Why Are People Superstitious About Double-yolked Eggs?

By: Alison Cooper & Desiree Bowie  | 
Double-yolked eggs
Double-yolked eggs can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on your perspective — or your culture, even. MandD/Thinkstock

There's about a one in 1,000 chance that the next egg you crack open will be double-yolked. As is the case with many uncommon occurrences in nature, people have attached several superstitions to double-yolk eggs.

They're a pretty obvious reference to fertility, so most of these superstitions have to do with reproduction and good fortune. The most common is that you or someone you know will soon become pregnant (maybe with twins) if you happen upon a double-yolker. In the Wiccan tradition, they're known as a sign of general good fortune, much like the four-leaf clover.


If you're interested in ancient Norse beliefs, you might feel a sense of doom if you get a double-yolk egg — it means that someone in your family is about to meet their maker.

What's Behind the Double Yolks?

So what causes a hen to produce double-yolk eggs? They happen when the chicken ovulates twice in quick succession, according to Sauder's Eggs, a farm in Pennsylvania. The yolk (known as an oocyte at this point), is released into the hen's oviduct (its fallopian tube) before the previous yolk has had a chance to clear out of the way. So a single shell then forms around the two yolks.

Typically, double yolks happen in young hens with more immature reproductive systems whose timing hasn't quite been perfected. It can also be a hereditary trait in heavier hen breeds like the Buff Orpington. And sometimes double-yolkers occur because of fake light exposure.


Let There Be (Artificial) Light

Farmers often employ artificial light to manage egg production in chickens, enabling year-round laying. Around four to five months of age, hens begin laying eggs.

Incrementally increasing their exposure to artificial light, thereby simulating longer days, helps prevent the occurrence of double-yolk eggs. However, sudden changes in day length can lead to a higher proportion of double yolks in eggs from young hens.


But things eventually even out when farmers transition the hens from controlled indoor lighting to natural light, particularly during the longest days of the year, which optimizes double-yolk production.

Over time, ovulation patterns normalize, and hens return to laying single-yolk eggs. This controlled lighting manipulation ensures a consistent egg supply.


Are Double-yolkers Safe to Consume?

Double-yolk eggs, although unusual, are perfectly safe to eat. They still make amazing scrambled eggs and omelets and can be used just like single-yolk eggs in most recipes.

But because the white-to-yolk ratio is off and they don't quite count as two eggs, you might have to alter certain baking recipes if you want them to come out perfectly. However, if you're making hollandaise sauce, you're in luck.


For a long time, the double-yolked egg has been considered the black sheep, if you will, of the egg world. When eggs are being processed, they go through a step called candling, during which they're examined under a light and checked for defects.

Double-yolkers usually get pulled out at that point and are not sold along with the normal eggs. But they've been enjoying a little bump in popularity, perhaps because people are becoming a bit less averse to cholesterol. (The double yolk is an extra shot of protein, after all.)

Or maybe it goes along with the general trend of interest in products from smaller farms, which is where you can sometimes find double yolks for sale. Sauder's Eggs packages the doubles separately and sells them as "Double-Yolkers."

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.


Double Yolk Eggs FAQ

How rare is a double-yolk egg?
Double-yolk eggs are uncommon, but not as rare as you might think. Even though they’re only found in one in every 1,000 eggs, there are billions of eggs produced every year. So don't be too surprised if you end up with a couple double yolk eggs in a carton every now and then.
Can hens lay eggs with more than two yolks?
Hens can lay eggs with more than two yolks. Triple- and quadruple-yolk eggs exist too, although they're even rarer than double-yolkers. The world yolk record is nine in a single egg. In 2011, a British woman cracked open an astonishing 29 double-yolkers from one package.
Are double-yolk eggs natural?
Double yolk eggs are completely natural. They're laid by younger hens with immature reproductive systems. These hens ovulate twice in quick succession, causing a single shell to form around two egg yolks.
Is the double-yolk egg good for health?
Double-yolk eggs are perfectly healthy and safe to eat, even though they have a different white-yolk ratio. A double yolk means double the amount of protein and nutrients. However, it also means they have more cholesterol than a regular, single-yolk egg, so if that’s something you’re watching, you may want to serve that one to someone else.
Why don't they sell double-yolk eggs?
Many poultry farms remove double-yolk eggs and don't sell them because health-conscious consumers have become more averse to cholesterol-packed foods. As a result, some farms actually package double-yolk eggs and sell them separately.

Lots More Information

Author's Note: Why Are People Superstitious About Double-yolked Eggs?

I had to laugh when I read the article about the woman who got all those double-yolked eggs. Recently, I got pretty excited when a double-yolker was the first one I cracked open from a package of three dozen local, organic eggs. But that delight turned to uneasiness as I gradually discovered that they were all double-yolked. What's that all about? Never bought from that farmer again, but if I'd have known the odds I would've tried to get on the news!

Related Articles

  • Damerow, Gail. "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens." Storey Publishing, 2010. (Jan. 14, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=GxoH_NRDxe8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=storey%27s+guide+chickens&hl=en&sa=X&ei=b9u2VKrnBsS9ggSY6YKwDw&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=double&f=false
  • The Independent. "British woman cracks open 29 double-yolked eggs in a row." June 29, 2011. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/british-woman-cracks-open-29-doubleyolked-eggs-in-a-row-2304092.html
  • Nigella.com. "Kitchen Queries: Double Yolked Eggs." (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.nigella.com/kitchen-queries/view/Double-Yolked-Eggs/2931
  • PoultryHelp.com. "Odd Eggs, Double Yolks, No Yolks, Etc." Feb. 11, 2011. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.poultryhelp.com/oddeggs.html
  • Sauder's Eggs. "Why Do Some Eggs Have Two Yolks?" (Aug. 20, 2021). https://www.saudereggs.com/blog/why-do-some-eggs-have-two-yolks/
  • Sterling, Justine. "Your Questions About Double-Yolk Eggs, Answered." Food & Wine, Dec. 13, 2014. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2014/12/13/your-questions-about-double-yolked-eggs-answered