Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs: Is There a Difference?

Brown eggs are more expensive — but does that make them better?

close up of brown and white eggs
Photo: Cris Cantón/Getty Images

Shoppers often have eggs at the top of their grocery lists because beyond being an essential element in most baking projects and many favorite recipes, they can be scrambled, fried, boiled, or poached to create an easy meal in a short amount of time. Endlessly versatile and protein-packed, eggs are one of the most powerful workhorses in the kitchen.

When you head to the refrigerated section of your local supermarket to pick up eggs, a variety of choices await you. There is the size of the carton, the price, and the color of the eggs to consider. They tend to cost more, so are those brown eggs somehow higher-quality than the white eggs?

What's the Difference Between White Eggs and Brown Eggs?

Brown eggs and white eggs will clearly look different in their packages, and there are some opinions that brown eggs are the healthier choice of egg. This thinking may be due to the fact that there is a difference in cost, with the brown eggs being slightly higher in price.

It is a common misconception that brown eggs are a "better" product because they are more expensive; in fact, there is no difference in nutritional value. More white eggs are sold because of the lower price tag, but the choice between brown eggs and white eggs is a matter of personal preference. They will perform just the same in any recipe.

The Color of the Shell Depends on the Chicken

Eggs come in a variety of colors. Some are white, brown, and even pale blue to green hues and speckled.

The color alone will not tell you anything about the nutritional value of an egg, but the appearance of the shell will help you understand where the eggs came from as far as the breed of the bird.

The chicken breed and their genetic makeup is what influences egg color.

Different breeds of hens have differing pigment genes that play a role in the natural chemical process which occurs during the egg production cycle. These genes determine if the bird's eggs result in a colored shell or a white one. For example, a breed known as the Leghorn chicken lays white eggs and those known as Orpington chickens will lay brown eggs.

Interestingly enough, the color of a hen's ears is an indicator of what color egg they will produce. White-feathered chickens with similarly light colored earlobes lay white eggs, while chickens with reddish-brown feathers, and dark earlobes to match, lay brown eggs.

Why Is There a Difference in Price with Brown Eggs and White Eggs?

You will find a difference in price accompanies the choice between brown or white eggs. The brown eggs are often more expensive. This has to do with the cost associated with raising the chicken and producing the eggs, not the quality of the eggs themselves.

Brown eggs are more expensive than white eggs because it costs more money to feed the chickens that produce the brown eggs. These hen breeds require more energy to lay their eggs and in turn, they will eat more and require larger amounts of food. The cost of their housing and feeding is passed to the consumer in the price of the product.

So, Are Brown Eggs Better Than White Eggs?

The color of the egg shell does not indicate a better quality of egg. In fact, there is no distinguishable difference between brown eggs and white ones when it comes to taste and nutrition.

What may be of interest to you, and what can be a factor when it comes to nutritional value, is the diet the chickens are fed. Hens who feed on a diet rich with omega-3s and vitamin D will produce eggs that are higher in those nutrients.

Brown eggs and white eggs, in general, will have the same nutritional offerings — containing vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein. So don't get hung up on the shell color; instead, opt for eggs from a purveyor you trust.

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