I've heard the slogan 'Happy chooks make for happy cooks', implying that free-range eggs make for more successful cooking.

Do eggs from free roaming chickens actually have a discernible difference in baking or cooking?

I am not asking for a moral opinion, purely a cooking/baking question.

4 Answers 4


True free range eggs are noticeably different in terms of yolk colour (a much deeper yellow) and taste. Free range chickens are allowed to supplement their diets with naturally found grubs, inscets etc.

You might find this of interest:

Nutrition – Free-Range vs. Battery-Cage Eggs: Hens with Outdoor Access Produce More Nutritious Eggs

  • 1
    I understand the yolks also tend to be a larger proportion of the egg. This will have an effect.
    – Richard
    Jul 18, 2010 at 9:45
  • It shouldn't, unless they are exceptionally large.
    – Pulse
    Jul 18, 2010 at 9:49
  • 2
    The color of yolks is not much changed by grubs etc., but by other parts of feed which can be easily supplemented (and frequently are) for commercially farmed eggs. This is both the theory I have read, and my personal observation - there is a lot of variation in yolk color both within free range and standard chickens, and there is no rule that free range yolk is darker, or tastes better.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 15, 2017 at 11:11

Kenji López-Alt from Serious Eats made a randomized, single-blind and kind of placebo-controlled study with six kinds of eggs:

  1. Plain old factory farmed eggs
  2. Eggs with 325 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acid per egg (not organic or cage free)
  3. Organic Cage Free eggs with 200 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acid per egg
  4. Cage Free eggs with 100 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acid per egg
  5. Organic eggs, no other specifications
  6. Organic eggs from free-roaming, pasture-raised chickens

His verdict after making scrambled eggs in a controlled environment: It doesn't matter. Instead the actual contents of the eggs the color determines the perceived taste.

Concerning frying the eggs sunny side-up of poaching: Freshness matters. The fresher the egg, the tighter the egg white and yolk. If the egg is older, the yolk and the egg white will lose liquid which is the looser albumen part of the raw egg. This causes the egg to spread while frying, making tegg less appetizing than an egg with taller standing yolk. When poaching, the looser egg white causes the ugly white flakes (https://youtu.be/66btvAWmp7g?t=1m25s (1:25 min to 1:48 min)).

I guess, if you get eggs from free-roaming chickens the eggs might be just fresher than the factory farmed eggs and this is why eggs from free-roaming chicken might tastes better and are easier to process in some cases. (Not, if you plan to boil those.)


I think they're generally higher quality, larger, have firmer, brighter yolks, and taste better. They also tend to have a higher proportion of omega-3 fats then caged/grain fed eggs. I think it matters less for baking, but I notice the difference when slow-boiling, sauteeing, or making an omelet.


It definitely takes longer to hard boil free range eggs. noticed that when I came to Jamaica - almost twice as long.

  • 1
    Do you mean that they take twice as long to cook on exactly the same stove compared with non-free range eggs or do you mean compared with non-free range eggs before Jamaica?
    – user110084
    Jun 10, 2017 at 7:32

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