How to Separate Eggs

Egg whites and egg yolk in separate bowl
Annick vanderschelden photography / Getty Images

If you do any cooking at all, sooner or later you'll come across a recipe that calls for you to separate an egg. What that means is separating the yolk of the egg from the white.

Sometimes it's the yolk you're after, as when making sauces such as hollandaise and mayonnaise, or custards, like crème brûlée or zabaglione, or even fresh pasta or gelato. Egg whites, on the other hand, are used in making meringues, soufflés, icings, and mousses, or for clarifying stocks and consommés.


Watch Now: The Easy Way to Separate Eggs

  • 01 of 08

    Place 2 Bowls in Front of You

    Glass Bowls

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    Before we get started though, we like to set both bowls on a cutting board in front of us—one for the egg whites and one for the yolks. If your bowls are different sizes, use the smaller one for the yolks.​

  • 02 of 08

    Crack an Egg

    Cracking egg

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    Believe it or not, there could almost be a whole tutorial on how to crack an egg. But in short, it's best to crack an egg on a flat surface like a cutting board, not on the edge of a bowl. Why? Because cracking an egg on the edge of a bowl can drive any bacteria or other contaminants on the shell's surface into the egg itself. Cracking an egg on a flat surface is less likely to do that.

    Once you've cracked it, hold the egg over whichever bowl you want to collect the egg whites in.​

  • 03 of 08

    Split the Shell in Half

    Splitting egg shells

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    Try to split the shell into two pieces that roughly equal in size. Also, ideally you'd make a clean crack right across the egg's equator, without any jagged pieces that might pierce the yolk.

    Carefully cup the yolk in one half of the shell and simply allow the white to drain into the bowl below.

  • 04 of 08

    Tip the Yolk Into the Empty Half of the Shell

    Tip egg yolk over bowl
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    Now you've got the empty half of the shell in one hand, and in the other half, you have the egg yolk. But there's likely still a bit of white around the yolk, too. We're going to carefully tip that yolk into the other half of the eggshell.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Be Careful Not to Break the Yolk

    Separated egg yolk

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    Here, as you transfer the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, is where jagged edges of eggshell can pierce the yolk. So be careful!

  • 06 of 08

    Let the Egg White Fall Away Into the Bowl

    Let egg whites fall into bowl

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    Depending on how fresh the eggs you're working with are, the white may fall away quite easily, or it may hang on a bit more stubbornly. (The less fresh an egg is, the more easily the white will fall off.) If you have to give it a jiggle to loosen it, that's okay.

  • 07 of 08

    Repeat as Necessary

    Tilt egg whites into bowl

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    You might have to tip the yolk back and forth one or two more times to get all the egg white off and into the bowl.

  • 08 of 08

    Deposit the Yolk in the Other Bowl

    Egg whites and egg yolk in separate bowl

    Annick vanderschelden photography / Getty Images

    You should now have a lovely, intact egg yolk in one half of the shell. Gently deposit it into your second bowl, and you've done it. Just repeat these steps for however many separated eggs your recipe calls for.