I was planning on making one of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes the other night when I noticed she called for three extra large eggs instead of three large eggs. I didn’t have any extra large on hand—what is the difference and should I be buying two sizes of eggs for my recipes?
The short version is no, you shouldn’t be bothered with keeping two different sizes of eggs in your fridge unless you’re a baking maniac or a rabid Ina Garten fan. Large eggs are the baking standard, measuring about 2 oz. by weight. Extra large eggs weigh in at 2.25 oz. by comparison.
Barely anyone but the Barefoot Contessa (who apparently has a major jones for the XL size; I have cooked probably one of her recipes in my lifetime, so I trust you readers to back me up on this) specifically calls for extra large eggs in their recipes.
Pastry geniuses Dorie Greenspan, Gale Gand, Johnny Iuzzini, and the incomparable David Lebovitz all specify the large size in their recipes. As David explained to me, “In restaurants, large eggs are the norm (at least where I’ve worked), so many recipes tend toward large eggs.”
Any volume issues caused by that additional quarter ounce found in an extra large egg really only come into play when baking, and even then pretty much only when the recipe calls for a lot of eggs. Subbing in a large for an extra large egg (or vice versa) in a recipe that only calls for a solo egg won’t make much of a difference.
However, if you’re looking at a recipe for angel food cake, pot de crème, or another dessert that depends mainly on eggs for flavor and structure (and which calls for five or more eggs) then you can either stick to the recipe as written or make a slight adjustment based on the size eggs you’ve got in your fridge.
Think of it this way: cracking 4 extra large eggs into a bowl gives you nearly the volume equivalent of 5 large eggs by weight (both will be hovering around 10 oz). So the recipe substitution would break down as:
5 large eggs (10 oz) = 4 extra large eggs (9 oz) + 2 tbsp water
6 large eggs (12 oz) = 5 extra large eggs (11.25 oz) + 3.5 tbsp water
7 large eggs (14 oz) = 6 extra large eggs (13.5 oz) + 1 tbsp water
8 large eggs (16 oz) = 7 extra large eggs (15.75 oz) + 1/2 tbsp water
9 large eggs (18 oz) = 8 extra large eggs (18 oz)
and so on.
But let’s not get carried away with this substitution business. While a dozen jumbos could make for some deliciously oversized deviled eggs or super-duper omelets, I’d stick to buying whatever you’re used to unless you’re a conversion genius who has figured out how save a few pennies by subbing in fewer jumbo eggs for their large-sized counterparts.
The bottom line is that it matters a whole lot less whether you’re using large or extra large eggs than you think. Again, listen to David Lebovitz: “For me, it’s more like what’s available or what people will likely have on hand.” So stop fretting, put down the calculator, and start baking.
Stumped by the difference between caramel and butterscotch sauces? Wondering why a sane person would ever need a potato ricer or a mushroom brush? I think about these things so you don’t have to. Send your questions to Ask Casey at caseyATgoodfoodstories.com.