What's the Difference Between Medium, Large, Extra-Large, and Jumbo Eggs?

Ingredient Intelligence

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Have you ever reached for the eggs while baking only to realize that the recipe calls for large eggs, and you only have extra-large? Or have you ever eyed the medium eggs at the grocery store and wondered how different they really are from jumbo?

Find out the official answers on weight, volume, and other differences between egg sizes, and see how my own measurements stacked up.

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The Official Guide to Egg Weights

In the United States the USDA has guidelines for egg weights, and all eggs are sorted at the processing facility by grade and weight. Here are the the U.S. parameters for egg weight.

Note that these are weights per dozen; there will always be variation between individual eggs so weighing by the dozen averages out these small differences.

  • Small: 18 ounces (about 1.5 ounce per egg)
  • Medium: 21 ounces (about 1.75 ounce per egg)
  • Large: 24 ounces (about 2 ounces per egg)
  • Extra-Large: 27 ounces (about 2.25 ounces per egg)
  • Jumbo: 30 ounces (about 2.5 ounces per egg)

As you can see, there's a pretty big variation between small and jumbo eggs — as much as an entire ounce! And obviously there's less dramatic difference between eggs when stepping up or down just one size.

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The Official Guide to Egg Volume

OK, so if that's how much eggs weigh by size, how much is actually in an egg? Here are the average amounts in the three most commonly-found egg sizes:

  • Medium: 3 tablespoons (1.5 liquid ounces)
  • Large: 3 1/4 tablespoons (1.625 liquid ounces)
  • Extra-Large: 4 tablespoons (2 liquid ounces)
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My Findings: Egg Weights

I was curious to see how these official benchmarks worked out in my own kitchen. I stocked up on eggs of various sizes. I had to visit two different stores to find cartons of both jumbo and extra-large, and I skipped small eggs altogether, which are not usually found in American supermarkets (see more here about small and pullet eggs).

I weighed the eggs in on my own kitchen scale and here's how it worked out:

  • Medium: 20.5 ounces (about 1.70 ounce per egg)
  • Large: 25.5 ounces (about 2.125 ounces per egg)
  • Extra-Large: 26.5 ounces (about 2.20 ounce per egg)
  • Jumbo: 30 ounces (about 2.5 ounce per egg)

These lined up pretty well with the official weight parameters. The medium eggs fell a bit short of the minimum weight, and the large eggs were over. In fact, my biggest takeaway from weighing the eggs is that I would never hesitate to substitute large for extra-large eggs, and vice versa. They average very close to each other.

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My Findings: Egg Volumes

Measuring volume is a bit trickier and more variable. My tests were also a lot less scientific here because I only checked one egg from each carton.

I whisked an egg from each batch and poured into in my bar jigger to get as accurate of a measurement as I could. Here's how they turned out:

  • Medium: 3 tablespoons (1.5 liquid ounces)
  • Large: 3 1/2 tablespoons (1.75 liquid ounces)
  • Extra-Large: 4 tablespoons (2 liquid ounces)
  • Jumbo: 4 1/4 tablespoons (Just over 2 liquid ounces)
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Takeaways

So what are the takeaways? Besides, of course, sheer curiosity and the preschool-esque question of How much is in an egg?

  1. There's actually a lot of difference between egg sizes on the ends of the spectrum. Even if the eggs don't look too different to the naked eye (never ask me to pick an extra-large egg out of a lineup!) they can differ quite a bit in both weight and volume, especially when comparing medium and jumbo eggs.
  2. But I wouldn't worry too much about substitutions. I've always assumed that substituting an extra-large egg for a large egg wouldn't cause a major problem. And this test bore that out; there's very little volume difference, and almost certainly not enough to throw off a recipe. Having said that, I wouldn't go substituting medium eggs for jumbo — but when was the last time you saw jumbo eggs called for in a recipe? They're fried egg fodder around here.
  3. Last but not least, egg processors do a good job of sorting by size. I was happy to see that all my measuring and weighing gave me results that were more or less spot-on with the official measurements. It gives me confidence that when I buy an egg of a certain size, I know exactly what I'm getting in terms of volume and weight.

One More Note on Egg Size Substitutions

When substituting eggs of different sizes, it actually does pay to be careful when working with large batches. It's not a big deal to substitute one medium egg for a large one in a recipe, but when you're scaling up to batches calling for 8 to 10 eggs, then you want this resource:

What sizes of eggs do you usually keep around?

(Sources: American Egg Board, Gourmet Sleuth)

(Image credits: Faith Durand)

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