Do you ever find yourself with a bowl of leftover egg yolks, wondering how to use them all? Perhaps you’ve just made a meringue pavlova for dessert, or some homemade marshmallows for toasting over the barbecue? Or maybe you’ve enjoyed an egg white scramble for a lazy weekend brunch? It always seems a shame to throw the yolks away, but you don’t want to leave them in the refrigerator to go mouldy either.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to use up those tasty yellow yolks. They add a wonderful silky richness to anything, from pasta sauces to cookie dough, so whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savoury, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye. You can even use them as a homemade conditioning treatment for your hair. Just make sure to wash it thoroughly afterwards.
If you’re not in the mood for more cooking just yet, you can store the yolks in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Try to keep them intact if you can. That way you can see how many there are, or even divide them up to be used in different recipes, if you have a lot. The easiest way to separate an egg is to break it in half and gently tip the yolk back and forth from one half to another, allowing the white to fall down into a bowl below. If you’re careful, you should be able to avoid breaking the yolk, but if it keeps bursting, try using an egg separator instead.
A great tip if you’re looking to try something new, or you’re a bit short on time, is to try curing the egg yolks with salt and sugar. This quick and easy process creates ‘cooked’ egg yolks with a sharper, saltier flavour that make a delicious addition to salads, pasta and avocado toast. They can be ready within 75 minutes if you prefer a runnier yolk, but if you leave them for a month, you’ll get a fully solidified yolk that you can grate over your favourite savoury dishes.
Perhaps the best-known egg yolk recipe is brunch favourite hollandaise sauce, it’s sunny yellow colour and rich flavour clearly affirming its eggy provenance. The best part of an eggs Benedict or eggs Florentine, hollandaise sauce is made from a mouthwatering mixture of egg yolk, butter and lemon juice, all mixed together to form a delicious silky emulsion. It can take a lot of whisking to make sure the sauce doesn’t split, however, which is why we love this hollandaise sauce recipe from Simply Recipes, which saves your arms by doing everything in a blender. If you have any sauce leftover after breakfast, hollandaise also pairs perfectly with light, fresh flavours like steamed vegetables or fish.
Egg yolks are often used to enrich savoury sauces, and you could also use yours to make a batch of aioli. A pungent and flavourful condiment used in Mediterranean cuisines, aioli is particularly associated with Provence, France and Catalonia, Spain. Made from an emulsion of garlic, olive oil, egg yolks and lemon juice, it is similar in flavour to garlic mayonnaise, and can be added to most savoury dishes, including vegetables, meat, seafood and potatoes.
Another sauce traditionally made with egg yolk is the sauce for pasta carbonara. If you’ve ever wondered why Italians get annoyed when people make carbonara using cream, try making it the old fashioned way and you’ll see the difference for yourself. The only sauce you need for a carbonara is a mixture of egg yolk, sharp pecorino cheese and a little reserved pasta water, all topped with pieces of guanciale, an intensely-flavoured Italian meat made from cured pork cheek.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try this caesar salad dressing from All Recipes. A classic green side salad of fresh romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons and Parmesan, the real flavour of the Caesar salad is in the dressing, a rich mixture of egg yolks, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and garlic. Perfect as an accompaniment to a main, or as a light lunch, Caesar salad is also great served with grilled chicken or bacon.
For those of us with a sweet tooth, recipes don’t come much sweeter than lemon curd. Tangy, creamy and sweet, lemon curd is a favourite topping for scones, and adds a cheerful sunshine yellow to the afternoon tea cake stand. It also tastes great added to crêpes, and as a filling for sponge cake. Homemade is so much nicer than store-bought, and a jar of homemade lemon curd will cheer up any pantry cupboard. We love this simple lemon curd recipe from Taste, which is made with just six ingredients and ready in minutes.
Lemon curd fans will also love this recipe for lemon bars from The Kitchn. These zesty tea time treats are made from a deliciously buttery shortbread base, generously topped with a firmer version of lemon curd, with added flour to hold the mixture together and extra lemons for the ultimate tangy flavour.
Keeping with our sweet theme, this next recipe is a must for cupcake lovers everywhere. Add a touch of French sophistication to your patisserie with this decadent recipe for French buttercream from Epicurious. It does take a little more time and effort to make than regular buttercream, but the egg yolks give this mixture an irresistibly rich, silky feel that really makes the extra effort worth it. You can add different colours and flavours the same as you would with any buttercream, and it makes an extra-special topping for your favourite cupcakes.
Although not all homemade ice cream recipes call for an extra egg yolk, adding one to the mix can give your ice cream extra richness and depth of flavour that really works with flavours like coffee, chocolate and vanilla. There’s nothing like the taste of homemade ice cream, made with all natural ingredients, or the feeling of satisfaction you get from making your own. Ice cream can be made from pretty much anything you like to eat, so it’s also a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen.
If you prefer something a little more refined, you can use your egg yolks to make crème brûlée, a dinner party classic. This recipe is great if you have a lot of egg yolks to use, and it never fails to be a showstopper. Follow this crème brûlée recipe, borrowed from the legendary Julia Child, for a caramel crust that gives the perfect crack under your spoon, revealing a deliciously rich vanilla custard underneath.
Our next choice is another great dinner party dessert, and is sure to be an instant favourite for chocoholics. If you want to end a meal with a real treat without sending everyone into a food coma, this creamy chocolate pudding recipe from Delish is just perfect. These gorgeous little pots of chocolate combine a luxuriously rich flavour with a light, creamy texture, so there’s always room for dessert. They can be made the day before and kept in the fridge, too, so you don’t have to spend the evening stuck in the kitchen.
There are so many delicious things you can make with leftover egg yolks, from a savoury garlic aioli to the sweetest lemon curd. You might even find you’re using so many egg yolks that you need to start making a few more egg white scrambles.
Discover Fine Dining Lovers' exclusive Why Waste? video series, featuring Massimo Bottura and his team of chefs, as they teach us how to repurpose leftovers and trimmings in delicious and imaginative ways, from vegetables to dairy. Take a look