I have never been one to follow the rules – no way, no how. I jay walk, never read the instructions to IKEA products (but seriously, does anyone?), and often think I’m right. When it comes down to it, I’m as stubborn as my Chinese zodiac. This attitude, as problematic as it can be, has always made its way into my cooking. Sometimes, this results in incredible substitutions and newfound discoveries, and sometimes, less impressive never to repeat ones. When I first really began to care about eating healthy, substitutions were necessary. The blogs of today were yet to be imagined, and so I often had to improvise and adjusted things for myself. It was a learning experience of taking existing recipes and making them healthy. Flours got replace, sugars and oils were both drastically cut and replaced, and eggs, well they often went too.
Eggs are something I do eat here and there, and something I crave and enjoy. But for me, eggs are far too special to be hidden away in a muffin or pancake. I’ve always had access to fresh eggs from my parents chickens, and to me they are like little golden gems. They’re rare, and special, and should be celebrated for what they are. And ninety-nine percent of the time for me, this doesn’t include being tossed into baking. Replacing eggs in baking is a super easy way to make your cooking vegan and more accessible to those avoiding eggs. Subbing them out can often increase the fiber content of your food, or even help reduce the sweetener or fat you need to add. And, if you’re buying those beautiful eggs from the farmers market, it can help save a few pennies too.
There are several different commercial varieties of egg replacers on the market, but to be honest, I really dislike them. Firstly, some contain very questionable ingredients. Last time I was at a big grocery store chain I noticed a very popular brand’s egg replacer contained “soy, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids”, and some algae thickener. Do we really want to add that to our breakfast? Probably not! My second reason for disliking them is the fact that you’re not adding anything nutritious to the recipe (like fiber or good fats). And finally, my biggest aversion to them is simply having to buy a whole new ingredient. Let’s just stick to the things we already have already in our pantry, kapeesh.
What Eggs do
Most baked goods call for eggs, but as previous (mainly wartime) generations have found through rationing, they aren’t always needed. You can easily whip up numerous cookies, cakes, and quick breads by replacing an egg with something that mimics its characteristics. But what what exactly do eggs add to your recipes?
1) Leaven – Sometimes eggs are beaten to incorporate air. This helps a product rise, creating a lofty structure much like baking powder or soda would.
2) Bind – As eggs bake, the proteins congeal helping them hold all the little bits and pieces together, making for a less crumbly product.
3) Moisture – Adding eggs often adds moisture and richness to a dish. This is often the case when their is already enough leavening agent and binder in the mix.
4) Thicken – Items such as curds and custards often rely on eggs to help thicken and set.
5) Colour – …I know, this one is just kind of goofy. Using eggs helps add a golden colour to a products interior or a shiny glaze for crusts.
Finally, there are some odd-ones such as using eggs to help a create crumb coat adhere, making a meringue, or adding flavour.
Guide to Egg Replacers
Below is a list of my favourite egg replacers that you can use to alter most any recipe you come across. While some replacers work better in some types of recipes than others, play around with them, and don’t forget that you don’t always have to follow the rules! Each measurement below is equivalent to 1 standard egg.
What: Chick Pea Water or Cooking Water from another White Bean (aka Aquafaba)
How Much: 3 Tbsp
Properties: The water from a can of beans (non salted) or the condensed starchy water left over from cooking them at home, can be beaten to make meringues, royal icing, pavlova, basically anything besides angle food cake. It can also be used as is to replace whole, un-whipped eggs.
Best Fit: Pretty much anything you can think of! Mayo, meringues, cookies, loafs, brownies, pancakes. See the amazing things other people have come up with here
How Much: About 1/2 a ripe banana, mashed (1/4 cup)
Properties: Bananas add both moisture, richness, and act as a binder. There natural sweetness works perfectly for baking. However, adding banana will also affect the flavour of the finished product, so many keep it out of the savoury dishes.
Best Fit: Muffins, loafs, and pancakes
What: Unsweetened Apple Sauce / Pumpkin Puree
How Much: 1/4 Cup
Properties: Unsweetened Apple Sauce has the same properties as Banana (moister and binder), but adds less of an overall flavour. Puree such as pumpkin and sweet potato can be used as well, adding both sweetness and flavour.
Best Fit: Muffins, loaves, and pancakes
What: Flax Meal
How Much: 1 Tbsp. Ground Flax mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit for 10 minutes)
Properties: Flax eggs make a great egg replacer as they add good fats (omega 3) to your baking and help bind. Larger batches can be make up and stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Like all perishable seeds and nuts, flax should be bought whole and ground fresh (in a coffee grinder or high speed blender) as well as stored in the fridge or freezer to prevent spoilage.
Best Fit: Because they often add a nutty ‘healthy’ flavour, I like to use flax in denser, breakfast foods (no brownies, please). Try adding them muffins, cookies, loafs, pancakes, and waffles.
What: Chia Seeds
How Much: 1 Tbsp (Ground or whole) mixed with 3 Tbsp water (let sit for 10 minutes)
Properties: Chia seeds work the same way as flax, and help bind everything. Unlike flax, however, chia doesn’t add much flavour or require refrigeration. Either the black or white variety works well.
Best Fit: I add chia to much of the same foods as I would flax, with the addition of chocolaty things such as cookies and brownies.
What: Unsweetened Yogurt (vegan or dairy)
How Much: 1/4 Cup plus 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Properties: Because the yogurt adds only moisture, and no leavening, it’s a good idea to add a touch more baking powder to help the dish rise.
Best Fit: Breads, muffins, loaves, and Cakes. This is also a good fit to replace eggs in crumb coating.
What: Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda
How Much: 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 tsp. Baking Soda
Properties: The chemical reaction causes lift and helps leaven. Depending on the recipe, 3 Tbsp. more moisture (such as almond milk or water) may need to be added per egg.
Best Fit: Cakes and loaves
What: Arrowroot Powder
How Much: 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder to 3 Tbsp Water
Best Fit: For items such as custards and puddings
What: Chickpea Flour (also known as chana or besan)
How Much: 1/4 Cup of flour added to your dry ingredients and 1/4 water or almond milk in your wet ingredients.
Properties: Because the high protein content in chickpeas, this flour acts a lot like eggs. It helps bind without making dishes too heavy. Although I enjoy the flavour, the distinct beanyness isn’t for everyone. Try not to use more than 1 egg equivalent to avoid an overwhelming flavour.
Best Fit: Cakes, muffins, cookies, quick breads, waffles, and pancakes.
And a few helpful tricks:
Turmeric – Adding a pinch to help achieve a golden colour to your breads and custards
Bread crumbs, Flour or Ground Oats – The Perfect binder to add to veggie burgers
Tahini or Nut Butters – Also good binders for veggie burgers, falafel, quinoa patties, etc.
Melted Coconut Oil with a Splash of Plant Milk – To brush on breads for a golden crust
Tofu: I left this one out as I am not a big fan of soy, but yes, you can use silken tofu to replace eggs in baking as well as firm tofu in scrambles and sandwiches.