4 Ways to Tell if Your Eggs Have Gone Bad

If you can’t remember when you bought that dozen in your fridge, use these methods to determine whether your eggs are still fresh.

For the longest time, I thought that raw eggs took months to expire. I kept a dozen in my fridge for an entire quarter of college, making a scramble here and there when I had the rare energy to prepare myself breakfast before my 12 p.m. class. Luckily, I made it through college without getting food poisoning — shocking, considering that eggs from the grocery store only last three to five weeks in the refrigerator. 

But in learning that eggs do, in fact, go bad eventually, I also learned something equally important: how to tell when they are bad. These four steps for checking egg freshness are surprisingly simple and can save you from, at best, an untasty breakfast, and at worst, salmonella. 

1. Check the expiration or sell-by date

OK, this might seem obvious, but the expiration date will always and forever be a key indicator as to whether or not an egg is safe to eat. Expiration dates are not always 100% accurate, so if it’s just a few days past the date marked on the carton, consider testing your eggs with one of the following methods. If you’re weeks past expiration, it’s safe to assume that your eggs are no longer edible. 

2. Try the float test

To evaluate the freshness of a raw egg, all you need is a glass of water. Fill it about three-quarters of the way — not so full that adding an egg would make it overflow. Gently drop one egg into the glass, and observe where it settles. If the egg sinks to the bottom and lays on its side, it should be fresh and ready to eat. If it floats all the way to the top, the egg may be spoiled. Either avoid the risk and toss it in the garbage, or follow the following steps. Anything in between — it sinks but is standing upright, or it floats in the middle of the glass — means the egg is likely still safe to consume, but you should probably eat it within the next week or so. Maybe make a big batch of egg salad or a mushroom tortilla to make the most of your dozen. 


Victor Protasio, Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

3. Give it a smell

Although the float test is a solid method for checking the freshness of an egg, you should still rely on your handy-dandy five senses. Your nose, for instance, can often tell when an egg has gone bad. Crack it onto a plate or bowl, and give it a whiff. Fresh eggs should either smell fresh or like nothing at all, so if instead, your egg smells putrid, funky, sulfuric, or just plain off, the egg is rotten. Make sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the plate or bowl to remove any dangerous bacteria. 

4. Use your eyes

When an egg has spoiled, it often will find a way to tell you. Even when it’s in the shell, a spoiled egg might have small cracks or a cloudy, powdery coating. This can be a sign of mold or bacterial growth. When an egg is cracked, keep an eye out for discoloration — if the egg white has a pink hue or looks slightly iridescent, or if the yolk has completely flattened, it’s a bad egg. Throw it in the trash and have some cereal instead … just make sure to check the expiration date on your milk.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles