What It Really Means When Recipes Call for ‘Large’ Eggs

The size of the eggs you use in your baked goods can make a difference in the finished product.

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Chicken eggs
Photo: Kentaro Foto (Shutterstock)

“Large” is such an arbitrary term. One man’s Large Son could seem positively puny next to another man’s Even Larger Son. To the average consumer, a “large” portion of cereal may equal anything over a cup—but, to me, anything less than half the box is normal. Subjective terms like “large” have no place in the kitchen, especially when it comes to the precise science of baking. And yet, I’m faced with recipe after recipe that calls for “two LARGE eggs.” So what, pray tell, constitutes a “large” egg?

How large is a “large” egg?

To find out, I waded through an incredibly robust USDA document titled “UNITED STATES STANDARDS, GRADES, AND WEIGHT CLASSES FOR SHELL EGGS.” There, I found out that a carton of eggs is classified as “large” based on its total weight per dozen. Per the USDA guide, the average “large” egg weighs about two ounces, adding up to a 24-ounce dozen.

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Of course, hens are fickle beasts, and one “large” egg could ostensibly weigh slightly more or less than the next. As long as they’re roughly equivalent in size and add up to a cumulative 24 ounces, they get plopped in the same carton and sent on their eggy way. But two ounces seems to be the sweet spot for American bakers in search of “large” eggs.

Can egg sizes affect your baking?

A disclaimer: I’ve never weighed my eggs when baking. I weigh all of my other ingredients as I am far too anxious to bake by volume, but I’ve never once considered that I may need to weigh my yolks. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up with so many busted-ass curds in my life.

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Ultimately, I’ll probably keep eyeballing egg sizes for things like pancakes, brownies, and dump cakes, all of which can afford to be a little less precise. But on the rare occasion that I muster the energy to concoct more finicky baked goods—a soufflé, for example—I will be weighing my eggs. Why? Two reasons: first, I’m really bad at eyeballing things, and second, I’m paranoid that I’ll end up with the runty egg of the bunch, thus throwing off my precisely measured ingredient ratio. (If you want proof of the weight disparity between eggs of the same size, check out The Kitchn’s egg weight test.) I don’t have the heart to withstand another curd disaster.