Leftover egg yolks aren’t destined for the trash just because you’re not sure what to do with them—as you’ll see, there are lots of delicious ways to use extra egg yolks.
In a perfect world, maybe all recipes would call for whole eggs only. But then there’s no way that world could be perfect, if it ruled out iconic dishes that rely mostly on either whites or yolks: meringues, custards, etc. In our imperfect world, then, sometimes you might find yourself with extra egg parts and no specific plan for them.
Related Reading: How to Use Leftover Egg Whites
Throwing out viable foodstuffs always seems wasteful, but what’s more it’s unnecessary. For every recipe calling for more whites than yolks, there are an equal number of recipes seeking just the opposite. The key is to coordinate your cooking efforts so that you have companion projects at the ready to help use the leftovers from your current endeavor.
The simplest thing to do with either extra egg yolks—or whites, for that matter— is simply add them to your scrambled eggs. (Or frittatas, or quiches, or omelets…) Egg yolks stay good in your fridge for a couple of days, so if you only have a couple to use up, this is as easy as it gets. Egg yolks contain half of the protein of a whole egg, but a majority of the fat, so note that this is going to beef up the richness of both flavor and texture of whatever you’re cooking. (As if that’s a problem.)
You’ve heard of egg noodles, yes? Making pasta from scratch typically involves whole eggs and flour, but egg yolk pasta gives you a yellower, eggier noodle, a great base for rustic sauces or hearty dishes such as Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff, Swedish Meatballs, or Chicken Paprikash.
So long as you’re already showing off and making pasta from scratch, a real wow-factor use for extra egg yolks is as a decadent surprise inside of a homemade ravioli.
Cured egg yolks are a staple of Chinese cuisine, and easy to accomplish in your own home. A crust of salt and sugar draws the moisture from the yolk, leaving behind a dense, umami medallion that you grate as you would a hard cheese: over salad, pasta, or vegetables.
Custards are the yin to meringues’ yang. Egg yolks may lack in the showstopper appeal that the structural bravado of whipped egg whites can achieve, but they more than make up for it in the decadent mouthfeel of custards. Choose your own egg yolk adventure with Crème Brûlée, Key Lime Pie, Flan, Brown Butterscotch Pie, and more.
Egg yolk is one of the earth’s magical substances that can get water and oil to play nicely with each other. Emulsification describes the process by which oil particles become suspended within water particles—in the form of vinegar in this case—creating a homogenous, almost creamy look, rather than a separation of the two components. Iconic Caesar Dressing relies on egg yolks for this process, or you can add a yolk to a simple combination of whatever oil and vinegar you most like to dress your salads.
Or bearnaise…you get the idea. These classics are also borne of egg yolks’ ability to emulsify, except that the ratio of oil or fat to vinegar/lemon juice in these sauces is considerably increased compared to your typical salad dressings. A single egg yolk can emulsify up to about 9 ounces of oil or melted butter, and from that fact, the world’s greatest sauces are made.
Brothy soups are much improved with the addition of a simple poached or soft-boiled egg for a little protein and texture. It’s one of the easiest ways to fancy up your instant ramen. While a whole egg may be preferable, a simple egg yolk can certainly stand in when necessary.
Technically this could also get filed under “custards” above, as the base for eggnog is a simple custard akin to melted vanilla ice cream known as crѐme anglaise. But since it has a healthy dose of whiskey or rum in it, we’ll file it under “cocktails” instead.
Related Reading: Eggnog Recipes for Everyone, Haters Included
If all else fails, and you have so many extra egg yolks on hand that you can’t possibly imagine using them up in culinary delights before they expire, you can literally apply them directly to your head, for shinier, stronger hair.
What to Do with Other Odds & Ends
Header image courtesy of Chowhound.