How Long Can Eggs Sit Out of the Fridge?

Storing your eggs out on the counter isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you've ever wondered, "How long can eggs sit out?" read on to learn the answer.

We’ve all been there: You either forgot to put the egg carton back in the fridge after whipping up an amazing egg breakfast or got distracted while putting away your grocery store haul. Whatever reason, your eggs ended up staying on the counter way longer than you intended. So the question is, how long can eggs sit out of the fridge, and is it still safe to use them?

Can you leave eggs out of the fridge?

Unfortunately, eggs left out on the counter for too long need to be tossed. This is because eggs are susceptible to salmonella contamination from the way they’re processed.

Eggs can be contaminated with salmonella before they leave the farm. Due to this risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires egg farmers to thoroughly wash, dry, sanitize and refrigerate eggs before they’re shipped off.

While this process removes any potential salmonella from the shell, it also slightly thins it and removes some of its natural protection. So, the eggs are almost immediately refrigerated to prevent any new bacteria introduction, as salmonella flourishes in temperatures between 40-140°F.

Salmonella is also the reason why you shouldn’t eat raw eggs.

Why don’t Europeans refrigerate eggs?

Food safety experts take a slightly different approach to their egg safety in Europe: they require that eggs remain unwashed, which keeps the shell thicker and prevents the bacteria that causes salmonella from making its way into the egg.

Similarly, farm fresh eggs need to be washed properly before eating.

How long can eggs sit out of the fridge at room temperature?

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), refrigerated eggs should be left out for no more than two hours. Ideally, though, we’d recommend not taking them out until you’re ready to use them. Or, 30 minutes before you plan to bake with them, since it is important to bake with room temperature eggs.

Why You Should Refrigerate Your Eggs

Once the eggs have been refrigerated, letting them sit unrefrigerated is a big no-no. Transferring eggs from your fridge to the kitchen counter can cause condensation to form on the eggshell.

Water and warm temperatures are a breeding ground for salmonella, meaning the condensation water on the eggshell exposes the egg to contamination. Even if the room-temperature eggs don’t have condensation on them, bacteria can still contaminate them through the thinned shell.

The Best Way to Store Eggs

Keep your eggs on one of the refrigerator’s shelves—not the door as it’s one of the warmest parts of the fridge. When kept in a refrigerator at 40° or lower, eggs can last up to five weeks. After those five weeks, air will have seeped through the shell and start to break down the yolk and white. To check if too much air has penetrated your raw eggs, try the float test.

Caroline Stanko
Caroline has been with Taste of Home for the past seven years, working in both print and digital. After starting as an intern for the magazine and special interest publication teams, Caroline was hired as the third-ever digital editor for Taste of Home. Since then, she has researched, written and edited content on just about every topic the site covers, including cooking techniques, buzzy food news, gift guides and many, many recipe collections. Caroline also acts as the editorial lead for video, working with the Test Kitchen, videographers and social media team to produce videos from start to finish. When she’s not tip-tapping on a keyboard, Caroline is probably mixing up a killer cocktail, reading a dog-eared library book or cooking up a multi-course feast (sometimes all at once). Though she technically lives in Milwaukee, there is a 50/50 chance Caroline is in Chicago or southwest Michigan visiting her close-knit family.