There are several different ways to prepare fried eggs, ranging from sunny side up to egg in a basket. The many types of fried eggs all taste more or less the same, but the texture of the eggs can change depending on how they are prepared, and many people have a preference for one particular style or another as a result. At home, you can prepare any number of types of fried eggs easily, and most establishments which offer fried eggs are happy to prepare them as requested.
Fried eggs are made by oiling a pan with butter, lard, or another fat and letting it heat up on the stove before dropping in a cracked egg. The yolk of a fried egg is left intact, which is why dishes like scrambled eggs are not considered fried eggs even though they are fried in an oiled pan. As the egg cooks, it turns firm, and the white of the egg becomes opaque while the yolk thickens and grows slightly lighter in color.
One of the most classic types of fried eggs is the sunny side up egg. A sunny side up egg is cooked only on one side, so the yolk tends to stick out and retain a rounded shape. Sunny side up eggs must be cooked with care, as it is possible to burn the bottom while the top is still runny; some people baste the top with oil from the pan to encourage it to cook.
Once an egg has flipped, it enters the “egg over” family of fried eggs. Depending on how long the egg is cooked, it may be over easy, over medium, or over hard. Eggs over easy typically have runnier yolks, while over hard eggs have hard, thoroughly cooked yolks. Many people enjoy eggs over easy on bread, toast, or rice, as the starch absorbs the flavorful yolk. Consumers who are worried about food safety may opt for eggs over hard to ensure that the whole egg is thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature.
These types of fried eggs are all made with eggs alone, with the variations in the end product coming from how they are handled. Another option is egg in a basket, which is made by cutting a hole in a piece of bread and cooking the egg inside the hole. The warm, oiled pan toasts the bread as the egg cooks, and the bread typically absorbs some flavoring from the egg as well. This classic variation on the fried egg is a popular breakfast food in some parts of the world, with some people viewing it as a special treat.