I've recently made a couple of trips to the London area, and I've had a terrible time trying to convince the hotel breakfast cooks that I want my eggs fried "over hard", meaning that both the white and the yolk are cooked until solid.

It may just be that the cooks were not native English speakers, but I'm wondering whether this is a term used in American English but not in British English.

Is there a good way to express this in the UK?

  • 16
    This might be a good addition to Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ at Cooking.SE.
    – choster
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 16:28
  • 7
    I found a good (but apparently US centric) list of egg terms complete with pictures. When in doubt, point it out.
    – Floris
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:08
  • 1
    Use comments only to ask for clarification, suggest changes, or offer short-lived information. DO NOT use for minor edits (edit instead) answers (post an answer instead), praise or rebukes (vote instead), discussion (chat instead), or comments on site design or policy (post at meta instead).
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 20:02
  • 1
    Thank you to whomever added the edit to the 'Translating cooking terms'. I edited it so it was closer to the same voice as the others. And I suspect that part of the reason that Americans cook their eggs further than Europeans is that most US egg farms don't inoculate their chickens against salmonella.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:27
  • Incidentally, at the place where I was working there, there was an in-house restaurant, so I ordered a couple of fried eggs for breakfast. The reply: "What would you like 'em on?" I wasn't sure what to say to that: "Um...a plate?" So he went to the kitchen and gave my order. And then he replied to their puzzled questions: "I dunno, he's American." ๐Ÿ˜‚
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 16:33

8 Answers 8


There's no word for this as such; in the UK 'fried eggs' always means 'sunny-side up', some places will understand 'over easy' but that's the limit of what is common knowledge.

Something like "I don't want the yolks runny" Or "I want the yolks cooked through" should do the trick.

This is anecdotal, as I can't find any references to this. When they understand you, ask them what they would call it!

  • 50
    I can agree with this. I had never heard of multiple ways of doing fried eggs until first going to the USA. And honestly flipping fried eggs still seems incredibly strange to me. I remember feeling extremely confused the first time I was asked "How would you like your fried eggs?"
    – Vality
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:29
  • 5
    It is completely opposite in China. I've never heard of anyone eating eggs with runny yoke until I went to Canada. It goes with other foods too. Local people will basically freak out over (will not eat) a steak that is less than medium cooked... while I never go above rare nowadays.
    – Nelson
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 1:33
  • 4
    One of my family dislikes runny yolks - I ask for them "cooked through" or "well done" as the answer suggests.
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:36
  • 3
    Even in the USA, there is confusion. I was from Michigan and we always asked for "Over easy," meaning they got flipped. To us, this also meant firm whites and runny yolks. When I moved down South to Virginia, I learned that I wanted "over medium." However, take that term back to the North and the cooks may overcook the eggs. It's best to specify a firmness level for both parts (according to your preference): firm whites and firm yolks.
    – ps2goat
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 18:33
  • 2
    @ps2goat If the yolk is firm, the whites will be too. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:15

I'm a Brit who prefers fried eggs hard. There isn't a usual British English name for that, because it's an unusual preference here. I ask for them "Hard-fried, so that the yolks are solid" and that usually works.

Any variety of "over" in the description of a fried egg in the UK risks confusion. Many people know it is an American way of cooking eggs, but are unsure what it means, and may improvise.

  • 25
    I'd say that any variety of "over" in the UK comes close to guaranteeing confusion. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:14

As an alternative to the other answers, you could ask for your egg to be fried with a "hard yolk". This is how I usually phrase this request.

It will usually be understood because hard / soft are commonly used in reference to boiled eggs: "hard boiled egg" vs "soft boiled egg".

Whether or not your request will actually be honoured is another matter! In my experience the chef will often just cook it the way he usually does (whether that means soft or hard). Perhaps because it's unusual for customers to be selective. I've never come across anyone except myself who specifies how they want their yolk in a fried egg.

  • I always have a hard yolk when having a sandwich, and I always ask for the egg to be "well done" (like the steak). I think this has always been a better option really for me. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 12:20
  • 2
    I always ask for my eggs to be turned (over) to avoid the icky, mucus-y film and wobbly whites. I prefer the yolk to still be runny, but if the price of hard whites is hard yolks, for the number of times in a years I eat fried eggs in restaurants, I can live with it.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 12:20

According to the article The Importance of Serving a British Breakfast in Caterer & Hotelkeeper (which is a British journal):

At our hotel, for example, we offer a full-choice British breakfast. The senior chef cooks the dishes himself and shares with us a special pride in its high quality.

We try never to serve a hard fried egg, except on request; scrambled eggs are cooked fresh to order...

  • 3
    That is hilarious.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 13:52

Ask for 'well done and turned over'. That's my taste as well. It gets me what I want.


โ€˜Over hardโ€™

is what I would call

โ€˜Turnedโ€™ (over) and well-cooked.

Some answers and comments above refer to fried eggs being flipped. โ€˜Flippingโ€™, in my experience, involves flicking hot fat from around a sunny-side up egg onto both the white and the yolk. Although, for many people, 'flipping' a fried egg means to turn it upside down (i.e. yolk downwards), the idea of flipping hot oil onto a frying egg is supported by the OED. It is also a usage I grew up with.

Flip - A smart stroke or blow; A sudden jerk or movement; To put into motion with a flip (OED).

I like my eggs sunny side up and flipped (i.e. white is made firm, not slimy, while the yolk remains runny). If I suspect that (the hot oil) flipping will be substandard (i.e. there will still be slime) - and it's something of a UK speciality to fry eggs too fast so the underside of the white verges on crisp while the upper side of the white and the yolk have a generous film of uncooked slime - then I ask for my eggs to be turned ("over easy" ?).

  • 3
    What you describe as "flipping" is basting. Flipping means tossing the egg like a pancake so it lands yolk-size down. "Sunny side up and flipped" is a contradiction in terms. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 12:29
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby - Yes, 'basting' is another way of saying what I mean. And no, for me at least, sunny side up and (well-)flipped is NOT a contradiction in terms (see edited answer above). If I want to turn my fried egg upside down I could use flip, except I would say that I flip the egg over. Oddly, I never flip pancakes or coins ('over' or otherwise). I always toss them and, perversely, I simply toss them. I don't toss them over! ;-)
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 13:52
  • 6
    Your use of "flip" here is completely nonstandard and unintuitive. Flipping necessarily involves turning something over. You can "flick" oil at something, but you can't "flip" it. I'd be amazed if I asked for a "flipped" egg and got a basted one rather than a tossed/turned one. And setting oil into motion with "a sudden jerk" would be dangerous and cause boiling oil to fly all over the place. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 14:25
  • 1
    You're reading the OED as a literal prescription. It's not that: it's an attempt at description. You've missed the point that melted fat is necessarily hot because a fat is, by definition, an oil that is solid at room temperature. Your use of "flip" here is mistaken. Doesn't it seem very unnatural to you that "flipped egg" would mean "egg that has had something flipped at it" rather than "egg that has been flipped"? Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 14:12
  • 2
    "Basting", as I said in my first comment. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 14:59

Even if you don't know a technical term for the way you want them cooked, you can always just be explicitly descriptive: "over, but cooked until the center is solid", or something similar.

  • 28
    "over" is not a term generally used this way in Britain. If the chef / waiter understands, it's because they are aware of the American way of frying eggs.
    – thelem
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:18
  • 2
    @thelem : Yes, hence the "or something similar". I was focusing on the "hard" part. Whatever it takes -- perhaps "fried on both sides with a solid center". Better yet, maybe OP should just have oatmeal instead :/
    – MPW
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 22:02
  • 17
    @MPW If you ask for "oatmeal" in the UK, that won't go any better than asking for over-hard eggs. We call it "porridge". Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:27

"Over well" is the alternative to "over hard," but whether anyone (especially the people in the kitchen) would understand it is an open question.

  • 21
    I've personally never heard the term "over well" in any part of the UK that I've been to.
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:32
  • 8
    I've personally never heard the term "over well" or "over hard" in any of the countries I've traveled to, or my home in Washington (USA). I've also never heard of anyone WANTING solid yolks. My mind is blown here. Why not just have a hardboiled egg? Is that different tasting? I guess It would have to be..
    – user251721
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:33
  • 10
    In the UK, you'd be lucky to find anyone who would understand 'over well' or 'over hard' in relation to fried eggs. Generally, eggs are fried sunny side up and are not flipped over at all. The degree of solidity of the yolk is controlled by basting (or not) with the hot oil. And yes, some people want solid yolks - the taste is very different from a hardboiled egg. Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 20:21
  • 6
    @Xanne But that link is completely useless in the UK. In the UK, the only kind of fried egg is what an American would call "sunny side up" and what we just call "a fried egg". If you ask for any other variety of fried egg, almost nobody will understand you: we simply don't cook eggs like that. The only way to get an over-anything egg in the UK would be to describe to the waiter how you want it cooked, and hope that the instructions make it to the kitchen intact. Also, scrambled eggs are common because they taste good... Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:12
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby Lots of people in the UK like their eggs fried in specific ways, we just don't have a whole lexicon of dedicated terms, so some of us just ask 'could you make sure mine gets flipped quickly to cook the top?' or something similar.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 12:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.