Easy Ways to Separate Eggs, According to a Pastry Chef

This chef has separated hundreds of eggs at a time and has strong opinions on the best methods.

Woman separating egg yolk from white over glass bowl

The humble egg is so much more than just a breakfast staple: It's also an essential ingredient in many dessert recipes and is a rare example of strength in unity and division. Many recipes call for whole eggs; in others, only the power of the yolk or the white is needed. Separating egg yolks from whites is a basic technique that allows you to get the most out of both.

Common Techniques for Separating Eggs

There are a few proven ways to separate eggs (and some have been made famous on social media), but which method is best? We asked Kaitlin Wayne, a baker, pastry chef, and food stylist, to share her favorite techniques—including the ones she doesn't recommend for home use.

Between Halves of the Eggshell

Perhaps the most widely known and straightforward method for separating eggs involves tilting the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the eggshells and allowing the whites to drip into a bowl below. "I really like this method for when you only have a few eggs to separate," says Wayne, who has experience separating hundreds of eggs when working in bakeries. "However, you need to pay close attention to make sure the sharp edges of the egg shell do not puncture the yolk."

Your Hands

Slightly less risky (but slightly more messy!) is the technique of cracking the eggs directly into your hands and allowing the whites to slip through your fingers. This is Wayne's personal go-to. "I love this method! It gives you lots of control in separating," she says.

Scooping With the Shell

Another method for separating eggs begins with simply cracking the entire egg into a bowl. From there, you can use a shell half to scoop the yolk out of the whites. While it seems straightforward, the chase might not be worth the catch. "This isn't my favorite way to separate," says Wayne. You might spend too much time moving the yolk around the bowl instead of removing it, she adds.

The Suction Method

A flashy technique that spread like wildfire online, this method involves sucking out the yolk of an egg with the suction of a clean plastic bottle. While entertaining, Wayne says this is one trick she would never bother with: "It seems like an unnecessary step to get to the same results as using one of the [other] methods that are simpler," she says, noting that the yolk can also break with this technique.

Egg Separating Tools

A quick search for "egg separating tool" will yield many results. Some coiled models have long-standing roots in farmhouse kitchens, but today, many professionals warn against single-use kitchen tools like egg separators. They consider them a waste of space. Wayne agrees: "I just don't think it is necessary for such a simple kitchen task. But if you find one that you love, by all means go for it," she says.

Tips for Separating Egg Yolks and Whites

There are a few tips to ensure egg separating success, no matter which technique you use.

Crack Egg Against the Edge of Bowl

This is a highly debated topic, but this method is the most successful way to crack an egg, since it gives you an easy opening point. "Cracking on a flat surface can crush the surface of the egg, rather than against an edge where I think the shell gets almost 'sliced' open, making it easier to hinge open," she says.

Use Room Temperature Eggs

This is another hot topic—and one with a less clear-cut answer, since there are a few pros and cons to consider: Cold eggs are more challenging to separate, but the yolks are less fragile. Eggs that have been brought up to room temperature are easier to handle, although the yolk is more prone to breaking. We prefer the latter approach, and always use room temperature eggs.

Food Safety

If you've separated egg yolks and whites, maybe you've used the yolks for a recipe and are waiting to use the whites—or perhaps you have a container of yolks and are wondering how long they will last. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw egg whites and yolks can both be stored for up to four days (but we'd only keep them in the refrigerator for three).

How to Use Up Egg Whites or Yolks

Now that you've mastered separating the yolk from the white, a bounty of recipes involving one or the other awaits.


If you have a bunch of egg whites leftover after separating eggs since you just needed the yolks for a recipe, the best way to use them up is by making meringue. Meringue can be worked into a number of applications: baked into pavlova, transformed into Swiss, Italian, or French buttercream, or piped and torched on decorative desserts like baked Alaska. Here's one of Wayne's favorite tricks: Whip and fold the whites into batters to lighten things like pancakes or cakes.


When you have a number of egg yolks to use up—perhaps because you made meringue?—try making homemade ice cream, pudding, or custards. These rich desserts are all yolk-heavy. Wayne also enjoys stirring an extra yolk or two into homemade rice pudding for richness.

If you're looking for a simple project that yields impressive results, try a restaurant yolk trick for making a unique and special finishing flourish: "I worked at a restaurant where they cured their egg yolks," says Wayne. "They would fill a hotel pan (at home, use a glass baking dish or casserole dish) with salt and gently place the yolks on top one by one, and then cover them with more salt." Wrap the dish with plastic wrap and over a few days of chilling in the refrigerator, the yolks will harden "to the point where they can be grated on top of a dish for a salty, rich addition," says Wayne.

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