How Much Does the Size of Eggs Matter When Cooking?
My husband and I were grocery shopping this week and stopped to pick up a dozen eggs for some omelets. I was overwhelmed by all of the egg options at my store—brown, white, organic, free-range, vegetarian-fed, and more—not to mention, there were four egg sizes to choose from!
It got me thinking: How much does the size of eggs matter when cooking? For example, if you swap in medium eggs for large in a recipe, will your baked goods come out all wrong? Will your muffins get too fluffy if you opt for jumbo eggs over large? And should you splurge on the largest size, or is it just better to buy the cheapest size? So I did some digging. Here’s what I found.
Size Matters (Kinda)
First off, some background: The “size” of a dozen eggs isn’t based on how big any particular egg is. It’s actually based on their minimum weight per dozen. According to the USDA, “While some eggs in the carton may look slightly larger or smaller than the rest, it is the total weight of the dozen eggs that puts them in one of the following classes.” Those classes are:
- Jumbo: 30 oz. (2.5 oz. per egg on average)
- Extra-large: 27 oz. (2.25 oz. per egg on average)
- Large: 24 oz. (2 oz. per egg on average)
- Medium: 21 oz. (1.75 oz. per egg on average)
- Small: 18 oz. (1.5 oz. per egg on average)
- Peewee: 15 oz. (1.25 oz. per egg on average)
Can I Swap Different Egg Sizes in Recipes?
When using eggs for breading or binding, or for basic egg recipes like scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, or fried rice, it likely won’t affect the taste if you use a medium egg instead of a large one (or vice versa). But if you’re paying really close attention to your diet, it should be obvious that the larger the egg, the more calories, fat, protein, and cholesterol you’re ingesting (you can see the full nutritional breakdown here).
However, if you’re baking and need a precise amount of egg—for example, in a soufflé or crème anglaise—you’ll want to stick to the exact size egg your recipe requires.
Though eggs can appear to be the same size to the naked eye, they can vary quite a bit in weight and volume (TheKitchn did a test that showed volume disparities within the same size egg.) When baking delicate dishes, having the exact amount of egg is critical for texture and flavor, and you will probably want to weigh out your ingredients, instead of going by volume.
Sauder’s Eggs has a handy conversion chart on their website to help home cooks navigate egg conversions in recipes. Here’s what it says about swapping one size out for another:
- One large egg: To match the measurements when substituting another size for one large egg, it’s always OK to use only one egg of any other size. Whether you have small, medium, extra-large or jumbo eggs in your carton, if the recipe says one egg, any one will work.
- Two large eggs: If your recipe requires two large eggs, you can substitute two eggs of either medium, extra-large or jumbo size. The only amount adjustment necessary is if you have small eggs instead, in which case, you should use three.
- Three large eggs: To match the amount of three large eggs, use two jumbo eggs, three extra-large or medium eggs or four small eggs.
- Four large eggs: When the recipe calls for four large eggs and you don’t have the right size at hand, use other egg size equivalents with confidence. You can substitute three jumbo eggs, four extra-large eggs, five medium eggs or five smalls.
- Five large eggs: To match the amount in five large eggs, substitute four jumbo or extra-large eggs, six medium eggs or seven small eggs.
- Six large eggs: Matching the measurement of six large eggs will require five jumbo or extra-large eggs, seven medium eggs or eight small eggs.
It’s also worth noting that one fluid cup is equal to six small eggs, five medium eggs, five large eggs, four extra-large eggs, or four jumbo eggs.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, only you can decide what size egg is best. But unless you’re working on a very fancy bit of pastry, it probably doesn’t matter that much. If you only have jumbo eggs and your recipe calls for large eggs, don’t panic. Just consult the conversion chart above and get crackin’.
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