Whether you call it Egg in a Basket, Toad in a Hole, or something else entirely, there is nothing more satisfying than this simple meal of an egg fried in buttered toast. It’s a staple for easy breakfasts or lazy dinners!
A few months back, Ohio Poultry Association reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to create a Toad in a Hole recipe for them. At first, I thought maybe I had heard wrong. Excuse me, toad in a what?? I couldn’t quite see how this fell under the umbrella of poultry, but after a brief description of the dish they were after, I realized they were talking about one of my all time favorite breakfasts–an egg fried inside a piece of bread, or as my family calls it, Eggs in a Basket.
As it turns out, this classic breakfast goes by all kinds of different names. A quick google search turned up recipes for Eggs in a Nest, One Eyed Jack, Hobo Eggs, Holy Eggs, Bullseye, and at least 15 others (no joke).
Whatever you call it, this classic meal is far greater than simple eggs and toast. There are a few different methods for making Egg in a Basket, but here’s what I’ve learned delivers the best, most evenly golden toast and yolky egg:
- Generously (and I do mean generously) butter a piece of hearty bread on both sides. I love a thick sourdough, but sometimes a good grainy wheat really hits the spot too.
- Cut a hole (or a heart if you’re feeling cute), out of the center of the bread.
- Place the bread, along with the cut out, into a skillet over medium heat and let it toast for a minute or two until it gets pleasantly golden.
- Flip it over then place a small dollop of butter in the center. Crack an egg into the hole of the bread.
- Fry the egg until set on one side, then flip one last time just to set the whites.
- Remove to a plate, and dive into the best breakfast. Drippy egg yolk, buttery grilled toast, and a perfect little circle for dipping.
We used to make Eggs in a Basket at my summer camp, where they’d send us out to the woods armed with tin coffee cans, a candle, a few dozen eggs, and some bread. We would carefully butter our bread, cutting jagged circles in the middle with a plastic knife. With the coffee can settled over the burning candle, and a crowd of giggly 6th graders gathered around, we’d carefully toast our bread, crack the egg in the center, and wait patiently for it to finish. It all sounds wonderfully quaint and nostalgic, but I remember more than a few mishaps which involved uneven ground, an overenthusiastic toast flipper, and rivers of egg running down coffee cans and forming puddles in the dirt.
But oh, oh, when we actually got it right, no other breakfast could compare to dippy eggs and toast roasted over an open flame.
These days I prefer to use the open flame of a gas stove in my climate controlled and level house, but this meal is just as good now as it was fifteen years ago. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sprinkle the top with fresh herbs or shredded cheese, but honestly just a little salt and pepper will do you just fine. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must! And if you have, I’m curious–what name does your family have for this classic breakfast?
Eggs in a Basket
- 4 pieces of bread (any bread, as long as it's large enough to cut a hole in the center, will work. I love sourdough or a hearty wheat)
- 4 eggs
- 5 Tablespoons butter
- Fresh chopped herbs (optional)
- Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Spread the butter on both sides of each slice of bread, reserving 1 Tablespoon of the butter for later. Use a cookie cutter or the bottom of a juice glass to cut a circle in the middle of each slice of bread.
- Place two slices of bread, along with their cutouts, in a skillet over medium heat. Grill until golden then flip. Place a small dollop of the reserved butter in the center of each hole. Crack an egg into the center and cook until bottom is set, about 3-4 minutes. Flip, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Remove them, along with the cutouts to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, fresh herbs (such as parsley or basil) and cheese if desired. Repeat with remaining bread and eggs. Serve hot.