How to Buy Eggs

Purchasing eggs can be an easy task, you just pick a dozen with no broken ones in and you're done. But it's something every good cook should learn more about, as there are many things you can consider when making your choice. Below are tips on how to purchase eggs.


  1. Image titled Buy Eggs Step 1
    Decide which kinds of eggs you need. Most people buy chicken eggs, but there are other kinds of eggs available at stores and markets that may better suit your needs:
    • Turkey eggs are very similar in nutrition and flavor to chicken eggs, but larger. Since these eggs are difficult to produce on a commercial scale, they are usually not available.[1]
    • Duck eggs - These eggs have more protein in the whites and fat in the yolks than chicken eggs[2] so substituting them for chicken eggs in certain recipes is not recommended unless you can adjust accordingly.
    • Goose eggs - These have more fat content than chicken eggs, so they can make for richer dishes, but they're not good for frying.[3]
    • Ostrich eggs - These massive eggs are usually opened carefully with a hammer. When scrambled, the texture is lighter and fluffier than that of a chicken egg and it has a milder, faintly sweeter taste.[4]
    • Quail eggs - They taste pretty much just like chicken eggs, but their small size can make for unique presentation. They are also hard to open without breaking the yolk.[5] Sometimes they are eaten raw in sushi.
  2. Image titled Buy Eggs Step 2
    Become familiar with how eggs are graded in your area. Most countries have grading systems for chicken eggs, usually based on weight. See the section below for information from various localities showing the different standards used by consumers to purchase eggs.
  3. Image titled Buy Eggs Step 3
    Look further into the standards for "premium" eggs.
    • Organic eggs generally come from chickens that are fed organic feed (little or no pesticide and herbicide use, non-GMO) and are not given antibiotics unless necessary to control infection. They are given access to the outdoors for at least some part of the year, although that does not mean they actually go outdoors.[6]
    • "Free range" and "cage free" are terms not regulated in the US, which means anyone can label any egg "free range" no matter how the chickens were raised. The best way to determine how the hens are raised is to purchase your eggs from a farmer whose farm you can visit to see for yourself.
  4. Image titled Buy Eggs Step 4
    If you will be consuming the egg raw, look for pasteurized eggs. This will help you avoid food poisoning in raw cookie dough, homemade mayonnaise, eggnog or any dish that has uncooked or lightly cooked eggs.
  5. Image titled Buy Eggs Step 5
    Look for the expiration date and date code (Julian date) to determine freshness. The Julian date (JD) is a 3-digit number that corresponds to the calendar day, out of 365, that the eggs were packaged. If you want fresh eggs, try to find a JD that is as close as possible to the current day.

Grading Standards

US Eggs

  1. Egg packers may elect to use the voluntary United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading systems. Eggs packed using the USDA grading system will have the USDA shield on the egg carton with the grade listed.
  2. Egg packers who do not participate in the USDA grading system will sell eggs without the USDA shield. They are typically monitored by state agencies.
  3. US egg size are based on weight per dozen. The following sizes of eggs are sold:
    • Jumbo --- 30 ounces
    • Extra Large --- 27 ounces
    • Large --- 24 ounces
    • Medium --- 21 ounces
    • Small --- 18 ounces
    • Peewee --- 15 ounces
  4. US Egg grading is based on the interior quality of the egg and the eggshell. The following grades of eggs are sold:
    • AA --- Egg yolks are from free from defects and stand tall. They will maintain their round shape when the egg is cracked. Egg whites are thick and firm. The egg yolk, white and shell are relatively free from defects.
    • A --- Egg yolks will maintain their round shape and stand tall. Egg whites are reasonably firm. The egg yolk, white and shell are relatively free from defects. This is the most commonly sold egg in grocery stores.
    • B --- Egg yolks may be flatter and the egg whites not as firm. The egg shells may show signs of slight stains. The egg shells will be unbroken.
  5. Storage: Purchase eggs from a refrigerator case at the store. Store eggs at home in their original carton, in the refrigerator, for up to five weeks after their purchase.

Canadian Eggs

  1. Canadian eggs are graded in size much like the US, except the weights are given in metric. Canadian eggs range from Peewee to Jumbo. The size of a Pewee egg is less than 42 grams for one egg and the Jumbo egg weighs in at 70 grams or more in weight. This is weight per egg, not per dozen of eggs.
  2. Canadian eggs are graded and sold using the following system:
    • Grade A --- Clean, uncracked shells that have a round centered yolk. The egg white will be firm.
    • Grade B --- Grade B eggs have uncracked shells that could have a rough texture. The yolk is slightly flattened and the white is watery. The Canadian consumer would not usually purchase this grade of egg as it's normally sold for commercial use.
    • Grade C --- Egg yolks and whites are loose and watery. These eggs are sold to commercial processors for further processing.

British Eggs

  1. British eggs are sold as A, B or C:
    • Class A --- Clean eggs with no less than 4mm of air inside the egg for Extra Fresh eggs. The egg yolks will remain standing and the egg whites will be firm.
    • Class B --- Certain eggs or preserved eggs.
    • Class C --- Sold for commercial use, e.g. shampoo and soap.
  2. British eggs are sold as
    • Very Large --- 73 grams and over
    • Large --- 63-73 grams
    • Medium --- 53-63 grams
    • Small ---53 grams and under

Australian Eggs

  1. Eggs are sold in the following sizes:
    • Jumbo --- 68 grams
    • Extra-Large --- 60 grams
    • Large --- 52 grams
    • Mega or XXXL --- 72 grams (Western Australia only)
    • Medium --- 43 grams (Western Australia only)

New Zealand Eggs

  1. Eggs are sold in the following sizes:
    • Jumbo --- 68 grams
    • Large --- 62 grams
    • Standard --- 53 grams
    • Medium --- 44 grams
    • Pullet --- 35 grams

European Egg Sales

  1. Most eggs sold in European countries are sold by how the eggs were farmed not based on grade of egg as in the US or Canada. Types of farming could include free range, barn laid or organic depending on locality.


  • A fresh egg will sink to the bottom of a bowl of water. An old egg will float. This is because more air is encapsulated in an older egg causing it to float.
  • When you pick up a carton of eggs, open it and make sure each egg moves freely. Eggs broken on the bottom will adhere to the carton as the white or yolk dries, making them immobile.
  • There is no nutritional difference between brown or white eggs. The only difference is the shell color.
  • To tell if an egg is boiled try spinning it. A boiled egg will spin easily while a raw egg will not.
  • Grade B eggs, if you can find them, are fine for baking.
  • Large eggs are the eggs most commonly found at the supermarket.
  • If you want fresh eggs for cheaper prices that you can negotiate, go to a farm and buy eggs directly from the farmers.
  • A fresh egg will have a much nicer taste than an older egg because of the enclosed air and its reaction to the proteins and sulfur inside. The best time to eat eggs for taste is within the first 7 to 10 days. Thereafter, they are better for baking or in a more mixed dish.


  • Always purchase refrigerated eggs. Store eggs promptly in the refrigerator.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (11)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Eggs and Dairy