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How To Separate Eggs (Whites & Yolks)

How to Separate Eggs – Learn 3 ways to separate egg whites and yolks for recipes. You’ll be ready to whip up meringues, add texture to cookies, and more!

Overhead view of an egg carton with 6 eggs. One egg is open, revealing a golden yolk

Back today with another installment of our Be A Better Baker series, and this time it’s all about separating eggs.

I rarely ever need my eggs separated when cooking, but for baking—especially gluten-free baking—I’ve found that this is a skill I use on a regular basis.

If separating eggs (separating the egg yolks and egg whites) feels intimidating to you, never fear! It’s easier than you think with a few simple tips to help you along the way.

In this post, you’ll learn how to separate eggs 3 ways, using the egg shell, using your fingers, and using an egg separator. Let’s get started!

Overhead view of a separated egg, with the yolk in one bowl and the white in another bowl

First: What is separating eggs?

Separating eggs is separating the egg yolks (yellow part) from the egg whites (clear, viscous part). It’s a technique regularly used in baking, as each part of the egg performs a different function.

why do you separate eggs?

Some recipes call for separating egg white and yolks because they’ll be using the parts separately or only using one part of the egg. For example:

  • Whipping egg whites for meringues, angel food cake, or lightening batter.
  • Adding an extra egg yolk to cookies to give them chewiness and moisture (one of my favorite tricks!)
  • Lightening batter by stirring the egg yolks in with the other wet ingredients, then folding whipped egg whites Into the batter. (Adds more air, which equals lighter texture!)
  • Controlling the color of a white cake by using egg whites only.

3 Easy Ways To Separate Eggs:

So how exactly DO you separate eggs? There are many methods out there, but today I’ll share my 3 favorites:

  1. Separating Eggs With An Egg Separator – Best for beginners!
  2. Separating Eggs With Your Hands – Quick if a bit messy
  3. Separating Eggs With The Egg Shell – A bit trickier, but keeps your hands cleaner

Let’s look at each of these methods step-by-step to make things as easy and clear as possible…

how to separate eggs using an egg separator:

Using an egg separator is a GREAT option for beginners, as it requires the least dexterity/skill, though I’m always a fan of whatever method YOU feel most comfortable with. Here’s how to separate eggs with an egg separator, step-by-step:

  1. Set out two bowls (one for whites, one for yolks)
  2. Place your egg separator over the egg white bowl.
  3. Working one egg at a time, crack the egg over the egg separator, letting the separator catch the yolk, while the egg whites fall into the egg white bowl.
  4. Add your egg yolks to the yolks bowl.
  5. Repeat, as needed with additional eggs.

How to separate eggs using your hands:

Some folks find it easier to separate eggs using their hands and letting the egg whites drip through their fingers instead of using the shells. Here’s how to separate eggs using your hands, step-by-step:

  1. Set out two bowls (one for whites, one for yolks)
  2. Working one egg at a time, crack the egg.
  3. Use one hand with fingers slightly spread apart to catch the egg yolk, right where the palm meets the fingers, letting the egg whites fall through your slightly separated fingers and into the egg white bowl.
  4. Add your egg yolk to the yolks bowl, and repeat as needed with additional eggs.
  5. Repeat, as needed with additional eggs.

How to separate eggs using the egg shell (my favorite):

Almost 100% of the time, I use the egg shells to separate my whites and yolks. It’s my favorite way to separate eggs without an egg separator. For this method, you’ll need two bowls—one for the whites and one for the yolks.

  1. Set out two bowls (one for whites, one for yolks)
  2. Working one egg at a time, crack the egg.
  3. Use the halves of the shell to hold the egg yolk back from the whites, while letting the egg whites fall into the egg white bowl.
  4. Pass the yolk back and forth between the shell halves to remove any additional egg white, as needed.
  5. Add your egg yolks to the yolks bowl and repeat these steps as needed with additional eggs.
  6. Repeat, as needed with additional eggs.
Front view of an egg carton with 6 eggs. One egg is open, revealing a golden yolk

faq + tips and tricks for separating eggs:

I got a little bit of egg yolk in my egg whites. What do I do? If you’re planning to whip the egg whites, you’ll have to start over. The fat in the yolks will make it impossible for the egg whites to whip properly. It’s best to pop these in the fridge for scrambled eggs or another use that requires yolks and whites.

Is it ok if some egg white got in with the egg yolks? It depends on what you’re using it for, but this is much more forgiving. Do your best to strain out the egg whites, if possible, but otherwise, if it was just a little bit, you’re probably ok. For higher-end baked goods, you may want to start over, but for adding an extra egg yolk to a brownie or cookie recipe, just do your best.

What can you make with leftover egg whites? Lots of things! Freeze them for later (yes, egg whites freeze well!), stir them into scrambled eggs or omelets, whip them for waffle batter or pavlova, etc.

What can you make with leftover egg yolks? You can use egg yolks to thicken pudding, custard, or ice cream bases, mix them into eggs for scrambled eggs or omelets, or add them to recipes that call for an extra egg yolk, like our Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.

How long do egg whites stay fresh in the refrigerator? According to the FDA, egg whites stay fresh 2-4 days in the refrigerator.

How long to egg yolks stay fresh in the refrigerator? Similarly, egg yolks will stay fresh 2-4 days in the refrigerator.

Front view of an egg carton with 3 colorful eggs in view

More baking tips to try:

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