Rural Dreams

Frozen & Cracked Eggs: Can You Eat Them?

March 17, 2019 | Chickens | 29 Comments

An egg with a cracked shell

We are finally getting temperatures that suggest spring might come…eventually. A couple of weeks ago, I started writing this post, as it was still -40, and we were having problems with cracked eggs. While it won’t be an issue for us now for several months, I thought it was still worth putting up a post about it, as we all know winter (and polar vortexes) will be rolling around again soon enough.

We keep our chickens in an unheated barn / coop that we made from a converted granary. While the walls cut the wind, there is not much insulation, and the body heat from the chickens still doesn’t bring the temperatures in the barn up above freezing if it is cold out. Of course, we are zone 2/3, and get pretty cold in the middle of winter. As in -40 kind of cold.

This year, February was exceptionally cold, and the temperatures hardly came up above -25 for most of the month. As you can imagine, that sort of weather is hard on chickens. Their feed consumption goes way up, and their egg laying goes way down. We are careful to keep the coop ventilated to reduce the chances of frostbite, and the hens tend to cuddle together to stay warm.

We still get a few eggs, even on the coldest days. However, if we aren’t there to collect them as soon as the hen lays them, they will freeze. Egg shells have two layers – the hard outer layer, and a thin, flexible inner membrane. As the egg freezes, the egg yolk and white expand, and can crack the egg. If they don’t sit for too long, or if the weather is not terribly cold, they don’t crack; however, if they get too cold, or stay frozen for long enough, they will develop cracks in the shell, and sometimes even the inner membrane is affected. Some days (especially the -40 days), we are collecting nothing but cracked eggs.

chicken eggs that have frozen and cracked

Frozen eggs are fine to just thaw and eat, and if they haven’t cracked, they can be stored as usual in the fridge or root cellar with no special treatment. While we haven’t done an actual comparison, we haven’t noticed any significant difference in how frozen eggs cook, nor how long they store.

Eggs with a cracked shell but intact membrane are fine to cook and eat, as long as they are not poopy or dirty, but the cracks will allow bacteria in, so they should be used up right away, and thoroughly cooked – we won’t even taste cookie dough made with cracked eggs, just to be on the safe side. We just let them thaw in a dish on the counter, then use them as soon as they are liquid again.

The odd egg is so badly frozen that even the inside membrane is broken. We don’t eat those ones, as there is just too much chance of contamination. You could, I suppose, if you were desperate, but I’d recommend making sure they were thoroughly cooked to a high temperature (something way beyond soft boiled or over-easy), as there is a lot of bacteria even in the cleanest nesting box. We just cook them up right away in a nice porridge to feed to the dogs, who appreciate a hot meal on those cold days.

an egg that has frozen to the point that the shell has cracked and the inner membrane damaged

  1. Larry Streeter

    Living in northern New York I too get very cold temps although not as bad as you mention. -30 is the coldest it got. I have the same setup and situation you do. I eat even the throughly cracked ones, I just wash when frozen and eat. Do you notice that the yolks never get soft again after being frozen? Mine never seem to get soft again, not that that’s a big deal to me.

    • Jess

      Hi, Larry! I haven’t noticed that about the yolks, but we normally use our eggs either scrambled / in a recipe, or hard boiled, so it might just be the way we cook them.

    • Lori

      Good day I feel so bad for my chicken’s but they are laying and I can’t catch the eggs in time, they hide them from me a d when I do find them yes they are FROZEN AND I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THEY BEEN THERE ,COULD WE STILL EAT THEM ?

      • Jess

        I would be very cautious eating eggs when you don’t know how long they have been there, especially if they are cracked. You have no idea if they have stayed frozen the whole time, and how much bacteria might have gotten into them. Personally I’d play it safe and toss them.

  2. JustWondering

    Hi Jess! I live in Maine, and we are getting pretty much only cracked eggs. We are not sure how long they sit in the boxes. So they are still safe to eat if they are not, like gooey or anything?

    • Jess

      Well, you have some idea of how long they have been in the boxes, based on how often you collect the eggs. We collect them morning and night, so we know they’ve been there max 12-14 hours. If the eggs themselves are clean but cracked from being frozen (as opposed to being cracked from birds pecking them), they are probably okay to eat if they are thoroughly cooked, and cooked right away as they thaw. If they are sitting in dirt or manure, or if a hen has pooped on it, then I would throw them out. Any eggs you find in a weird spot that you don’t normally check should be disposed of. The shell normally keeps bacteria out, but if it is cracked, then you don’t have that assurance at all. Better safe than sorry.

  3. JustWondering

    This site is very cool! do you have anything on DUCKS? We have five, and they are adorable!

  4. Pat

    Hi Jess,

    We just hard-boiled 2 cartons of eggs (purchased from a local family grocery store) after they had been frozen and then thawed in our refrigerator. About half a dozen were cracked and immediately disposed of before the others were hard-boiled. The remaining shells appeared to be intact after they were hard-boiled. None of these eggs (the hard-boiled ones!) have any bad smell associated with them. Can we eat them? We are from Gilroy, California. Many Thanks! P.S. I love your site!

    • Jess

      I would use caution. I am not a food safety expert; just a gal with some chickens.

  5. janet crider

    What about eggs from the store that you crack and find have been frozen, The yolk stays hard and doesn’t beat up well for scrambled eggs. No idea how long they were frozen or been thawed? Should you eat them or throw them out

    • Jess

      I would not eat eggs from the store that had frozen and cracked. You just don’t know how they have been handled, how many times they had frozen and thawed, etc. It’s not worth the risk.

  6. Larry Streeter

    Wow it’s nice to see this thread is still active. I would agree with Jess on store bought eggs. It’s been years since I purchased eggs from a store but as she said you don’t know the history of store bought eggs. I eat my own raw eggs in egg nogs frequently but my adult son said even tho he knows where they came from he wouldn’t chance it. I wouldn’t even think about doing that with store bought.

  7. MARY


  8. Michael Ball

    I discovered two cartons of large eggs that had been frozen & thawed them before attempting to cook them by boiling them. The yolks were hard & rubbery – no good for humans but my dogs loved the treat mixed in with their dry dog food…

  9. Daved Senter

    I had a several dozen eggs that froze in my refrigerator, the yoke doesnt coag again as was mentioned, but scrambled up great. My wife wont eat them, but I’m like ‘mikie’, lol

  10. Larry Streeter

    aGreed, I eat them frequently but have never hadthe yolks turn back to runny.

  11. Susie

    So Jess,
    is it ok to leave THE fresh eggs that have been frozen, but NOT CRACKED out on the counter like NORMAL? For up to a week or so and still be good?

    • Jess

      Personally, I wouldn’t. A day, maybe, or two, if they were very clean, but probably not more. Otherwise, I would put them in the fridge, and still use them fairly quickly. If the eggs froze, there’s a good chance there are some cracks in the shell, even if they are microscopic, which is an avenue for bacteria to get in. It’s not worth the risk.

    • Larry

      I would say definitely. I don’t wash eggs unless their very dirty. The chickens leave a film or what they call ‘bloom’ on the eggs to keep them fresher. You can always submerse them in water to see if they float. If they float that means the air sack has grown and the egg is old. I’ve still used eggs that float but crack them separately to see if they’re still good.

  12. David Rodgers

    I eat them cracked.dont care.frozen happens,a lot in the fridge,so what

  13. Carolyn

    I ran across your site first time. I found my eggs in refrigerator frozen. Didnt know what to do. So I found your site. I just love! I had one cracked frozen egg but my doggies will have a treat. It’s okay right?

    • Jess

      Yes, that should be absolutely fine. If you have any concerns, just cook the egg before you feed it to the dogs.

  14. Larry

    Thaw and scramble. I’m about to freeze some this weekend. frig is getting full and family on vacation. I put them in small dixie cups and put in freezer. when they’re frozen I vacuum seal them. I’ve had eggs several years old that were frozen.

  15. Chayla Fowler

    Hello, so I have a carton of eggs from the store that my husband forgot to being I side and they are cracked, some not so bad, if I wash them would I be able to cook with them if cooked thoroughly?

    • Jess

      If they were still frozen up until the time you use them, they’re probably okay if you cook them really well (no runny yolks!), but if they sat thawed for a while, I would personally dispose of them. Once the shell is cracked, bacteria can get inside, and no amount of washing the shell is going to fix that.

  16. Can You Eat Eggs That Have Been Frozen? - The Whole Portion

    […] To learn more about eating eggs that are cracked click here […]

  17. Tanya Legrand

    I also have noticed after they have been frozen the yolks almost look like they were partially cook or thick not runny. Have wondered if this means the egg is no good. Smells fine taste fine just weird consistency.

    • Larry Streeter

      As this is a debated subject I’ll state this as a personal opinion with no illusion of being scientific in nature. Even when fresh eggs are frozen the yolks never seem to ‘come’ back so I think the yolk goes thru a permanent physical change after being frozen. I routinely eat cracked, frozen eggs in the winter and viola, I’m still here without even a slight gastric upset. I throw them in a blender with onions, cheese, a little hot sauce or whatever and fry them up. Your mileage may vary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *