How to Pasteurize Eggs at Home

Make raw eggs safe for dressings, desserts, and sauces by pasteurizing them out of the shell at home.

Eggs in a pan on the stovetop.
Alison Bickel

If you want to feel confident enjoying recipes made with raw eggs, using pasteurized eggs is the way to go.

Here’s how you can pasteurize eggs at home on the stove or in a sous vide circulator.

Why Pasteurize Eggs?

You may be wondering: why pasteurize eggs at all? The reason is salmonella.

We largely associate salmonella with chicken meat, but raw and partially-cooked chicken eggs can carry salmonella bacteria, too. And lots of absolutely fabulous recipes—mayonnaise, royal icing, hollandaise—call for raw or partially cooked eggs.

How big of a risk is salmonella infection via eggs? Billions of eggs are produced commercially in the U.S. every year, and while the American Egg Board reports that only one in 20,000 commercially produced eggs may contain salmonella bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates79,000 cases of food-borne illness and 30 deaths annually can be traced to eating eggs contaminated with Salmonella.

This is why the CDC recommends pregnant women, adults older than 65, infants, young children, and people with compromised immune systems avoid eating raw (or undercooked) eggs.

What if your eggs are farm fresh? Aren’t eggs supposed to be totally protected from bacteria as long as they’re still in the shell? Well, no. Salmonella is usually found on the outer eggshell and spreads to the egg once the shell is broken. In some cases, salmonella can be found in the egg white and yolk of a totally intact egg. You can’t count on freshly cracked eggs being safe.

So, do you have to swear off chocolate mousse and Caesar salad for life? Gladly, no. If you don't want to take any chances, pasteurized eggs are the answer! Pasteurizing brings eggs to a temperature that kills dangerous pathogens.

Can You Buy Pasteurized Eggs?

Some grocery stores sell refrigerated in-shell pasteurized eggs, though not all stores carry them. Look for them next to the regular eggs. Pasteurized liquid whole eggs sold in cartons are another option, but only for recipes calling for whole eggs.

Egg white powder and meringue powder are pasteurized and will work in recipes like royal icing.

Pasteurizing Eggs on the Stove

The only surefire way to pasteurize eggs at home is out of the shell.

Put the whites, yolks, or cracked whole eggs in a saucepan over low heat (or, for egg whites, a heatproof bowl over pan of simmering water) with either a portion of the liquid or sugar from the recipe. Stir the eggs the entire time as you heat them, using a silicone spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan or bowl.

Once the eggs reach 160°F, proceed with the recipe. If the eggs need to be cold, set the pan or bowl in a bowl of ice water and stir until cool.

Why You Shouldn’t Pasteurize In-Shell Eggs Yourself

For in-shell eggs to be pasteurized, the entire egg (including the center of the yolk) needs to reach 140°F, and then be held at 140°F for 3.5 minutes. If the center of the yolk drops below 140°F, the timing of the 3.5 minutes needs to be re-started from the beginning.

We spoke with Elisa Maloberti, a food safety expert with the American Egg Board. She explained how it’s all but impossible to know when the center of the yolk still in its shell reaches 140°F, which makes DIY in-shell pasteurization methods shaky. (Typically home pasteurization methods call for placing whole, in-shell eggs in a bath of 140°F water and holding the water at that temperature for the 3.5 minutes.) But there are just too many variables involved in using a water bath method at home for it to be effective.

What about sous vide? Even though a home immersion circulator is more precise and allows better temperature control than stovetop cooking, Maloberti still advises against it.

The methods used commercially are much more regulated, using precision equipment
and constant monitoring, than anything you can do at home in the shell. So if you’re pasteurizing eggs at home, do it out of the shell with the method we share below. These procedures were
developed for home cooks by the American Egg Board.

How to Pasteurize Whole Eggs Out of the Shell

Note: You’ll need a small saucepan and an instant-read or candy thermometer.

  1. Combine the eggs and liquid or sugar:

    In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine as many eggs as you need in your recipe with 1/4 cup water or liquid from the recipe per egg. (For example, if you’re making our Caesar salad dressing, which calls for 2 whole eggs, you’d need to add a total of 1/2 cup liquid. Of that, 1/4 cup can be the lemon juice called for in the recipe.)

  2. Cook over low heat until the mixture reaches 160°F:

    Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with a silicone spatula the entire time. You don’t want to beat in air—just gently stir to keep it moving so the eggs don’t start to coagulate.

  3. Cool if necessary, then use immediately:

    Once your eggs reach 160°F, either use the eggs right then (for heated recipes) or place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is cool (for uncooked recipes). Use the pasteurized egg mixture immediately; it cannot be made ahead of time.

How to Pasteurize Egg Yolks

  1. Combine the eggs and liquid or sugar:

    In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine as many yolks as you need in your recipe with 2 tablespoons water, sugar, or liquid from the recipe per egg.

    (For example, in our Hollandaise sauce, which calls for 3 egg yolks, you can add the tablespoon each of lemon juice and water called for in the recipe, plus an additional 4 tablespoons.)

  2. Cook over low heat until the mixture reaches 160°F:

    Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the yolk mixture coats a metal spoon with a thin film, bubbles at the edges or reaches 160°F. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with a silicone spatula the entire time. You don’t want to beat in air—just gently stir to keep it moving so the eggs don’t start to coagulate.

  3. Cool if necessary, then use immediately:

    Once your eggs reach 160°F, either use the eggs right then (for heated recipes) or place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is cool (for uncooked recipes). Use the pasteurized egg mixture immediately; it cannot be made ahead of time.

How to Pasteurize Egg Whites

  1. Combine the eggs and liquid or sugar:

    Bring a large pan saucepan of water to a boil. While you wait, combine as many whites as you need into a heatproof bowl, along with either 2 tablespoons sugar per egg white (OR 1 teaspoon water per egg white and 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar per every 2 egg whites).

  2. Cook over the pan of water until the mixture reaches 160°F:

    Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly, until
    the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with a silicone spatula the entire time. You don’t want to beat in air—just gently stir to keep it moving so the eggs don’t start to
    coagulate.

  3. Cool if necessary, then use immediately:

    Once your eggs reach 160°F, either use the eggs right then (for heated recipes) or place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is cool (for uncooked recipes). Use the pasteurized egg mixture immediately; it cannot be made ahead of time.