What is the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs?

When shopping the egg selection at the grocery store or farmer’s market, do you ever wonder what is the difference between white and brown eggs? Other than the color of course. I certainly have, so I thought I would do some research to find out what the deal is with white and brown eggs.

In my hunt for answers, I was surprised by what I found out. The truth is, there really isn’t much of a difference. Here are some things I did learn.

White and brown eggs in a carton.

Chicken Egg Colors

White, brown and grey hens.

Most of the eggs that you will see in the supermarket are white. One typical white-egg layer is the White Leghorn. However, you can generally find brown eggs from cage free chickens that are labeled as such. If you go to a farmer’s market, it is not uncommon to find eggs that are pale blue or green even.

The different colors are commonly based on the breed of chicken. Simply put, different breeds produce different colored eggs. For example, the ‘Easter Egger’ can lay a variety of egg colors such as pink, cream, blue and green. Whereas other varieties can only lay one color. The color of the eggshells is determined by genetics.

The diet and environment of the hen can have an affect on the hue of the egg yolk and the shade of color, however. Hens that are stress-free may produce slightly darker shades of white or brown eggs.

Another difference to note is that older chickens typically produce thinner egg shells than younger chickens.

White hen on grass.
Brown hen on grass.

Generally, white-feathered hens with white ear lobes will lay white eggs, whereas reddish-brown feathered hens with red ear lobes will lay brown eggs.

Nutrition and Flavor: White vs. Brown Eggs

You are not going to see a difference in nutrition and flavor based on the color of the egg. Factors that can impact the flavor and nutritional value of an egg are the hen’s diet and environment. Generally, eggs can be affected by the hens eating a diet rich in grasses and insects rather than a strictly feed-based diet.

Are Brown Eggs Healthier than White Eggs?

Brown eggs on grass. One egg cracked in half with yolk in it.

There is a common perception that brown eggs might be a healthier choice than white eggs. This is not really the case. Pretty much all eggs are a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals, despite their color. As mentioned earlier, the diet and environment of the hen is where the nutritional difference can be seen. Free range chickens that have access to the outdoors tend to lay eggs with less fat and cholesterol, and are higher in certain vitamins and omega-3's.

Do Brown and White Eggs Taste Different?

Inside the shell, most eggs look the same with a clear membrane (egg white) and a yellow or orange yolk. Some chickens do produce larger and brighter yolks. Yet, white and brown eggs pretty much taste the same.

You may notice that pasture-raised eggs taste slightly richer. This is simply based on their diet/environment and the fact that they lead less stressful lives than eggs from commercially farmed chickens. If you are looking for a more flavorful and vibrant egg, you might want to gravitate toward humanely raised birds, no matter the color of the outer shell.

White eggs in a blue carton.

The Price of Brown Eggs vs. White

Here is where there is a difference. Brown eggs do often cost more when compared side by side with white eggs in the market. The reason for this can be traced back to the breed again. Breeds that produce brown eggs are often larger birds that require more food than hens that produce white eggs.

Farmers who raise these larger chickens that produce brown shelled eggs have to offset the cost of feeding these birds by putting a higher price on the eggs. This is reflected in the price you will see at the market. To sum all of this up, here is a video that explains why brown eggs cost more than white eggs.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that the difference between white and brown eggs is simply in the color of the shell that is the result of genetics in the various breeds of chickens. Both white and brown eggs are nutritionally similar and do not differ in taste. The major difference between the two is cost, with brown often being more expensive than white.

If you have any thoughts or comments you would like to add to this article, please feel free to do so. We welcome the feedback.

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