Here's the truth about expired eggs, plus a simple test that shows you if your eggs are old.

Credit: Adobe: Liz Clayman

Expired eggs sound scary, but there’s a good chance that they’re perfectly safe to eat. How, exactly? To best explain, let’s consider this scenario: You're in the midst of making banana bread. You've got the butter softened, the bananas mashed, the dry ingredients combined. Now you need your eggs. Gasp! They expired two weeks ago. What would you do in this situation: Use them and never look back, or hope your neighbors can rescue you with fresher eggs?

Yes, you can probably eat those expired eggs and never look back. If refrigerated, eggs typically stay safe well after their expiration date. Regardless of what that date actually is, the optimal storage time for raw eggs in their shells, according to the USDA, is 3 to 5 weeks.

How to Tell If Eggs Are Old

If the idea of using a slightly out of date egg makes you even the least bit nervous, here's a simple test you can do to see if your egg is past its prime.

Fill a large pitcher or glass with water. Gently release the egg into the water. If the egg sinks, it's still good. If it floats, it's old.

See our demonstration of the egg test in the video below.

Yes, floating eggs are old, they aren’t necessarily bad. Here's why: Egg shells are porous. As eggs age, the air cell grows larger. Older eggs have larger air cells, so they float. Newer eggs have smaller air cells, so they sink. However, according to the USDA, even eggs that float may still be good.

What’s probably more important than worrying about whether your egg is out of date? Buying good quality eggs in the first place—and knowing the signs of a spoiled egg. The USDA recommends always buying your eggs from a refrigerated case, as this is an indicator that they have been properly stored. Before you buy them, open up the carton and make sure the eggs have clean, uncracked shells. Next, reference the expiration date (it may be listed as “EXP” or “Sell by”), which the USDA regulates to be no more than 30 days after the pack date of the eggs.  

Lastly, make sure to refrigerate your purchased eggs as soon as possible. If you think you won’t be home for a few hours after leaving the grocery store, consider storing your eggs in a cooler.

So, when it comes to old eggs, here’s a good rule of thumb: use your senses. If you run across an expired egg, crack it open first before you toss it. If the egg is discolored or giving off a foul odor, it's best to throw it away. But if it looks and smells like a normal egg, you're most likely safe to use it.