No. Brown eggs do not taste different than white eggs. And no, white eggs are not better than brown eggs in terms of quality or taste, or vice versa. I wasn’t sure if this myth persisted, so I asked around to some friends and acquaintances. To my surprise, out of nine people, four of them thought that there was a difference between brown eggs and white eggs. Incidentally, three thought that brown eggs tasted better – had more flavor. One thought that white eggs were better. That is not a large sampling, but it is telling.
What’s the Difference Between Brown and White Eggs?
The fact is that the color of the egg’s shell has absolutely nothing to do with its taste, wholesomeness, or culinary properties. The only difference is the outer color of the shell itself. The breed of the chicken determines the color of egg that is laid. If you’d like to know the egg color of different breeds of chicken, you can skip to that information, below.
Have you noticed, though, that the more “premium” brands of eggs tend to proudly declare that their cartons contain brown eggs? The generic “grocery store” brands tend to be white. Maybe I’m imagining this but it may help lead to the myth that there is a difference. However, I suspect that the myth is owed to the fact that we eat with our eyes. The color of food makes loads of difference to our perception of its quality. Usually, the presence of color, even brown, will signal higher quality. Food manufacturers know this.
Why Aren’t Brown and White Eggs Mixed in Cartons?
Regardless, eggs are always sorted and packed according to color because eggs packaged in mixed colors do not sell as well and this is owed specifically to the consumer’s belief that one color or the other is better. But remember, no matter what you may think, color has no bearing in the grading regulations.
Still, there may be something to the perception that color affects quality. The way it affects quality is not direct, but having to do with consistency. People who think that white eggs are better quality may just have a case. Why? Because it is harder to see through the shells of brown eggs and make accurate quality determinations. The fact is, research has shown that brown eggs are more likely to have blood spots, simply because they are not detected as easily, not because brown eggs have spots more often than white eggs. Other aspects of interior quality are equally as difficult to determine with brown eggs. Yet, people in some regions prefer brown eggs, and more people that I have talked to prefer them as well. As I said before, I suspect this is the influence of color. More color equals more quality and nutrition, as far as our food perception is concerned.
Which Kinds of Chicken Lay Which Color Eggs?
Domestic hens may lay white, different shades of brown, or yellow eggs. There is one breed that lays blue-green eggs. Sometimes very small dark flecks are present on shells, mostly on brown eggs. Eggs that are considered “brown” can range from a light yellow brown, to a dark-reddish brown. It is possible for a hen that lays white eggs to occasionally lay tinted ones. Although each hen will tend to lay the same color eggs, there is considerable variation in shade within a breed. The color of the eggshell is not related to the diet of the chicken.
It is often said that the color of the chicken’s earlobe is a clue to the color of egg it will lay. According to this claim, breeds with white or pale earlobes lay white eggs and breeds with red earlobes lay brown eggs. As a rule of thumb, this may bear out, but there are several notable exceptions, such as the Holland Lamona, which has red earlobes but lays white eggs, and the Araucanas, which have bright red earlobes but lay green-blue eggs. The Americauna also produces blue-green or green-blue eggs, but this breed was developed from the Araucanas. There are four races or classes of domestic hens that are recognized in the U.S.
- Mediterranean class – lays white eggs. Chickens of this race include Leghorns, Minorcas, Anconas, White Faced Black Spanish, and Blue Andalusian, and Buttercup.
- American class lays brown eggs, except for the Lamona. Yes, they all have red earlobes. This class includes the Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Rhode Island White, New Hampshire, Domonique, Java, Jersey Black Giant, Wyandotte, Wyandotte Bantam, Chantecler, and the aforementioned white laying Lamona.
- English Class – lays brown eggs, except the Dorking and Red Cap. Again, they have red earlobes. This class includes the Orpington, Cornish, Cornish Bantam, Sussex, Australorp, and the aforementioned white-layers.
- Asiatic Class – lays brown eggs. These include the Brahma, Brahma Bantam, Cochin, Cochin Bantam, and Langshan.
Now that you know that the color of an egg has nothing to do with its quality, and is simply determined by the breed of chicken that lays the egg, you may be interested in learning how the quality of eggs is determined.
Ensminger, Audrey H. Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia. Boca Raton: CRC, 1994.
Percy, Pam. The Field Guide to Chickens. St. Paul, MN: Voyageur, 2006.
Jull, Morley A. (Morley Allan), 1885-1959.. Standard breeds and varieties of chickens : I. American, Asiatic, English, and Mediterranean classes.. Washington, D.C.