon?
Eggs are just one of those things that are revered amongst chefs everywhere. You cook an egg and you’re going to be judged on how you cook the egg, the consistency of the egg, what eggs you choose, the cooking apparatus, and the style of what it is. A diner, for example, doesn’t really care how they’re going to cook your egg. Like a lot of the time, the diner’s just making a mishmash and calling it an omelet, which I’m not mad at. I love that. But in terms of the revered french omelet style, where it’s like super, super delicate, almost creamy on the inside and slightly cooked on the outside, there’s room for both of those, you know what I mean?
I love myself a good, super soft, and yokey french omelet, but I also love myself a diner-style mishmash. And it depends, no joke, a lot of the time I split the difference between both of those, add a piece of Velveeta cheese on the inside, just to bring it down a little bit, dumb it up and add some finishing salt on top. It becomes this fancy-not fancy egg situation if that makes any sense.
I’m sorry. I don’t know if I went too off the handle there.
One part of what you do is this mouthwatering visual aspect to all the food. I think that’s really cool. I wanted to ask if you can build for us a sandwich that will blow people’s minds but still be easy to make using simple ingredients?
Yeah, totally. There are a couple that stand out right off the bat. There’s one that I call “The BEAT,” which is bacon, eggs, avocado, and tomato. Typically, I don’t like hot tomatoes, so if it’s a hot sandwich, like an egg sandwich, I don’t typically like a tomato on there, but for some reason, this BEAT sandwich works. Bacon in the oven, cheesy scrambled eggs on the inside, seasoned tomato, seasoned avocado. But what brings it all together is garlic mayonnaise. This is such a ridiculously delicious sandwich and so easy to do. There’s nothing more to it than just taking a clove of garlic and microplaning it into some mayonnaise. I know it sounds stupid, a lot of people have their things about mayonnaise, but this is amazing.
What quick and easy egg-based snack can you give us?
So there’s this Japanese frying pan that makes rolled omelets. A Makiyakinabe omelet pan. It’s a square pan. You make a specific style of egg dish in there where you lay a beaten egg and then you cook it, and then you roll it up, and then you add more egg and roll it up. And it ends up becoming this like multiply rolled egg omelet using this pan.
I saw that and I was like, “Okay, this is cool, a rolled omelet, what else can I turn into this?’ And I ended up sort of adding ingredients to the inside of this. So imagine an omelet, an egg, and then you roll it up and then another layer, and you add a layer of cheese, and then you roll it up and you add a layer of pepperoni, then you roll it up and you add a layer of sauce. And all of a sudden it becomes this Japanese pepperoni pizza omelet thing.
The other day someone captioned their Instagram post. He was making chicken and rice and his caption to the Instagram post was, “Not everything is pizza and donuts.” And my comment to that was, “Not everything is pizza and donuts, but it definitely can be pizza and donuts.”
Earlier we were talking about that kind of messy omelet style, but I wanted to ask for some simple techniques and tips to do that perfect french omelet fold.
The number one piece of advice is low heat. Like you think it’s low, go lower because the egg will kind of become this really silky consistency and hold itself together. The truth is it’s all about gravity. You might look at the Omu rice videos with that egg-shaped egg over the rice that gets cracked in half and then spills over the sides. Like it’s all about low heat, butter, or some sort of other lubricant. Really it’s all about that gravity flip, using the pan and kind of flinging it up in the air with a little bit of wrist action.
I’ve never been to culinary school. That’s part of my gimmick, but I know that in culinary school if you can’t do this, you’re not passing.
It’s a flick of the wrist, lubricant, and practice.
What’s your favorite egg cooking hack?
The spoon trick. You crack a hard-boiled or soft boiled egg, crack one end of the eggshell, fit a spoon between the shell and the egg, and just twist the shell and it pops the egg right up.
Do you have a perfect egg cracking technique?
The flat surface is always a good idea because, for some reason, I don’t know what it is, maybe the shape of the egg or whatever, but when you crack the egg on the flat surface, nine times out of ten, it’ll not only make it easier to get the egg out, but it won’t break the yolk, which is always the idea.
The number one reason why you would crack it outside the bowl is so that there are no shells that get on the inside. Have you ever had a hard time getting the shell out of a bowl of scrambled eggs? The displacement of the yolk or the egg white in your fingers, just like pushing it away every time you try and touch it.
If you use the shell, for some reason, it cuts right through the egg and it’ll pick up the shard with lots of ease.
To close out, let’s turn to fast food for a second. Who in the space is killing it right now? What do you keep returning to? I saw you recreate that Taco Bell Cheezit Tostada — amazing. What do you see out there that excites you?
I love fast food. It’s my favorite food. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s delicious every single time — consistency, can’t match it. But yeah, one of my new series is R & Delicious where basically I find obscure fast food items in a specific geographical location and then I try and recreate it here, because I don’t know if you know this, but American fast food is really, really done well, not in America.
Totally. You see McDonald’s menus from Japan and it’s like, “I want that.”
I always thought it was McDonald’s also. McDonald’s in Japan has a crazy thing or McDonald’s in Greece has a crazy thing. But after researching it and doing like a few dozen of these videos, every single country has every single style of fast food that’s different. Today I’m making Fizzy Pop Popeye’s chicken, which is basically exactly what you think it is, pop rocks on fried chicken. That’s available in Singapore, Popeye’s Singapore, not available here. In terms of who’s killing the fast food game on the state side, Taco Bell is the best at fast food innovation, it’s without a doubt. The naked chicken chalupa taco shell that they made a couple of years ago… the french fries that they have that are sometimes available are amazing.
They keep taking them off the menu! They are amazing though.
They are very good and… spoilers, Taco Bell french fries are KFC french fries with Taco Bell seasoning on it.
Is that true?
It’s a real thing. Well, it’s the same company, right? But I didn’t realize that until I went to KFC, I got the french fries. I was like, “These are strangely similar to Taco Bell.”
I think both are doing french fries great.
I agree. I mean, in terms of innovation, I think Taco Bell is the best, and is really good at that in terms of coming up with new products. But it really depends on what you consider fast food versus like fast-casual. The Five Guys and the Shake Shacks of the world versus like McDonald’s and Burger King.
But I think Taco Bell takes the cake.