How to Separate Eggs

Step-by-step instructions for how to separate eggs, with photos. Easy enough for kids to do!

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Who knew a 9-year old would find separating eggs so much fun?

I taught my nephew how to separate eggs last week and every day he asked to separate more eggs. I think we went through a couple dozen, making ice cream from scratch 3 times, cake, pavlova, and a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Lots of recipes call for separated eggs. Here’s what we do:

How to Separate Eggs



1 Set out two bowls.

2 Crack the egg gently on a flat surface or on the rim of a bowl, as close to the middle of the egg as possible. If you crack it on the rim of a bowl it might be easier to get the egg to crack right in the middle, but you may be more likely to get pieces of egg shell in the egg whites.

3 Working over a small bowl, use your thumbs to gently pry the egg halves apart. Let the yolk settle in the lower half of the egg shell while the egg whites run off the sides of the egg into the bowl.

4 Gently transfer the egg yolk back and forth between the egg shell halves, letting as much egg white as you can drip into the bowl below. Be careful so as not to break the egg yolk. Place the egg yolk in a separate bowl.

If you are planning to whip the egg whites for a recipe, you might want to separate the eggs one by one into a smaller bowl, and then transfer the separated egg into larger bowls. This way if you break a yolk it will not break into all the egg whites you've separated. The fat in the egg yolk (or any oil) will interfere with the egg white's ability to whip up properly. For this reason also you should also wash your hands carefully, to remove any natural body oils, before working with egg whites.

If you get a piece of egg shell in the separated eggs, scoop it out with a larger piece of shell.

Note that chilled eggs are easier to separate (the yolk doesn't break as easily), but most recipes call for working with eggs at room temperature. So, you either let your eggs get to room temperature before separating them, in which case you'll need to be a bit more careful with the egg yolks, or let the eggs get to room temperature after you've separated them, in which case you should cover them in their bowl with plastic wrap and use them as soon as they get to room temp.

Another way to separate eggs is to crack the egg open into your upturned palm. Let the egg whites slide through your finger tips.

This is faster than the other method but if you are planning on whipping the egg whites, the less the egg whites come in contact with your hands, and the natural oils on them, the better.

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How to Separate Eggs

Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • elbuzzard

    I’ve always heard that using the eggshells to separate the eggs increases the chances of bad bacteria getting into the eggs, because the outside of the shells may not be the cleanest surface in the world.

    But this is the way I’ve always done it, and I’m not dead (yet).

  • herb smith

    A great way to separate eggs is a small plastic funnel used only in the kitchen for this job. Break gently in the funnel and collect the whites in a glass. Put the yolk in another glass.

  • mm

    The stoneware egg separator is the coolest!! Although in my opinion, the way to separate eggs with the least amount of bacteria is for you to create a small hole at the base (or head) of the egg then just let the egg whites slide out by itself. Once all the whites come out, you can crack the egg open and presto, the egg yolk is ready for use.

  • frances

    Hi Elbuzzard,
    Because eggs are not too clean on the outside I have made it a habit to always rinse the eggs before cracking. It gives me the idea the eggs are clean enough and I can handle them with more ease without being afraid of dropping pieces of eggshell into the bowl.

  • jamileena

    I think egg separators are a waste of money, waste of washing energy (no dishwasher in my house) and a waste of essential kitchen space. I have a very small kitchen with little storage and tools that aren’t used, are given away. I find my hands are the best tool for separating eggs. My mom taught me this method and it works every time, no shell piercing the yolk that runs into the white’s bowl…It’s so easy, I wonder why anyone invented an egg separator in the first place? Maybe to keep your hands clean, but if you are cooking…your hands are likely to get messy!

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