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What is the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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The simple answer to this question is that, beyond the color, there is no difference between chicken eggs of different colors. White and brown eggs are nutritionally identical, and, on the inside, they are physically identical as well. Despite what you may have heard about how one is more natural or nutritious than the other, both colors of eggs are products of real, live chickens, and their exterior color is not an indicator of nutritional content or anything else, beyond the breed of chicken involved in egg production.

One may well ask why there are white and brown eggs at all, if they are nutritionally identical. The color of chicken eggs is determined by materials which are deposited while the eggs develop inside the hen's oviduct. Some chickens deposit white pigments, while others deposit brown pigments, and some chicken breeds like the Aracauna and Americauna lay blue to green eggs, just to add to the color spectrum. The original predecessor of the chicken, the Red Junglefowl, lays cream-colored eggs. Different egg colors appear to have developed over the course of centuries of breeding.

Both white and brown eggs contain a yolk and a white, each enclosed by a protective envelope, along with a tough outer membrane between the white and the shell, and two chalazae to keep the yolk anchored in the egg during fetal development. When you crack an egg open, you can get a number of clues which will provide information about how fresh the egg is, and how nutritious it is.

In fresh eggs, the string-like chalazae are clearly visible and well-formed. More nutritious eggs have darker yolks, reflecting a greater concentration of vitamins and minerals. Since the yolk is supposed to feed a chicken while it develops in the egg, yolks are already designed to be highly nutritious, but the more nutritious, the better, in the eyes of many consumers. Eggs with dark, firm yolks and distinct chalazae are fresh and highly nutritious, no matter what color their shells are. Fresh, nutritious eggs tend to taste better and perform better in baking.

While it's not a hard and fast rule, in general, chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs, while chickens with white ear lobes produce white eggs. Ultimately, white ear lobed chickens will lay white eggs most of the time, it really depends upon the genetic makeup of the chicken. White chicken eggs were pushed on consumers for a brief period of time in the 20th century, leading some people to believe that all chicken eggs were white. This practice was presumably designed to make it easy for consumers to see that the eggs were spotlessly clean, to allay concerns about food borne disease. When farms began selling brown eggs again, many promoted their products as “natural” in the hopes of appealing to a specific customer demographic, when in fact white eggs (and green ones) are just as natural. White and brown eggs are usually sold separately, reflecting the fact that most egg farmers use flocks of one breed only, but eggs from small farms often come in a mix of colors and sizes, reflecting a diverse flock.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon85514 — On May 20, 2010

Sorry to all of you. The difference in what you have tasted depends on how the chicken laying the egg was raised. Most white eggs you find in the grocery store are from mass produced farms and come from chickens with white ears.

It is more likely you have had a brown egg from a farm raised chicken that was a free roamer and had the opportunity to eat bugs and other things. Yes, bugs. Her muscles were also more developed which improved on the protein content in the egg.

Brown and green/blue egg layers or beige have red ears. This is what determines the color difference.

The eggs that are purchased in the grocery stores are usually from a farm that mass produces the eggs and uses primarily leghorn hens for this purpose. These chickens and eggs never touch the ground.

However, a leghorn chicken that is free roaming has an egg that tastes no different than a chicken that produces a brown egg. I know that because I have had and raised all these, including the green/blue eggs.

Just so you know, the membrane within the shell of all the eggs makes it even more difficult for a chef to use one hand to break the egg. The free roaming eggs are much tougher to break if they are provided calcium.

By anon82049 — On May 04, 2010

i have seen two yolks in single eggs. how is that possible?

By anon80350 — On Apr 27, 2010

I am surprised I had never known that there were other colours of from brown and white but now I have known that we also have green eggs. Interesting!

By anon80122 — On Apr 26, 2010

i have to disagree that there is no difference between a white and brown egg, as I can taste the difference! I don't notice the difference when used in baking but notice a huge difference when cooked as scrambled, over easy or in egg salad sandwiches, etc.

I have been given eggs and have tasted them and if it had a very strong aftertaste, the part I don't like. LOL.

I have inquired and it has always been told to me that it was a brown egg. When I was a child, my mother thought that it was psychological that I wouldn't touch a brown egg so she put two eggs in front of me and I assumed that they were both white eggs because that is all that my mother would cook for me because I didn't like brown eggs. I ate the first egg but hated the taste of the second egg and threw it out and told my mother that it was spoiled and to cook me another one, as I wanted two eggs and only had eaten one.

Later I learned as a teenager that the egg that I had been given was not spoiled but rather a brown egg that I found to be distasteful!

To this day, I can eat a white egg but cannot stand the after taste that a brown egg leaves in my mouth, it is sickening and very strong!

By anon76283 — On Apr 09, 2010

I'm a simple citizen from manila philippines.

I only now know that there are blue and green color eggs from the other breed of the chicken and now i will observe the different color inside the egg which i never notice.

I have need to share how important the chicken and the egg, my father is so industrious. He's very friendly in terms of the animals. He had collection of chickens before; he called it 24 days' breed and the snake likes chickens and wild ones from the mountain. the three different has different characteristic of eggs; one have big white, the other have cream color pointed and the wild has small and glossy brown egg. And the good thing is the wild chicken is more tasty than the two. Why is it like that?

By anon41949 — On Aug 18, 2009

I'm a retired Master Chef. In my experience, I have found that there is indeed a difference between brown eggs and white eggs besides their color. There is no nutritional difference between them, except for when you have a brown egg that has two yolks. Two yolks accounts for more protein. Brown eggs are much more likely to have two yolks. That is the only difference I have ever noticed. I hope this helps somebody.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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