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While you may be used to picking up a carton indiscriminately at the supermarket, eggs actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes—we're talking medium, large, extra-large, and jumbo. Not to mention the endless sea of classifications: There are cage-free eggs, grade AA eggs, brown eggs, and white eggs. But what does it all really mean? We'll save that vocabulary lesson for another day. Here, we're answering one of your most crucial egg-related questions: What size eggs should you use for baking?

When you're simply scrambling some eggs for breakfast, it might not make a big difference what size eggs you use. For baking, however, the size of an egg can seriously impact the end product. We've mentioned before that baking is a delicate science, and certain techniques—like how to measure flour correctly—are designed to achieve maximum precision.

What Size Eggs Should You Use for Baking?
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What role do eggs play in baking?

Depending on the recipe and type of baked good, eggs can play any number of roles—they can act as a leavener in cakes, a thickener in sauces and custards, and a binder in cookies. Eggs provide basic structure to a variety of baked goods—the yolks bring fat and richness, while the whites are all about foam and lift. (If you've ever baked an angel food cake or whipped up a meringue, you've seen first-hand how egg whites add structure to baked goods.) Using too much egg can result in rubbery cakes or spongy, cakey cookies. On the flip side, not using enough egg can result in dry, crumbly cookies or compact, dense cakes.

How about weight?

When we're baking, we always like to think about weight, as the most accurate measurements can be found with a food scale. Generally speaking, the larger the egg, the more liquid it contains. A large egg will contain roughly 1.75 oz. of liquid, while a jumbo egg contains around 2 oz. This difference may seem trivial, but once you get to scaling up the amount of eggs you'll use in a recipe, the gap begins to widen. Say you're using a dozen eggs in a big batch of chocolate chip cookies: with large eggs, that adds up to around 21 oz. of egg, but with jumbo, you've increased to 24 oz. As you scale recipes up, precision in egg size becomes increasingly important, as using too much or too little egg in your baked goods will yield a vastly different result.

So what size eggs should you use for baking?

Most recipes are developed with large eggs as the standard. Though each egg's volume may vary slightly, using large eggs will yield results closest to that of the recipe developer's intention. For this reason, unless another size is specified, we always opt for large eggs when baking.