Let’s Talk: Egg Size & Why It Matters
In this post I get into the details of egg size (as used in baking), and why it matters. Check it out for info, tips and tricks!
Let’s chat today a bit about eggs. And their sizes. And why they matter. I never gave egg sizes a second thought, being a rather devoted large egg buyer, until we started venturing into the world of chicken raising and egg production and hen watching and chicken whispering.
All of a sudden, I started noticing that my cookies and quick breads and cakes weren’t turning out the same when I used my beautiful backyard chicken eggs. The horror! Everyone told me how superior my homegrown eggs would be. How delicious! How wonderful!
What they failed to tell me was that my dear, sweet chickens would most likely not produce the same size of eggs consistently that I had been accustomed to buying and that this little fact makes a huge difference in baking.
Making scrambled or fried eggs? Don’t stress about egg size. Use whatever you have on hand and go crazy. But for the precision of baking, egg size really does matter. Not only do eggs add moisture and stability to baked goods, they also help leaven and bind the batter/dough.
Using larger/more eggs in a brownie recipe, for instance, might make them cakier instead of dense and fudgy. In cookies, smaller/fewer eggs could make a crumbly, dry cookie whereas larger/more eggs might make a fluffier cookie (or one that spreads too much).
I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of how and where eggs are produced, weighed, washed, and delivered to your grocery store, nor am I going to go into any deeper science about how eggs act in baking (although it is fascinating).
Instead, I just simply want to give a quick overview of the different sizes of eggs and see how they compare (and then let you know how to read and use most recipes accordingly). Ready?
For today’s purpose, we’re going to talk about four main sizes of eggs: Jumbo, X-large, Large and Medium. I gathered eggs classified in these sizes and cracked and weighed four from each size. Keep in mind the weights I give are out of shell.
The details below are averages for each size; these are not exact, scientific measurements. You could do your own measuring and weighing and get slightly different results – like I mentioned above, more than anything, I want to give a visual of how egg sizes differ from each other.
Let’s take that jumbo egg. I have to be honest, I had never bought a jumbo egg before today’s post. The closest I’d come to an egg this size was a few of the double yolkers one of our hens likes to present every now and then (ouchie-wa-wa!). You can see that a jumbo egg weighs in right around 2 ounces (remember, this weight does not include the shell – that is the same for all of the eggs and their weights in the post). The volume of a jumbo egg is a heaping 1/4 cup.
Now the X-large egg. Weighing in slightly less than a jumbo egg, an x-large egg is right around 1.95 ounces and evens out at 1/4 cup volume.
The oft-used large egg weighs about 1.75 ounces and is slightly less than 1/4 cup in volume.
And finally, the humble medium egg (in this case a small homegrown egg from our flock), weighs about 1.4 ounces and is about 3 tablespoons in volume.
Now. To complicate matters just slightly further, keep in mind that in the United States, the weight of eggs is determined by the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs (shell and all). For instance, in a carton of one dozen large eggs, you could get eggs that vary in size because it’s the total weight of the dozen eggs that puts them in the USDA’s determined egg classes. The USDA says that a dozen large eggs has to weigh 24 ounces at a minimum but doesn’t give specific regulations on what each individual egg should weigh.
Each country has different standards and guidelines for egg sizing so if you live outside of the United States, it might be worth checking to see how your area regulates egg sizes.
All of this can be confusing and make one never want to crack an egg again. But never fear! I have a few guidelines to help you maintain positive thoughts about eggs and baking.
When in doubt (or if a recipe doesn’t specify), use large eggs. They are the most commonly used size of eggs in the United States and even though they vary in size by carton, like we talked about above, it’s minimal enough that you can use them and still sleep easily at night.
If a recipe does specify, follow it for the best results (i.e. don’t sub large eggs for x-large and vice versa).
Even better, if you have a scale, use it (this is the kitchen scale I have and love). Because I’ve been exclusively using our homegrown chicken eggs for a while now, I always weigh my eggs, out of shell, when baking, using 1.75 ounces/50 grams as my guideline for a large egg. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I’d do that if I were a normal human being, but since I’m an obsessed food blogger, I’m dead certain I want my recipes to be as foolproof as possible for you.
All of the recipes on my site, unless otherwise specified, use large eggs.
Troubleshooting Update (based on questions in the comments): let’s say I’m making a recipe that needs two large eggs (3.4 ounces/100 grams) and my eggs, out of shell, weigh only 78 grams. I grab another egg, whisk it in a bowl, and add slowly to the two eggs until I get the desired weight (in this case 100 grams). On the flipside, if I have really big eggs and weigh two of them for my recipe and realize I have 115 grams of egginess, I whisk the eggs together until combined and take out a teaspoon of the mixture at a time (or less if needed) until the weight reaches the right amount.
If there’s leftover egg mixture, I throw it into a container in my refrigerator where all the lonely egg remnants go. I use this mixture when I bake next, if I need to adjust the egg weight, and more often, throw it into our breakfast of scrambled eggs.
If all this weighing stuff seems complicated, it really isn’t, I promise, but I also understand some of you do not want to mess with weighing your eggs. And that’s ok! Simply follow the recommendations above (when in doubt, use large eggs unless a recipe specifies a certain size – then use that size). If you find your baked goods are a little temperamental and aren’t turning out like you want them to, that may be the time to buckle down and weigh your eggs (of course there are many other factors besides eggs that impact baking outcomes, as we know, but you could start there).
And there you have it! Eggs in all their gloriousness should be the last things to cause issues in your kitchen (and stress in your life). Hopefully today’s post cleared up any confusion. If you have any lingering questions, ask away in the comments and I’ll answer as quickly as I can.
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