The Better Way to Bring Eggs to Room Temperature

March  2, 2015

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Sometimes it's healthy to relinquish control, but not when it comes to the temperature of your eggs. Here's a way to bring eggs to room temperature, no guesswork involved. And, added bonus: It will save you time.

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When a recipe calls for eggs at room temperature, I take it seriously -- even when I’ve forgotten to take the eggs out of the fridge ahead of time.

There are two ways to get eggs to a temperature between 68 and 70° F fast. One method is to put the cold eggs into a bowl of warm water. The time it takes for the eggs to reach the right temperature depends on the number of eggs in the bowl and the amount of water, which means you never know exactly when to take them out and it’s easy to get them too warm. If the recipe is a particularly delicate one -- let’s face it, some are and some aren’t -- eggs that are too warm can be as bad as eggs that are too cold! 

As everyone knows by now, I like control! So here is the better way:

If the eggs will be used whole, simply break them into a stainless steel bowl. Stainless steel warms up faster than glass when you set the bowl in the warm water and does not retain heat as long as glass after it is removed, so the bowl does not continue to warm the eggs once you’ve taken it from the water. It’s all about control!

If the recipe calls for whole eggs, stir to mix the yolks and whites, then set the bowl in a larger pan of very warm tap water. From time to time -- over the next 1 to 2 minutes -- stir the eggs and dip your finger (or a thermometer) into them to gauge their temperature. (To be honest, I kill two birds with one stone by stirring them with my index finger!) Remove the bowl from the water as soon as the eggs are between 68 and 70° F (if using your finger, they'll feel neither cool nor warm).

If the recipe calls for adding eggs one at time and you have four eggs mixed together in the bowl, no worries: Just pour a quarter of the mixture into the batter at a time. Easy peasy.

If the eggs are to be separated, do so while they are still cold (because cold yolks are firmer and easier to separate without breakage). Put whites and yolks into two separate stainless steel bowls. Set bowls in warm water as described above. 

Pick up a copy of Alice's new book Flavor Flours, which includes nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too). 

Photos by Bobbi Lin

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Midnight and Dogs
    Midnight and Dogs
  • Miles
  • jthelwell
  • jackie
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Midnight A. May 13, 2021
I was making macaroons and the egg whites have to be room temperature so this was a BIG help! Than you!
Miles April 15, 2015
This was incredibly helpful! Not sure why the other person said it was useless. Thank you!

FRANKIE March 8, 2015
Lincoln A. March 9, 2015
Whats typical about it. You sound like a kitchen disaster!
jthelwell March 4, 2015
Not refrigerating the eggs is not a great idea, at least for in the United States. It's common not to refrigerate eggs in Europe, but eggs are processed differently in the United States. US regulations require power-washing of eggs, which - while cleaning away bacteria - also strips off the eggs' protective coating and leaves the shells more porous and the eggs more easily contaminated. Another problem is the level of salmonella contamination in the US poultry industry, which is much higher than in Europe. If you have your own hens, or you buy directly from a farmer who doesn't power-wash them before your get them, it's a different matter.
jackie March 3, 2015
How about not refrigerating eggs in the first place? Then they'll be at room temp right away.