The fear of bad eggs runs deep. As a kid you were prob told, “Don’t lick the spoon, you’ll getsick!” But can you eat an expired egg?

Can I eat an expired egg?

You might worry that the eggs in your fridge are ticking Salmonella bacteria time bombs. But that’s not always the case.

If you store eggs the following ways, they’ll stay safe for several weeks:

  • Store eggs below 45ºF (7°C) or freeze them.
  • Keep eggs at the back of your refrigerator where temperature is most consistent.
  • Eat fresh eggs (that don’t see the inside of a fridge) within 21 days.
  • Avoid cooked eggs that stay out for 2 hours.

Swerve any eggs that look like this — they’ve probably turned:

  • The shell is cracked. ⛔️
  • The inside is discolored. ⛔️
  • There are slimy or powdery patches on the shell. ⛔️
  • It smells. ⛔️
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We’re here to unscramble the myth that you can’t eat expired eggs. Here are the deets, plus tips on safe storage, how to test for freshness, and ways to spot a bad egg.

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Juan Moyano/Stocksy United

Generally, you shouldn’t eat food that’s past its expiration date.

But eggs are one egg-ception. They can last for weeks past their sell-by date if you store them the right way.

How long do eggs last?

Store-bought refrigerated eggs can last several weeks if you transport and store them correctly. It’s important to keep them cold once you bring them home — below 40°F (4°C), to be eggs-act, according to the FDA.

You should also store them in the back of the fridge, where the temp is more consistent. A 2011 research review suggested that steady temperatures may help eggs’ natural defenses fight off Salmonella bacteria.

Pro tip: Keep your eggs in their original storage container. The carton can protect the eggs from absorbing nearby odors. (Because no one wants an omelette that tastes like an old tomato — trust us 🤮.)

Farm fresh eggs

To figure out how long your farm fresh eggs will last, you need to know whether they’ve ever gotten a bath.

When a chicken lays an egg, the egg has a clear protein film layer that surrounds it. This layer creates a barrier that protects an egg’s insides from bacteria. If that layer gets removed (running water will remove it), the egg loses its protection.

  • Washed. Store in the refrigerator. They’ll last several weeks.
  • Not washed. Store at room temperature. They’ll last a few days up to 2 weeks.
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Most nonrefrigerated eggs will start to drop in quality after a week. And eating expired eggs starts to get really risky after 21 days, according to a 2007 study.

If you’ve cooked your eggs, avoid leaving out cooked eggs for more than 2 hours.

Freeze your eggs

If you want your eggs to go the distance, you can stick them in the freezer. Eggs can last for up to year if the temp is below 0°F (-18°C), according to the FDA.

PSA: Crack the eggs before freezing. You can store them in a food container or a freezer-friendly ziplock bag. Once they’ve thawed, you need to eat them within a week.

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A popular way to check if an eggo is good-o is the float test.

As an egg ages, moisture leaves through the shell. Air then steps in to fill the void. This makes the egg float (wheeeeeeee!!).

It isn’t always accurate. According to the USDA, an egg can still be unsafe to eat even if it sinks to the bottom of the bowl. But it’s definitely gone bad if it rises.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Fill a bowl with room-temp water.
  2. Gently place the egg in the water.
  3. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s safe to eat.
  4. If it tilts upwards or floats, it’s time to toss it out.

Or you could just try meowing at it and see how far you get. This method is better, though.

First things first, always check the expiration date on the carton. Eggs are totes fine to eat before the time period after that expiration date. You can even eat them afterward if you’ve followed the steps for safe storage.

Here are some other ways to put your egg to the test:

  • Check to see if the shell is cracked.
  • Make sure the inside of the egg isn’t discolored.
  • Look for slimy or powdery patches on the shell.

You can also try the sniff test. An odorless egg is prime breakfast sammie material. But one that smells like low tide on a summer’s day is a no-go.

Next time your parents say your partner seems like a “bad egg,” check your boo’s jacket for slimy or powdery patches.

Always cook your eggs

Some eggs that look and smell normal can still make you sick. That’s why you should always cook your eggs to kill any bacteria.

The egg-sperts at the Egg Safety Center say a safe temp is 160°F (71°C).

Food safety is no yolk.

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The main risk of eating raw or bad eggs is food poisoning, specifically salmonella. According to a 2009 research review, Salmonella bacteria can grow inside the yolk, egg white, and shell of an egg.

Salmonella can cause unpleasant symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention like:

Let’s avoid those shenanigans, shall we? Here’s a helpful table to make sure your eggs are safe to eat.

Type of eggTime safe at room temperatureTime safe in refrigeratorTime safe in freezer
raw in-shell eggless than 2 hours4–5 weeks⛔️
raw egg yolksless than 2 hours2–4 days1 year
raw egg whitesless than 2 hours2–4 days1 year
hard-boiled eggless than 2 hours1 week⛔️
egg substitute or liquid eggsless than 2 hours3 days opened or 10 days unopenedup to 1 year if unopened

You can eat eggs past their expiration date. Just be sure to keep your eggs egg-cellent by storing them correctly.

If you don’t know if an egg is good or not, you can try the float test or give it a whiff. If it doesn’t pass the test, throw it away.

Keeping eggs at the back of the fridge is a great way to keep them fresh for a while. Check out our guide on how to hack your fridge and maintain peak freshness.