Egg Sizing Guide
Posted on: January 31st 2018
Almost everyone loves a good egg dish. Hardboiled, sunny-side-up, over-easy or in omelets, eggs are delicious, nutritious and a staple in so many meals.
In addition to your favorite Sunday morning egg dishes, these farm-fresh, protein-packed ingredients play a part in all aspects of international cuisine. They’re the star of the popular French pastry dish quiche, the creamy contribution to the holiday favorite eggnog, the secret ingredient that adds a fizzy foam to cocktails and the binding element in the batters of baked goods. From fluffy custards to thick sauces, cakes to crème brûlée, brownies to bread dough and pancakes to pasta, eggs are essential to almost everything in the culinary world.
But how much do you know about the selection of eggs you incorporate into each of your recipes? When you pick up your carton of a dozen eggs at the grocery store, or select an organic assortment from your local farmers’ market, you’re probably not paying attention to the size of the specimens you take home to fry, scramble and mix into meals. But next time you’re testing out a new recipe for dough, dessert, dinner or whatever makes your taste buds tingle, note whether the dish calls for an egg of a certain size.
Although you might not think about it when you’re cracking, whisking and waiting for a taste, eggs come in a variety of sizes, and different recipes call for different amounts of egg to balance the other ingredients and create the perfect moisture, texture, thickening agent, consistency or chemical reaction. If you have any recipes that specify egg sizes, you might be wondering which egg size is the best to buy, how to calculate egg size equivalents and whether you can substitute one size for another if you have the wrong type at hand.
Whether you’re whipping up a dish and searching for a sizing guide, or seeking out info to store for future culinary endeavors, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about egg size, conversions and measuring for your favorite recipes.
Difference in Egg Sizes
There’s no doubt about it — Americans adore eggs. In fact, the average citizen ate approximately 267 eggs this year in his or her regular diet, whether in breakfast scrambles, hearty omelets, baked goods, breads, soups, stuffing or other delectable dishes. With so much egg consumption on a yearly basis, egg production has to stay up to speed, as well. The United States egg industry produced 7.67 billion eggs during October 2017 alone, and the yearly egg production rate nationwide totals about 50 billion.
But for as much time as we spend buying, cooking and consuming these excellent ingredients, how much do we know about the size and content of the eggs we eat?
Even though your carton of eggs appears uniform in shape and size, don’t make the mistake of thinking chickens naturally produce eggs of mostly the same size. In fact, the eggs you find in grocery stores and markets are sorted by grade and weight at the processing facility and packaged in groups of similar sizes before they’re shipped out to be sold. While this gives the illusion of uniformity in terms of size, there’s still a lot of variety among eggs — even the same chickens don’t regularly lay eggs of the same size, even when they eat a specific diet.
So what are the different egg sizes, how much do their contents measure in terms of liquid — and how can you tell the difference? The U.S. classifies its eggs into six size categories based on the weight of a dozen eggs, the standard amount in a carton. Here are the different designations used to describe egg size and what they mean.
• Peewee: While rare and virtually never sold in grocery stores, peewee eggs measure under 18 ounces per dozen, meaning each egg is only a little over an ounce in volume. These eggs come from extremely young chickens, who lay eggs only infrequently and lay peewee eggs even less often. It’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to find these eggs in a regular market, so don’t worry about them for cooking purposes.
• Small: Small eggs measure approximately 18 ounces per dozen, or 1.5 ounces per egg, and they only come from young hens in the first few months of their laying capabilities. While these small eggs, sometimes called “pullet” eggs, have a stronger, fuller and more savory flavor, they’re not in consumer demand and are frequently sold to plants for other egg product purposes, so you won’t find them in your local grocery store.
• Medium: Weighing 21 ounces per dozen and about 1.75 ounces per egg, these eggs are the smallest you’re likely to find on the shelves at your grocery store. When used in cooking, the liquid in the yolk and egg white makes up about three tablespoons.
• Large: Large eggs weigh about 24 ounces per dozen, or two ounces per egg, and they’re typically the type of egg recipes refer to. Their liquid contents make up 3.25 tablespoons.
• Extra-large: These eggs weigh 27 ounces or more per dozen and 2.25 ounces per egg. They’ll add about 4 tablespoons each to your batter or mixture. Medium, large and extra-large eggs are the most common types you’ll find in grocery stores and use in cooking.
• Jumbo: Jumbo eggs refer to especially large eggs that measure 30 ounces per dozen or 2.5 ounces per egg. These are relatively rare, but not as unusual as peewee eggs.
Why Are Some Eggs Different Sizes?
The variation between egg sizes can be pretty significant— from a small to a jumbo egg, the weight can differ as much as an ounce per egg. But why do these size differences occur, and what factors contribute to eggs being larger or smaller? The answer, of course, lies in the source — the chickens laying the eggs.
From the time hens are about 18 weeks old, they possess the capability of producing edible eggs. While especially young hens lay less frequently — maybe every few days — healthy, youthful chickens bred for laying can lay up to an egg a day in their prime. In general, most hens can continue to lay for about 13 months after they reach maturity. As they get older and their bodies become more used to producing, the eggs they lay become larger and more frequent.
Typically, peewee eggs come only from extremely young chickens, who lay rarely, and small eggs are the product of the beginning of a young hen’s laying cycle — within the first month. Large eggs, on the other hand, are the norm for fully mature, healthy chickens during their prime egg-laying months. The older the chicken, the larger the egg. In addition to their age and health, there are other factors that can affect the size of a hen’s eggs. While some relate to the hen herself, other influencing elements are related to the laying environment.
Here are several factors that contribute to determining what size eggs a chicken will lay.
• Body weight: The bigger the hen, the larger the egg. Hens that breed larger, weigh more or belong to larger families will produce bigger eggs. Chicks who are larger at the time of hatching and subsist on a hearty diet grow into hefty hens who lay hefty eggs, while smaller hens’ eggs will be smaller, even in their egg-laying prime.
• Breed: Like any other animal, chickens exist in various breeds, and different breeds have different sizes and different egg-laying capabilities. Breeds that are naturally larger or are specifically bred for egg-laying typically produce the largest eggs, from large to jumbo in size. Some breeds known for possessing capability of laying the largest and most frequent eggs include Orpingtons, Isa Browns, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks and Welsummers.
• Skeletal size: Like body weight, skeletal size has a significant impact on egg size. Bigger, longer bones lead to bigger hens and bigger eggs, while smaller-boned chickens are naturally capable of laying only relatively smaller eggs. Again, a certain diet can assist in increasing bone growth for enhanced egg size.
• Feed intake: A hen’s diet is crucial, and the amount of nutrients chickens consume is directly related to the size and weight of the eggs they lay. While healthy diets encourage larger eggs, factors that interfere with proper feed — like inadequate water, overcrowding or too much heat — can decrease egg production size.
• Protein level: A key factor in a hen’s nutrient intake, protein levels affect egg size, and farmers can specifically manipulate the amount of protein in chicken feed to enhance eggs. For example, during the first couple months of a hen’s natural egg production, feeding her a protein level of 18 to 20 percent will result in increased egg sizes.
• Lighting: The conditions of the environment in which the hens grow up can affect their development, the age at which they begin laying and, subsequently, the size and condition of their eggs. Hens exposed to more light before 19 weeks of age will start laying younger, and the earlier a hen begins laying, the smaller her eggs will be during the first year. Decreased light levels, however, will delay the start of egg production, making the eventual eggs larger.
Treatment of the hens is just as significant as their size, weight, bone structure and breed, and all these factors play an important part in determining whether the chickens mature to producing consistent eggs in medium, large, extra-large or jumbo size.
Which Is the Most Common Egg Size?
With all the factors that affect egg size and the variation in eggs, which size occurs most frequently and is most common to find when shopping in your local grocery store?
Because eggs are in high demand in America, farmers and the production industry aim for an output of bigger eggs, and they raise and feed chickens according to conditions most optimal for larger laying. Like we mentioned, you’ll typically never find rare peewee eggs for purchase, and small eggs produced within the chicken’s early months of laying are less common as well. Jumbo eggs, while more frequently sold than peewee, are also not the most readily available in grocery stores.
Medium eggs are often the smallest you can select from in the egg aisle— along with large and extra-large eggs, they are one of the most common sizes found in grocery stores. Hens most frequently lay medium to large eggs, and almost any recipe calling for eggs refers to large eggs, so they’re your best bet for cooking and egg size conversion standards.
Do Different Size Eggs Have Different Nutritional Values?
Now you know all about egg size, what contributes to their weight variation and what kind you’ll most commonly find in stores, you might be wondering what kind of eggs are best for you to buy. Will extra-large eggs pack more of a protein punch than mediums? Are smaller eggs healthier choices if they contain less fat?
As almost any nutritionist would tell you, all eggs make beneficial contributions to a healthy diet. Every egg is slightly different in shape and size, and although egg sizes can vary in weight by up to an ounce, the difference is not marked enough to significantly change the nutritional value from size to size. All eggs contain slightly varying levels of essential nutrients, and eating one a day is an excellent way to balance your diet and make sure you’re intaking a healthy dose of all its components.
While eggs contain a relatively high amount of cholesterol —186 mg for medium and 213 mg for large, for example — they also deliver 13 essential minerals and vitamins and six to seven grams of protein. By increasing your iron levels and immune capabilities, an egg a day can provide a variety of physical benefits. Here’s what eggs can do for you nutritionally.
• Aid in weight management: A protein-packed egg as a snack or part of a meal is a prime way to curb hunger, help weight maintenance and even assist in weight loss long-term.
• Boost physical performance: The high-quality protein eggs contain is an essential factor in building lean muscle, providing extra energy, boosting exercise performance and helping to maintain lean body mass.
• Add to a balanced diet: The protein, nutrients, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids in eggs contribute to a healthy diet and a stronger body.
• Fight disease and degeneration: Eggs’ levels of nutrients and carotenoids work to prevent diseases like macular degeneration, which can cause blindness in older adults. They can also aid in brain development and memory enhancement.
• Aid in child development: Consuming an egg’s essential nutrients can help support healthy pregnancy, assist in child growth and development throughout their younger years and increase function and muscle mass as they age.
No matter their size, eggs are an excellent addition to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, not to mention their impressive and versatile culinary capabilities. Just make sure you consume them in moderation.
Why Does Egg Size Matter?
If egg size doesn’t make a huge difference in nutritional value, you might be wondering why size matters at all. Does it make a difference whether you purchase a carton of mediums or an assortment of somewhat heftier larges for your pastas, pastries, scones, scrambles, omelets and hors d’oeuvres? Yes and no. It all depends on the recipe you’re using and the type of dish you’re poised to prepare.
If your meal ambitions feature eggs as the sole star, size is less important. For your favorite hardboiled snacks, breakfast scrambles, poached eggs or even omelets, you can use any size from small to jumbo without the difference affecting your recipe — because the focus here is on cooking the eggs themselves, and size will only slightly affect the amount you use, not the makeup of the recipe itself.
Recipes that use eggs in batters or marinades to coat chicken tenders or fry fritters also have more leniency when it comes to size. It doesn’t really matter how big an egg is when you’re only rolling chicken in it or using it as the binding factor in a batter of breadcrumbs and flour.
When it comes to baked goods, custards, doughs and liquids, however, the proportion of eggs is particularly important. If you’re preparing homemade hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise, for example, you’ll need egg yolks to emulsify — or permanently blend — two substances that wouldn’t normally mix, like egg and oil or butter. The right amount of egg creates the perfect emulsion, but too much or too little can alter the consistency and prevent the mixture from reaching its chemical perfection.
By the same token, if you’re whipping up the perfect meringue, which uses egg white and forced air to create a fluffy paradise of peaks, you’ll want to follow the recipe’s egg specifications exactly to make sure the custard consistency is everything you’ve dreamed of. In pancakes, pastries, brownies, batters and baking, egg amount can be crucial to texture, moisture, binding and success for your food, so if the recipe calls for a specific size or measurement of added egg, you shouldn’t try to substitute another amount without knowing the proper egg size equivalents.
Egg Size Conversions
For those times your recipe calls for medium and you only have a carton of extra-large at hand — or specifies the required amount of egg in liquid measurement, rather than a number of eggs — you’ll need a conversion reference to make sure you’re using the right number of eggs, no matter the size.
If you’re wondering how many medium eggs make up an extra-large, here are some helpful egg size conversions for substituting other eggs to match the quantity of large eggs called for.
• 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 important to know the approximate measurements of the liquid within an egg, in case your recipe requests an amount in tablespoons or cups, rather than a number of eggs. Medium to jumbo eggs make up three to four tablespoons each, and half an egg is about four teaspoons, so keep that in mind when measuring out amounts. To give you a little extra help, here are the egg equivalents of one cup:
• Six small eggs
• Five medium eggs
• Five large eggs
• Four extra-large eggs
• Four jumbo eggs
While the amount of liquid content varies even within the same egg sizes, refer to these conversion equivalents to confidently substitute different egg sizes into your recipes.
Recipes That Use Any Size Egg
With egg sizes, nutritional info and conversions under your belt, you’re probably ready to dive into delicious dishes that incorporate eggs of all shapes and sizes. For recipes free of stress and size conversion, try one of these recipes for eggs of any size:
• Autumn Quiche
Hearty, tasty and a perfect dish for both breakfast and lunch, quiche can be its own meal or a wholesome addition to a healthy spread, whether you serve it warm or room temperature. You can make a quiche with any assortment of vegetables, cheese and inspiring ingredients, but this recipe is perfect for warming your heart and reminding you of the tastes and aromas of the fall season. And the best part? Your egg size doesn’t have to be specific. Here’s how to make yours:
Ingredients: 4 beaten eggs, ½ cup milk, ½ cup sour cream, 1 cup sharp shredded Cheddar, 1 tbsp. flour, 1 cup chopped Swiss chard leaves, 2 cups diced and peeled butternut squash, 1 pre-made pie crust, 6 garlic cloves, ½ sliced medium onion, 1 tbsp. canola oil, ¾ tsp. salt, ¾ tsp. black pepper
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then toss squash with 1 ½ tsp. oil on a baking sheet. Mix garlic cloves and ½ tsp. oil on aluminum foil, then crumple the foil with the garlic inside, add to the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Add onions and the remaining oil to the sheet, sprinkle with ¼ tsp. salt and pepper, toss together and put back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes.
Push the pre-made pie crust into a pre-greased pie pan, trim, prick with a fork and bake on the bottom rack for 15 minutes.
Next, make the quiche filling by combining the eggs, milk, sour cream, flour, and ½ tsp. salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the roasted garlic after squeezing the cloves from their peels, whisk, then toss in the onion, chard, squash and ¾ of the cheddar cheese. When you’re done mixing, add the filling to the pie crust, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake for 40 minutes. Savory and sensational!
• Baked Skillet Eggs
Breakfast for dinner, anyone? When you think about preparing egg dishes, you’re probably picking from sunny side up, over-easy, frittatas or unique omelets. But have you considered baked egg dishes? Inspiring, Italian in spice, sizzling and satisfying, these baked skillet eggs are exactly what you never knew you were craving, and you can use any size eggs you like. Serve this flavorful family dish on toasted bread or out of the pan. Here’s how to craft your own:
Ingredients: 4 eggs, 1 28-oz. can of tomatoes, ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, 6 oz. shredded mozzarella, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¼ cup chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Over medium heat, stir-fry the sausage and oil for five or 10 minutes until crispy, separating the sausage into small crumbles. Add red pepper flakes and garlic, stirring for another minute, then pour the whole can of tomatoes and juice into the pan and warm on medium-high heat, adding salt and pepper if desired. When the sauce begins to bubble, lower the heat and simmer for another five minutes.
Using the back of a spoon, push some meat and tomatoes aside to create small wells, then crack your eggs into the empty spaces, making sure the meat sauce doesn’t submerge them. When the eggs are nestled among the mixture, turn up the heat and add the cheese. Continue to cook for another seven to 10 minutes, rotating the pan so the eggs heat evenly. When the whites are solid, but the yolks maintain some runniness, sprinkle with parsley and prepare to serve. Your baked egg dish is perfect for dipping.
Recipes That Call for a Certain Egg Size
When you’re ready to test your egg size and conversion knowledge and take on a challenge, you can delve into some more complicated sweet recipes that require specific amounts or sizes to integrate the eggs properly. Pick up a carton of the proper size, or keep your conversion chart handy and try your hand at these tasty treats:
• Egg Custard
Classic, comforting and surprisingly uncomplicated, custard is a creamy dessert that relies on eggs for its impeccable texture and rich flavor. While you can prepare custard in a variety of different ways, season it with anything from citrus to cinnamon and serve it inside pastries, in tarts or between the layers of scrumptious cakes, sometimes simplicity makes for the most delectable dishes.
Whether you’re baking for breakfast or dessert, this easy egg custard recipe will teach you to appreciate all eggs can do — just make sure to use the proper amount! Here’s how to create your custard today:
Ingredients: 2 large eggs, 2 cups milk, 4 tbsp. sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Directions: Before you get started on crafting your custard, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and put four 6-ounce custard cups in a baking pan. Combine the milk, eggs, salt and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the substance is smooth. When you’re done mixing, pour even amounts of the custard into each of your six custard cups.
Carefully fill the pan on which the custard cups rest with hot water almost up to the rims of the cups. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg atop each individual serving of custard.
Place the pan, complete with custard cups, in the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 55 minutes. You’ll be able to tell when the custard is set by the slight jiggle visible in the center of the cup. If you’re not sure, insert a knife into the center — your custard is done when the knife comes out clean. These light, fluffy dessert cups are enjoyable for everyone!
• Fluffy Meringue Pie Topping
If you love a slice of classic lemon meringue pie, you know the topping is the best part — the creamy, whipped mixture that melts in your mouth is heavenly, and the eggs are everything behind the fluffy texture. Whether it’s in soufflés, mousses, cakes or pies, the light, luscious goodness of meringue is a wonderful example of what eggs can do. Whip up your own today by following a simple recipe with a specific egg size. Here’s how:
Ingredients: Whites of 2 large, room-temperature eggs, 4 tbsp. superfine sugar, 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, pinch of salt
Directions: Separate your egg whites from the yolks and allow them to settle to room temperature. In a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the salt and egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Add in cream of tartar, increasing the mixing speed to medium, and continue to beat until the whites become fluffy and bubbly, then slowly add in the sugar and vanilla while the mixer runs.
When the peaks of the mixture become firm but remain glossy, spoon the meringue onto the top of your pie filling and spread it across the crust to seal the filling at the edge, then fluff to create peaks on the pie. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees for the fluffiest, most mouthwatering meringue you can try on pie.
Try Sauder Eggs for Size
If you’re confident about your grasp of egg sizes and how to use them in your favorite recipes, you should be even more confident in your eggs’ quality. With a dedication to excellence, integrity, freshness and family values since the 1930s, we produce high-quality, home-grown eggs with the passion of a family farm and a superiority that surpasses anything else you’ll find in the grocery store. To look for locations that carry our quality eggs and learn more about our excellence by receiving our newsletter, fill out our contact form today.