Why are McDonald’s eggs GREY?

McDonald’s eggs have a distinct grey color that stands out from the bright yellow yolks we are used to seeing when we cook eggs at home. Why do the eggs served at McDonald’s have this unusual grey color? There are a few reasons behind it.

Cooking Method

The cooking method used at McDonald’s results in the grey color of their eggs. McDonald’s pre-cooks and freezes its eggs before shipping them to restaurants. The eggs are cracked, whisked together, then poured into shallow pans and cooked sous vide style in a specialized piece of equipment called an “egg cooker.” The eggs are heated to exactly 158°F for exactly 3 minutes. This temperature and timing denatures the egg proteins and thickens them, eliminating runniness while avoiding toughening the eggs.

After cooking, the eggs are rapidly chilled. The rapid cooling is key, as it prevents the sulfur and iron in the eggs from reacting and creating that familiar yellow-green color. The eggs are then frozen and shipped to McDonald’s restaurants.

When it comes time to make an egg sandwich, the pre-cooked frozen eggs are simply reheated on the grill before serving. The gentle reheating does not allow time or temperatures for the sulfur-iron reaction to occur, so the eggs retain their grey color.


The cooking process McDonald’s uses also pasteurizes the eggs by heating them to 158°F. Pasteurization kills any potential bacteria such as salmonella in the eggs. This ensures the eggs are safe to eat. The high heat denatures proteins and destroys bacteria but also prevents the chemical reactions that normally occur in eggs when they are cooked, such as the iron and sulfur reacting to form yellow, grey, green, or brown compounds.


McDonald’s adds an ingredient called citric acid to their liquid eggs. Citric acid is a preservative that prevents discoloration and has antimicrobial properties to further protect against bacteria. The citric acid helps maintain the consistent grey color.

No Pigment

Chicken feed can affect egg yolk color. Grass and plants contain carotenoids that chickens then metabolize into pigments that end up in egg yolks. The more carotenoids in a hen’s diet, the richer yellow-orange the yolks. McDonald’s likely uses a standardized feed formulated for production efficiency rather than maximizing pigment. This results in paler yolks to start with.

McDonald’s Liquid Egg Recipe

McDonald’s liquid eggs have just a few simple ingredients:


  • Whole eggs
  • Nonfat milk
  • Soybean oil
  • Modified food starch
  • Salt
  • Citric acid
  • Dextrose
  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Natural and artificial butter flavor

The full ingredients list does contain some additives that act as stabilizers and emulsifiers to maintain consistency and texture. But at its core, it is made from simple whole eggs and milk. McDonald’s cracks fresh eggs and mixes them with the other ingredients before cooking. There are no egg powders or substitutes used.

Nutrition Info

Here is the nutrition information for McDonald’s liquid eggs:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 71
Fat 5g
Carbs 0.5g
Protein 6g
Cholesterol 211mg
Sodium 320mg

As you can see, McDonald’s liquid eggs are low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. They provide 6g of protein including essential amino acids. The cholesterol is higher at 211mg due to using whole eggs. But overall, they are a good source of protein.

Cost Savings

Pre-cooking the eggs in a centralized factory kitchen allows McDonald’s to save on costs compared to cracking and cooking fresh eggs in stores. The economies of scale allow them to produce massive quantities efficiently. McDonald’s can contract reliable suppliers, implement quality control, and get the best prices for ingredients.

The food science innovations like rapid chilling and precise temperature cooking also maximize yield. There is less waste because of the ability to fully denature proteins without toughening them.

Through careful process engineering, McDonald’s takes something as variable as a cracked fresh egg and transforms it into a safe, affordable, and consistent menu item.

Why Customers Don’t Mind

McDonald’s has been serving its recognizable grey eggs since the 1970s without much customer complaint. There are a few reasons diners don’t seem to mind the unusual color:


McDonald’s egg products are now so familiar that the grey color seems normal. Generations of customers have grown up on Egg McMuffins and other menu items using the pre-cooked eggs. They continue purchasing the familiar food.


The consistent quality and experience diners have come to expect from McDonald’s may outweigh perfect egg aesthetics. Customers value knowing what they’ll get when ordering an Egg McMuffin.

Hidden in Sandwiches

Unlike ordering scrambled eggs from a diner, McDonald’s eggs are mostly hidden inside breakfast sandwiches. Only a thin slice or small round is visible, so the color is less obvious. The eggs blend in surrounded by English muffins, ham, and cheese.

To-Go Experience

McDonald’s is designed for fast to-go meals. Customers may overlook egg color when eating quickly in the car or rushing to work or school. Speed and convenience trump a prettier egg.

Cheap Price

An Egg McMuffin costs a third of what a customer would pay for eggs benedict at a restaurant. McDonald’s offers reliable taste and value. For the price, customers forgive grey eggs.


Ultimately, McDonald’s eggs must fulfill their main job: taste good. And gray or yellow, McDonald’s eggs deliver on that front. Some key factors that give McDonald’s eggs their signature flavor include:

Fresh Whole Eggs

Using real eggs instead of substitutes provides true egg flavor. McDonald’s believes whole fresh eggs make a tastier product.

Buttery Flavor

The natural and artificial butter flavor amps up the rich, indulgent taste. It makes the eggs taste very “eggy” even with lower butter and fat content.


A touch of added salt enhances the savory umami notes in the eggs. It improves their flavor at lower calorie and fat levels.

Reheating Method

Cooking the pre-made eggs on a hot griddle or grill gives a satisfying texture and charred flavor.

Perfect Temperature

The precise sous-vide style cooking ensures the eggs are perfectly done without becoming tough or rubbery. The curds remain tender.

Creamy Consistency

Blending whole eggs with milk and other ingredients achieves a smooth, creamy texture. The eggs have a luxurious mouth-feel.

Consistency Across Franchises

McDonald’s goes to great lengths to ensure its eggs taste the same at every one of its over 13,000 US locations. This includes:

Automated Cooking

The specialized egg cookers use precision timing and temperature control for consistent results.

Bulk Pre-cracked Eggs

Cracking millions of eggs in a dedicated egg-cracking facility achieves better consistency than individually cracked eggs.

Unique Bladeless Blenders

A specialized blender creates a smooth texture without damaging proteins like metal blades would.

Rigorous Testing

Samples from every batch are tested to ensure they meet specifications for color, viscosity, aroma, texture, and taste.

Controlled Distribution

Frozen shipping means no location gets fresher eggs than any other. All restaurants reheat pre-cooked eggs from the same batches.

Standardized Cook Training

Cooks follow exact reheating instructions using calibrated grills to ensure uniform results.

Guaranteed Quality

McDonald’s only works with suppliers that meet their strict quality standards for items like eggs.

Why Not Scrambled?

McDonald’s serves its eggs boiled, fried, or as an egg patty but does not offer traditional scrambled eggs. There are a few reasons for this:

Difficult to Mass Produce

It is challenging to make tender, fluffy scrambled eggs via McDonald’s cooking methods. Scrambled eggs don’t lend themselves to rapid chilling.

Long Cook Times

Cooking fresh scrambled eggs to order takes too long for McDonald’s quick service model. Pre-cooked eggs reheat faster.

Lack of Consistency

With variables like cook time, stirring, and milk additions, scrambled eggs are less consistent. McDonald’s values uniformity between locations.

Requires Skill to Make

A line cook must be skilled to make scrambled eggs that are both fully cooked and tender. It takes practice.

Prone to Curdling and Weeping

The high-volume production can cause scrambled eggs to overcook or curdle. Cooked patties avoid this problem.

Egg Sandwiches are Flagship

Egg McMuffins put McDonald’s on the map. The existing pre-cooked egg menu items are so popular there is no need to add scrambled eggs.

Imitating at Home

To recreate McDonald’s style eggs at home:


– Eggs
– Milk
– Butter
– Salt
– Pepper


1. Whisk eggs and milk together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat.

3. Pour in egg mixture and stir gently with a spatula as it cooks.

4. Remove pan from heat when eggs are just set but still moist.

5. Continue stirring for a minute to finish cooking without overcooking.

6. Enjoy your fresh scrambled eggs with a McDonald’s twist!


McDonald’s signature grey eggs may seem odd, but they are perfectly safe, nutritious, and delicious. The cooking methods maximize food safety and savings while producing a remarkably consistent product across thousands of locations. Short-order diner style eggs may look prettier, but the ingenious pre-cooked egg technology McDonald’s pioneered allows them to safely serve billions of customers affordable scrambled egg meals. So don’t let the color fool you. McDonald’s grey eggs are smart science delivering great taste with America’s favorite breakfast sandwiches.

Leave a Comment