What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?
Ask your grandmother, and I almost guarantee that she’ll make a strong case for one—or the other.
But honestly? Aside from shell color, there’s not really much difference, at least when it comes to cooking. Nutritionally, all eggs are created (almost) equal.
When a recipe calls for eggs, you can pretty much use brown and white interchangeably, unless the shell is part of your final presentation (i.e. hard boiled eggs), and you prefer one color over the other.
When you’re cooking with eggs, size—not color—is what counts
In actuality, size—not color—is a much bigger deal when a recipe calls for eggs. After all, bigger eggs have, well, more egg to them.
I mean, if you’re hard boiling eggs for brunch, nobody’s going to give you grief for using large instead of jumbo. On the other hand, if you’re baking, you need to be more accurate than not. Bake the same cake with medium eggs, then jumbo eggs, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
In the US, eggs are graded per dozen, by weight. Here’s the breakdown, according to the USDA:
- Jumbo eggs = 30 oz. per dozen = ~2.5 oz. per egg
- Extra large eggs = 27 oz. per dozen = ~2.25 oz. per egg
- Large eggs = 24 oz. per dozen = ~2 oz. per egg
- Medium eggs = 21 oz. per dozen = ~1.75 oz. per egg
One large egg is equal to 2 oz., or about 3 Tablespoons. You’ll need 3 large eggs to make about a half a cup.
What affects an egg’s color?
As a general rule, white eggs come from white chickens, and brown eggs come from brown ones.
(Think there are just a few types of cluckers? Think again. Feast your eyes on the wonderful world of Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart if you think I’m joking.)
The bird’s diet, however, can affect the egg’s nutritional content, as well as the color of its yolk—which can be anywhere from a pale, buttery yellow, to bright yellow, to almost orange.
In fact, a chicken’s diet is why you’ll see some egg brands advertised as high in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids (also found in salmon, flax seed, and walnuts).
The birds that laid those eggs spent their days pecking on omega-3 rich feed. I’m no nutritionist, but from what I’ve gathered, some of those healthier fats find their way into the eggs.
That said, this is easily a point of pain for food marketers: Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce high cholesterol, but egg yolks contain cholesterol. Do they cancel each other out? I have no idea.
Caveat eater, I suppose.
What’s in an egg, anyways?
According to the Egg Nutrition Center, one large, regular egg contains about 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 185 mg of cholesterol. It also has vitamins like potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Here, have a look:
Hey, what about blue eggs?
Blue eggs are just that: A regular egg with a lovely, pale blue shell. Most are laid by the Ameraucana, also known as an Easter Egg chicken. (Which, sadly, is not blue, nor has bunny ears.)
Want another helping of egg lore?
Check out my article on The Daily Beast, Cracking the Code on All Things Egg.