Eager Loading in Entity Framework:

Eager loading is the process whereby a query for one type of entity also loads related entities as part of the query, so that we don't need to execute a separate query for related entities. Eager loading is achieved using the Include() method.

In the following example, it gets all the students from the database along with its standards using the Include() method.

LINQ Query Syntax:

using (var context = new SchoolDBEntities())
{
    var stud1 = (from s in context.Students.Include("Standard")
                where s.StudentName == "Bill"
                select s).FirstOrDefault<Student>();
}

LINQ Method Syntax:

using (var ctx = new SchoolDBEntities())
{
    var stud1 = ctx.Students
                   .Include("Standard")
                   .Where(s => s.StudentName == "Bill")
                   .FirstOrDefault<Student>();
}

The above LINQ queries will result in following SQL query:

SELECT TOP (1) 
[Extent1].[StudentID] AS [StudentID], 
[Extent1].[StudentName] AS [StudentName], 
[Extent2].[StandardId] AS [StandardId], 
[Extent2].[StandardName] AS [StandardName], 
[Extent2].[Description] AS [Description]
FROM  [dbo].[Student] AS [Extent1]
LEFT OUTER JOIN [dbo].[Standard] AS [Extent2] ON [Extent1].[StandardId] = [Extent2].[StandardId]
WHERE 'Bill' = [Extent1].[StudentName]

Use Lambda Expression:

You can also use the LINQ lambda expression as a parameter in the Include method. For this, take a reference of System.Data.Entity namespace and use the lambda expression as shown below:

using System;
using System.Data.Entity; 
   
class Program
{
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        using (var ctx = new SchoolDBEntities())
        {
            var stud1 = ctx.Students.Include(s => s.Standard)
                            .Where(s => s.StudentName == "Bill")
                            .FirstOrDefault<Student>();
        }
    }
}

Load Multiple Entities:

You can also eagerly load multiple levels of related entities. The following example query eagerly loads the Student, Standard and Teacher entities:

using (var ctx = new SchoolDBEntities())
{
    var stud1 = ctx.Students.Include("Standard.Teachers")
                    .Where(s => s.StudentName == "Bill")
                    .FirstOrDefault<Student>();
}

Or use the lambda expression as below:

using (var ctx = new SchoolDBEntities())
{
    var stud1 = ctx.Students.Include(s => s.Standard.Teachers)
                    .Where(s => s.StudentName == "Bill")
                    .FirstOrDefault<Student>();
}

The above query will execute the following SQL query in the database:

SELECT [Project2].[StudentID] AS [StudentID], 
[Project2].[StudentName] AS [StudentName], 
[Project2].[StandardId] AS [StandardId], 
[Project2].[StandardName] AS [StandardName], 
[Project2].[Description] AS [Description], 
[Project2].[C1] AS [C1], 
[Project2].[TeacherId] AS [TeacherId], 
[Project2].[TeacherName] AS [TeacherName], 
[Project2].[StandardId1] AS [StandardId1]
FROM ( SELECT 
    [Limit1].[StudentID] AS [StudentID], 
    [Limit1].[StudentName] AS [StudentName], 
    [Limit1].[StandardId1] AS [StandardId], 
    [Limit1].[StandardName] AS [StandardName], 
    [Limit1].[Description] AS [Description], 
    [Project1].[TeacherId] AS [TeacherId], 
    [Project1].[TeacherName] AS [TeacherName], 
    [Project1].[StandardId] AS [StandardId1], 
    CASE WHEN ([Project1].[TeacherId] IS NULL) THEN CAST(NULL AS int) ELSE 1 END AS [C1]
    FROM   (SELECT TOP (1) [Extent1].[StudentID] AS [StudentID], [Extent1].[StudentName] AS [StudentName], [Extent1].[StandardId] AS [StandardId2], [Extent2].[StandardId] AS [StandardId1], [Extent2].[StandardName] AS [StandardName], [Extent2].[Description] AS [Description]
        FROM  [dbo].[Student] AS [Extent1]
        LEFT OUTER JOIN [dbo].[Standard] AS [Extent2] ON [Extent1].[StandardId] = [Extent2].[StandardId]
        WHERE 'updated student' = [Extent1].[StudentName] ) AS [Limit1]
    LEFT OUTER JOIN  (SELECT 
        [Extent3].[TeacherId] AS [TeacherId], 
        [Extent3].[TeacherName] AS [TeacherName], 
        [Extent3].[StandardId] AS [StandardId]
        FROM [dbo].[Teacher] AS [Extent3]
        WHERE [Extent3].[StandardId] IS NOT NULL ) AS [Project1] ON [Limit1].[StandardId2] = [Project1].[StandardId]
)  AS [Project2]
ORDER BY [Project2].[StudentID] ASC, [Project2].[StandardId] ASC, [Project2].[C1] ASC

EF Core supports additional method IncludeThen for eager loading. Learn about it here.

Learn how Entity Framework 6.x supports lazy loading in the next chapter.