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5 Simple Ways to Tell If Eggs Are Bad

Eggs are a staple in many kitchens due to their versatility and nutritional value. However, ensuring they are fresh and safe to eat is crucial. Consuming bad eggs can lead to foodborne illnesses, so it’s important to know how to determine their freshness. Here are several methods to help you tell if eggs are bad.

to tell if eggs are bad

The Float Test

One of the most popular and easy methods to check the freshness of an egg is the float test. This test leverages the changes in an egg’s density over time.

How to tell if eggs are bad
  1. Fill a Bowl with Water: Use a bowl deep enough to submerge the egg completely.
  2. Place the Egg in the Water: Carefully place the egg into the bowl.
    • Fresh Eggs: If the egg sinks and lays flat on the bottom, it is very fresh.
    • Older Eggs: If the egg stands upright on the bottom or tilts, it is still safe to eat but should be used soon.
    • Bad Eggs: If the egg floats to the top, it has likely gone bad and should be discarded.

The science behind this test lies in the egg’s air cell. As eggs age, the size of the air cell increases, making the egg more buoyant.

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The Sniff Test

Your nose can be a reliable tool for determining if an egg is still good, and using the sniff test is my first recommended method to check if eggs are bad, here’s how to do it:

  1. Crack the Egg Open: Crack the egg into a clean bowl.
  2. Smell the Egg: A fresh egg will have a neutral odor. If the egg smells sulfuric or foul, it is bad and should not be consumed.

This method is effective because bad eggs have a distinct and unpleasant odor that is hard to miss.

Use Visual Inspection to check if Eggs are Bad

Visual cues can also indicate an egg’s freshness:

  1. Inspect the Shell: Before cracking the egg, check the shell for any cracks or powdery spots. A slimy or powdery appearance can indicate bacterial contamination or mold.
  2. Examine the Egg Contents: After cracking the egg, look at the yolk and egg white. A fresh egg will have a bright, round yolk and a thick egg white. If the yolk is flat and the egg white is runny or watery, the egg is old. If there are any unusual colors or black spots, discard the egg.

The Sound Test

This method is less commonly used but can be an additional way to check if eggs are bad:

  1. Shake the Egg: Hold the egg up to your ear and gently shake it.
  2. Listen: A fresh egg should not make much noise. If you hear sloshing, the egg is likely bad. This happens because, over time, the egg white and yolk lose their structure and become more liquid.

Check the Expiration Date

Egg cartons typically come with a “best by” or “sell by” date. While eggs can still be good after these dates, they provide a useful guideline:

  1. Observe the Date: Check the date on the carton.
  2. Use Judgement: Eggs can often be consumed 3-5 weeks beyond the sell-by date if stored properly in the refrigerator.

Proper Storage

Proper storage extends the shelf life of eggs and helps maintain their freshness:

  1. Refrigerate Promptly: Store eggs in the refrigerator as soon as possible after purchase.
  2. Keep Eggs in the Original Carton: This protects them from absorbing strong odors and flavors from other foods.
  3. Store in the Main Body of the Fridge: The temperature in the main body is more stable than the door, helping to keep the eggs fresh longer.


Ensuring the freshness of your eggs involves a combination of tests and best practices for storage. The float test, sniff test, visual inspection, sound test, and checking the expiration date are all effective methods. Proper refrigeration is essential to maintain their quality. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy eggs safely and confidently.

For more detailed information, you can refer to resources such as the USDA’s guidelines on egg safety and articles from The Kitchn and Healthline. These sources provide comprehensive advice on handling and determining the freshness of eggs.

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