What a hen eats can have a colorful impact. Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, fed his hens densely pigmented hot red peppers so that they would lay eggs with bright-red yolks. Then there are nearly white yolks, which can be the result of an all–white cornmeal diet, whereas a rich-orange yolk could be from a diet of marigolds, dehydrated alfalfa, kitchen scraps, or good old-fashioned foraging.
Although an orange yolk might look mighty fine, it’s nutritionally the same as a paler one. Dianna Bourassa, an assistant professor and extension specialist at the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University in Alabama, notes that it’s really only when hens eat foods “containing lipids or fats” that you might get the taste of what they ate in their eggs, as lipids and fats “get deposited in the yolks.”