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Do Egg Sizes *Really* Matter in Recipes? Here’s How (and When) You Can Swap

You pick up a carton of eggs on your grocery run, checking to make sure they’re all intact before adding them to your cart. But have you ever thought about the size of those eggs? Probably not, right? You just grab the freshest ones and get on with your list.

But if you’re a baker, you’ve likely come across recipes that call for a specific size of eggs, usually large. So what about those curveballs that require extra-large eggs? (We’re looking at you, Ina Garten.) Do egg sizes matter in baking? Can you swap them, and is there ratio to follow? Here’s what you need to know.

Wait, what are the sizes in the first place?

If you’re in the United States, you’ll find that chicken eggs are usually available in the following sizes:

  • Peewee: about 1.25 ounces or 35 grams
  • Small: about 1.5 ounces or 42 grams
  • Medium: about 75 ounces or 50 grams
  • Large: about 2 ounces or 57 grams
  • Extra Large: about 2.25 ounces or 64 grams
  • Jumbo: about 2.5 ounces or 71 grams

But how are these sizes determined? They’re averages based on the weight of a dozen eggs. According to the USDA, while some eggs in a carton may look slightly larger or smaller than the rest, it is the total weight of the dozen eggs that determines their size grade.

Teddi Yaeger Photography/Getty Images

Do Egg Sizes Matter In Recipes?

Here’s where things get tricky: Sometimes egg size matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. But there are a few general rules you can keep in mind:

  • The more eggs in a recipe, the more the size matters. That’s because as you add more eggs, the difference in weight grows.
  • Egg size matters more in baking than cooking. Eggs serve many purposes in baking recipes, adding stability and moisture, binding dough, leavening and more. Use eggs that are too small and a cake could fall flat; too large and a batch of cookies could turn out wet and rubbery.

With this knowledge, you can determine when a baking project requires an extra trip to the store for extra-large eggs, or when a simple substitution will suffice.

What is the best egg size for baking?

Baking can be finnicky, and good recipes are developed with precision. For guaranteed success, yeah, you should follow them as closely as possible. But if a recipe doesn’t specify the egg size, go for large eggs—they’re the standard because they’re the most common size available.

When and how can you swap egg sizes?

When swapping egg sizes in baking recipes, you’ll have to use your best judgement and your chef senses. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. (Pun fully intended.)

If a recipe calls for one extra-large egg and you only have large, you can approach this a couple ways.:

  • You can roll your eyes and use the egg you have, accepting that the recipe might not turn out perfectly (but will still be edible).
  • You can run out to the supermarket and pick up a carton of extra-large eggs.
  • Or you can substitute it: For the most accurate swap, you’ll have to whisk a few eggs together to evenly blend the whites and yolks, then measure the amount of egg that’s equivalent to the size called for in the recipe. This is best done with a kitchen scale, but you call also use a measuring cup in a pinch. (One large egg is about ¼ cup.)

If you’re not as concerned about precision—say, with a boxed cake mix—you can use this chart to swap egg sizes.

Digital Art by Sofia Kraushaar

Ultimately, unless you’re channeling your inner pâtissier and working on an intricate pastry or dessert, the size of eggs you use probably doesn’t matter much. And if you ever find yourself up the creek without a large egg, just print out our conversion chart and thank us later.