What are pullet eggs? Pullet eggs are small, extra-rich eggs laid by young chickens. A pullet is a chicken of less than a year old, but pullet eggs are really only produced during the first 4 weeks or so of her laying career. A favourite of chefs and foodies, they are nevertheless often refused by stores due to their small size, and many end up going to waste.
Chickens begin laying at around 16 to 18 weeks old, but rather than producing jumbo eggs right from the start, their first eggs are small and dainty. As with the difference between brown eggs and white eggs, this size difference is due to biological reasons rather than human interference - in this case it’s because a chicken that isn’t fully grown simply can’t accommodate a larger egg.
Pullet eggs can make up to 10% of an egg farmer’s overall stock, but you’re unlikely to find them on the shelves at your local store because they don’t measure up to supermarket’s standard sizes. Many end up being sold extra-cheaply to make powdered egg, or even just going to waste.
This is bad news for the environment, and for your local farmer, but it’s also a waste of what people in the know consider to be a superior product. Many chefs prefer pullet eggs for their richer flavour and ability to hold together well, and go out of their way to purchase them from the farmers themselves.
In 2015, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched a campaign to encourage people to buy more pullet eggs, and if demand increases, they may begin appearing on supermarket shelves in the future. In the meantime, you can purchase pullet eggs from farmers markets, or direct from your local egg farmer.
Pullet eggs vs. regular eggs
Pullet eggs have bright yellow yolks, so they look sunny and cheerful on your plate. Because of their small size, they also have a higher proportion of yolk to white, making them richer than regular eggs. If you like adding an extra egg yolk to your recipes, you’ll love pullet eggs. Fans of this dainty egg also claim that they hold together better, which makes them particularly good for poaching or frying.
In terms of size, pullet eggs can be just half the size of the biggest eggs. If you’re looking to substitute pullet eggs for regular eggs, double the amount for extra large or jumbo eggs, and use 3 pullet eggs for every 2 medium or large eggs called for in your recipe.
Pullet eggs nutritional benefits
Pullet eggs have the same nutritional value as regular eggs, including vitamins A, B, E, K, several B vitamins, and important minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, calcium and zinc. They are also a great source of protein and healthy fats, including heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Because most of the nutrients in an egg are concentrated in the yolk, and pullet eggs tend to contain proportionately more yolk, they may also be more nutrient-rich for their size, but the difference will only be slight.
How to cook them
Pullet eggs tend to hold together better than regular eggs, so they’re great for poaching or frying. They can be cooked in any way you might cook a regular egg, but because of their size they’ll need a little less time. For soft-boiled pullet eggs, bring the water to a rolling boil, then cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remember to let the eggs return to room temperature after taking them out of the fridge, otherwise they will take longer to cook.
Not all egg recipes are cooked, however. In fact, there are more popular dishes that include raw eggs than you might think. Find out more in our fascinating article on eating raw eggs.