Top 10 ways with leftover egg whites and yolks

If a dish calls for separating eggs, don’t throw one half away. Yolks and whites can be used in a variety of recipes, from fluffy meringues to mayonnaise.

Separating egg yolks and whites into a bowl with hands

If you’re a keen baker, you’ll be familiar with the process of separating eggs. The binary characteristics of egg yolks and whites mean they can be used in very different ways. Translucent whites offer lightness but also body to desserts such as meringues and macaroons, while deep yellow yolks are rich and oily, making them a perfect binding agent. A lot of recipes require one but not the other, so if you’re faced with a bowl of leftover whites or yolks, try using them up with one of our suggestions.

How to store egg whites

Egg whites will keep in the fridge for up to two days, but they can also be frozen for up to three months. Put them into freezer bags or individual ice cube trays so you can use as many as you need. Label them carefully, noting the number of whites – once you’ve defrosted them they can’t go back into the freezer. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using. 

How to store egg yolks

Egg yolks will also keep for two days in the fridge but dry out easily, especially when freezing, so we don’t recommend it. Add a little water to them when storing so they stay lubricated.

Always try to buy British Lion-branded eggs as they are protected against salmonella. Be aware of use-by dates and also consider whether your yolk or white is fully cooked if serving to pregnant women and those with special dietary needs.

Top five ways of using up egg whites

1. Meringue

Multicolour meringues on a white background

The ultimate egg white recipe, fluffy meringues with crispy outsides are easy to achieve and usually freezable, meaning you can have a batch on standby for last-minute desserts. Try our rainbow meringues with fruit and flavoured cream, crumbled into ice cream or sundaes, or stirred into Eton mess.

Rainbow-rippled meringues
Blackberry & lemon mess

Watch our video on how to make meringues: 

2. Bread glaze

Three bagels topped with seeds

Create an authentic shiny top to burger buns and bagels with a light layer of egg white. As shown in this Edd Kimber bagel recipe, not only will it give a professional seal, it also allows seeds to stick easily to the top – try sesame, poppy or sunflower. This one is ideal if you have only one or two whites.

Edd's bagels

3. Frosting and topping

Chocolate cake covered in white frosting and topped with red and green sweets

Achieve a cartoon-like fluffy ‘angel cake’ frosting by whipping your egg whites, then stabilising them with liquid glucose. Follow our easy recipe to achieve glossy royal icing. If you’re not such a technical baker, try them whipped with coconut and sugar as a super light accompaniment to jellies and other set desserts.

Winter wonderland cake
Enchanted forest cake
Passion-mango delight with coconut whip

4. Mousse

Chocolate mousse in a glass pot

The stiff nature of whisked egg white means it’s the perfect replacement for non-vegetarian gelatine in set mousses. Go for classic chocolate, or replace cream with yogurt in a lighter version. You could even knock up a savoury version with egg yolks to get your guests talking.

Easy chocolate mousse
Chocolate & berry mousse pots
White chocolate mousse with poached rhubarb
Pea mousse

5. Macaroons

Mini pistachio and chocolate macaroons

Surprisingly, only a couple of egg whites are required to make a whole batch of these patisserie-style macaroons. An electric whisk will be useful, but good old fashioned elbow grease applied at length is just as good. Use a little of the macaroon mixture to hold down the four corners of your baking parchment and a bottle lid to draw templates for your biscuits – just remember to turn the paper over to avoid the pencil marks spoiling your bake.

Mini pistachio & chocolate macaroons
Chocolate & raspberry macaroons
Chocolate macaroons

Follow our video guide on how to master this French patisserie classic:

Top five ways to use up egg yolks

1. Custard

Homemade custard in a pan with a wooden spoon on top

Making your own custard can be easy, but there are a few stumbling blocks to be aware of. Firstly, don’t add the hot cream/milk mixture to your yolks too quickly as it may start to ‘cook’ the yolks – scrambled eggs is not the desired effect. Keep the custard over a gentle heat, stir slowly and it should be plain sailing.

Homemade custard
Video guide to making custard

2. Carbonara

Two bowls of spaghetti carbonara with egg yolks in the middle

While traditional Italian recipes usually call for the whole egg, using just a yolk in your carbonara sauce will make it rich, glossy and less likely to be grainy. Our next level carbonara recipe also uses an extra yolk on top to up the luxe factor. Use the traditional method of mixing the yolks with Parmesan cheese, lots of pepper and, if you like, a touch of cream, then pour it onto the hot pasta, stirring carefully to coat the pasta without scrambling the eggs.

Next level spaghetti carbonara
More carbonara recipes

3. Mayonnaise

Bowl of mayonnaise next to butter and egg shells

Wobbly, shop-bought mayonnaise is a far cry from the real deal. Usually only one or two yolks are required for a basic mayo, as the rest is made up of vinegar or lemon juice, a touch of mustard and oil. There’s no need for a fancy blender either, as our video guide to making mayonnaise proves. Try adding watercress, tarragon or chives. This basic method can be applied to making béarnaise and hollandaise sauces, too.

Basic mayonnaise

Watch our video guide to making mayonnaise by hand or with a blender.

4. Binding agent

Swedish meatballs in sauce, in a wide pan

Mince can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to holding neatly in meatball or burger shapes. Just one egg yolk will improve the situation considerably without having any effect on the finished flavour.

Creamy Swedish meatballs
More meatball recipes
Burger recipes

5. Enriched dough and pastries 

Pile of toffee apple cookies with hot chocolate

Egg yolks can add depth and richness to various dough and pastry recipes. Two yolks are used in these toffee apple cookies to accentuate their rich, caramelised flavour. Doughnuts are made from firm dough that needs to keep its shape when fried quickly and our traditional hot sugared doughnuts recipe chooses to ditch the egg whites. You can also just use the yolks in shortcrust pastry, and don’t forget to finish off your bake – egg yolk is a traditional glazing agent that works well on sweet breads, such as brioche, and also puff pastry pies.

Hot sugared doughnuts

Not forgetting omelettes…

Omelette filled with red peppers and ham in a bowl

If you’re watching your fat intake, an LA-style, egg white omelette is lean and light, plus if you finish it off under a grill you should achieve a souffléd finish. If going fully yolk-free leaves you cold, play around with ratios – adding a couple of whites to a standard omelette will make it fluffier. If you’re feeling decadent, you could try making an egg yolk omelette, but we recommend adding a splash of milk to loosen it up a mite.

Full English frittata made with whites only
Cheese & ham souffléd omelette 
Skinny pepper, tomato & ham omelette

Do you have any tips for using up surplus egg whites or yolks? Share your ideas below... 

Comments, questions and tips

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HollyMak's picture
1st May, 2020
Add to Soups, pancakes or mash potatoes or just chuck in with eggs for breakfast
Tikka Male
9th Dec, 2018
BBC Good Food, why is this a pay per view / subscription service for the people who are paying the Licence fee? I am revoking my right of access to the BBC.
2nd Sep, 2019
It's not?
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Nina 27
9th Mar, 2015
Lovely ideas for recipes, also homemade marshmallows are a lovely way to use up excess egg whites. Not as difficult as it might appear (recipe courtesy of waitrose and tried and tested, came out lovely every time). 250g golden caster sugar 1 tbsp liquid glucose 50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa) 5 gelatine leaves (we used Costa) 3 egg whites ½ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 4 tbsp icing sugar 2 tbsp cornflour 2 tbsp cocoa powder Method 1. Line a 900g loaf tin with parchment paper. Put the sugar, glucose and 150ml warm water in a pan. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat; brush the sides of the pan with water to stop it crystallising. Leave the syrup to simmer until it reaches 125˚C (hard ball stage) on a sugar thermometer; don’t stir. If you don’t have a thermometer, spoon a little syrup into a glass of cold water; if it sets immediately, then it’s at the correct temperature. 2. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water; set aside to cool briefly. Separate the gelatine leaves and leave to soak in cold water for 5 minutes. 3. Just before the sugar syrup comes to temperature, use electric beaters or a freestanding mixer to whisk the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks in a large bowl. Put a tea towel under the bowl to secure it, then quickly and carefully pour the hot syrup down the inside of the bowl, whisking continuously. One at a time, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves, then beat into the hot meringue. Keep beating until completelycool; about 10 minutes. Beat in the vanillauntil combined, then gently stir through the melted chocolate with a spatula until just rippled. Pour into the loaf tin and leave to set for at least 3 hours. 4. Sift the icing sugar, cornflour and cocoa powder onto a clean baking tray. Tip in the marshmallow; remove the parchment and coat with the sugar mixture. Cut the marshmallow into 12 large, even pieces and dust again. They will keep for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container.
26th Oct, 2014
LEMON CURD Egg yolks are great for making lemon curd, a fabulous addition to meringues! We like a lemony, not too sweet curd: 4 yolks 100g caster sugar 60g butter zest of 1 lemon very finely chopped 125ml lemon juice Whisk eggs & sugar until combined but not frothy. Pour into a NON METAL saucepan (reacts with lemon) and add butter zest and juice. Stir constantly and simmer on med-high heat. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat and carry on stirring until it cools. Pour into clean jar and refrigerate. Yum.