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Does a Darker Egg Yolk Equal Better Flavor?

Some egg yolks are yellow, some are white, dark orange, even red. Does the color of the yolk affect its flavor?
By Published Sept. 27, 2021

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.”

This explains why some folks find fish oil–fed chickens’ eggs fishy. But those red pepper–fed hens? Though colorful, their eggs will just taste like normal eggs. While some argue that a chicken with a diverse diet lays tastier eggs, that’s up for interpretation. We had testers in a variety of states purchase the most expensive eggs they could find as well as the cheapest eggs they could find and conduct a blind taste test.

While most testers didn’t note a huge difference between cheap and pricey eggs purchased from grocery stores, testers who purchased local eggs found them to be richer, and as one tester noted, they had a “fattier feel, too—an unctuousness” and a creamy, luscious texture. 

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