Historically, eggs have been seen as absolute must-haves in the kitchen. They can indeed be huge assets in cooking and baking as they help thicken, bind and volumize, and they help with texture, moisture and strength. But these are the days of finding plant-based and vegan alternatives in the kitchen whether for health, allergy or environmental considerations, and that includes finding healthy food egg substitutes.
Experimenting with new ingredients for plant-based recipes is way easier (and more fun!) than you might think. There are many excellent egg replacers we can turn to, and although they do often alter recipes slightly (sometimes you won’t even notice!), usually it’s for the better.
As you get started, it helps to know the important qualities you want to mimic in your recipe as you look for egg replacers.
For example, aquafaba acts as a strengthener, binder and emulsifier, among other attributes, and it is great for people with egg allergies. Here’s a look at the top egg substitutes for your next baking or cooking recipe.
Aquafaba is bean juice, that is, the juice you would find in a can of chickpeas. Aim for three tablespoons of aquafaba per egg you replace; to go even healthier, use unsalted aquafaba.
Use aquafaba to replace egg whites in recipes for meringue, mousse, pie crust butter, buttercream, mayo and more.
3 tbsp aquafaba = 1 egg
2. Flax Seeds or Chia Seeds
Coffee grinders or spice grinders come in handy when you use flax seeds as egg substitutes. They are great in recipes in which eggs are used for binding and emulsifying. Grind the flax seeds, and use three tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of ground flax seeds for one egg. Let the mixture chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then you are good to go.
This substitution can be especially enjoyable in recipes such as power cookies and whole grain muffins that work well with the nutty flax seed flavor. Cooked rice, mashed potatoes and oatmeal are also good egg replacers that help with binding.
3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp ground flax seeds or chia seeds = 1 egg
Tofu comes to the rescue when you need a lot of egg substitutes. You get the texture you need, although not as much fluff. Firm tofu can be good in dishes such as breakfast scrambles or huevos rancheros (tofu rancheros!). For soft tofu, use a pureed quarter-cup to replace each egg. Use tofu when the egg is supposed to act as an emulsifier.
1/4 cup pureed tofu = 1 egg
Use bananas when a recipe calls for eggs due to moisture. Think brownies and cake. And if you enjoy the banana flavor, then you are in for a big treat. Take one ripened banana, mash it and use it as the equivalent of one egg.
1 mashed ripe banana = 1 egg
You can do something similar with applesauce if bananas are not your thing; one egg equals one tablespoon of applesauce. Many people also use applesauce to replace oil, and you can use sweetened or unsweetened applesauce to match your preferences. Applesauce is also great for density, and for something different that helps retain moisture, try yet another substitute – 1/3 of a cup of pumpkin.
1 tbsp applesauce = 1 egg
6. Vegetable Oil
Does a recipe only call for one egg when baking? A quarter cup of vegetable oil can substitute for it. If you need more than one egg, try other options to minimize grease and oil.
1/4 cup vegetable oil = 1 egg
7. Baking Powder, Water and Vegetable Oil
If the egg is intended to help with leavening, try this recipe of water (2 tablespoons), vegetable oil (1 tablespoon) and baking powder (2 tablespoons) for each egg called for. This is especially useful in baking.
2 tbsp water + 1 tbsp vegetable oil + 2 tbsp baking powder = 1 egg
As you can see, one trick in having success with egg substitutes is to determine the purpose of the egg(s) in a recipe.
- For instance, if you notice a recipe is relatively dry, then it is likely that the egg is used for moisture.
- If the recipe calls for baking powder or baker’s yeast, the egg likely helps with rising.
- For structural dishes such as bread and meatloaf, eggs help with binding.
- If they are used for glazing, you can probably skip a substitute altogether, as the egg probably only affects appearance. (Or try aquafaba – which can make a great glaze on pastry crusts, for example!)