Does the Color of an Egg Yolk Indicate How Nutritious It Is?

Deviled eggs, poached, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, sunny-side up — whatever way you like your egg, you're looking at that golden center, and sometimes you notice something. The shade of golden isn't always the same. Some yolks are lighter, some yellower, some deeper, almost orange-colored. Do you get more nutrients one way or the other?

The bottom line, says Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat and professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, is that "the color [of an egg yolk] doesn't reflect the nutrient value in any significant way."

Egg yolks range in color from pale yellow to deep orange. Richer-colored egg yolks are more likely to come from free-range hens, says Dr. Hilary Shallo Thesmar, director of food safety programs for the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC): Free-range hens have the opportunity to eat more pigmented foods, and the pigment is then transferred to the yolk. But the macronutrients (protein and fat) remain the same regardless of yolk color, Thesmar says. “However, there might be small changes in some of the micronutrients such as vitamin A and/or lutein.”

Nestle explains that the color of a yolk is due specifically to carotenoids, which are natural pigments found in some plants. Some carotenoids, like beta-carotene, have nutritional value (our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, for instance). But deeper-colored egg yolks only indicate the presence of carotenoids in general, says Nestle, not necessarily the presence of beta-carotene. And other carotenoids that might be present “may have antioxidant function, but they are not essential nutrients,” she says.

While the yolk is not an indicator of nutritive value, there is mounting evidence that true pasture-raised hens produce more nutritious eggs overall. The ENC, however, states that “free-range eggs do not differ from regular eggs in terms of nutritional value or cholesterol level.”

1. Egg Yolk Ravioli (Uova da Raviolo) with Bacon-Sage Sauce

Chowhound

This is the ultimate dinner party opener, a huge round of fresh pasta with an egg within that when sliced, streams with liquid gold. On top of that is that bacon and brown butter sauce. Oh, my. Get our Egg Yolk Ravioli with Bacon-Sage Sauce recipe.

2. Sriracha Deviled Eggs

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Traditional deviled eggs get some real fire with that popular Thai hot sauce plus lime juice and cilantro. That hard-boiled egg yolk then is tossed with the usual suspects, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. Plus there are toppings of pickled root vegetables. It's a tangy, spicy, creamy, zingy dance of ingredients. Get our Sriracha Deviled Eggs recipe.

3. Fried Egg, Cheese, and Chive Tartlets

Chowhound

What an easy way to make eggs elegant. The puff pastry (from the freezer section!) does all the work. All you have to it is compile it. You can add pancetta or bacon if you want. Get our Egg, Cheese, and Chive Tartlets recipe.

4. Slow Cooker Pork Ramen

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Boneless pork shoulder simmers for hours in aromatics like ginger, onions, garlic, and a leek, the broth later thickened with mushrooms, fresh ramen noodles and eight large eggs. Get our Slow Cooker Pork Ramen recipe.

5. Baked Eggs with Kale, Portobellos, and Feta

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This is a filling dish to serve for brunch, with salty, creamy feta, eggs, crunchy bread crumbs, kale, and meaty mushrooms. You and everyone lucky enough to be your brunch guest won't leave a crumb. Get our Baked Eggs with Kale, Portobellos, and Feta recipe.

6. Chorizo Scotch Eggs

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The Mexican-inspired version of traditional Scotch eggs gives you spicy sausage and a crunch using crushed tortilla chips. These are a real special-occasion treat. Get our Chorizo Scotch Eggs recipe.

7. Turkey Hash with Poached Eggs

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Here's a real farmer's breakfast, a hearty recipe for when it gets chilly. Use leftover turkey for this creamy concoction, and you can whip it up fast. Get our Turkey Hash with Poached Eggs recipe.

— Original article by Roxanne Webber on June 15, 2009; updated by Amy Sowder on August 14, 2016.

— Head Photo: Chowhound's Smoked Egg Sandwich Recipe.

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