How to Tell If Eggs Are Bad: A Comprehensive Guide


When it comes to cooking and baking, eggs are a staple ingredient in many recipes. However, it’s essential to ensure that the eggs you use are fresh and safe to consume. In this article, we will explore various methods to determine if eggs are bad, including visual cues, the water test, and the sniff test. We will also discuss the importance of proper egg storage and provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions in the kitchen.

Why Is It Important to Check If Eggs Are Bad?

Consuming spoiled eggs can lead to foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella poisoning. These illnesses can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. In severe cases, they can even be life-threatening, especially for individuals with weakened immune systems, young children, and the elderly.

By learning how to tell if eggs are bad, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from potential health risks. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs of spoilage and take appropriate measures to ensure the eggs you use are fresh and safe.

Visual Cues to Identify Bad Eggs

Examining the appearance of an egg is one of the easiest ways to determine if it is spoiled. Here are some visual cues to look out for:

  • Cracked or Leaking Shell: If an egg has cracks or leaks, it is more susceptible to bacterial contamination. Discard any eggs with damaged shells.
  • Discolored Shell: A fresh egg typically has a clean, white or brown shell. If you notice any unusual discoloration, such as green or pink spots, it may indicate bacterial growth.
  • Offensive Odor: Fresh eggs have a neutral smell. If you detect a foul or sulfur-like odor when you crack an egg, it is likely spoiled.
  • Unusual Texture: A fresh egg has a smooth and consistent texture. If you notice any sliminess or unusual clumps when you crack an egg, it is best to discard it.

Remember, visual cues alone may not always indicate spoilage. It’s essential to use additional methods to confirm if an egg is bad.

The Water Test: Checking Egg Freshness

The water test is a simple and effective way to determine the freshness of an egg. Follow these steps to perform the water test:

  1. Fill a bowl or glass with cold water.
  2. Gently place the egg into the water.
  3. Observe the egg’s behavior:
  • Fresh Eggs: A fresh egg will sink to the bottom and lay flat on its side.
  • Slightly Older Eggs: If the egg stands upright on the bottom but remains submerged, it is still safe to eat but should be used soon.
  • Questionable Eggs: If the egg floats to the top or stands upright on the surface, it is likely spoiled and should be discarded.

The water test works because, over time, eggs lose moisture through their porous shells, causing air to accumulate inside. The more air present, the older the egg is, and the higher it will float in water.

The Sniff Test: Detecting Spoiled Eggs by Smell

Another reliable method to determine if an egg is bad is the sniff test. Follow these steps to perform the sniff test:

  1. Crack the egg into a clean bowl or plate.
  2. Sniff the egg:
  • Fresh Eggs: A fresh egg will have a neutral smell or a slightly earthy odor.
  • Spoiled Eggs: If the egg has a strong, unpleasant odor, similar to sulfur or rotten eggs, it is spoiled and should be discarded.

The sniff test relies on the fact that bacteria produce sulfur compounds as they break down proteins in spoiled eggs, resulting in the foul smell.

Proper Egg Storage: Extending Shelf Life

Proper egg storage is crucial for maintaining their freshness and extending their shelf life. Here are some essential tips:

  • Refrigeration: Store eggs in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F (4°C). The cool temperature helps slow down bacterial growth and keeps the eggs fresh for a more extended period.
  • Original Carton: Keep eggs in their original carton to protect them from absorbing odors and flavors from other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Avoid exposing eggs to extreme temperatures, such as leaving them on the kitchen counter or near a heat source. Rapid temperature changes can cause condensation, which promotes bacterial growth.
  • Don’t Wash Eggs: Avoid washing eggs before storing them. The protective coating on the shell, known as the bloom, helps prevent bacteria from entering the egg. Washing can remove this protective layer.

By following these storage guidelines, you can maximize the freshness and quality of your eggs.


Ensuring the freshness and safety of eggs is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing foodborne illnesses. By paying attention to visual cues, performing the water test, and using the sniff test, you can easily determine if an egg is bad. Additionally, proper egg storage techniques, such as refrigeration and avoiding extreme temperatures, can help extend their shelf life.

Remember, consuming spoiled eggs can have severe health consequences, so it’s essential to be vigilant and discard any eggs that show signs of spoilage. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can confidently use fresh and safe eggs in your culinary endeavors.


1. How long do eggs typically last?

Eggs can typically last 3-5 weeks beyond their pack date if stored properly in the refrigerator.

2. Can I eat eggs past their expiration date?

The expiration date on the egg carton is a good guideline for freshness. However, if you are unsure, you can perform the water test or the sniff test to determine if the eggs are still safe to eat.

3. Can I freeze eggs?

Yes, you can freeze eggs. However, it’s best to crack them into a container, lightly beat them, and freeze them. Freezing eggs in their shells can cause them to expand and potentially crack.




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