The Joy of Buttered Eggs

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I had never really thought or heard of buttered eggs until one day when I was reading a romance novel. It was Duchess by Night, by one of my favorite authors, Eloisa James. I think it started out as a suggestion to help someone sober up. Then it became a means to comfort a child. But all that talk of hot buttered eggs made me hungry, and so I made them, and they were good and “silky,” which is how one of Eloisa’s characters described them in the book. I kind of made up the recipe, since there was none given—just an idea in my head of what they must taste like and a memory of breakfast at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe Vermont from 28 years ago.

And then, once I was making them for my daughter’s future in-laws for breakfast and Jonathan Haile, her now-father-in-law, broke into prose at the sight of me cooking them, as he often does: “Time, tide, and buttered eggs wait for no man…” he said in his lofty British accent (a real one!) Apparently, he was quoting from a children’s novel by John Masefield called The Box of Delights.

He assured me that I was making them the proper British way, which made me feel rather good. But what makes me feel even better is, now when I ask my teenage daughter if she would like me to make her eggs, she almost always will say that if I make her buttery eggs, she will eat them. And so, I do. You can probably guess at how to make these, but I’ll tell you anyway because there are a few tips I’ve learned by doing.

Hot Buttered Eggs for Two


  • 4–6 eggs
  • 2–3 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste


1. Turn the frying pan (preferably a well seasoned cast-iron skillet) on low, and melt the butter.

2. Crack and scramble the eggs with a fork in a bowl.

3. Add the eggs to the pan and keep the pan on LOW. Use a spatula to scramble the eggs gently and slowly.

4. Turn the heat off before the eggs are fully cooked, and let them finish from the heat of the pan.

The way to ruin hot buttered eggs is to overcook them.  And I’ve tried the “expert advice” of adding a bit of water or milk…totally unnecessary!

My own mother-in-law, who is Italian and does not have a British accent, would say to add chopped fresh mint and a bit of Romano cheese. That’s good, too!


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54 Responses to The Joy of Buttered Eggs

  1. James Early March 28, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Well, I’ve been making buttered eggs all these years and didn’t even know it. I feel so official now.

  2. Donna in Delaware March 28, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    That’s how I’ve been making my scrambled eggs too, but now instead of the luxury of butter, I use olive oil or grapeseed oil. definitely not the same taste, but healthier. Anyway, when not using eggs whites, like I mostly do now, I still sneak butter into my eggs, not my husbands, (double cholesterol and all).

  3. Donna in Delaware March 28, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    By the way, I do cook my eggs a bit longer, so as not to have that slimey feel on the tongue. I don’t want to see any runny, uncooked areas in my eggs as I see at brunches in restaurants or in hotels when I travel. Yuck!

  4. Jean Nick a.k.a. Rodale's Nickel Pincher March 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Both butter from cows that eat just grass and eggs from chickens that get to forage outside and eat a significant amount of green grass and weeds along with grains and proteins (like us, chickens cannot live on grass alone) are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and have much healthier ratios of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than confined animals fed just grain — and both will actually lower your cholesterol and may even lower your risks of the chronic diseases that are so common in Western society. Find and buy pasture-raised eggs and grass-fed butter and eat them as part of your healthful diet, yolks included!

  5. Dana March 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Butter eggs? So what are scrambled eggs? I’ve been doing this like forever, but adding a little cheese or maybe adobo seasoning. LOL!

  6. Rachel Assuncao, Health Coach March 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    I love eggs scrambled in butter…I cannot imagine them any other way. Served with fresh baked whole grain bread, toasted with a bit of butter too. Thanks for the recipe and the tips!

  7. donna March 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    I love eggs cooked like this they taste and feel so decandant. My family doesn’t like them they want their eggs hard. go figure.

  8. Donna in Delaware March 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I get almost all of my eggs and butter plus milk and yoghurt from pasture raised cows, goats, chickens and other animals. The yolks are a beautiful dark orange and the milk products have a nice grassy taste to them. Always fresh and tasty, that’s the way to go. Organic, of course!

  9. Jonathan March 29, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    Ideally, they should be eaten not more than 5 seconds after you finish cooking them. With toast is good but some smoked salmon makes it special (and loftily British).

  10. Steve in Emmaus March 29, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    And I thought this way of scrambling eggs was always blah! I’ll remember this Joy the next time I make them in their ‘naked’ form. I’ve always made them this way and occasionally adding crumbled bacon or chopped ham or some other meat as well as whatever cheese happens to be in the fridge – not to mention some Nature’s Season. But the smoked salmon sounds interesting…

  11. Donna in Delaware April 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    I’m fussy about fish, but try the eggs with smoked white fish instead of smoked salmon sometimes. Both fish taste great with the eggs and just as luxurious!

  12. Joan Weed April 12, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    At a British home we had “baked eggs” . The hostess had an Aga which meant there was heat on all the time so her oven was ready. She buttered a small ramekin and dropped in one or two eggs, sprinkled with salt and pepper and baked them. If you like a soft-cooked egg this is delicious–oh and you can cook it longer and harden the eggs but I like them gooey. I use my toaster oven for the baking.

  13. Mary Ann July 25, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I love eggs cooked like this, and will try the addition of smoked salmon. Another way I have been using garden fresh veggies and eggs this summer is to make shakshouka…just cook some chopped onion, pepper, and tomato with a little extra liquid until the veggies are tender and liquid reduced (15 minutes?) and break several eggs on top to poach. Yum.

  14. Sandy August 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Like many of those who commented I have always cooked the eggs in butter. Additionally I put a little butter on them once plated to keep them moist and add additional flavor. I’m hungry for these right now!

  15. lulu September 24, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Running downstairs to make them right now. Had no idea it was a British thang or that it had a name. I have been making eggs like this for years in the same cast iron skillet with my chicken’s eggs. Seasoned Cast Iron is just simply the best cook ware on earth…and lovely to look at when well seasoned.
    Have a great morning and hope that you are enjoying your buttered eggs right now!

  16. Joan Weed September 24, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    A bonus for cast iron cookware is needing to cook in a fireplace because of power outage. I had two pots and two sizes of frying pans in ’98 during the big Ice Storm. No power for 6 days. Ordinary cookware would have been ruined over the open flame.

  17. Sally Thierer September 28, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    You have made me hungry. I am going out in the kitchen and making buttery eggs with my organic, cage free eggs and organic butter for myself and my beautiful granddaughter Mandy right now!

  18. JJ Meis January 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I’ve been making my eggs like this for years. I had never heard of eggs being done this way worldwide until today. I dont like the scrambled kind with the milk added, etc and found making them this way was much tastier.

  19. Mary Manderine January 15, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I have always made eggs this way, have gotten many compliments too,like { why are your eggs so much better). my mom made eggs this way too. I read about it in a romance novel too but didnt think it was what I was making until I read it here.. so now when everyone tells me I make the best eggs I’ll just smile

  20. fox in Texas March 28, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I’m 56 years old; this is one of the first things we learned to cook in Louisiana. The eggs were soft using butter for the oil and milk in the ingredients along with salt, pepper, fresh thyme or other herbs. Herb choice was up to who cooked or who went out to the garden to select the gems! If you do not have herbs or cheese, the essence of the soft eggs and creamy butter is enough.

  21. Michelle May 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Yum!!! I love cooking my eggs in a bit of grass-fed butter, but an honarable mention for scrambled egg awesomeness is bacon fat

  22. James November 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I love Farm Fresh Eggs, and go down to my favorite farmer whenever I need Eggs. He turned 90 last Feb. and his wife 88. This past year, he gave me some Watermelon Seeds, that he had acquired in 1956. I was sooo excited as I have known them for around 40 years. They are 2 of my favorite people in the whole wide world.
    He is always glad to see me, as I always return the empty egg cartons. My wife always tells him that she doesn’t like (fertilized) eggs and he really thinks that is sooo funny. I tell him that I like farm eggs, because they stand up and don’t run all over the pan when I cook em. He say’s (Yeah.. Boy) and I’m 54
    I Love Mr. & Mrs. Cox here in Ky.

  23. jen January 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    So…. I was reading a romance novel and they were eating buttered eggs. I googled it and here you read the same novel! 🙂 but now I know that I’ve been making buttered eggs for years too.

  24. Mrs. Mary H. Sands January 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Like you, Maria, I had come across the mention of buttered eggs occasionally in books I was reading, and was puzzled at what it meant, just as I can not figure out what is meant by, in the book Heidi, toasted cheese –though that sounds so delicious, mostly, I guess, because of how rich and good it sounded like in the book. : ) I have always known eggs are supposed to good for oneself, and I have gone back to try again, and always, even since I was a child, had the tiniest shudder and nausea feeling at the roof of my mouth, way in the back. I’d tried everything I could think of, salt with pepper, mayo, salad dressing, soy sauce, cheese –but nothing melded it away or hid it, whatever it was that disagreed with my palate. The other day, I made some hard-boiled eggs, trying again, with the first egg, with salt & mayo this time, again, and no dice. Then, the thought of “buttered eggs” dropped into my mind, and –remember, there had never been any description in the books I’d read so I had no idea they were speaking of scrambled eggs! : ) –with the second egg, I sliced it in half the long way, very lightly salted each half, and spread butter on the halves as if they were pieces of toast, and steeled myself for an even greater shudder, because I could not imagine butter on eggs tasting any good at all! But, VOILA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The most delicious eggs I’ve ever had in my entire life! : ) I’ve done it twice more since then, with the same happy result each time. : )

  25. Pete February 6, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    The term ‘Buttered Eggs’ actually refers to an old Southern Irish method of preserving eggs in butter. It only works with freshly laid eggs; they are preserved in butter, a taste which eventually permeates the shell, and is present when they are eaten. They can be found for sale in Cork’s ‘English Market. Try googling ‘Cork buttered eggs’.

  26. Alan May 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Um , sounds like scrambled eggs to me!

  27. May 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

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  32. crystal-lyon August 23, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    LOL I was reading the same book as mentioned above and had not heard of buttered eggs before, and also had the same response as the person that added the recipe. Ended up making some.

  33. Denise January 28, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    I am reading the exact same book and saw the reference to buttered eggs! I’ll be making them shortly!

  34. Bronwyn Robertson April 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Buttered Eggs: a way of preserving absolutely fresh from the chicken by coating in farm-fresh butter. Eggs preserved in this way can be stored for several weeks and will have silky, soft whites and have a faint flavour of butter. An Irish tradition.

  35. Bronwen July 31, 2014 at 2:13 am #

    You know what’s funny? I am currently reading Duchess by Night, and Google buttered eggs in the middle of the sobering up scene. This post was the first result that popped up. I laughed my butt off as I read your intro talking about the book. I didn’t think I’d end up on a recipe inspired by the reason I looked it up! 🙂

  36. ivy August 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Buttered eggs are actually an Irish where fresh eggs are rubbing in butter to preserve and flavor the egg.

    Eggs scrambled in lots of butter are very good – but nothing unusual.

  37. Crystal May 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    I am halfway through the book myself and couldn’t resist googling ‘Buttered Eggs Recipe’ and here am I! This is too cool for words! I even scrolled through the comments and found someone who was in the same situation. This is why I love reading. 🙂

  38. Bob Casandros September 26, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    I cracked 4 eggs directly into pan with the suns intact and seasoned them while the bottom cooked. Flipped over and threw a cube of butter on. When done, slid on plate and folded over butter cube.

  39. JG Weston November 3, 2015 at 5:59 am #

    “Butter eggs? So what are scrambled eggs? I”

    Scrambled eggs are done with a minimum of butter, (or other cooking oil) enough for the cooking process.

    Buttered eggs are done with a surfeit of real butter so that the eggs are coated in melted butter which gives them the creamy taste. If you are in to creamy buttered eggs then add a nub of butter towards the end so that it melts over the outside of the scrambled eggs rather than get cooked into the eggs which is what happens to the starting butter. They are very easy in a microwave.

  40. JG Weston November 3, 2015 at 6:05 am #

    The Irish term buttered eggs refers to uncooked eggs. The term buttered eggs when used to refer to a dish is English and is found in several works, Arthur Ransome os another.

  41. Shannon May 26, 2016 at 12:31 am #

    I am amused. I found your post because I am reading the same book. Thanks.

  42. Ellie November 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    My grandmother taught me to make buttered eggs. First put the pan on low, and add cream or full fat milk and a large knob of butter. When butter is melted, beat the eggs in a bowl first before adding to pan and cooking slowly and gently. Just before you are ready to take it off the heat (to continue to cook) add another knob of butter.

  43. Ilona November 20, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    Just back from Ireland where I visited Cork’s fabulous English Market and learnt that butter eggs are eggs dipped in butter to preserve them for a long sea journey. Apparently the butter penetrates the shell, giving them more flavor, but not sure if that is fact or fiction.

  44. Camille February 25, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    Lovely except that buttered eggs actually refers to a tradition in Ireland of covering a fresh warm laid egg with butter to preserve it. The recipe looks good but the history is off. Try making your recipe with a true buttered egg and it might be the best egg ever eaten:)

  45. Michele Cooper January 22, 2019 at 6:07 am #

    Obviously there’s more than one kind of ‘buttered eggs’. Given my romance novel ( ‘Always and Forever’ by Betty Neels) described them as a hit dish served as part of a High Tea with toast I’m fairly confident Mrs Neels was not referring to the Irish version. I love that I’m yet another visitor because I saw it in a book and wondered…
    Can’t wait to make eggs this way -but for breakfast instead. Mmmm

  46. Jim April 3, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

    I looked up Buttered Eggs while reading Dorothy Sayers, “The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager’s Will”.

    Lord Peter Wimsey: “No bacon this morning. Quite the wrong smell.”

    Bunter: “I was thinking of buttered eggs, my Lord.”

    Ah, to have a Bunter in ones life.

  47. Deez Nuts March 24, 2020 at 6:45 am #

    You wasted internet space by uploading such a stupid recipe. Thank you for making scrambled eggs you fucking idiot. The people who comment that this page helped them in any way are clearly mildly retarded and need to be denied access to the internet. WORTHLESS

  48. Deez Nuts March 24, 2020 at 6:46 am #

    Waste of life.

  49. mcn October 6, 2020 at 7:15 pm #

    Goodness, such anger.

    Glad to finally discover what buttered eggs are after rereading some Arthur Ransome. Will try it tomorrow morning, with high-fat butter.

  50. Brandy Baker April 25, 2021 at 12:16 am #

    I was trying to explain buttered eggs to a friend after she read another Eloisa James book. She wanted a recipe so I directed her here. I explained this is a cure for all that ails: a sulky toddler, the hunger after the ‘flu, hangover cure, a breakfast with toast soldiers before school. Sometimes I get “fancy” and brown the butter. But simple is best.
    Except for internet trolls. Then simple is just sad.

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