What's the Difference Between Brown and White Eggs?

While the color of an egg's shell doesn't reflect its quality or taste, all USDA graded eggs must meet standards for quality and size, including having uncracked shells. (Image credit: 13dede | sxc.hu)

I have plans to cook an egg quiche thing and enough cinnamon rolls for 10 people this weekend, so I'm going to need a lot of eggs. Normally I'm not too discerning with my egg selection -- they all scramble just as well to me. But, standing in the grocery store, I froze. Should I buy brown eggs, or white? Is one variety better for eggy dishes, and the other better for baked goods?

I had no clue, and after spending a good five minutes scanning every letter of labeling on the various brands of eggs, I felt no more in the know. So I gave up. I picked up a carton of the cheaper white eggs, headed for the checkout and hoped for the best, or at least a less costly mistake.

Turns out, it didn't matter at all. According to the food website Chow.com, chicken eggs are chicken eggs, no matter the color of their shell. Eggshell color, a spokesperson for the American Egg Board told the site, does not influence the egg's nutritional value, quality, flavor or cooking characteristics.

That's a huge relief for me and my weekend cooking plans, but now I'm left wondering about that price difference. Surely the pricier brown eggs are somehow better, right? Wrong. Brown eggs are more expensive simply because the breeds of hens that lay brown eggs -- most commonly Rhode Island Reds -- eat more feed.

If you're curious about which chicken breeds lay which color egg, well then let me direct you to "Henderson's Handy Dandy Chicken Chart", which is as thorough of a chicken chart as I've ever seen and features something called a "chipmunky blue-egger."

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Bjorn Carey is the science information officer at Stanford University. He has written and edited for various news outlets, including Live Science's Life's Little Mysteries, Space.com and Popular Science. When it comes to reporting on and explaining wacky science and weird news, Bjorn is your guy. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his beautiful son and wife.