The different types of eggs available in the store can be overwhelming. From The size to the classifications, let’s dive into the differences.
Whether you enjoy them boiled, fried, scrambled or poached and are inspired by their versatility in the kitchen, eggs make a fantastic addition to any meal and are a crucial ingredient to thousands of dishes.
But with that said, did you know that not all eggs are created equal? If you want to become a more seasoned home cook, it can be helpful to learn more about this small yet mighty ingredient.
In this blog post, we’ll explore different types of chicken eggs in terms of:
- The difference in egg size and weight (pewee to jumbo)
- Why eggs are different colors (white, brown, etc.)
- How hens are raised (cage-free, free-range, etc.)
- Different grades of eggs (Grade A, B, etc.)
Prepared to expand your knowledge in time for your next culinary creation? Let’s dive in!
What are the six size classifications of eggs?
Have you ever come across a recipe that asks for medium or extra-large eggs? Well, that’s because there are six different sizes of eggs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are six different weight classes for chicken eggs. Egg sizes include:
- Peewee or pullet eggs: 15 ounces 32 grams
- Small eggs: 18 ounces 38 gram
- Medium eggs: 21 ounces or 44 grams
- Large eggs: 24 ounces or 50 grams
- Extra-large eggs: 27 ounces or 56 grams
- Jumbo eggs: 30 ounces or 63 grams
As you can see from the info above, the size categorization is based on the total net weight per dozen eggs and not on each egg’s dimensions. So when you are purchasing eggs, you are purchasing the egg based on its weight, not the visual size.
What about different colored eggs?
Different chicken breeds lay eggs of not only different sizes but also different colors. While most eggs found in grocery stores are either white or brown, there are also blue, green, and even pink eggs.
The good news is the difference when it comes to egg color stops there. Different colored eggs don’t taste different. So that’s one less thing to worry about when buying a carton of eggs. The only thing that changes the taste of eggs is the hen’s diet and how fresh the egg is.
What do the labels on eggs mean?
Beyond size and color, when it comes to different types of eggs, you’ll also see various labels on cartons in the grocery store. Personally, I think this is the most confusing difference.
Generally, most labels on an egg carton help designate how the hens laying those eggs are raised and fed.
Other kinds of eggs available in most stores are the following:
- Cage-free: These eggs are laid by hens allowed to roam free in a room or open area that includes nest space and perches.
- Free-range: Like cage-free eggs, these eggs are laid by hens allowed to roam free both indoors and outdoors.
- Pasture-raised: These eggs are laid by hens who roam free in a designated pasture area.
- Nest-laid: These eggs come from hens that are raised in furnished housing systems.
- Certified humane: These eggs come from facilities that meet specific standards for farm animal treatment designated by the Humane Farm Animal Care Organization.
- American humane certified: These eggs come from producers that have passed a certification program from the American Humane Association ensuring the humane treatment of their hens.
- Certified organic: These eggs come from chickens that are only fed organic feed, which is typically free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemical additives.
- Pasteurized: These eggs are heated in their shells at low temperatures that kill the bacteria without cooking the egg. Pasteurized eggs are great for any recipe that calls for uncooked or partially cooked eggs.
- Omega-3 enriched: These eggs are laid by hens fed a special diet that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Vegetarian-fed: These eggs are laid by hens fed a vegetarian diet.
If your eggs don’t have a label
If you come across an egg carton with no label, they are conventional eggs. Conventional eggs mean the hens were locked in a cage with water and feed. Beyond that, there’s not much to know. The hens aren’t given space to wander or graze.
If you ever come across a carton of eggs labeled as all-natural or natural, buyer beware. The ‘natural’ label on eggs is not regulated and doesn’t mean anything. They could even be conventional eggs, as mentioned above.
What are the different grades of eggs?
You’ve probably heard of the different grades of eggs. This grading system was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and consists of three grades:
- Grade AA eggs. These are the freshest and highest-quality eggs. Grade AA eggs are great for any use.
- Grade A eggs. This is the kind of eggs most commonly found in stores. Grade A eggs have a thick white and firm egg yolk, so they’re great for poaching, frying, and cooking in the shell.
- Grade B eggs. This type of eggs has a small, watery white and a flat yolk. They’re best for scrambling and baking.
Different types of animal eggs
Although they’re the most common, chicken eggs are not the only types of eggs available. Countless other animals lay eggs, but not all of them are edible. Listed below are other types of animal eggs commonly used in cooking.
- Duck eggs. These eggs have a higher amount of fat and protein than chicken eggs, as well as a richer, creamier flavor.
- Quail eggs. The eggs are roughly the same size as peewee chicken eggs, with brownish spots across the shell. Quail eggs are rich in vitamin D and B12.
- Turkey Eggs. These eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs. Turkey eggs also have thicker yolk and egg white.
- Goose eggs. These eggs are almost double the size of chicken eggs. Goose eggs have a stronger taste and a higher protein content.
- Ostrich Eggs. These eggs can weigh up to two kilograms. Despite the size difference, ostrich eggs have a protein and fat content similar to that of chicken eggs.
- Caviar. This luxurious food consists of alt-cured roe or eggs of different types of fish from the sturgeon family. All different types of caviar are rich in antioxidants and minerals.
What are the Different Ways To Cook Eggs?
What I love the most about eggs is that they are a great source of protein and are also incredibly versatile. There are many different ways to cook eggs. Keep reading to learn how you can make the best eggs at home!
Fried eggs are a popular breakfast food. To make them, you’ll need a non-stick skillet, a spatula, and plenty of fat, such as butter or vegetable oil. Just crack the egg directly on a hot pan and cook them however you like, whether it’s sunny-side-up or over-well eggs.
To make scrambled eggs, beat them with some whole milk or half-and-half and then cooked over low heat, stirring gently. There are two main types of scrambled eggs you can make: soft and hard scrambled eggs. The main difference is how fully they’re cooked.
Hard-scrambled eggs are cooked over medium heat until they are fully set and on the drier side. On the other hand, soft-scrambled eggs are cooked at a low temperature and have a more moist consistency.
Poaching is a technique that involves cooking food submerged in liquid. Poached eggs are cooked, outside the shell, using this method. The result is eggs with barely-firm whites and runny, golden egg yolks.
For the best poached eggs, add a dash of vinegar to the water once you’ve submerged the eggs and let them simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Once their cooking time is up, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot.
Boiled Eggs (Soft and Hard Boiled)
Soft-boiled and hard-boiled eggs are cooked with their shells unbroken in boiling water. The only difference between these two kinds of boiled eggs is the cooking time. Soft-boiled eggs should be cooked for 5 to 7 minutes, while hard-boiled eggs should be cooked for 8 to 12 minutes.
Boiled eggs are great for preparing a great variety of dishes, from egg salad to some classic deviled eggs. They’re also great on their own or with a bowl of warm noodles.
Baked Eggs (also known as Shirred Eggs)
Baking is one of the easiest methods for cooking eggs. Shirred eggs are typically baked in a flat-bottomed dish until they’re fully set. When cooking baked eggs, you can beat them beforehand or just crack them open into an oven-safe dish before baking them.
Shirred eggs are simple but delicious. They’re great for making breakfast ahead of time or for having them on the go. You can have them with anything, from turkey slices to your favorite veggies.
Frittatas and Fried Eggs
A frittata is a traditional Italian dish that’s very similar to an omelet or crustless quiche. It’s made by beating eggs with a fork and pouring them into a skillet. Then, it’s cooked until fully set.
Frittatas can be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. And they’re usually cooked with additional ingredients such as meat, cheese, or veggies. If you want something simple but delicious for breakfast, you should try this mushroom and goat cheese frittata.
There are many other ways to cook eggs, such as this cheesy egg casserole. As you can see, eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients you can use.
3 Egg Recipes to Inspire You In the Kitchen
Starbucks Bacon Gruyere Egg Bites
This Starbucks Bacon Gruyere Egg Bites Recipe is one you’ll make again and again. They’re perfect for a last-minute brunch with friends or every day. They’re great for lunch when you can’t stomach another limp salad or dry sandwich. They also travel well!
Cheesy Taco Bell Loaded Potato Griller
Eggs might not be the main ingredient in this Cheesy Taco Bell Loaded Potato Griller Recipe, but it adds protein to the dish.
Bacon Egg and Cheese Pinwheels
You’ll wonder how you survived life before discovering these Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pinwheels. What is better than bacon meets egg meets cheese meets pastry dough? Nada!
Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in your refrigerator. Now that you know more about the different types of eggs, you’ll be able to experiment and get creative in the kitchen. Have fun!
And if you find yourself with a ton of eggs leftover, here’s a list of recipes to help you use up extra eggs.
Have questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below. Until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉