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4 ways to fry perfectly round eggs every time

Forget buying an egg mold. Cook perfectly round eggs every time with stuff you already have lying around the kitchen.

Eggs are one of the easiest things you can learn to cook. But the sheer number of ways they can be cooked or used in recipes makes them one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. Eggs are also particularly finicky. I, for one, can never cook a perfectly round egg. My egg sandwiches are always a sloppy mess.

You can, however, purchase specifically designed nonstick molds or rings for keeping your eggs round while they cook. These molds range from as little as $1.00 (£0.77 or AU$1.33) each to $20.00 (£15.45 or AU$26.63) for a set of four. While that's not exactly a fortune, why clutter your kitchen even more with yet another single-purpose device?

Perfectly round eggs can be cooked with items you probably already have lying around. Here are four ways that work spectacularly.

An onion

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Taylor Martin/CNET

One of the best methods of cooking a round egg is with an onion. As an added benefit, you don't have to worry about the egg sticking to the onion -- you probably want it to -- and it adds some extra flavor to your egg. That said, if you don't want the onion, you can discard it after cooking the egg with ease.

To create an egg ring with an onion:

  • Cut the stem and bottom off the onion, peel it, then make full cuts parallel to the the stem cut to create rings.
  • Coat the pan with nonstick spray or a small amount of cooking oil. Take the largest of the rings and place one in the pan.
  • I found that rubbing the onion into the oil or nonstick spray with a small amount of force helps keep the egg from running out of the bottom of the ring.
  • Cook until the desired doneness, and optionally, you can flip the egg to hit the top side if desired.

Bell peppers

Okay, so bell peppers aren't perfectly round. But using rings of pepper slices, just like with onions, can keep your eggs neat and compact enough to toss on a sandwich or dress up a breakfast plate while also adding more flavor to your egg. They also add a little extra flare and flavor to the egg, for those who don't fancy the taste of onion.

Taylor Martin/CNET

A mason jar lid ring

An egg mold that you can find in almost any kitchen is the ring part of a Mason jar lid. However, I found this method quite a bit more tricky than the onion, as the egg wants to escape from under the lid. To avoid this, you either have to bring the pan to medium heat before adding the egg -- which will usually scorch the egg -- or dip the bottom edge of the ring in a raw egg before adding it to the pan to create a temporary seal.

Also, the ring has threads, so don't forget to spray the pan and the inside of the lid with nonstick spray. Then place the ring on the pan with the larger opening on the bottom. Crack an egg into the lid and cook as you normally would. Thanks to the nonstick spray, the lid won't stick to the egg once you're ready to flip, but if the egg is mostly cooked, you can usually flip without it losing its shape.

Cookie cutter

No matter what shape or size, a cookie cutter is effectively the same tool as a specialized egg ring without a handle. While the handle might be helpful in some instances, such as saving you the trouble of dirtying another spatula, it also keeps you from flipping the egg or cooking with a lid, both of which you may come in handy, since cooking with a ring makes the egg thicker than normal. Just remember to coat the inside with nonstick spray.