Here’s the Real Difference Between Cage-Free and Pasture-Raised Eggs

published May 11, 2022
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many hard boiled eggs on a gray plate
Credit: Laura Manzano

Eggs are one of those foods that can do it all. They can form the base of a meaty and cheesy breakfast sandwich, help create the crinkly tops on a decadent brownie, and even act as a key ingredient in a cheap and quick dinner. I always have at least one (or two) cartons stocked in my fridge at all times. 

But how about when it comes to picking them out at the store? In the egg section, you’re faced with a barrage of choices from store brand to organic brands, each touting cage-free, free-range, and pasture-raised labels. With all of the options available, it can seem impossible to know which one to choose. 

Luckily, Kyle Fitzgerald of @cleankitchennutrition on Instagram is here to answer at least some of our egg-related questions. On a recent trip to Costco, he explored the main differences between cage-free and pasture-raised eggs. And as it turns out, spending those few extra bucks on pasture-raised eggs actually might make a difference.

Citing a study from Pennsylvania University, he explains that because pasture-raised hens are allowed to freely roam outside, their eggs have a ton of added health benefits like three times more Omega 3s and Vitamin D. 

He says that cage-free eggs come from chickens that aren’t in cages but only have one to two square feet of room per chicken. The hens don’t go outside, and are only fed non-organic grains like corn and soy. On the other hand, pasture-raised eggs have 108 square feet of room per hen, and are allowed to roam on a pasture — soaking up vitamin D from the sun. Because they’re outside, they’re free to munch on grass, bugs, and worms and are even supplemented with a feed of organic grains.

Basically, more sun and more critters to eat equals happier chickens and better-tasting (and good-for-you eggs!). 

Want more ways to use up that carton of eggs in your fridge? Check out these 60+ breakfast recipes to make on repeat (the first section is all about eggs!).