When we talk about eggs, we usually refer to chicken eggs, most commonly used in cooking and baking. Eggs are one of the world’s favorite foods and among the most nutritious foods. They are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but they differ in appearance and the nutrients they contain. There are a lot of animals that lay eggs, besides birds – reptiles, fishes, even insects – and we wondered, are they all edible?
Long story short, not all eggs are suitable for the human diet. While most kinds of eggs are safe to eat, there are ones that could easily harm your health.
Tip: If you’re hesitating about some egg, follow this simple rule – if the animal is poisonous to eat, the egg is probably contaminated too. Pass it.
We’ll explain which eggs are safe and better to avoid – below. Keep reading.
Are all bird eggs edible?
Almost all bird eggs are edible – with two exceptions, Blue-capped Ifrit and Hooded Pitohui. Those two birds live in Papua New Guinea and eat poisonous insects, making them toxic. Their eggs are unhealthy, but humans could die by touching these birds since their feathers are also poisonous.
All other types of bird eggs – chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, turkey, ostrich, goose, quail, peacock, pheasant, plover, partridge, emu, pelican, and gull – are edible.
Bird eggs are edible in all stages of development – in some cultures, as gross as it may sound, incubated fertilized eggs are a special kind of delicacy. They are eaten raw, with feathers and all parts of the chicken body.
Tip: Keep in mind that all bird eggs do not have the same taste. A bird’s diet affects the flavor of an egg. For example – if people feed ostrich with chicken food, their eggs will taste similar to chicken eggs. Goose and duck eggs have a thicker consistency and yellower yolk. If the duck lives in the lake and eats fish, duck eggs will taste fishy.
When you ask for eggs in the store, you’ll get chicken eggs since they are the most common type.
Chicken eggs come in brown and white colors, but their nutritional profile hardly differs – they contain almost the same nutrients.
Both the white and yolk are nutritious and contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals. One large chicken’s egg yolk contains fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids, while the white has 70% protein (from one egg white, you’ll get 4 grams of protein and only 18 calories).
Fun fact – don’t be surprised if you find double yolk chicken egg – it’s perfectly safe to eat!
|Type of bird eggs||Calories||Proteins||Fats|
|Chicken egg||75 kcal||7 g||6.6 g|
|Duck egg||130 kcal||9 g||10 g|
|Goose egg||266 kcal||20 g||19.1 g|
|Turkey egg||135 kcal||10.8 g||9.4 g|
|Quail egg||14 kcal||1.2 g||1 g|
|Pheasant egg||135 kcal||9.4 g||11 g|
|Ostrich egg||2000 kcal||235 g||100 g|
All chicken eggs taste almost the same – you’ll taste slightly different depending on a chicken diet and egg’s freshness.
Tip: Guinea hen eggs can be eaten and prepared just like all other types of bird eggs.
Can you eat fertilized chicken eggs?
There is no difference in taste between fertilized and unfertilized chicken eggs. Fertilized chicken eggs are safe to eat if they haven’t been incubated. Embryo development will completely stop once you bring eggs home and put them in the fridge.
Duck and chicken eggs are pretty similar, but there are a few differences. Let’s start with the most obvious one – duck’s eggs are a lot larger – they can be about twice the size of chicken eggs. If you usually eat a three eggs omelet, you’ll be satisfied with one duck egg.
While many are white, duck eggs vary in shell colors – beige, grey, green, blue, and black.
They have slightly larger yolk and have a more vibrant and intense yellow color.
Duck eggs taste is similar to a chicken egg, but some say it is a bit richer and creamier. Also, a duck egg contains more calories, protein, fats, and other nutrients, which is natural since it’s bigger than a large chicken egg.
A fertilized duck egg can be eaten, too.
Goose are large water birds, and naturally, goose eggs are also quite significant. Roughly said, one actual goose egg equals three hen’s eggs.
Goose eggs have watery egg whites and immense and rich egg yolk. While the usual chicken egg’s yolk is 1/3 of an egg, the goose egg has a large yolk – 1/2 of an egg. Yolks are thicker in consistency and contain more fat and cholesterol than hen’s eggs.
Tip: Don’t use goose egg whites for baking – they don’t beat up very well, and there is the possibility that you’ll end up with watery and runny baked goods.
Turkeys are pretty big birds, and their eggs are also significant – almost like ducks. If a hen’s egg weighs 50 grams, turkey eggs will weigh 90 grams. Turkey eggshells are hard to crack, and they come in white, beige, brown shades.
The taste of turkey eggs is almost the same as hen’s eggs, but some say they have a bit creamier taste. However, their nutritional profile is not the same – turkey eggs have twice as many calories, proteins, and fats. Try out turkey egg omelets to taste this subtle difference.
Quail eggs are small, and they have a recognizable dotty look, but as small as they are, they’re incredibly nutritious with fat, protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. Quail egg might be the healthiest egg out there.
It is also hard to find and way more expensive than all other edible eggs.
Pheasant eggs are a popular substitute for hen’s eggs. Their shell has unusual color – it’s olive (dark mottled green), but don’t let it distract you. Inside is equally tasty as eggs you’re used to. Egg yolks have a more pungent taste, but the proportion between the egg white and egg yolk is the same. Nutritional value is also similar – they contain proteins, essential amino acids, and many other vitamins, including B and D.
Tip: Pheasant egg, edible bird egg, is smaller than hen egg. Use two eggs of pheasant to replace one chicken egg.
Ostrich egg is the giant bird’s egg – as ostriches are the enormous birds. One ostrich egg equally 24 hen’s eggs!
The egg of an ostrich has a similar taste as hen’s eggs. In terms of nutrition, they have a variety of micro and macroelements. Keep in mind the size of this gigantic egg – if you’re not waiting for guests for dinner, it’s a good idea to freeze all the extra eggs for the next time.
Tip: Shell of an ostrich egg is hard to crack. You can use a butter knife or drill a small hole, drain the egg, and use the shell as a beautiful Easter decoration.
Other edible bird eggs
Among other edible bird eggs (which can be hard to find on the egg market) are gull eggs, pigeon eggs, emu eggs, and other birds eggs.
Tip: If you’re planning to eat birds or any other kind of eggs, do not eat them raw. According to USDA, raw eggs are safe to eat if they have been through the pasteurization process. If you eat raw unpasteurized eggs, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of getting salmonella.
Are reptile eggs edible?
In some cultures, people eat reptile eggs, but be extremely careful if you decide to try them – they are often contaminated with parasites, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens. However, there is no evidence that someone has died eating reptile eggs.
Among the most popular reptile eggs are crocodile eggs, snake, turtle, and lizard eggs.
Crocodile eggs are a delicacy among aboriginals in Australia. They claim that these eggs are nutritious and delicious. Interesting fact – turtle eggs are eaten as raw eggs or slightly boiled. They have a robust, creamy taste. Snake eggs are good to eat, but they have to be cooked appropriately.
Tip: We wouldn’t recommend you to eat reptile eggs, except if you’re in some danger and that’s the only food you have at your hand.
Are fish eggs edible?
Roe can be harvested from various fish – salmon, trout, mackerel. It is edible raw and cooked, considered a delicacy and extremely expensive – as you probably know, caviar is made out of fish eggs. Fish eggs are also known as fish roe.
They are incredibly rich in micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, they’re delicious, either plain or as an ingredient in all kinds of recipes.
Are insect eggs edible?
There is no information on insect eggs’ nutritional profile, and you probably won’t have the occasion to try them quite often – if ever. However, insect larvae are edible in some parts of the world, and it has a buttery taste.
If you’re hesitating on trying an unknown type of egg, keep in mind what we said initially – if the animal is poisonous, the egg is probably contaminated too. Better safe than sorry!