How To Pasteurize Eggs in the Microwave

Man beating eggs with a whisk
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Mayonnaise, hollandaise, and Caesar salad dressings contain raw eggs which can carry salmonella bacteria. Pasteurized eggs are safer, but what if you can't find a store that sells them?

Pasteurization is a process where food is heated to 140 F, killing harmful bacteria. Egg yolks would normally start to cook at 140 F, but you can use a microwave to pasteurize egg yolks without cooking them, so they can safely be used in mayonnaise and other preparations requiring raw egg yolks.

The process works by adding acid to the egg yolks—either in the form of lemon juice or vinegar. Adding acid raises the temperature at which egg yolks cook, so we can heat them to 140 F, killing the bacteria, but without cooking the egg.

How to Pasteurize Eggs in the Microwave

Pasteurizing eggs in the microwave is a simple process that only takes five minutes. Be sure to gather all ingredients ahead of time and do note this important caveat: You'll need no fewer than three clean whisks on hand to use this procedure. (Clean forks are okay, too.) Three separate whisks (or forks) are essential to the pasteurization process. 

Ingredients Needed to Pasteurize Eggs in the Microwave

  • fresh eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • Microwave-safe glass bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • 3 clean whisks or forks (this is important)
  • Microwave oven

How to Pasteurize Eggs in the Microwave

  1. Separate two eggs and collect the yolks in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Whisk the yolks thoroughly using the first of your three clean whisks.
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and whisk again.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons water and whisk again. Seal bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the microwave.  NOTE: Set aside the current whisk and do not use it again. Have the next two whisks close by as you will use them in quick succession.
  3. Heat the egg mixture on high until the surface begins to rise. Once you see this, cook for 8 more seconds, then immediately remove the bowl from the microwave, remove the plastic wrap, and whisk the yolks vigorously with a clean whisk.
  1. Immediately return the bowl to the microwave and heat on high again until the surface begins to rise. Continue for 8 more seconds, then remove, and whisk vigorously with the third clean whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

    These egg yolks are now safe to use in mayonnaise or other raw-egg preparations.

Tips for Success

  • This recipe can easily be increased. For example, you can increase the number of yolks to three. Just increase the cooking times to 10 seconds from the moment the surface of the eggs starts to rise.
  • Three whisks (or forks) are absolutely essential. Don't try to wash and dry the same whisk and re-use it. It'll take too long and the temperature of the eggs will fall too fast. Never attempt to use an unwashed whisk for the second or third whiskings. The unclean whisk will contaminate the egg mixture and defeat the whole purpose of the pasteurization process.