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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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