It's longer than the sell-by date lets on.
eggs, juice, and greens inside the refrigerator
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Eggs are one of the best foods to keep in the refrigerator for convenient meals and snacks, thanks to their versatility and affordable price. Even so, sometimes you find yourself with more eggs than you can eat before the date on the carton. Do you toss them out? You don't have to.

Read on to find out how long eggs last in the fridge and freezer and what you can do with eggs that are a little past their prime.

When stored properly, eggs rarely go bad

Kept in the refrigerator at no higher than 40 degrees F, eggs last three to five weeks from the time you bring them home, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They'll likely reach their sell-by date during this time, but you can keep eating them. The sell-by date doesn't mean eggs have expired.

The best way to store eggs:

  • 40 degrees F or less
  • on an inside refrigerator shelf
  • away from pungent foods
  • in the original container

How long do eggs last in the fridge and freezer?

Egg type

In the fridge

In the freezer

Raw eggs (whole, in shell)

4 to 5 weeks after pack date; about 3 weeks after purchase

Not recommended

Raw eggs (lightly beaten, out of shell)

Up to 2 days

Up to 1 year

Raw egg yolks

Up to 2 days

Up to 1 year

Raw egg whites

Up to 4 days

Up to 1 year

Hard-boiled eggs (in shell)

Up to 1 week

Not recommended

Hard-boiled eggs (peeled)

Up to 1 week; best if used in one day

Not recommended

How long do whole eggs last in the fridge?

If whole eggs are stored in their original container, on an inside refrigerator shelf, and away from pungent foods (like cheeses and onions), they can last four to five weeks after packing, or about three weeks from the time you buy them.

However, eggs rarely go bad when stored and handled properly. That means they may be good enough to eat and cook with for several weeks after the sell-by date.

How long do egg yolks last in the fridge?

Egg yolks will last in the fridge up to two days. Egg yolks will become thinner and runnier once out of the shell and exposed to air.

How long do egg whites last in the fridge?

Egg whites will last in the fridge up to four days. They should be stored in an airtight container. Once out of the shell, egg whites will become thinner and less bouncy, but they're still safe to use.

How long do hard-boiled eggs last in the fridge?

Whether peeled or still in the shell, hard-boiled eggs last up to seven days in the refrigerator. However, peeled hard-boiled eggs may absorb odors from the fridge, so they're best if used within a day of cooking.

Be sure to store peeled eggs in an airtight container or sealed bag. Unpeeled eggs do not need to be covered in the refrigerator as long as the temperature remains between 35 and 40 degrees F.

Dozen eggs in carton
Photo: Turnervisual/Getty Images

What does the date on the egg carton mean?

Often printed below the sell-by date on a carton of eggs is a three-digit number that indicates which day of the year a carton of eggs was packed on. This three-digit number (known as a Julian date) represents the consecutive days of a year. For example, 001 represents Jan. 1 and 365 represents Dec. 31.

You can figure out which day the three digits represent using the USDA's online chart. The eggs will be good for at least five weeks after this date.

Can you eat eggs past the sell-by date?

Yes, eggs are often still good past their sell-by date. Old eggs aren't necessarily bad. They're just not as fresh as a new carton you brought home from the store. You'll want to pay extra attention to them before you crack one into your cake batter.

The best way to know if an egg is unsafe to use is to use your eyes and nose. Does the egg have any unusual film or cracks in the shell? Toss it, if so.

Crack the whole, raw eggs onto a plate, and give it a sniff. A rotten or bad egg gives off a distinctive odor. If your egg has that stench, time to say goodbye.

What can I do with "old" eggs?

Old eggs aren't the same thing as bad eggs. Old eggs are often still safe to use in any number of dishes and recipes. But egg quality does decline over time, and the distinct high-rise yolk may be lost in eggs that have been hanging out in your fridge for a while. That's OK. Old eggs can still shine.

For example, some people prefer to use older eggs for hard boiling. As the egg ages, the air pocket inside the shell grows larger, making it easier to peel. Use these eggs in egg salad, deviled eggs, or as a quick snack.

Old eggs are also great to mix up into dishes like casseroles and quiches where their thinner consistency won't be noticed. Even scrambled eggs and omelets are OK for older eggs. They can spread out in the pan easier and whip up faster than fresher eggs.