A Guide To Alternative Eggs

We all know about and have eaten eggs. They are one of the more ubiquitous ingredients in cooking and are also healthy and easy to cook. But recently, more eggs than just those from standard hens have been frequenting markets and restaurant menus (think duck and quail eggs in omelettes or cracked on top of pizzas).

For those of you who aren't familiar with the wide variety of eggs available, we put together a guide for the eggs you are most likely to encounter at your local farmers market. Hopefully the notes below will spruce up your egg knowledge and maybe even encourage you to mix up your cooking and shopping practices.


Bantam Eggs

Bantams (on the far right) are relatively rare, small hens that produce tiny eggs with a dark yolk. The 50-50 ratio of egg yolk to egg white makes them great for frying. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/drewdomkus)

Blue/Colored Eggs

These light blue eggs come from the Cream Legbar hen that was originally bred from a mix with the Araucana breed of chicken that also lays blue eggs. However, because of mixed breeding, the eggs will sometimes be a greyish blue, khaki, or an olive green color. With rich, creamy yolks, these eggs work well poached or fried. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ImaginationKids)

Quail Eggs

Tiny, speckled eggs, these delicate delights have pale yolks and can be quickly cooked (because of their small size). They are great soft boiled, added to a salad, on top of greens, or pizza. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Brook Herman)

Ostrich Eggs

These large, beautiful eggs are housed in a hardy, ivory-colored shell and are equivalent of about 24 standard hen eggs (give or take a little). Their size makes them ideal for decorating during Easter but also means that they take a lot longer to cook then the comparatively miniature hen eggs. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Simpologist)

Guinea Fowl Eggs

Thicker and stronger than a standard egg shell, guinea fowl eggs have a dark yolk and are about the equivalent of two standard hen eggs. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/LizLoughlan)

Emu Eggs

Stored in blue-green shell, these large eggs take about an hour to boil or 30 minutes to scramble. Their taste isn't too dissimilar from standard eggs, but one emu egg produces about 10 times as much as a standard egg (and costs more too). Try adding vegetables to the scramble and make sure you have a partner or two to help you eat it all. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Samatt)

Duck Eggs

Duck eggs are surprisingly popular for baking and can also be cooked lightly for breakfast. Since duck eggs have more fat in the yolks and protein in the whites than chicken eggs, gentler cooking is a safe approach when preparing omelettes, frying them, or hard boiling. For baking, they can be used pretty much interchangeably for chicken eggs, just make sure that they are roughly around the same size. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Tahneely.com)

Goose Eggs

Like duck eggs, goose eggs are often used for baking because they also have more protein-rich whites, which mean they are stronger and beat up higher and very well. (This equates to lighter cakes.) The richness of the yolks gives them an added creaminess that pairs well with shaved truffles or spring asparagus. Slightly larger than the duck egg, one goose egg is about 2 ½ medium-sized standard hen eggs. (Photo courtesy Flickr/Lordinquisitor)

Turkey Eggs

Turkeys don't lay many eggs which is one of the reasons why they are more difficult to find (there is also a shorter season for them). But if you do find them, you'll notice that they are larger than chicken eggs and are usually speckled in a reddish color. How do they taste? Pretty much like chicken eggs. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Doglington)

Pheasant Eggs

A brownish-grey color, these eggs are in between the size of a regular hen's egg and a tiny quail's egg. They cook quickly and work well boiled or fried. And, contrary to what many think, they don't taste very gamey at all. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/gewob)