I once got home from the store to find an unfortunate surprise: half of the eggs in the carton had small cracks on them, as if the truck delivering the eggs to my local grocery store hit one really big pothole.
Now I won’t buy eggs until I’ve popped open the carton in the store to check for cracks. Surprisingly, it’s quite common to find cracked eggs. And even after a quick scan in the store, sometimes I will discover a crack hiding on the underside of an egg when I get home.
Are these barely broken eggs safe to eat? Does it make a difference when the egg got the crack? As an egg-lover trying not to spend more money on eggs than I already do, I had to get to the bottom of this. Check out my findings below.
Toss or Eat: What To Do if Your Eggs Have a Crack on It
When deciding whether to cook with a cracked egg, first consider when it was cracked. If you got unlucky at the grocery store and brought home a cracked egg or two, toss (or compost) them. As the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes, bacteria can enter eggs through cracks on the shell over time.
Without knowing how long the egg’s natural barrier has been breached, there’s no way to know how long bacteria has had the time to grow and potentially contaminate the egg.
Though you should be wary of any egg that was sold to you cracked, it’s the ones with the big cracks that contain the most risk. A study done by Tufts University showed that eggs with large cracks are more likely to contain Salmonella than eggs with hairline cracks.
On the other hand, if your eggs were cracked while in your possession, they can still be saved. The USDA recommends cracking open just-cracked eggs and transferring them into a clean resealable container with a tight-fitting lid, where they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Cracked more eggs than you’d like to eat in a couple of days? Turn to tried-and-true meal prep recipes like breakfast burritos and egg bites that can be kept in the freezer and reheated on busy mornings.
Can You Kill Bacteria in Eggs by Cooking Them?
If you’re still feeling squeamish about using a cracked egg, this fact might put your mind at ease: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that you can kill bacteria like Salmonella by cooking your eggs to an internal temperature of 160°F before serving.
That means no runny Eggs Benedict, and certainly no Caesar salad dressing, but baked goods using eggs and other recipes where the whites and yolks are cooked all the way through are great candidates for using up less-than-perfect eggs.