Eggs can usually be safely consumed several weeks after the expiration date printed on the carton. However, it’s important to consider how the eggs have been stored and look for signs of spoilage before deciding whether to eat them or throw them out.
- Uncooked eggs can be safely eaten 3-5 weeks after the printed expiration date if stored properly in the refrigerator.
- The expiration date is not actually an indicator of food safety, but rather the “best by” date for peak quality.
- Proper storage at 40°F or below preserves freshness and slows spoilage of eggs.
- Signs of spoilage include unpleasant odor, watery appearance, or mold growth.
- Cooked eggs should be eaten within 3-4 days after cooking.
Understanding Egg Expiration Dates
The expiration date printed on egg cartons is not actually a food safety date. Rather, it is the “best by” or “sell by” date, which indicates when the eggs will be at their highest quality and best flavor.
Physically, eggs can remain safe to eat for several weeks beyond this date.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs can usually stay fresh for:
- Raw whole eggs in shell – 3 to 5 weeks after packing date
- Raw egg whites – 2 to 4 days from when egg is cracked
- Raw egg yolks – 2 to 4 days from when egg is cracked
As long as eggs are kept refrigerated at 40°F or below, they should maintain safety and freshness well beyond the printed sell by date.
How to Know if Eggs Are Still Good
Because the expiration date is not a perfect indicator, you should also perform a visual inspection and smell check before consuming eggs that are several weeks past date.
Here are some signs that indicate eggs have gone bad and should be discarded:
- Sunken yolk and thin white – As eggs age, the yolk and white become thinner.
- Cloudy appearance – The whites may become watery or cloudy instead of thick and clear.
- Unpleasant sulfur smell – Rotten eggs give off a distinct foul odor.
- Pink, blue, green tint – The yolk may become discolored as eggs spoil.
- Slimy texture or residue in container – Bacteria growth can cause a major change in consistency.
- Mold growth – Gray fuzz or spotting indicates mold and bacteria spread.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s best to play it safe and throw the eggs out.
Proper Storage Extends Shelf Life
In order to maximize freshness and shelf life, eggs must be stored properly. Here are some tips for egg storage:
- Keep eggs refrigerated at 40°F or below at all times.
- Store eggs in their carton in the main refrigerator compartment, not the door.
- Quickly use eggs with a cracked shell, as bacteria can enter through cracks.
- Rinse dirty eggs under cool water. Don’t submerge them.
- Rotate the oldest eggs to the front of the refrigerator and use them first.
- Do not freeze eggs in their shells, as this can damage the shells.
With ideal storage conditions, eggs can maintain quality and fresh flavor for 3-5 weeks after you purchase them, even after the printed expiration date.
How Long Do Hard Boiled Eggs Last?
Once eggs are hard boiled, this shortens their shelf life compared to fresh eggs. Here is how long boiled eggs can last:
- Hard boiled eggs in shell – Up to 1 week in the refrigerator
- Peeled hard boiled eggs – Up to 5 days in the refrigerator
You can extend the shelf life of hard boiled eggs by up to 2-3 weeks by submerging them in cold water and changing the water daily. Adding a pinch of salt to the water helps extend their life too.
How Long Do Deviled Eggs Last?
Deviled eggs that are made with mayonnaise or dressing will spoil more quickly than plain hard boiled eggs. Here are the timelines for deviled eggs:
- Uncut deviled egg halves – 3-4 days
- Sliced deviled eggs – 2-3 days
To maximize shelf life, deviled eggs should be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator to prevent drying out or uptake of other fridge odors.
Can Expired Eggs Make You Sick?
Eating expired eggs that are several weeks past the sell by date but don’t show signs of spoilage is unlikely to cause food poisoning. However, bad eggs that are cracked, smelly, or show other signs of spoilage can potentially make you sick.
Here are some of the common illnesses that spoiled eggs can cause:
- Salmonella – Raw or undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria, which causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after eating.
- E. coli – Raw eggs can be contaminated with E. coli from chicken feces. Symptoms appear 3-4 days after ingestion.
- Listeria – Ready-to-eat foods like deviled eggs can become contaminated. Listeria causes vomiting and fever.
To avoid foodborne illness, it’s important to inspect eggs for signs of spoilage before eating and to fully cook eggs until the whites and yolks are firm.
How to Tell If Cooked Eggs Are Bad
The signs of spoilage are similar for raw and cooked eggs. Here are some things to look for:
- Unpleasant sulfur odor
- Green, gray, or pink discoloration
- Slimy texture or film building up on the egg
- Mold growth (dry, fuzzy, or spotty)
If hard boiled eggs sink to the bottom of a bowl of water, this means gases have built up inside and they’ve likely spoiled. Normal boiled eggs will sink, but stay horizontally at the bottom.
Can You Freeze Eggs?
Raw eggs can successfully be frozen, but only if broken before freezing. The shells will expand and crack during freezing, risking bacterial contamination.
Here are some guidelines for freezing eggs properly:
- Crack eggs into a container or ice cube tray.
- Beat yolks and whites together or separately.
- Add a pinch of salt or sugar per 1/4 cup of eggs.
- Cover tightly with freezer-safe wrap.
- Label container with number of eggs and date.
- Use frozen eggs within 9-12 months.
Hard boiled eggs can also be frozen peeled or unpeeled for up to 1 year. The thawed texture tends to become more mushy than fresh eggs.
Cooking Extends Shelf Life
Cooking eggs thoroughly will destroy any bacteria present, allowing them to keep longer. Here are some examples:
- Casseroles with eggs – 3-4 days in refrigerator
- Quiche or frittata – 3-4 days refrigerated
- Fried or poached eggs – 3-4 days refrigerated
As long as cooked egg dishes are promptly refrigerated in covered containers, they can last 3-4 days. Reheat thoroughly when ready to eat.
Signs of Spoiled Cooked Eggs
The main signs of spoiled cooked eggs include:
- Unpleasant sulfur odor
- Dry, slimy film on casserole, quiche, etc.
- Grayish color and dull, gummy texture
- Mold growth (dry, fuzzy, or spotty)
Discard cooked eggs and egg dishes if they exhibit foul odors, textures, or appearance.
How Long Are Commercial Egg Products Good For?
Commercially made egg products like cartons of liquid eggs or egg substitutes have different refrigerated shelf lives:
|Product||Refrigerated Shelf Life|
|Liquid pasteurized eggs or egg substitutes||10-14 days after opening|
|Pasteurized liquid egg whites||14-30 days after opening|
|Pasteurized liquid egg yolks||3-5 days after opening|
|Precooked scrambled egg patties||14-21 days after opening|
Always follow package instructions for exact shelf life and use by dates. Refrigerate these products at 40°F or below and use clean utensils when dispensing to prevent contamination.
Should You Eat Eggs Past the Date on the Carton?
Eggs can usually be enjoyed several weeks past the printed expiration date as long as you cook them thoroughly and they have been stored properly in the refrigerator. However, there are some safety considerations to keep in mind before consuming expired eggs:
- Inspect eggs thoroughly for signs of spoilage like odor, slimy texture, or discoloration.
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs past their prime.
- If eggs are more than 3-5 weeks old, bake casseroles and dishes to 160°F.
- Do not keep cooked egg dishes longer than 3-4 days.
- When in doubt, throw eggs out after the sell by date.
Using your best judgment along with refrigeration and cooking can allow you to safely extend the shelf life of eggs beyond the expiration date on the carton. However, it’s not recommended to consume eggs more than 3-5 weeks past their prime date.
- Eggs typically stay fresh 3-5 weeks after the carton date when refrigerated properly.
- Check eggs for signs of spoilage like odor, texture, and appearance before eating.
- Cook eggs thoroughly to destroy bacteria. Avoid runny yolks.
- Refrigerate cooked egg dishes 3-4 days maximum.
- Discard eggs with any signs of spoilage to avoid foodborne illness.
Knowing how long eggs are good after the expiration date can help prevent needless food waste. While the sell by date is not a perfect measure, eggs can typically stay fresh and usable for several weeks past this date with ideal refrigeration below 40°F. To ensure safety, inspect eggs carefully before cooking and baking. Discard any eggs with signs of spoilage like odor, sliminess, or mold growth. Cook eggs thoroughly until yolks and whites are firm. Finally, make sure to refrigerate any cooked egg dishes for no more than 3-4 days before throwing them out. Following these guidelines allows you to safely extend the shelf life of fresh eggs and cooked egg dishes.