Emu vs. Chicken Eggs: 9 Differences You Should Know

Comparing a chicken to an emu is something of a David and Goliath story. But ultimately both are still birds: They have similar diets, similar routines, and similar social structures. Emus are just a heck of a lot bigger! And, of course, both species lay eggs

emu eggs
emu eggs

But let me tell you, emu and chicken eggs, for all of their similarities, are still quite different in many ways! You want to know about these differences if you are planning on adding an emu to your assortment of animals, or you just want to learn more about them. Let’s get right into it.


The most immediate and striking difference between an emu egg and a chicken egg is size. Emu eggs are absolutely massive, and are in fact the second largest bird egg on Earth (right behind ostrich eggs). They are real whoppers!

An emu egg will measure anywhere from 5 to 6 inches tall, 4 inches wide at its widest point, and have a circumference of 12 to 15 inches.

By comparison, a chicken egg only measures about 2 ½ inches tall at the absolute tallest, and that’s if it has been laid by a very large breed, and has a width that will rarely meet even one and a half inches.

Generally, an emu egg is anywhere from 8 to 12 times larger than a chicken egg depending on the breed that laid it!

When it comes to size there is just no comparison, and you’ll never mistake a chicken egg for an emu’s.


The internal volume is also a big difference between these two eggs. Chicken eggs, depending on the size, will hold anywhere from 40 to 55 milliliters on average. That’s a few tablespoons.

But an emu egg? No comparison! These mammoth eggs can hold over a pint internally! That’s more than 473 milliliters!

And believe me, you’ll know if you ever crack one open. You better get ready for a tsunami of yolk and white to come out.


One area where chicken eggs seem to have emu eggs beat is in terms of color.

Chicken eggs, depending on the breed, come in basically all the different colors of the rainbow, from white, off-white, taupe, tan, yellow-brown, chocolate, mahogany and even various shades of blue and green.

They really are gorgeous, and if you have a mixed flock of yardbirds, the resulting basket of eggs you get every day is really something to behold.

But emu eggs? They only come in one color. And what a color it is!

Emu eggs are always green. Specifically, it is a wonderfully gorgeous emerald green, at least at first, that will darken to an avocado color as the egg is incubated. There’s no denying that they are pretty, but there’s also no variation in the color assuming that the bird is healthy.


You’d think that a bigger emu egg would be more durable than a little chicken egg, and you’d be right! Everyone knows that eggs are fragile, and I suppose and you compare them to most other things any kind of bird egg is indeed.

But emu eggs are a lot thicker than chicken eggs. How much thicker? About five times: Emu eggs are about 1.5 millimeters thick all the way around assuming that the eggshell is correctly formed. A chicken eggshell, by comparison, is only 0.3 millimeters thick.

Yes, an impact chicken egg is surprisingly sturdy thanks to its ovoid shape, but an emu egg is noticeably strong and rigid. They also take some genuine effort to crack!


Chicken eggs, as a rule, are smooth to the touch. Look at them under a microscope and you’ll see that the shell actually consists of tiny, craggy, microscopic pores that allow moisture to pass through, but when touched they feel quite smooth.

But emu eggs do not, and have a vaguely sandpapery, pebbly texture you can actually see with your naked eye. They aren’t abrasively rough or anything, not really, but you’ll feel it right away if you touch them.

This also contributes to the finish of the egg, if you want to call it that: most chicken eggs are satiny and some even have a semi-gloss sheen.

Emu eggs, in stark contrast, always have a matte finish that seems to absorb light. Combined with their universal green color, this is thought to give the eggs a measure of camouflage when in the wild.

Incubation Time

As a rule of thumb, chicken eggs incubate and hatch pretty quick, taking just 20 or 21 days, with only a few outlier breeds incubating for much longer than that. That’s less than a month; just 3 weeks on average.

But emu eggs take a very long time, anywhere from 50 to 60 days, with 54 or 55 being considered average. That’s nearly 2 whole months!

This makes sense, of course, because larger birds need more time in the shell to grow and develop.

But more than that, emus are also born precocious compared to chickens, moving around vigorously very soon after hatching and being ready to leave the nest properly in just a couple of days.


No, emu meat does not taste like chicken. And Emu eggs… actually, they taste a lot like chicken eggs!

In fact, compared to ducks, turkeys and geese emu eggs compare very favorably with chicken eggs in terms of taste, but are often described by folks that sample them as being richer, fluffier and having an ever so slightly different flavor.

This makes emu eggs a great stand-in if you’re preparing a big breakfast for a bunch of people, or you’re making a huge portion of desserts, or any other recipes that call for eggs.

You can substitute one for the other; just know that your emu egg will take the place of 8 or 12 chicken eggs in the recipe!

I hope you’re hungry.


Chickens lay a lot more eggs than emus. At least, most chicken breeds do. Whereas even a mediocre domestic chicken will lay at least 150 eggs yearly, only an exceptional female emu will lay more than 50 in the same time period.

But what’s really surprising is that emus and chickens both lay large clutch sizes, with emus laying anywhere from 5 to 10 eggs on average in a clutch, with 12 or more not being out of the question. Chickens usually lay between 6 and 12 eggs before settling down to sit on them and incubate.


Probably the single biggest practical difference between chicken and Emu eggs is the availability.

There are more than half a billion chickens in the US, with many of them devoted to egg production. High-output hens can lay upwards of 300 eggs every year, so I’ll let you do the math on that for yourself.

By contrast, there are maybe 12,500 emus in the United States as of press time (though their popularity and populations are growing every year), and only a small fraction of them are devoted to egg production.

This means that emu eggs are always going to be a rare and specialty product, available only direct from the farm or specialty sellers of exotic foods. Chicken eggs, though, are absolutely ubiquitous and you can get them from any grocery or corner store.

Most of us will never even have the opportunity to try an emu egg unless we seek them out online or contact a farm!

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