What's the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs?

Ingredient Intelligence

When it comes to buying eggs, do you reach for white eggs or brown eggs? Does color dictate your preference? Perhaps you buy white eggs because that's what you grew up eating. Or, maybe you've been told that brown eggs are better for you, so they've become your go-to.

White and brown eggs certainly look different, and there's often a difference in price between the two. But do you know why?

The difference is in the chicken.

When it comes to hue of the egg, the key lies in the breed of chicken. In general, white-feathered chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and reddish-brown-feathered chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. There are also breeds that lay less commonly-found blue eggs and speckled eggs.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs?

The color of an egg is not an indicator of quality. When it comes to taste and nutrition, there is no difference between white and brown eggs. Despite the fact that they're often more expensive, brown eggs aren't any better for you than white eggs, and vice versa.

Do brown eggs have a harder shell?

The shells of both color eggs have the same thickness. If you've ever noticed that an eggshell seems tougher, it's because of the age of the chicken, not the color of the egg. Younger chickens tend to lay eggs with harder shells, while older chicken lay eggs with thinner shells. This is true of both white and brown eggs.

Why are brown eggs often more expensive?

There's a perception that because brown eggs are more expensive, they must be more "natural" or healthier. That's not necessarily true. Brown eggs tend to have a higher price tag simply because the reddish-feathered chickens that lay brown eggs are larger than the breed that lays white eggs, and as such, they require more feed. That extra cost is offset by — you guessed it — a higher price at the grocery store.

One small caveat!

There is one small caveat, however. If you've ever eaten eggs from home-raised chickens, chances are they were brown, and you may have noticed they tasted slightly richer or had a more vibrant yolk. There's a reason for that.

Many of the chickens commonly found in backyard coops are brown egg-producers. But it's not the color of the egg that accounts for the better taste. Rather, it's the feed that was given to the chicken. Feed plays a big role in the color of the yolk and taste of the egg.

What do you usually buy — white eggs or brown eggs?

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn Foster)