Yolk Colours Explained: Yellow, Pale Yellow & Orange Egg Yolks

We hear it often. You come home from the grocery store to crack open a new dozen of eggs, only to notice that instead of the sunny-side-up yellow yolk you’re used to, you see a pale looking yellow. Other times, you crack open your eggs to find a deep orange yolk. 

What's going on? Why are yolks such a different colour from carton to carton? We often get asked if one colour better to eat than the other. Does a deeper colour mean more nutrients?

These are all valid questions, and luckily, they are all fairly easy to answer.

The most simple and straightforward answer: Go ahead with your breakfast no matter the yolk colour! 

What Does an Egg's Yolk Colour Mean?

The yolk colour is actually related to the hen’s diet. So depending on the main source of feed she is eating, the yolk colour can vary.

Pale Yellow vs. Bright Yellow Egg Yolks

Eggs that come from hens that are fed a predominantly wheat diet tend to have a more pale yolk. When hens receive a diet that is higher in corn and soy, the yolk will be a brighter, more vibrant yellow. This can vary from province to province and even from farm to farm. The degree of yellow found in the yolk is simply reflective of the abundance of carotenoids that can be found in corn.

yolk colour

What Does an Orange Egg Yolk Mean?

Occasionally, you can also find yolks that are a deeper orange colour. These eggs may come from the diet of hens that are kept in a free range environment, especially during the summer months. Free range hens' diets will change throughout the year (it is dependent on season), so yolks of this colour may not always be available at your local grocery store.

Are Orange Egg Yolks Safe to Eat?

Yes! Eggs with orange egg yolks are equally as safe to eat as eggs with a pale or vibrant yellow yolk.

Does an Orange Egg Yolk Mean the Egg is Fresh?  

As the colour of the yolk is related to the hen's diet, it has little to do with the freshness of the egg. Whether the yolk is a vibrant or pale yellow, or even an orange deep in colour, all of these eggs are fresh and safe to eat. 

Does an Orange Egg Yolk Mean the Egg is More Nutritious?

Again, this is a fairly simply answer. Regardless of the colour of the egg yolk, they are all virtually equal in nutrition! The only exceptions to this rule are with Vitamin D and Omega-3 eggs. These eggs will have higher levels of Vitamin D or Omega-3 fatty acids, again because of the hen’s diet. The simple addition of flax seed to the hen’s feed increases the Omega-3 found in the eggs, while increasing the amount of Vitamin D in the hens diet will result in being passed on to the egg.

So wherever you’re buying your eggs and whatever type you like to buy, the most important tip we can give you is: Don’t skip the yolk!

Are Orange Egg Yolks Better?

Because the colour of the egg yolk does not signify that the egg is more fresh or more nutritious, orange egg yolks are just as good for you as lighter coloured yolks.