How Blue Eggs Get Their Color

Learn Which Breed Lays Which Chicken Egg Color


Chicken eggs come in many different colors

Growing up in New England,  I lived across the street from my grandparents’ chicken farm. I am not sure which chicken breeds they raised, so I don’t know about the different colored chicken eggs they had. From photos I’ve seen, they looked to have a flock mostly consisting of Rhode Island Reds and Australorps. Both are brown egg-layers.

Around our house, we knew the saying “brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh.” I knew that there were brown chicken eggs (from our grandparent’s farm) and white chicken eggs (from the supermarket). It wasn’t until I dove back into backyard chicken keeping as an adult several years ago that I learned which chickens lay brown eggs as well as which chickens lay blue eggs, green eggs, and even pink eggs.

I now raise many chicken breeds and love having a colorful basket made up of the different eggs collected from them. Since I was interested in finding out WHY different eggs are different colors, I have done a bit of research into what exactly causes this. It’s actually pretty fascinating stuff!

 White Eggs

All chicken eggs start out with white shells made primarily of calcium carbonate. No matter what breed the chicken or what color an egg ultimately ends up being, all eggshells begin as white. The white egg-laying breeds, including Leghorns, Andalusians, Catalanas, Lakenvelders among others, don’t possess any pigment genes, so they lay white eggs. Because Leghorns were specifically bred to eat little and lay a lot, they were the darling of the commercial egg industry and thus the reason why most store-bought eggs were primarily white  … until recently. The perception that brown eggs are fresher and more nutritious (neither true, by the way!) has led to the introduction of brown eggs to grocery store chains in recent years.

Brown Eggs

The brown egg layers such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds, Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Brahmas and Plymouth Rocks, possess brown pigment genes and a brown ‘dye’ is applied (by the hen of course!) to the eggshell fairly late in the laying process; around the last 4-6 hours of the total 26 hours it takes to form the egg. This results in a brown-shelled egg. Interestingly, the inside of a brown egg is always white – the brown dye doesn’t penetrate the shell, leaving the inside the original color.


Note that the inside of a brown egg is white, while the inside of a blue egg is blue.

Blue Eggs

There are three breeds that lay blue eggs: Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Cream Legbars. The blue color is created by oocyanin, which is applied early in the laying process. The blue pigment goes right through the shell, unlike the brown pigment. So blue eggs are blue inside and out.

Green Eggs

Green egg-layers, such as Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers, are created by cross breeding a blue-egg-laying breed and a brown-egg-laying breed and those hens possess both blue and brown genes. Therefore the eggshells are green on the outside (created by mixing blue and brown) and blue on the inside, having been ‘painted’ with both blue and brown dye.

Varying shades of browns and greens are for the most part dictated by the breed laying the egg, although within a breed, there might be some shade variation. Some brown-egg-laying breeds apply less brown pigment to the shell than others, resulting in light tan eggs. Some breeds lay extremely light-colored eggs, such as Faverolles and Light Sussex, that can look almost pink or cream in color. Other breeds, such as Marans and Penendesencas, lay extremely dark brown eggs.

Having a colorful egg basket filled with different colored chicken eggs is just one more benefit to raising your own backyard chickens. Knowing why eggs come in different colors is fascinating. So why not add some color to YOUR egg basket when you choose your breeds this spring?


Add some color to your egg basket!

(Of course, when choosing breeds, you should make your final decisions based on temperament, hardiness, and other breed characteristics relating to your climate and location, not purely based on egg color.)

Do you have a favorite chicken egg color?

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  • Great information. We just found an olive egg with an additional top layer that is brown. Have you ever seen one with both colors? You can actually peel the brown layer off and have the olive shell remaining.

  • I have blue egg layers. Only the shells are blue. I have been told that the contents of the eggs can also be blue. I have not found this to be the case! Is that true?

  • Hi! Nice information, BUT I notice Not All Blue Eggs are Blue on the Inside some are White on the Inside, Any information about WHY??? Thanks in Advance and good day!

  • Thyjuan R.

    This was a great article. I love the various shades of blue eggs as well as pinkish/light brown eggs.

  • My Spotted Sussex lay beautiful light brown eggs, smooth and solid shade. My Barnevelders lay a gorgeous dark brown, either swirled or speckled…I can’t figure out which one of the two lays the speckled eggs. I love both!

  • Will the green and blue shells stay colorful when boiled or does the color boil off?

    • Hi Deb. The shells stay colorful when boiled. I just had a green one for breakfast!

  • I love your article. I’m going to share it with some of my friends on FB who have asked me about eggs and egg coloring. There are so many myths out there! My backyard flock of over 30 lays all different colors. I recently got some Cuckoo Maran chicks and they will probably start laying around October. I can’t wait to see their chocolate brown eggs. I’ve already got white, pinkish tan, tan, brown, blue, and my one Araucana lays a greener egg than her sisters, so I always know which egg is hers. She’s a tough little girl who has lived to over 3 years old so far, even though she was bit by a dog as a chick and her bottom beak is bent off at 90 degrees. A vet tried to see if it was dislocated, but no, it was actually broken and unfixable, but she’s still going strong, even with her “disability”. (She gets a special cup of chick scratch twice a day that is easy for her to eat, along with the feed that everyone else gets. And they all run the whole property during the day.)
    I love seeing all the egg colors, and my granddaughter loves to collect them.

  • I love all the egg colors, but especially the blue eggs. I had a white chicken that I thought was a short leg horn. But she laid blue eggs and was a real pet for me. However, she is gone and I really loved her and her eggs. I just purchased two Americana chicks to see if I can get blue eggs again. They are too you yet for eggs, but beautiful chickens. Unfortunately, they are not pet friendly which makes me sad. Hope we get some more blue eggs.

  • Bonnie F.

    I was given a Americana hen a few years ago by some people who were moving and couldn’t take any of their animals with them. They told me that she was a real old hen and that they had never got any eggs from her. They recommended that I butcher and can her. The next morning I found a light green egg in the goat’s hay manger. And we got 7 green eggs in the next 9 days. Guess she had a secret hiding place for them at her old home. I saved a bunch of her eggs and incubated them, and now about half or better of my hens lay light green eggs like their mom did. Green Eggs and Ham for everybody. 🙂

  • Carol L.

    I purchased a young chicken in October whose supposed to lay blue eggs. However, she’s just started laying, but her eggs are pale brown. Will they get blue as she get older, or will they just remain pale brown? Thanks. Carol.


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