Eggs are a pretty integral ingredient in baking. But if you’re vegan (or allergic, or just out of eggs), there are plenty of awesome egg substitutes available today. “I can’t tell you how big this vegan [baking] trend is right now,” Lin Carson, Ph.D., food scientist and CEO of BAKERpedia, a free online encyclopedia for commercial bakers, tells SELF.
“The cool thing about egg substitutions is that there are so many different options,” culinary school graduate Jenny Dunklee of The Lazy Vegan Baker tells SELF. So we talked to the pros about the best egg replacements for various types of baked goods, and what else egg-free bakers should keep in mind.
What to know about swapping out eggs
It’s helpful to know what eggs actually do for your baked goods in the first place. “Eggs typically take on three roles when baking: Moisture, rise/leavening, and binding,” culinary school grad and professional photographer Sarah McMinn of My Darling Vegan tells SELF. “Most egg replacers will add moisture and binding, but you will likely need to add a separate leavening agent, such as baking soda or baking powder.” (Specific amounts vary by substitute; see below.)
However, “When you’re replacing eggs, there’s no one-size-fits-all,” Fran Costigan, culinary instructor, cookbook author, pastry chef, consultant, and director of Vegan Pastry at Rouxbe Culinary School, tells SELF. Each egg substitute will affect the taste and texture of the final product slightly differently, Costigan explains—meaning the best substitute for a batch of cookies might not be right for a birthday cake. We got great pointers from experienced vegan bakers, but it’s also “good to be open to a little experimentation,” Costigan says. (If you’re really not one for experimenting, you can probably find an egg-free version of whatever you want to make on one of the many vegan blogs out there. “That way, somebody’s already done all that testing for you,” Dunklee says.)
One more thing to keep in mind: Stick to substituting in recipes that call for three eggs or fewer, Costigan and Dunklee agree. More than that, and you begin to compromise the integrity of the original recipe. “You can’t make Grandma’s cake recipe with six eggs,” Dunklee says.
“Replacing eggs can take some trial and error,” McMinn says, “but generally speaking, most people are quite surprised at how easy it is to bake egg-free.” Happy eggless baking!
The best egg substitutes
What the pros say: The liquid from a can of chickpeas that you pour down the sink is actually vegan baking gold. “It’s so amazing it’s ridiculous,” Dunklee says of her go-to. It’s also cheap and convenient (especially if you’re someone who happens to eat a lot of chickpeas). An average can of chickpeas contains about ¾ cup aquafaba, and the leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen, Costigan says. Aquafaba is particularly magical at mimicking egg whites. “It whips up beautifully,” Costigan says.
Best for: Everything! But especially cakes and meringues
How to make it: Use 3T of liquid drained from a can of chickpeas per egg you’re replacing. Stir in extra leavener: ⅛ tsp cream of tartar (Costigan’s formula) or ¼ tsp baking powder (Dunklee’s formula). Optionally, Costigan recommends taking an extra step to increase the viscosity: Reduce the liquid down over medium-high heat to about ½ cup volume. (To make meringue, check out Dunklee’s thorough tutorial.)
2. Flaxseed or chia seed
What the pros say: Mixing ground flaxseed or chia seed with water “creates this very gloopy, gel-like mixture that binds the batter together pretty well,” Dunklee says. “It [has] an egg-white-like texture.” Flax and chia “eggs,” as they’re called, can usually be used interchangeably, Costigan says, although she finds chia to be more neutral tasting. Dunklee prefers flax.