How much does egg size matter when cooking?

Shop smarter by knowing the weight and volume differences between egg sizes—small, medium, large, extra large, and jumbo—plus how to substitute them in recipes.

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My husband and I were grocery shopping this week and stopped to pick up a dozen eggs for some omelets. I was blown away by all the egg options at my store—brown, white, organic, free-range, veggie-fed, and more—not to mention there were four egg sizes to choose from!

This got me thinking: how much does egg size matter in cooking? For example, if you substitute medium eggs for large in a recipe, will your baked goods turn out wrong? Will your muffins be too fluffy if you choose 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 a little digging. Here’s what I found.

Size matters (somewhat)

First, some background: The “size” of a dozen eggs is not based on how big each particular egg is. It is actually based on their minimum weight per dozen. According to the USDA, “while some eggs in a carton may appear slightly larger or smaller than others, the total weight of a dozen eggs places them in one of the following classes.” These classes are:

  • Jumbo: 30 oz. (2.5 ounces per egg average)

  • Extra Large: 27 oz. (2.25 ounces per egg average)

  • Large: 24 oz. (2 ounces per egg average)

  • Average: 21 oz. (1.75 ounces per egg average)

  • Small: 18 oz. (1.5 oz per egg average)

  • Peewee: 15 oz. (average 1.25 ounces per egg)

Connected: Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs: Is There a Difference?

Can I substitute different sizes of eggs in the recipes?

When using eggs for breading or binding, or for basic egg recipes like scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, or fried rice, it probably won’t affect the flavor 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 bigger the egg, the more calories, fat, protein, and cholesterol you’re consuming.

However, if you’re baking and need a precise amount of egg—for example, in a souffle or crème anglaise—you’ll want to stick to the exact egg size your recipe calls for.

Although eggs may appear the same size to the naked eye, they can vary greatly in weight and volume. When baking delicate dishes, having the right amount of eggs is critical to texture and flavor, and you’ll probably want to weigh your ingredients rather than by volume.

Sauder’s Eggs has a handy conversion chart on its website to help home cooks navigate converting eggs into recipes. Here’s what it says about changing one size for another:

  • One large egg: To match measurements when substituting another size for a large egg, it’s always a good idea to use only one egg of another size. Whether you have small, medium, extra large, or jumbo eggs in your carton, if the recipe says one egg, any will do.

  • Two large eggs: If your recipe calls for two large eggs, you can substitute two medium, extra large, or jumbo eggs. The only adjustment to the amount needed 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 a recipe calls for four large eggs and you don’t have the right size on hand, feel free to use other egg-sized equivalents. You can substitute three jumbo eggs, four extra large eggs, five medium eggs, or five small eggs.

  • 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 would require five jumbo or very large eggs, seven medium eggs, or eight small eggs.

It’s also worth noting that one cup of liquid equals six small eggs, five medium eggs, five large eggs, four extra large eggs, or four jumbo eggs.

The bottom row

Ultimately, only you can decide what size egg is best for you. But unless you’re working on a very fancy piece of cake, 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 table above and start cracking.

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