How to Temper Eggs & Why You Need To

temper eggsLearning how to temper eggs is a culinary skill everyone needs to know. Tempering is a method of combining two ingredients that are at two different temperatures, one hot and one room temperature or cold. It’s used when one ingredient (usually eggs, but sometimes chocolate) cooks at a low temperature or curdles easily. Imagine pouring hot milk or cream into a bowl of egg yolks. The extreme heat would cook the eggs, leaving scrambled eggs in your pastry cream, sauce or creme brulee and nobody wants scrambled egg-flavored dessert.

How to Temper Eggs

First, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need – a bowl, a whisk, your ingredients – before you start because things will move fast. To temper eggs, whisk a little of the hot ingredient into the eggs. It’s important to whisk constantly and vigorously as the hot ingredient is added. By keeping the eggs moving constantly, you raise the temperature of the eggs gradually, keeping them from cooking. Raising the temperature of the eggs protects them so that when the remaining hot liquid is added to the eggs or the eggs are added to the pot or pan with the hot ingredient, they won’t cook or curdle.

You can practice your tempering with this recipe for Coconut Ice Cream and you can’t temper properly without a whisk!

temper eggs

6 Comments

  1. I made a pain bourguignon recently and the albumen from the egg oozed out when I un-molded it. What did I do wrong?

    If you haven’t heard of this recipe it’s basically a white sauce with eggs and cheese added to it then steamed in a mold.

    • Hi Madeleine,
      Thanks for visiting! The liquid oozing out may have been the fat from the cheese. This happens when the custard gets too hot. Overheating would could also cause the eggs to weep. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Erin,
      You can definitely use this tempering technique in your pie filling if your recipe calls for you to add eggs to warm or hot ingredients. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I understand the need of tempering when combining hot milk with cold/room temp eggs, but why can’t we just mix the eggs and milk while they’re both not that hot and heat it up together in the pot?

    • Hello! You can do it that way, whisking the cold milk and eggs together and then heating them gradually. This method takes much longer and requires a ton more whisking. You have to whisk CONSTANTLY the entire time the eggs and milk are on the stove to prevent the eggs from curdling.

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