Is it safe to eat an egg with a crack in the shell or should you throw it out?

I feel like I only came into true egg-appreciation as an adult. When I was a kid I just didn’t get the appeal of the yolk and only ate the whites. Then it was like I became born again, and all of a sudden I was obsessed with a golden yolk, perfect in its contained bubble until you pierce it and it runs, spreading everywhere on the plate faster than you can sop it up with some other food. Yeah, so I like eggs. And I suppose going hand-in-hand with liking a food is knowing the best practices for handling them. This week Simply Recipes offered up some straightforward guidelines on dealing with cracked eggs:

When deciding whether to cook with a cracked egg, first consider when it was cracked. If you got unlucky at the grocery store and brought home a cracked egg or two, toss (or compost) them. As the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes, bacteria can enter eggs through cracks on the shell over time.

Without knowing how long the egg’s natural barrier has been breached, there’s no way to know how long bacteria has had the time to grow and potentially contaminate the egg.

Though you should be wary of any egg that was sold to you cracked, it’s the ones with the big cracks that contain the most risk. A study done by Tufts University showed that eggs with large cracks are more likely to contain Salmonella than eggs with hairline cracks.

On the other hand, if your eggs were cracked while in your possession, they can still be saved. The USDA recommends cracking open just-cracked eggs and transferring them into a clean resealable container with a tight-fitting lid, where they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Cracked more eggs than you’d like to eat in a couple of days? Turn to tried-and-true meal prep recipes like breakfast burritos and egg bites that can be kept in the freezer and reheated on busy mornings.

If you’re still feeling squeamish about using a cracked egg, this fact might put your mind at ease: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that you can kill bacteria like Salmonella by cooking your eggs to an internal temperature of 160F before serving.

That means no runny Eggs Benedict, and certainly no Caesar salad dressing, but baked goods using eggs and other recipes where the whites and yolks are cooked all the way through are great candidates for using up less-than-perfect eggs.

[From Simply Recipes via Yahoo! Life]

So basically it comes down to the age-old question, which came first: the crack or getting the egg home? Most of what they say here seems like simple common sense. If the eggs were cracked at the store throw them out, but if you’re sure the crack was made after you bought the egg, and you’re cooking it within a day or two, it should be OK. I’m not a prolific cook, but I am a bit of a baker, and I had an experience once where I didn’t pay attention to the egg at all, just cracked it on the side of the bowl and dropped it into my homemade brownie mixture (courtesy of Duncan Hines). That was the first time I truly understood the term “rotten egg.” My nose will never forget that night. So, from one nose to another, and with egg prices being gouged anyway, definitely inspect your eggs at the store. Cracked eggs can go to anti-monarchy activists.

photos credit: Vlada Karpovich, Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels and Tengyart on Unsplash

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17 Responses to “Is it safe to eat an egg with a crack in the shell or should you throw it out?”

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  1. Mei says:

    Agree on all points. I always check my eggs before I buy them to make sure none are stuck to the container which can indicate a crack you can’t see. And I’m sorry your nose has to go through that, Kismet. There is literally no smell worse than a rotten egg.

    • Amy T says:

      This. My older cousin taught my sister and me how to gently rock each egg in the carton while at the store to make sure one (or more) hadn’t cracked and glued itself to the bottom. He’s been gone for years, but I have lost count of how many times I have silently thanked him.

      • ama1977 says:

        My daughter used to love to check the eggs for me when we were shopping when she was little. She took her job VERY seriously and if she discovered a crack would shake her head and say, “nope! These are no good.”

    • BeanieBean says:

      Do you know, I learned to check the eggs at the store from my mom, but never knew why! Sure, I knew we were looking for cracks & didn’t want cracked eggs for some reason, but I didn’t know the why behind it! Feel like a dolt, but now I know. Thanks, mom!

  2. ML says:

    I couldn’t do that, because I would never be sure how an egg got cracked in my fridge after bringing it home uncracked. Nausea and vomiting from food poisoning is no joke, and it takes a couple of days for the antibiotics to kick in. Personally, I would toss the suspicious egg instead of cooking it thoroughly.

    • L84Tea says:

      Yeah, when I see a crack, all I imagine is bacteria growing all over the inside of the shell. I’m not willing to risk food poisoning over one egg.

      • Giddy says:

        I’m with you. I’ve had food poisoning before and go to extremes to avoid a repeat experience. My husband laughs at me because I won’t eat anything that is even one day over a “sell by” date. And I inspect eggs like a store detective before buying.

      • Twin Falls says:

        Same. Food poisoning is no joke.

  3. Beff says:

    I crack a dozen eggs and put in a resealable bottle for camping instead of taking the whole egg. It’s a great little hack.

    • Christine says:

      I feel like a moron for not having figured this out myself. Thanks!

    • Bee says:

      That’s a great idea. You can also freeze uncooked eggs, but you have to scramble them first.

  4. Elsa says:

    We have chickens and have fresh eggs. If an egg is cracked, I scramble it with the shell crunched up I it to feed to the chickens. I love chickens but absolutely hate eggs. 🤷‍♀️

    • Christine says:

      I can’t help it, I need more information! How do you love chickens, but hate eggs? I hope you are getting rich selling the eggs, because the price of eggs is no joke now.

  5. Concern Fae says:

    I always open the carton to check, but wiggling each egg is beyond me. Although that may change with how expensive they are now! And remember, the price increase is just greedy farmers. There was a shortage, but actually supply came back, but the prices didn’t drop.

    Honestly, I don’t use a cracked egg, unless I know it was OK when I took it out of the carton.

  6. SpankyB says:

    I love fried eggs in half olive oil, half butter. It makes the edges a little crisp and the yolk still runny. I could eat them every day for every meal. I hate cooking though so it doesn’t happen. Probably a good thing.

    I buy the brown eggs from Costco and the shell seems to be a little thicker than their white eggs, I rarely come across any with cracks.

  7. Stan says:

    Lol what happened to this website?