How to Tell If an Egg Is Bad: Expert Tips for Spotting Spoiled Eggs

How to Tell If an Egg is Bad featured image

Determining if an egg has gone bad is crucial for anyone who cooks. Using a bad egg can lead to food poisoning and other health issues. However, there is a lot of confusion about how to tell if an egg is still safe to eat or has gone bad. This article will provide a guide on how to tell if an egg is bad, including the egg float test and other criteria.

Understanding Egg Freshness

Contrary to popular belief, eggs have not gone bad simply because the “sell by” date has passed. When eggs are packaged for sale, they are candled and graded, and the smaller the air pocket, the fresher the egg, and the higher the grade.

Eggs with the smallest air pocket are Grade AA. Eggs with a slightly larger air pocket are Grade A, and eggs with the largest air pocket are Grade B.

If you have your own chickens, every egg that is laid is Grade AA because the air pocket is quite small initially. But the eggshell is porous, and with time, the liquid inside evaporates, making that air pocket larger, and moving the egg down into Grade A after a couple of weeks and eventually Grade B a couple of months after being laid. As long as the eggs have been refrigerated, they are safe to eat, regardless of the grade.

rows of eggs

How to Know If an Egg is Bad

When it comes to cooking with eggs, freshness is key. Using a bad egg can not only ruin the taste of your dish, but it can also make you sick. Here are some ways to tell if an egg is bad:


One of the most obvious signs that an egg is bad is discoloration. If an eggshell looks darker than usual, the egg inside may be rotten. This does not usually happen if eggs have been kept in the refrigerator.

If you have a hen that has been hiding her eggs somewhere, and you find a dozen or more eggs, you do not want to use them for human consumption because you have no idea how old they are. If they are discolored, they are probably rotten and should be discarded before they explode, which is really stinky! If you candle these eggs, a light won’t shine through them.


Another way to tell if an egg is bad is by its odor. A fresh egg should have little to no smell. If you notice a sulfurous smell or any other unpleasant odor, it may be a sign that the egg is no longer good. Simply hold the egg up to your nose and take a whiff. If it smells bad, it’s time to toss it out.


If you hold an egg up to your ear and shake it, you should hear nothing. If you hear sloshing, that means the egg is rotten.

Cracking the Egg

If you’re still unsure if an egg is bad, you can crack it open and take a look. A fresh egg will have a thick, gel-like white and a rounded yolk that sits high up. If the white is runny and the yolk is flat, it may be a sign that the egg is no longer fresh.

a fresh egg
A Fresh Egg

If you crack open an egg, and the air pocket is 1/3 the size of the egg or larger, that’s a sign that it’s even older, but it may not be bad.

The Egg Float Test

One of the most popular ways to determine if an egg is still fresh is by using the egg float test. This test involves placing an egg in a cup of water to see if it sinks or floats.

To perform the egg float test, place the egg in a cup and fill it with cold water that is deep enough to cover the egg with an inch of water. If the egg floats to the top and a good portion of the egg sticks out of the water, that means it’s older. A fresh egg will stay on the bottom of the cup.

egg sitting on the bottom of the cup well
This egg passes the float test because it is not floating. It is sitting on the bottom of the cup well below the surface of the water.
When you do the float test, you have to make sure there is enough water in the cup so that you can tell if it’s floating or not. It looks like this egg may not be passing the float test, but there isn’t enough water in the cup.
A good portion of the egg sticks out of the water, so it’s not fresh, but it may still be safe to eat.

The egg float test works because the air pocket inside the egg bets bigger as the egg ages. An eggshell is porous, and the egg white and yolk lose moisture through the shell over time. As an egg ages, the air cell inside it grows larger. This makes the egg more buoyant, causing it to float when placed in water.

Checking the Egg’s Appearance

When it comes to checking if an egg is bad, one of the easiest ways to do it is by examining its appearance. Here are some things to look out for:


Check the eggshell for any cracks or other damage. If there are cracks, bacteria can enter the egg and cause it to spoil faster. When you get cracked eggs from the nest box, they should be used within a few days. If the shell is covered with manure and cracked, it’s better to discard the egg entirely.

egg shell with cracks
Egg Shell with Cracks


Moisture on the eggshell is another sign that the egg may not be good. If the eggshell is damp or slimy, it could mean that bacteria have already started to grow inside.


Discoloration is also a sign that the egg may be bad. If the egg white or yolk appears pink, green, or iridescent, it could mean that bacteria have started to grow inside.

Safety Measures and Bacteria

When it comes to food safety, it is important to take the necessary measures to prevent bacterial growth and contamination. Eggs are no exception, and it is crucial to ensure that they are safe to consume.

One of the main concerns with eggs is the presence of bacteria, particularly salmonella and pseudomonas bacteria. These bacteria can cause food poisoning, which can lead to serious health issues. As such, it is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent bacterial growth and contamination.

One way to ensure egg safety is to store them properly. Eggs should be kept in the refrigerator, ideally in the main body of the fridge and not in the door. This is because the door is subject to temperature fluctuation, which can impact the quality and safety of the eggs. Additionally, eggs should be stored at a temperature of 40°F or below.

When handling eggs, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching them. This can help prevent the spread of bacteria. Additionally, it is important to cook eggs thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present.

three eggs on hand
Eggs with freckles on them are perfectly safe to eat. The freckles are just extra pigment on the shell.

Cooking and Using Eggs

When it comes to cooking and using eggs, it’s important to know how to tell if an egg is bad to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Here are some tips for using eggs in various recipes and dishes:

Boiled Eggs

Once you have boiled eggs, they are only good in the refrigerator for about 7 days. Boiled eggs are a popular breakfast food and can also be used in salads or as a snack. To make hard-boiled eggs, place eggs in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Soft-boiled eggs require less time, typically 4-6 minutes. (For easier peeling, plunge the eggs into cold water at the end of the boiling time, which causes the egg to pull away from the shell.)

Raw Eggs

Raw eggs are used in many recipes, including homemade mayonnaise and Caesar salad dressing. It’s important to use fresh eggs and to avoid eating raw eggs if you have a compromised immune system. Otherwise, only use eggs that came straight from the nest box so you know they are the freshest possible.


Eggs are a common ingredient in baking, providing structure and moisture to cakes, cookies, and breads. For best results when baking with eggs, use room-temperature eggs and beat them well before adding them to the recipe. If the recipe calls for separated eggs, use a separate bowl for separating the eggs to avoid any yolk or shell contamination.

Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs are a popular snack and can be made by boiling eggs, peeling them, and then soaking them in a vinegar and spice mixture for several days. To ensure the eggs are safe to eat, use a clean jar and utensils, and refrigerate the eggs immediately.

Overall, eggs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. By following these tips for cooking and using eggs, you can ensure that your recipes turn out delicious and safe to eat.

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How to Tell if an Eggs is Bad: Expert Tips for Spotting Spoiled Eggs

2 thoughts on “How to Tell If an Egg Is Bad: Expert Tips for Spotting Spoiled Eggs”

  1. Hi! Most of my friends who raise for eggs keep them at room temperature. I have read that it is safe to store them this way. Why do you recommend refrigerating them instead?

  2. If you choose to keep them on the counter, be sure that they are NOT washed. If you have a soiled egg that requires washing, you will remove the protective bloom, and that egg must go into the refrigerator.
    Eggs that are refrigerated lose less moisture to the environment (so they keep longer) and storing them at temps below 40 degrees vs room temperature is a deterrent to bacterial growth.


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