Dec 22, 2023

how to buy eggs, egg buying guide, tips for buying eggs

In today’s bustling egg section at the grocery store, the variety of egg labels can be overwhelming.

Understanding what “pasture-raised,” “free-range” or “cage-free” mean and the impact these claims make on your purchase puts a lot of pressure on one small decision.

Are brown eggs healthier than white ones? Are certain eggs better to bake with than others? And what’s the story with antibiotic-free eggs? With this guide, we hope we can demystify the egg-buying process, empowering you to make informed choices about the eggs you buy—and feel good about those choices.


Hungry for more? Explore our collection of Egg Tools and snag everything you need to make an egg-cellent breakfast!

Shop Our Egg Tools Collection


Depending on where you live and your state laws, labeling requirements may vary across state lines. All labels require the following:

  • Safe handling instructions.
  • Information on the size of the eggs.
  • A USDA-approved grademark shield.
  • Nutritional information.

Labels such as “cage-free” or “farm-fresh” are optional and voluntary, and only a few are regulated by the USDA after meeting certain criteria. For instance, claims of eggs being “local” mandate origins within 400 miles of processing, or within the state. “Vegetarian-fed” eggs require documented proof of a diet without animal byproducts, while “grass-fed” lacks a specific USDA definition.

These voluntary labels are often certified by animal welfare advocacy groups like Global Animal Partnership or Certified Humane, signifying more responsible farming practices. Standards might vary between producers and certifying bodies, which makes certifications like “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” more reliable in ensuring stringent animal welfare standards.

While shopping for eggs, consider which labels matter most to you and seek brands that meet those standards, or visit local farmers markets for direct conversations with farmers about their eggs.

Here are some of the most common labels you need to know.


All eggs in the United States are hormone-free, a regulation that’s been in place since the 1950s, ensuring no hormones are given to hens.


These eggs come from hens housed in barns where they can roam freely with ample food and water. While they lack outdoor access and may be in spacious rooms or crowded sheds, their movement is unrestricted.

Free Range

Similar to cage-free eggs, free-range eggs come from hens housed in barns with limited access to the outdoors, but there aren’t stringent USDA regulations on the quality or time spent outside.


Though not USDA-regulated, this term refers to hens living outdoors, often grazing on grass, bugs and feed. It allows natural behaviors like foraging, perching and dust-bathing, creating a more natural environment.

Certified Humane

You might find the “Certified Humane” seal on pasture-raised eggs, which ensures the farms meet standards set by the Humane Farm Animal Care Organization.

All-Natural or Farm-Fresh

While indicating minimal processing and no added ingredients, these terms are broad and apply to all eggs, lacking specific distinctions.

Certified Organic

This label is USDA-regulated, ensuring the hens are living free-range and have an organic diet devoid of pesticides or chemical additives, providing a more natural lifestyle. The standards for organic labeling of livestock and poultry were just updated in October 2023, stating that feed for organic chickens must be GMO-free, the chickens must be able to perform “natural behaviors” such as scratching, and outdoor spaces must have vegetation “to the degree possible.”


These eggs, through a special diet, contain enhanced omega-3 fatty acids, potentially aiding in cholesterol reduction when compared to regular eggs.

No Antibiotics

Though labeled, most U.S. laying hens aren’t given antibiotics, making the claim somewhat misleading.


These hens eat an all-vegetarian diet—yet this label might suggest no outdoor time for chickens, which is essential for natural omnivorous behavior.


These eggs undergo sterilization through a water bath process, reducing the risk of illness from consumption.

Certified Humane & Animal Welfare Approved

These labels ensure uncaged hens with space for natural behaviors, with the latter also providing continuous outdoor access and prohibiting beak-cutting practices.


Roughly 35 to 40 percent of egg producers participate in the USDA’s voluntary grading program, categorizing eggs as AA, A or B based on quality criteria for whites, yolks and shells.

AA Grade

The AA grade represents the top tier. Eggs are recognized for their firm whites, flawless round yolks, and clean shells.

A Grade

The A grade is the most common grade; they’re similar to AA, but with slightly thinner whites.

B Grade

The B grade indicates watery whites and shell imperfections—these are uncommon in stores.

For most cooking and baking purposes, any grade of egg will suffice. Producers not part of the USDA grading program still adhere to U.S. grades, monitored by state agriculture departments, often indicated on cartons without the USDA shield.


The age-old debate between brown and white eggs often sparks curiosity and debate, leaving many of us wondering if there’s a nutritional distinction or a difference in quality between the two.

Shell Color

Firstly, the color of an egg’s shell—be it brown, white, blue or green—is determined by the breed of the hen and has no bearing on its nutritional value or taste. Generally, brown eggs are laid by breeds like Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks, while white eggs are typically laid by Leghorns or White Leghorns. Settling the debate—it’s the breed, not the quality, that dictates the shell color.

Nutritional Content

In terms of nutritional content, both brown and white eggs contain almost identical amounts of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. The egg’s quality remains consistent, regardless of shell color.

Taste and Culinary Use

Some egg enthusiasts claim there’s a subtle difference in taste between brown and white eggs, attributing it to the hen’s diet. However, this distinction, if any, is very subtle and may vary based on individual perception rather than any inherent difference between the eggs themselves.

When it comes to culinary use, the color of the eggshell doesn’t impact the egg’s functionality in recipes. Both brown and white eggs work equally well in baking, cooking, scrambling or any other culinary applications. So choosing between brown and white eggs should be based more on personal preference and availability than any substantial differences in quality or taste.


Hungry for more? Explore our collection of Egg Tools and snag everything you need to make an egg-cellent breakfast!

Shop Our Egg Tools Collection

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Healthy Egg Recipes

5 Healthy Egg Breakfast Recipes That Are Actually Quick and Easy

how to cook eggs

How to Cook Eggs: 8 Methods You Should Know

how to cook eggs in stainless steel

How to Cook Eggs In A Stainless Steel Pan

is ceramic cookware safe?

Is Ceramic Cookware Safe? A Guide to Ceramic Nonstick