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The Surprising Difference Between Brown Eggs and White Eggs

Eat This, Not That! logo Eat This, Not That! 2/6/2019 Julia Chatzky
a pile of fruit sitting on a table: White and brown eggs © Shutterstock White and brown eggs

When shopping for eggs, it’s inevitable to notice that the brown eggs almost always cost more than the white. Some may think that one is better than the other, but the truth is they’re not very different at all. While there is a difference between brown eggs and white eggs, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. (See what we did there?) The main difference all traces back to the chickens the eggs come from and the color of their feathers and even their earlobes. Yes, you read that right: whether a chicken lays brown or white eggs is based on the way the bird looks—not how they taste. Curious to know more? Well, allow us to eggsplain.

What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?

Eggshells get their color due to the breed of chicken they come from. For example, breeders have found that many white-feathered chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and red-feathered chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. While earlobe color can be a predictor of egg color, it is not always the rule.

For example, one breed of red-earlobed chickens—called the Aracuana breed—often lays blue eggs, but may also lay eggs that are green, pink, or even lavender, according to nonprofit organization Aviculture Europe.

Why are brown eggs more expensive than white eggs?

Because brown eggs tend to cost more, people assume they are more nutritious and more delicious. But that is not the case. Brown eggs are more expensive because of the size of the hen that lays them. Red-feathered chickens tend to weigh more than white-feathered chickens. Because larger chickens require more food and land to remain healthy throughout production, higher production costs lead to more expensive products in the end when you’re shopping for eggs in the grocery store.

Some people also think that one color shell is harder than the other, or that there are different colored yolks. These factors are due to the age and feed of the chicken. The coloring of shells or bird has nothing to do with this.

So, the next time you’re in the grocery market, don’t be a chicken! Pick as you please — they’re all egg-cellent!

Whether you prefer to eat eggs scrambled and fluffy, runny atop a slice of avocado toast, hard boiled in a salad, or fried on top of a burger (trust us on that one), you can’t go wrong when picking between brown eggs and white eggs. And as for how to cook your eggs once you’ve got them, don’t miss our in-depth report, Every Way to Cook Eggs!.

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