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The Best Way To Whisk Eggs, According to Science

One little wrist motion is the secret to whipping egg whites to stiff peaks by hand.
By Published May 31, 2022

Anyone can whip egg whites to voluminous stiff peaks in a stand mixer, but have you ever wished you had the finesse to do it by hand? Such a skill is particularly handy when you only have a couple of eggs to whip; it also allows you to keep a closer eye on your progress so you can stop whipping at just the right time. 

But what’s the best way to go about it? Cooks tend to favor one of three different motions when using a whisk: circular stirring, a side-to-side motion, or the looping action of beating that takes the whisk up and out of the bowl. 

3 Different Ways to Whisk

Which Way is Best?

I decided to put all three approaches to the test to see which was the most efficient. I began by pulling out my balloon whisk, whose bulbous head would incorporate air more readily than a slender French whisk, which is a better bet for sauces. I separated whites into each of three bowls and timed how long it took me to whisk them to sturdy peaks. 

Stirring the eggs in a circle proved close to useless, taking me a full 12 minutes to create a stiff foam. Side-to-side whisking was far more effective, requiring just 5 minutes of whisking. However, beating with a looping motion proved the speediest, producing tall, pillowy mounds in only 4 minutes.

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Why a Looping Motion is Best for Eggs

Why the difference? Because egg whites are very viscous, they cling to the tines of a whisk or beater, even at the beginning of whipping. This allows the whisk to create channels that trap air. With side-to-side strokes, the back-and-forth motion will disrupt some of the channels that were just created, slowing the process of trapping air and building volume. Since a looping motion, where you move your wrist in a clockwise direction, takes the whisk out of the liquid during some of its action, these larger channels can stay open longer, trapping more air. (Note: If you’re whipping cream or emulsifying vinaigrette, side-to-side whisking is actually the way to go, due to phenomenon called “shear force.” For more information, see the other tests I conducted on whisking.)

So the next time you need to whip a few eggs to glossy peaks, don’t bother with your stand mixer. With your whisk, a bowl, and the right motion, you can transform them into tall, proud peaks in no time. 

If you want to learn more, check out this video:

Put Your Whisk to Work in These Recipes

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.