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How to Tell If a Chicken Egg Is Rotten: A Simple Guide

rotten egg test


Eggs are a versatile and nutritious food source enjoyed by people all around the world. However, like any perishable item, eggs can spoil over time, making it crucial to know how to determine their freshness. There’s nothing worse than cracking open a rotten egg, and that’s why it’s essential to learn a few simple tricks to identify whether an egg is fresh or past its prime. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to tell if a chicken egg is rotten or not, ensuring that you can enjoy your eggs worry-free and maintain optimal food safety.

The Float Test:

One of the easiest and most reliable methods to check an egg’s freshness is the float test. Fill a bowl with water deep enough to submerge an entire egg. Gently place the egg into the water and observe its behavior:

  • Fresh egg: A fresh egg will sink to the bottom and lay flat on its side, as the air cell within the egg is relatively small.
  • Rotten egg: A rotten egg will float or stand upright in the water, indicating that it has a large air cell, caused by the gradual evaporation of moisture through the porous shell.

The Shake Test:

Another simple technique to determine if an egg is rotten is the shake test. Hold the egg close to your ear and give it a gentle shake:

  • Fresh egg: A fresh egg will not produce much sound, as the egg white and yolk are still intact, cushioning any movement.
  • Rotten egg: A rotten egg will create a distinct sloshing sound due to the increased space within the egg caused by the evaporation of its contents.

Visual Inspection:

Examining an egg’s appearance can also provide valuable clues about its freshness:

  • Shell appearance: A fresh egg will have a clean, smooth, and uncracked shell. Rotten eggs may show cracks or discoloration on the shell, indicating deterioration.
  • Yolk and egg white: When you crack open a fresh egg, the yolk and egg white should appear distinct and firm. A rotten egg will have a runny or discolored yolk and a watery egg white.
  • Odor: Trust your nose. Fresh eggs have a subtle, neutral smell. Rotten eggs emit a pungent, unpleasant odor due to the release of hydrogen sulfide gas.

The Candling Method:

The candling method is widely used by egg producers to assess egg quality. While this technique requires a light source (a candling lamp or a strong flashlight), it can effectively reveal defects and freshness:

  • In a dark room, hold the light source close to the egg and examine it carefully.
  • Fresh egg: A fresh egg will appear opaque, with a well-defined air cell and a uniform appearance inside.
  • Rotten egg: A rotten egg may reveal moldy or dark spots inside, and the air cell may appear large and irregular.


It’s important to collect eggs daily to ensure freshness, and have fun doing it with your kids while wearing an egg collecting apron! Knowing how to tell if a chicken egg is rotten or not is a valuable skill that ensures you enjoy fresh, safe, and delicious eggs. Whether you use the float test, the shake test, visual inspection, or the candling method, each technique provides essential information about an egg’s freshness. By incorporating these simple steps into your routine, you can confidently select the best eggs for your recipes, reducing the chances of unpleasant culinary surprises and promoting food safety in your kitchen. For additional details on how to tell if an egg is good for cooking, Bon Appetit has an excellent article here.

Happy Chickening!™

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