Are Expensive Eggs Worth It? #1 Deep Dive

Expensive Eggs

Whether expensive Eggs or Normal, both types of eggs are one of the most unique ingredients on the planet. They have almost unlimited use cases, from being eaten as a protein to being used as an ingredient in sauces, pasta, breads, and more. However, there’s a question I’ve wondered for years – are the more expensive eggs worth it?

Brief History of Eggs

One reason chickens were domesticated was for their prolific egg-laying abilities. Chickens keep laying eggs until they gather a full nest, so if an egg is taken, the hen continues laying in hopes of filling her nest. This discovery was hugely important for early humans.

Chickens likely became domesticated around 7,000-10,000 years ago. By contrast, dairy milking began a few thousand years later. The modern laying hen is a product of genetic optimization for maximum egg production.

Mass Production of Eggs

Thanks to optimized genetics and industrialization, mass egg production took off in the 20th century. A single production facility might have over 100,000 hens at once.

Most hens live inside under temperature control, eat manufactured feed, live 1-2 years, and lay 300 eggs in their lifetime. Once their production decreases, they’re sent to slaughter.

Factors Affecting Egg Prices

Egg price
Egg price

There are two key factors affecting egg prices:

Egg Size and Grade

The USDA classifies eggs into 6 sizes, although you’ll likely only see the 4 largest in stores. The most common is large. Larger sizes cost a bit more.

Egg grading by the USDA is mostly cosmetic – it doesn’t significantly affect nutritional value or taste.

Egg Certifications

Caged Eggs

The lowest cost option. Hens are kept in small battery cages with little space.

Cage-Free Eggs

Hens are kept in an open barn or warehouse with some outdoor access, but no minimum space requirement per bird. There can be variance in living conditions.

Free-Range Eggs

A minimum of 2 square feet per bird is required. Hens must have outdoor access at least 6 hours per day. Better living conditions than cage-free.

Pasture-Raised Eggs

The highest standards for living conditions – over 100 square feet per bird required. Hens live outdoors year-round with mobile housing and rotated pasture area. Also certified by Humane standards. The most expensive eggs.

Are Expensive Eggs More Ethical?

There are clear differences in how chickens are treated depending on housing systems. Where you land depends on your budget and priorities.

If highest standards and quality of life matter most, look for Certified Humane Pasture-Raised eggs. These have the strictest verified requirements. However, they also come at an increased cost.

Technology Improvements

New scanning technology can determine chick gender prior to hatching. This avoids needing to dispose of male chicks and is becoming more widespread.

Are Expensive Eggs Healthier?

There can be small macro and micronutrient differences between egg types. However, you’d need to evaluate your overall diet to determine if those differences are significant for your health goals.

Role in Overall Diet

If eggs are a vegetarian’s main protein source or a bodybuilder eats dozens per week, differences may matter more. For most people eating just a few eggs per week, differences are likely negligible.

Do Expensive Eggs Taste Better?

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expensive eggs

Eggs have 5 main flavor components – taste, aroma, texture, sight, and psychology. Do differences in living conditions impart differences in those areas?

Components of Egg Flavor

Egg White

Mainly water and protein. Contributes little to taste or aroma, but sets up structure when cooked.

Egg Yolk

Contains all the fats, nutrients and pigments. Has a richer flavor and emulsifying properties. Diet of the hen impacts color.

Testing Methodology

I tested pasture-raised and caged eggs in 5 ways:

Fresh Egg Tests

Fried egg taste test
Hard boiled egg test Scrambled egg triangle test

Fresh vs Old Eggs

Fried egg test with 30-day-old eggs

Egg Size and Grade Differences

SizeMinimum Weight per DozenTypical Price vs Large
Jumbo30 oz+$1/dozen
Extra Large27 oz+$1/dozen
Large24 ozBenchmark
Medium21 oz
Small18 oz
AAThick, firm whites; round yolks; clean shells
ASlightly thinner whites allowed; <3/8” air pocket

Production Method Comparisons of egg

MethodHousing StyleSpace per BirdOutdoor AccessPrice per Dozen
Conventional/CageSmall wire cages67-86 sq inchesNone$1-$2
Cage-FreeOpen floor barns1-1.5 sq ftNone$2-$4
Free-RangeOpen floor barnsMinimum 2 sq ftRequired$3-$5
Pasture-RaisedMobile outdoor pens108+ sq ftYes, with rotations$4-$6+

Nutrient Differences Reported

ProteinStandardSlightly higherStandard
FatStandardSlightly higherHigher in omega-3s

Storage Time Impact on Egg Quality

Storage TimeMoisture LossAir Pocket SizeWhite ThinningYolk Flattening
1 weekMinimalMinimalMinimalMinimal
2 weeksLowLowLowLow
3-4 weeksModerateModerateModerateModerate
2+ monthsHighLargeHighHigh


There may be very minor differences in taste, texture and aroma between egg types, but nothing substantial enough to be considered better or worse.

However, there are visual differences. Deeper, richer yolk colors may provide psychological perception of better flavor.


Key Takeaways

  • There are clear differences in ethical standards and living conditions
  • Small nutritional differences exist but likely don’t matter for most
  • No major taste/aroma differences, but visual appeal differs

So in the end, choose what fits your budget and aligns with your priorities when it comes to humane standards and nutritional needs.

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