Skip to Content

Should egg whites be clear?

Whether egg whites should be clear or cloudy is a common question many cooks have when cracking open eggs. The appearance of egg whites can vary for a few different reasons.

What Makes Egg Whites Cloudy?

There are a couple things that can contribute to cloudy egg whites:

  • Freshness – Very fresh eggs, like ones you just collected from your own chickens, will often have cloudy whites. The whites tend to clear up and get more transparent the longer the egg is stored.
  • Carbon dioxide – As eggs age, carbon dioxide is released from the whites which causes carbonic acid to form. This results in cloudy whites.
  • Agitation – Vigorously shaking or beating eggs can introduce air bubbles into the whites, giving them a foamy, cloudy appearance.

Are Cloudy Whites Safe to Eat?

In most cases, cloudy egg whites are completely safe to consume. The cloudiness does not indicate spoilage or contamination. As long as the egg does not have an off odor or appearance, cloudy egg whites can be eaten without concern.

Here are some key points about the safety of cloudy whites:

  • Freshness affects appearance, not safety. Cloudiness in very fresh eggs is normal.
  • As eggs age and carbon dioxide is released, it causes clouding but does not make the eggs unsafe.
  • Cloudy whites may contain more air bubbles, but air does not make them unsafe.
  • Only if the egg is rotten with an off-odor or flavor should it be discarded.

Do Cloudy Whites Affect Cooking?

In most cooking applications, cloudy egg whites will perform essentially the same as clear egg whites. However, there are a couple differences to note:

  • Foaming – Cloudy whites may not foam up quite as much as clear whites when beaten. The air bubbles that cause the cloudiness can disrupt foam formation.
  • Carbon dioxide – The carbonic acid that contributes to cloudiness can also react with leavening agents in baked goods.
  • Appearance – Cloudy whites may give a dish like an omelet or soufflé a speckled appearance instead of being smoothly white.

In general, though, cloudy whites will still whip up sufficiently for most recipes. The differences are subtle enough that homemade breads, meringues, and other baked goods turn out well with cloudy egg whites.

When Are Clear Whites Important?

While cloudy whites are fine for most cooking, there are some instances when clear egg whites are preferred:

  • Meringues – For light, airy meringues clear whites produce the highest, sturdiest foam.
  • Some glazes – Glazes like shiny royal icing rely on clear whites for sheen.
  • Cocktails – Cloudy egg white cocktails like whiskey sours will lack brilliance.
  • Presentation – Dishes like poached eggs or omelets may look more appealing with clear whites.

So for most everyday cooking, don’t worry about cloudy whites. But for certain recipes where appearance and foaming power really matter, fresh eggs with clear whites will produce the best results.

How to Get Clear Whites

If you need clear whites for a particular recipe or aesthetic purpose, here are some tips:

  • Buy eggs 7-10 days before use – This gives carbon dioxide time to dissipate so whites clear up.
  • Separate eggs gently over a bowl – Vigorous cracking can mix in air bubbles.
  • Use eggs at room temperature – Cold eggs tend to foam less and the whites will be thicker.
  • Filter if needed – For cocktails or glazes, filter through a coffee filter or fine strainer.

Getting older eggs and carefully separating them while they are at room temperature will help provide the clearest whites possible.


While freshly laid eggs often have cloudy whites, they are still perfectly safe to use in cooking. Cloudiness is simply an aesthetic issue and does not indicate spoilage. However, for recipes that rely on stiff foam formation or clear appearance, it is best to use eggs that have had time for the whites to clear up. With a little planning and gentle handling, clear albumen can be obtained for recipes when it really makes a difference.