You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs

In cooking or baking, sometimes the smallest action provides the biggest challenge. As I discovered when watching my husband make an omelet, one of these actions is cracking an egg. His approach is to crack the egg on the sharp edge of the mixing bowl, and his method almost always results in small shards of eggshell that he has to laboriously fish out of the bowl and/or broken egg yolks. If you are making said omelet, the broken yolks are not a problem, but if you want over easy eggs or if you need to separate them for a recipe, this becomes an issue. I prefer to crack eggs on a flat surface such as the countertop and gently pry the halves apart, but sometimes that results in a crushed eggshell that is difficult to open. So the question remains, is one of these ways inherently better than the other? The folks at America’s Test Kitchen have an answer.

carton of eggs

As with most things in life, there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution. There are pros and cons to both methods. For the bowl crackers, the pros include a cleaner break that is more likely to tear the inner membrane, making the shell easier to separate. For counter tappers, the pros are that the shell is broken into larger pieces that are less likely to fall off the membrane into the bowl, and if they do end up there, the bigger chunks are easier to remove.

The contra arguments for both are the inverse: cracking on a bowl creates small shards that are fiendishly difficult to extract (my strategy is to use a large piece of shell to tease it out), while cracking on a flat surface means the membrane is less apt to be severed, which makes it harder to separate the halves (the membrane is essentially gluing the shell together). It is not easy to change old habits, so my husband and I are both likely to continue using our respective methods. When I feel cocky, I will crack and separate an egg one-handed, although sometimes that practice leads to disaster. When it works, however, I feel like a badass. It’s worth the risk.

I wonder which way is more common – how do you crack your eggs? Let’s conduct an unscientific poll by counting the comments for each method.

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  • kayanelson  on  December 8, 2022

    I crack on a flat surface.

  • tmjellicoe  on  December 8, 2022

    I used to crack on the bowl. I now crack on a flat surface. The bowl method was more unreliable in keeping the yolk intact when my usual breakfast is a poached egg where an intact yolk is a must to get the right amount of runny yolk.

  • averythingcooks  on  December 9, 2022

    I am also a converted counter cracker and my partner T persists on the using the edge of the bowl – “my mother did it that way so it’s good enough for me”.

  • ellabee  on  December 9, 2022

    I crack on the edge of the sink, not on the bowl or cutting board, because salmonella & other bacteria on the outside of the shell can contaminate those surfaces. The sink method gives you the virtue of the bowl’s edge without the shard or contamination risk.

  • Ingridemery  on  December 10, 2022

    Bowl all the way and I don’t seem to get shards!

  • Lazlo  on  December 10, 2022

    I think I’m a bowl cracker but actually it’s more like the edge of the counter-top 🤭

  • anya_sf  on  December 10, 2022

    When I was young I used the edge of the bowl, then later learned about the flat surface method and have never looked back.

  • Jane  on  December 10, 2022

    I used to be a bowl cracker but switched to countertop some time ago and have rarely regretted it. Though I do find that sometimes if I thump the egg down too hard the membrane splits before I fully crack open the egg, which results in egg white on the countertop. So I try to make sure the countertop is clean before I crack so I can swipe the leakage into the bowl.

  • e.mary  on  December 10, 2022

    Wow, I am an outlier – I use a knife!

  • ellabee  on  December 10, 2022

    @ e.mary: Do you experience any of the hazards of the edge or flat methods? Intuitively, a knife seems more like the edge method.

  • FuzzyChef  on  December 11, 2022

    Flat surface

  • e.mary  on  December 16, 2022

    @ellabee: Yes, I suspect it’s a lot closer to the edge method, but I find that 1) I don’t knock the bowl over (I’m pretty clumsy!), and 2) a knife is a bit more precise than the edge, which can also be a hefty cast iron frying pan. I use whatever knife’s to hand, but typically a santoku. It also depends a lot on the egg shell 🥚

  • KarenGlad  on  December 18, 2022

    I’m a convert to the countertop too…sometimes messier but safer for clumsy me.

  • bittrette  on  October 16, 2023

    I’m a flat-surface cracker, a convert from bowl cracking. Cracking on a flat surface is messier, but my aim is to reduce the chances of breaking the yolk, in case I need to separate an egg.

  • T121354  on  January 10, 2024

    To remove pieces of eggshell from bowl: Wash your hands. With one wet finger, retrieve the eggshell piece.

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