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Ask Casey: Large Eggs vs. Extra Large Eggs

How important is it to use large eggs vs. extra large eggs in a recipe?

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—should I be buying two sizes of eggs?

large eggs vs. extra large eggs
Photo: Casey Barber

The short version is no, you shouldn’t worry about whether you buy large eggs vs. extra large eggs unless you’re a baking maniac or a rabid Ina Garten fan.

Large eggs are the baking standard, measuring about 2 ounces by weight. Extra large eggs weigh in at 2 1/4 ounces by comparison.

Barely anyone but the Barefoot Contessa (who apparently has a major jones for the XL size; I have cooked probably three 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, 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.”

large eggs vs extra large eggs

Large Eggs vs. Extra Large Eggs: Can I Substitute?

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 do one of two things:

  • either stick to the recipe as written, or
  • make an adjustment based on the size eggs you’ve got in your fridge.

baked eggs in cream
Photo: Casey Barber

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 ounces). So the recipe substitution would break down as:

  • 5 large eggs (10 ounces) = 4 extra large eggs (9 ounces) + 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 large eggs (12 ounces) = 5 extra large eggs (11.25 ounces) + 3 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 7 large eggs (14 ounces) = 6 extra large eggs (13.5 ounces) + 1 tablespoon water
  • 8 large eggs (16 ounces) = 7 extra large eggs (15.75 ounces) + 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 9 large eggs (18 ounces) = 8 extra large eggs (18 ounces)
    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 buying.

That is, 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.

citrus olive oil cake
Photo: Casey Barber

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.

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11 Comments

  1. I will say that my mom swears the secret to her world famous matzoh balls (which you have experienced) is extra large eggs. I’ve never dared to try something different!

  2. Hi Casey, this caught my eye because I do use a lot of Barefoot Contessa recipes. That extra-large egg thing drives me crazy – maybe that’s all they have in the Hamptons. Anyways, I use the amount of eggs called for and then add one extra egg egg white. Works every time.

  3. You are so right about Barefoot Contessa. It drives me crazy because I’m a stickler for exactness. Guess I need to loosen up! Thanks

  4. Thank you!!! It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Cookies. This will be my first time at making cookies and just wanted them to be oooh so good.

  5. Thank you. I wasn’t sure I could even find an answer to the egg size question. As it happens, I was making an Ina Garten recipe calling for extra large eggs and could only get a dozen when I need just two. I can sleep tonight.

    1. Well, I certainly wouldn’t want you to have a sleepless night on Ina Garten’s account! Glad this helped you rest easy.

  6. I am making a carrot cake for the first time, and noticed that the recipe called for extra large eggs. I was so deilighted to see this site and am going to try the substitution that you suggested. The recipe calls for 4 x-large eggs, so you would suggest 4 lrg eggs and 1 T of water? On the other hand, I like the suggestion of adding an extra egg! But, I have a quick question, Karen M. Do you add 1 extra egg and an extra egg white (only)? Sorry, I am just not wanting to make a mistake. This cake is for a friend’s birthday and I want it to be great. I have baked for years, and very rarely run across a recipe that calls for extra lrg eggs.

  7. Yup. It’s Ina Garten that’s got me on this search. Thank you for the size comparisons. I’ll be adding another large egg for the brownie recipe!

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