Skip to main content

Eggs: What the Grades Mean

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.


Food Grading

People are probably aware that the US Department of Agriculture inspects and grade foods before they end up in the grocery stores. Foods are inspected, assessed, and graded based on quality, freshness and market value.

Shoppers probably pay more attention to the USDA grade on meats more so than other foods. Eggs are also inspected and graded by their exterior appearance and by what's inside of them.

Eggs Have a Grade

If you are wondering how eggs are inspected on the inside, it is done by a method called candling where each egg is held up to a very bright light. Egg graders can then see the condition of the white and yolk. They can also see if there is any air inside the shell.

Even though all eggs have the same nutritional value, they do not all have the same quality. The eggs you just bought or about to buy have a grade in big bold letters on the carton; however, most people don't pay attention to it. That's because they are busy checking to see if the eggs are broken in the carton before they take them to the clerk-out counter.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has inspected every egg and given it a grade.

Pay attention to the next carton of eggs you buy and see that it will probably be Grade A because that the most common grade for eggs even though it is not the highest grade.

No matter what grade an egg has, they all have the same nutritional value.

Grade AA Eggs

U.S.Grade AA eggs are almost perfect and the freshest. At least, they have the highest grade. That's because the whites are thick and firm and the yolks are high, round, and almost free from defects. The shells are clean with no cracks.

There is hardly any air in Grade AA eggs. They have the smallest air cells of no more than 1/8 inch while the other grades have bigger air cells.

Grade AA and Grade A eggs are best for frying and poaching, where appearance is important.

Grade AAGrade AGrade B

Highest Grade

Average grade

Lowest grade


Fresh enough

Not as fresh as other grades

White is thick

White is in between thick and thin

White is thin.

Yolk is firm and stands tall on white and is not runny

Yolk is round.

Yolk is flat.

Air pockets below 1/8

Air pocket up to 3/16

More than 3/16 air pockets

Can be used for all types of cooking

Use when appearance is important; such as boiled eggs

Use when appearance is not that important; such as scrambled or in baked goods

Hard to find in stores

Most common ones in stores

Not sold to customers; used in food service establishments


Grade A Eggs

U.S. Grade A eggs are a grade lower than Grade AA eggs. The difference is so slight that they are the most that customers buy, but the interior is of a lower quality. This is the quality most often sold in stores.

Grade A eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except the whites are reasonably firm. Grade A eggs hve a clean and unbroken shell. The white is clear and not as thick as the top grade.

Scroll to Continue

If you can see a little bit of the yolk when the egg is held up to the light, then it get an A grade. It probably has up to 3/16 an inch of air.


Grade B Eggs

U.S. Grade B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter than the two grades above them. Their shells are unbroken but may show slight stains.

This quality is seldom found in retail stores because they are usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products, as well as other egg-containing products

U.S. Grade B eggs are noticeably different. They may have slight stains and be irregular in shape and size. The quality of the interior is further reduced.

Grade B eggs are not sold in supermarkets, but are used commercially in powdered egg products or liquid eggs.

Eggs that are slightly stained and do not have a perfect shape get a low grade of B. The white usually contains blood spots and is thin and watery. It might have more than 3/16 inches of air.


Grade C Eggs

Don't expect to find US Grade C eggs in the supermarket. This very low grade is used in the production of processed egg products.

They have a cracked or stained shell, flattened yolk and watery whites. The USDA wouldn't recommend these eggs to be sold to consumers as they are.

Candling Eggs

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows how to grade eggs based on their exterior as well as their interior qualities.

Egg graders look for a clean and smooth exterior that is oval in shape with one end just slightly larger than the other end.

They can see inside the egg by using a method called candling when the egg is held up to a very bright light. Candling allows egg graders to examine the interior of the egg including the white, yolk and air cells.

For More Information

A lot of people did not know there are different grades of eggs. If you are one of them and would like more information about how eggs are graded, check out the Southern States Farm Store website. It is a company that has been farming since 1923.

Workers there tend to know everything there is to know about hens and the eggs they produce. Detailed information about eggs has been provided that will benefit consumers.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which is the highest quality of eggs?
    • A
    • AA
    • B
  2. Which is the lowest quality of eggs?
    • AA
    • A
    • B
  3. Which eggs are the common type is most stores?
    • AA
    • A
    • B
  4. Which eggs have lower than 1/8 inch air cells?
    • AA
    • A
    • B
  5. Which eggs are not allowed to be sold in the grocery stores?
    • AA
    • A
    • B
    • C

Answer Key

  1. AA
  2. B
  3. A
  4. AA
  5. C

Related Articles