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Egg sizes and substitutions

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Kitchen Mysteries is a weekly exploration of oddities surrounding cooking and food. They could be recipes that fail when they shouldn’t, conflicting advice from different sources, or just plain weirdness. If it happens in a kitchen, and you’re not sure why, send a tweet to The Food Geek to find out what’s happening.

Elizabeth asks via twitter:

The size labels for eggs are a bit misleading. The USDA size guidelines don’t have anything to do with the volume of the egg directly. In fact, the USDA “size” guidelines are determined by how heavy a dozen eggs are.

According to a USDA PDF on choosing eggs that I found, sizes go something like this:


  • Jumbo eggs are at least 30 ounces to the dozen.
  • Extra large eggs are at least 27 ounces to the dozen.
  • Large eggs are at least 24 ounces to the dozen.
  • Medium eggs are at least 21 ounces to the dozen.
  • Small eggs are at least 18 ounces to the dozen.
  • Peewee eggs are at least 15 ounces to the dozen.

There’s even a “peewee” egg size. That’s fantastic.

Most recipes call for large eggs, probably partially because it’s a very common egg size, but probably mostly because there are 24 ounces to the dozen, which means that it’s 2 ounces per egg. This means that if you’re baking a dish that requires 3 large eggs, what you really want is 6 oz of eggs.

I wouldn’t stress too much if you can’t find the exact combination of eggs to give you the proper weight, as there’s about 6 ounces of difference between medium eggs and extra large eggs, which is 1/4 of the weight of a dozen large eggs. This means that, even with large eggs, 3 eggs could be between 5.25 ounces and 6.75 ounces. You have some leeway.



Leave a Comment


  • WyoRichard | 01/07/2011

    Yes Your correct in the Young hens,

    The name has obviously been altered over the years as these were ALWAYS called Pullet hens and the eggs Pullet eggs...

    Another example of revisionist Language and Thinking.


  • GeorgeCooks | 08/25/2009

    I thought double-yolked eggs were just an accident, not a result of size. How can they tell those Jumbo eggs will have 2 yolks (short of X-ray vision)?

  • kathy978 | 08/13/2009

    I inherited some older cookbooks from my great-aunt. In a Betty Crocker cookbook from 1937, it said to measure eggs by the cup in all their cake recipes. So, according to the USDA guidelines listed above, if a recipe calls for 3 large eggs, they should measure about 6 oz. Then you just fill the measuring cup until it's at 3/4 C. I'm no expert, but I believe the amount of eggs in a cake is crucial for success. I get farm eggs too. Sometimes I'll have pee-wee's up to what I could swear is a goose egg in the same carton! They make the best omelettes or scrambled eggs we've ever had.

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