18 Ways To Use Egg Cartons To Make Cooking Easier

If you live in an eco-conscious household, you've probably tried every way to reuse all of your old containers, from your big yogurt tubs to small glass jam jars, for some other purpose. Jars get the lion's share of attention in the reusable kitchen movement because the containers are relatively easy to wash, dry, and stock. One item that doesn't get a lot of love and interest for repurposing, though, is the humble egg carton. 

Egg cartons can be made with many different materials, including cardboard, plastic, and styrofoam; this material will affect what you can do with the carton and how to clean and prep it for its next job. For example, cartons made of plastic or styrofoam should be washed with soap and water before you use them for something besides eggs because the eggshells can carry salmonella. Some of the popular non-food uses for leftover egg cartons include paint palettes, tablet stands, and crafts. Here are some of the ways you can utilize a leftover egg carton in your kitchen. 

1. Use it to light your grill

There's no summer barbecue without a grill. Empty egg cartons can help when you're grilling by acting as a fire starter. Fill a cardboard (and only cardboard) egg carton with charcoal briquettes and light the entire carton on fire in the designated location on your grill. Burning polystyrene (styrofoam) containers release styrene gas into the air, which can cause nervous system impairments.

Once your cardboard carton is lit and aflame, add charcoal to the fire to keep it going. This hack works great for camping because you can easily transport the charcoal in the carton and leave without a mess. You can also use up your leftover egg cartons for at-home marshmallows over a fire pit. Since the cardboard material is highly flammable, this hack omits the need to douse your coals with lighter fluid. In turn, your meats and grilled veggies won't taste like chemicals. 

2. Store and freeze bacon grease

Bacon grease might be seen as an undesirable byproduct of cooking the tasty breakfast staple, but this ingredient can actually be useful for other culinary applications. You can cook food in bacon grease to impart a more savory and meaty flavor, or add it to baked foods for a subtle bacon undertone. 

To store bacon grease with an egg carton, start by cooling your grease in the pan — but don't let it solidify. Then, transfer the grease to a clean plastic or styrofoam egg carton. You should avoid using a cardboard egg carton for this hack because the material prevents it from being sanitized completely, and the paper doesn't tend to hold up to grease. Transfer the pods of bacon grease into your freezer and move them to a Ziploc bag once fully solidified. Storing the pods in the freezer is essential to discourage the grease from going rancid. 

3. Make it a spoon rest

Have you ever experienced the momentary spike of panic where you have a sauce-covered spoon in one hand and nowhere to put it besides down on a clean countertop? Not only are you making a mess of your kitchen, but you also have to worry about introducing flavors and pathogens back into your food via cross-contamination. 

Curtis Stone's egg carton hack is to cut the lid off the carton and use the back of it as a spoon rest. Toss the lid in the recycling for easy cleanup when you're finished cooking. You won't need to spend the money on a spoon rest you have to wash, and you'll put your egg carton to good use. Plus, who doesn't love keeping their mise en place orderly? 

4. Store condiment bottles upside down

Imagine opening up a ketchup bottle in anticipation of dolloping a few squirts onto your burger or fries. But instead, you find yourself banging the container on the counter to drop the remaining condiment out of the jar. This just brews unnecessary hassle and will probably result in you reaching for a fresh bottle anyway. 

Instead of storing your condiments right-side up in the refrigerator, try keeping them upside down to allow gravity to do the work. The clever way Alton Brown repurposes egg cartons is to place all of the sealed condiment containers upside down in each empty egg cup. The carton is small enough to fit in the drawer of most refrigerators, which can help you maximize space. When you're ready to use, grab a condiment, dispense it, and close the container tightly before putting it back in the organizer.

5. Shape perfectly round meatballs

Making meatballs is a task that you have to do with precision. If your balls aren't all the same size, they won't cook evenly. Alton Brown's egg carton hack will change the way you make meatballs forever. While most people resort to cookie scoops, you can instead use an egg carton to help ensure all of your meatballs are the same size.

Brown takes this hack a step further and cooks his meatballs in a cardboard egg carton, too. He roasted the meatballs in the egg carton so that the cardboard would absorb some of the grease. The celebrity chef strategically cooked the meatballs in his oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes; if the temperature were increased to 425 degrees F, it would cause the cardboard to combust. It is also likely that the fat from the meatballs helps coat the cardboard, thus preventing it from catching fire. If you're concerned about a grease fire in your kitchen but still want to try Brown's method, try cooking the meatballs in a metal muffin tin instead. 

6. Organize donuts

Most donut shops' go-to method for packaging their donuts is to toss them into either a bag or a box. Unfortunately, this method causes the sugar and frosting to contaminate the other donuts, which can make your eating experience less than ideal. 

If you're making donuts at home, the easiest method to store your donuts is to use an egg carton. You can nestle each donut in the egg holes to ensure they are standing upright and adequately spaced. This trick also works for filling donuts. You won't have to worry about picking up the donuts, covering your hands in sugar, and awkwardly maneuvering the donut back to where it came from. You can instead quickly fill each donut down the line in the carton without having to pick a single one up. 

7. Serve mini muffins or cupcakes

If you're baking and serving cupcakes or muffins to your friends, you'll likely want to have a container to give to them that you won't be too upset to never see again. Enter the egg carton. 

Egg cartons are the perfect serving vessel for cupcakes and muffins because it keeps the individual bakes stable and can easily complement a spring or Easter baking theme. It is recommended that the cartons be cardboard rather than plastic because the latter tends to have a plastic flip top that would destroy the artistic frosting or decorations. You'll also want to convert your recipe into mini cupcakes or muffins rather than regular ones to ensure that every cake fits in a well. Tie up your bake with a bow and give it to your loved ones to celebrate a special occasion or just because. 

8. Make a multi-scoop ice cream display

Are you the kind of person who orders the same flavor of ice cream from a scoop shop, or do you like to get a scoop of several different flavors? If you empathize more with the latter, this tip is for you. You can use a clean styrofoam or plastic egg carton to add individual ice cream scoops. Personalize each well with your favorite flavor and your favorite toppings, and you'll have a medley of different ice cream types to choose from. Just make sure you keep a glass of water nearby — we don't think that jumping from coffee right to bubblegum will leave the best taste in your mouth. When you're finished with your ice cream, rinse out the plastic container and recycle it or throw the styrofoam variety in the trash. 

9. Organize your taco toppings

The table spread on taco night can get pretty serious, from reaching across the table to grab a few sprigs of cilantro to accidentally dusting someone else's wrap with shredded cheese. Instead of building your taco table for craziness, try using egg cartons to keep things more contained. You can fill clean egg cartons with a few handfuls of lettuce, cheese, chopped onions, and cilantro to make it easy to DIY a taco. If you're using liquid toppings like salsa, queso, or even guacamole, be sure to use a plastic or styrofoam container so the carton doesn't get soaked all the way through. You can also use an upside-down egg carton to hold your tacos for stuffing. 

This egg carton hack works for nacho night and french fry bars too. Add toppings to each well of your carton and dip away. 

10. Turn it into a makeshift cake pop stand

Cake pops had their time in the spotlight but have started to fade from the Instagram-friendly food lexicon in recent years. These pops are made by crumbling cake with icing and shaping it onto a lollipop stick before coating it in chocolate or more icing. Once the exterior icing has slightly set, the pop can be decorated with sprinkles or designs. It's both portable and delicious. 

Although cake pops appear attractive and easy to make, this dessert does have its challenges. One of these obstacles is how you get the cake pop to set without leaving it on its side. Your leftover egg carton will come in handy to stick the lollipop stick into so the cake pop can dry. You can also decorate your egg carton and use it as a serving base for your cake pops. 

11. Organize onions and garlic while cooking

In a segment on "Today," Curtis Stone shares that he uses leftover egg cartons as "mise en place containers." He shows how he organizes garlic, onions, and herbs in the wells of the egg carton. "Instead of getting a whole lot of bowls out of the fridge, this allows you to get a variety of different ingredients at your fingertips," he explains. This tip makes it especially easy for cooks to add a small sprinkle of ingredients to the food as it's cooking, all without having to wash extra dishes afterward. 

The best egg cartons for this hack are plastic ones because you can easily take the ingredients out without having them get stuck or soak through the wells of the carton. 

12. Make chocolate-covered strawberries with ease

If you've ever spent time meticulously decorating and piping chocolate onto chocolate-covered strawberries, you know how potentially disastrous one little shift to the left can be. Egg cartons can help make your decorating and transportation process much more manageable. 

You can drizzle chocolate on your strawberries by lining the egg carton with aluminum foil and placing the berries in the container stem-side down. Then, cover the berries with chocolate and wait for it to set. All you have to do is remove the foil from the carton to reveal your perfectly covered berries. Alternatively, you can also invert the chocolate-covered strawberry into a chocolate-filled strawberry by carving out a hole in the berry, standing it up in the carton, and pouring the chocolate into the hole. If you have extra cartons lying around, you can line them with cupcake liners and serve your chocolate-covered fruit inside of them, too. 

13. Make a snacking board to keep kids occupied

The key to soothing a fussy child (or adult, if we're being honest) is having snacks on hand. To make snack time organized and fun, use an empty egg carton to portion out small servings of snacks like M&Ms, nuts, crackers, cheese, and Goldfish. Your little eater can mix and match their favorite treats within the container and have a diversity of snacks at their disposal. This snack hack is reminiscent of the internet-famous snackle boxes (tackle boxes filled with snacks), but reuses a leftover container that would otherwise be thrown away. 

Since the snacks are ready-to-eat and make contact with the walls of the carton, it's best to use a plastic container that can be washed and sanitized before filling. 

14. Use it as a trivet for hot pans

Trivets are a kitchen essential. These small but mighty tools allow cooks to place hot pots and pans down without damaging the table or counter. Besides protecting your kitchen surfaces from burn marks, trivets can also absorb condensation from glasses and pitchers. 

If you don't want to invest in expensive trivets for dining and entertaining, consider using your leftover egg cartons instead. Open up the cardboard egg cartons and turn them upside down so they're lying flat before placing the hot dish or pan on top. Depending on the size of your pot, you may want to use oversized egg trays (30-count) to support your pots and pans. It's essential to only use cardboard egg cartons for this hack because other materials tend to soften or melt — which may even ruin your pan. 

15. Make it into an ice-cube tray

If you have company coming over for a cookout and not enough plastic ice trays, you can DIY one with an empty, clean styrofoam egg carton and a roll of aluminum foil. Start by separating the top of the carton from the bottom. Then, lay a sheet of foil over the wells of the egg carton, firmly pressing it down so it conforms to the carton. Any wrinkles in the foil will create issues in releasing the ice cubes when they're finished freezing. 

While some versions of this tip will not require you to use tin foil, we recommend using it to create a barrier between the styrofoam and the water. Plastic cling wrap is not a suitable alternative to the foil because it will flake off into the ice. 

16. Organize small spice containers

One of the pantry hacks that leave you with maximum storage space is to always label the tops of your herb and spice jars. That way, you can easily grab a jar from your storage area without having to rifle through the cinnamon, coriander, and other miscellaneous spices that are in your way. You can further organize your pantry by using an egg carton to keep all of your jars in. 

Place each jar, top labeled, in an egg carton. When it comes time to cook, you can pull out the egg carton and quickly select the seasoning you need. This is an excellent hack for any cooking enthusiast to know because you can also easily transport your spices when you switch locations or kitchens. 

17. Keep condiment packets organized

Condiment packets often get thrown into junk drawers, never to see the light of day again. But if you have an egg carton, you can find a home for your leftover ketchup and soy sauce packets. You can organize the packets by sweet and savory or just by the type of condiment. Keep the packets in a drawer and bring it out on a takeout night to use up your condiments before they go bad. 

Besides condiments, you can also use egg cartons to organize other miscellaneous items in your drawers, including coins, hair ties, clips, screws, hardware, and batteries. This hack works for cardboard, plastic, or styrofoam containers. When you're ready to switch drawers, you only have to move the carton. Everything stays organized rather than getting jostled around. 

18. Start herbs for your culinary garden

One of the most popular ways to use egg cartons is as a seed starter. If you love having access to fresh herbs in your kitchen, you will want to utilize this hack. 

Start with a cardboard egg carton. Since the cardboard will biodegrade into the soil, you can cut off the individual wells and plant them. Add the soil (or desired growing medium), seeds, and water to the wells. It's also important to poke a few small holes in each well to allow for drainage; you can use the lid of the container to catch the leached water. Then, place the carton inside of a roasting bag or reused plastic bag and allow it to sit in a sunny spot. The bag acts as a greenhouse by trapping in the warm air and moisture, which helps the seeds to grow. Once the seeds are started, they can be transferred to a larger container for kitchen herbs on demand.