Eggs are a refrigerator staple. We’re almost never without a carton to bake with, turn into quick and satisfying breakfasts, and even easy dinners.
While you’ll find a “best by” date stamped on every dozen you take home from the grocery store, it can be confusing to know what that really means. Is it safe to cook with and eat your eggs if it’s past that date?
In general, eggs should last from 4-5 weeks in the fridge. Here’s a bit more about why that’s a safe estimate.
How to Read the Dates on an Egg Carton
No two egg cartons are the same when it comes to the date stamped on them. Some say “best buy” or “sell by” while other say “use by.” It’s cryptic messaging at best, leaving us all a little confused as to whether or not those eggs are fresh and safe to eat!
A more reliable date is what is known as the Julian date. This is a three-digit code you’ll find at the end of the long set of numbers and letters below or above the “best by” date. It’s the exact date the eggs were packed, 001 representing January 1 and 365 representing December 31.
The USDA has a chart available online to help you figure out that date. Your eggs will be safe to eat for up to 5 weeks past this date.
Why You Should Store Eggs in the Fridge
In Europe and in many other places outside of the United States, eggs are sold at room temperature.
The United States is an exception to this practice because, as an extra precaution against Salmonella contamination, the USDA requires eggs to be washed and sanitized before they’re sold to consumers. This process removes potential contaminants, but it also removes a natural protective coating on the shell that allows eggs to be stored safely at room temperature.
Thus, eggs in the United States must be refrigerated.
The Right Fridge Temperature for Storing Eggs
Eggs should be stored at a 40°F or below.
According to the USDA, when you do take them out of the refrigerator, you shouldn’t keep them out at room temperature for any longer than 2 hours. This is because eggs can sweat at room temperature, which can lead to potential bacteria growth that can enter the eggs through their porous shells.
How Long Cooked Eggs Will Keep in the Fridge
Scrambled eggs or cooked eggs that have been made into egg salad or a quiche should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 to 4 days. Hard-boiled eggs will last for a full week if stored unpeeled in the fridge.