At first glance, separating an egg may seem like a no-brainer; just separate the yolk from the white. But what if the yolk breaks while cracking the eggshell? And how can you isolate the yolk without making it drip everywhere? While learning how to separate eggs takes patience, there are two simple ways you can go about doing this. You can separate eggs by using the eggshells or by using your hands, which is definitely the messier method.

#SpoonTip: The individual parts of the egg are sometimes needed in different parts of cooking and baking. For example, egg yolks provide fat to a dish and are a binder for fats and liquids in baked goods. And egg whites are a natural leavening agent in treats like meringues, macarons, and some cakes. 

The Shell Method

First, put a bowl right under where you're working and tap the egg lightly against a flat, hard surface. Elevated, thin surfaces like that of the edge of a bowl can increases the chance of food contamination and getting shell in your food. A flat, hard surface cracks the eggs just as well as when done against the edge of a bowl, and if anything it's better because it prevents the shell from breaking and causing a mess.

Janelle Porman

Once you tap your egg against the surface, a slight crack should form along your egg shell where it hit the surface. The crack should form a pattern of a circle, the indent from the contact.

Holding the egg upright with hands on both ends of the egg, use your thumbs to apply pressure to the cracks, and as you push the shell in, take the top hand and pull the top half of the shell up and away from the bottom half.

Janelle Porman

As the shell separates, the egg should remain in the bottom half of the shell.

With a bowl underneath your hands, take the one half of the shell with the egg in it, and tip it over to the empty egg shell. As you move the egg shell, some of the egg whites will fall outside the shell and land in the bowl underneath.

Janelle Porman

Repeat this egg shuffle until all the egg whites fall into the bowl and only the yolk remains in the egg shell. If your recipe calls for egg yolk, you can put the now separated yolk into another bowl.

The Hands-On Method

If you like getting down and dirty in the kitchen and want to have a little fun, you can also separate eggs directly using your hands. Put a bowl under your work station and crack the egg the same way as stated before – by tapping it on a flat surface and pulling it apart with your hands.

Janelle Porman

Instead of pouring the egg into the other half of the egg shell, empty the egg shell into your free hand (sanitized hands are required). Hold your hand palm up with your fingers separated so they are about 0.5 cm apart.

This open space between your fingers allows for the whites to slip through and fall into the bowl under you. As the yolk falls onto your fingers, slowly bring your fingers together so there's no space in between them.

Janelle Porman

Egg whites are basically the consistency of thick jelly, but unless you cut the egg whites, they won’t break off. Your fingers act as a very dull knife that cleaves the egg whites so that they separate and fall into the bowl.

Janelle Porman

Tip the egg yolk to your other hand and repeat the hand motion. Keep transferring the egg yolk between hands until there is only yolk left in your hand. If you need the egg yolk, you can put it in a separate bowl.

The Hands On Method is ideal because there's no chance of the egg yolk running. When you shuffle the yolk between the egg shell, there's a chance that the sharp edge of the shell will break the yolk. If the yolk breaks, it'll most likely fall into the egg whites and you'll have to start over. 

Now that you have your perfectly separated yolk and egg whites, you can make a myriad of beautiful desserts like cookies and cream macarons, mocha meringue kisses, and tiramisu. Sometimes, recipes that you haven't made before can seem intimidating, but one of the most difficult parts of the recipes listed above is separating your eggs, which you're now a pro at! Follow these steps on how to separate eggs correctly, and all of those recipes and more will be a breeze.