Egg

Which Vegan Egg Replacer Makes the Best Scrambled Eggs?

September 11, 2017

Eggs are so versatile, and universally-loved, that they’re hard to replace. Lots of people are up to the challenge, however. Replacing the eggs in vegan baking is simple. My personal favorite is ground flax seeds mixed with water, but depending on the function of the eggs in a recipe, cupboard staples like bananas or a can of chickpeas (specifically, the liquid known as aquafaba) could work wonders. Even delicate items like meringues are doable for vegans and people with egg allergies.

And this isn’t limited to sweet baking. F52 community member Daniela makes an impressive egg-free Spanish tortilla with chickpea flour, for instance.

Non-baked eggy dishes, however, are harder to replicate, as the flavor, not just the texture, needs to pass muster. Food companies keep trying to best each other when it comes to producing more advanced and realistic egg simulacra. For years, Clara Foods has been working on a chickenless egg white derived from bioengineered yeast. Another much-hyped product is Hampton Creek’s Just Scramble, which, unlike the conventional powder-based options, will come in liquid form. Its launch has been delayed by several years, and the company has been beset by food safety and ethics controversies. Follow Your Heart, the company behind the VeganEgg, is planning to launch a liquid version within the next few months, to be found in a store’s refrigerated section.

No vegan egg scramble is alike! Photo by Bobbi Lin

Follow Your Heart’s CEO, Bob Goldberg, explained to me some of the challenges of creating plant-based egg products. One is getting it to look and feel realistic. “We always operated from the assumption that a vegan egg should exactly replicate as many of the properties of a chicken egg as possible, such as scrambling, binding, and baking. Unlike a veggie burger, where many people are turned off by something which resembles meat too closely, we felt that VeganEgg needed to come across as very authentic so that it could easily replace eggs in most situations.” It took over a decade for the VeganEgg to come to market.

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But Goldberg thinks that this market is set to grow. He says, “I suspect that we will see a steady reduction in the use of actual eggs in products, much like the replacement of milk by the many alternatives to dairy products.”

With this in mind, I tried out some of the mainstays of the vegan egg world. I tested the following products in a classic dish where the faux eggs would be front and center: humble scrambled eggs, with red pepper, red onion, and chives. The results were... well, not hugely inspiring. Of course, these are my opinions only; your mileage may vary.


VeganEgg

Photo by Christine Ro

Yay

  • Follow Your Heart has aimed to make the experience as egg-like as possible, starting with the egg carton box that houses the powder. As soon as you open the package, there’s a strong smell of black salt, imparting to food an earthiness that’s meant to resemble eggs.
  • The VeganEgg is versatile, as it can be used both for scrambled eggs and for baking. (When baking, you may need to add plenty of cooking time, as it produces very moist foods.)
  • This mix is based on algae, with the first two ingredients being “whole algal flour” and “whole algal protein.” Algae is often touted sustainable superfood of the future (although it should be noted that meal replacement company Soylent has blamed algal flour for making some customers sick).

Nah

  • The mix bubbles a lot when cooking, and it takes a while to cook it to firmness. You’ll need some patience.
  • The final product does look suitably eggy, but the texture is a bit rubbery.
  • A single serving doesn’t produce much food, so it’s best to cook several servings’ worth at a time.

Not Your Parents’ Tofu Scramble

Photo by Christine Ro

Yay

  • You can make this with just a microwave, in a short amount of time.

Nah

  • The process for preparing this product, based mainly on soy and algae protein, is a bit awkward.
  • You mix the powder with water, microwave for a minute, scramble with a fork, and repeat.
  • The smell is cardboard-y, and a bit off-putting. The scramble-via-microwave technique led to yellow lumps in some parts and liquids.
  • The taste is chalky, and hard to get over. Not a fan.

Egg-Free Omelett Mix

Photo by Christine Ro

Yay

  • As the name suggests, the Egg-Free Omelett Mix is meant to be used in omelet form, yet it can still be worked into a scramble.
  • The Omelett Mix mainly composed of a mixture of starches. Unlike the other plant-based egg products, it develops a crisp exterior and a sticky, stretchy interior (probably due to the cassava starch). These don’t make for the most traditional scrambled eggs, but it’s a nice change.
  • As with the VeganEgg, the powder has a slight smell of black salt, but this dissipates on cooking, leaving just a subtle savoriness.

Nah

  • The mix is available in Europe, but not yet in the U.S. (It comes from German company Terra Vegane.)

Eggz Essentials

Photo by Christine Ro

Yay

  • These eggs taste richer than the others due to the addition of milk.
  • There’s the possibility of making many other egg-based dishes, using the components of Eggz Essentials.

Nah

  • Even before you get to cooking, this item is a slight pain in the butt. It can only be ordered from one online company, Modernist Pantry.
  • It’s not great value for money; the product is $20, and the e-book of recipes to use the product costs another $20. (The other vegan eggs available generally include a free recipe for scrambled eggs on the packaging.)
  • The cooking, too, involves more steps than the other products. You combine packets strangely labeled just A (plant fiber) and B (gellan gum) with non-dairy milk and seasonings, blend, and refrigerate for a few hours.
  • The scrambled eggz are a bit gummy, chewy, and gluey.

The Verdict

The Egg-Free Omelett, followed by the VeganEgg, is the best of the bunch: easy to prepare and pleasant-tasting (though not mind-blowingly so). The Eggz Essentials might be enjoyable for a person who likes experimenting, as the e-book is loaded with techniques and next-level vegan dishes, such as Eggz Foo Yung. Not Your Parents’ Tofu Scramble, though, is not one I recommend.

Photo by Christine Ro

Another option is the humble tofu scramble, which is endlessly customizable, gives a nice chew, and is cheap and easy. Playing around with innovative products can be fun, but at the moment, the plant-based classics are satisfying enough.

Vegans: What are your favorite ways to replace eggs? Let us know in the comments!

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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7 Comments

Kt R. July 15, 2018
Just thought I'd leave another option: I have developed an allergy to eggs so I went looking something that was fast and as simple as I could. The answer turned out to be chickpea (gorgonzo) bean flour. Get as pure chickpea as you can, heck mill the beans yourself if you can, and it 5 Tbsp of flour to 6-7 Tbsp of water (milk if you'd rather). Onion (either diced or powered to you taste) and then whatever you like. Your looking for a batter that's a little on the runny side. And then scramble away. Hope that helps some of you, enjoy!
 
Violet P. June 22, 2018
Ive gone meat free for 3 months now. Someone gave me a product called Neat Egg. I like it. I like piwedered peanut butter too. I try to keep powdered products since they have a better shelf life for food storage.
 
steve S. September 20, 2017
I am a good reader, but somehow missed the part about hard-boiled egg substitute. I found some difficult methods to make faux scrambled eggs, but no hard-boil substitute. This product doesn't seem ready for prime time. I wouldn't try it and still like to-foo scramble, especially with curry spices and sauteed onions. Please...don't tell anyone, but I eat a real organic, free-range hard-boiled egg when I feel like it. That's right. Eggs don't scare me, so, I cheat. Nice with anchovy. Shh...
 
VeganWithaYoYo September 11, 2017
I'm into VeganEgg. It took me a *while* to get them to cook right. Medium heat in cast iron cooked in a lot of clarified Earth Balance was the way to go. They're also much easier to overcook than they seem, and I think you overcooked yours based on them coming out rubbery and on the way they look. They *can't* be cooked until they start to brown; they make soft-cooked pseudo-eggs or they make rubber. I ended up reading a few articles on how to make soft-cooked scrambled eggs and it helped them to come out okay. But then there's the problem: they've got no protein, and really no real nutritional value. They're a cool trick, and the taste is about 6/10, but I can't imagine eating them as a main course and thinking it was a good idea.<br /><br />I tried Vegg once. It was *revolting.* Took forever to cook and looked and tasted like wallpaper paste. They do have a normal "vegg" that's not meant to be scrambled, and it's a lot more pleasant. Tastes a decent bit like an egg yolk, if my memory of the flavor holds. But I have no idea what to do with it except spherize it (it's got an ingredient in it to facilitate this) and put it on a plate as a gimmick.<br /><br />I've been waiting on Just Scramble for literally years. I'm hoping it's as good as or better than VeganEgg, since it's evidently loaded with protein. If it's a decent substitute (Just Mayo definitely is, so I've got some hope), it could definitely be a real game changer, at least for my diet!
 
Author Comment
Christine R. September 11, 2017
This is helpful, thanks! I'm going to try your VeganEgg technique.<br /><br />Agreed on the limited nutritional value for some of these products, although they can be a good vehicle for vegetables, at least...
 
Azora Z. September 11, 2017
Love this exploration and had no idea there were so many vegan egg products on the market!
 
Author Comment
Christine R. September 11, 2017
Thanks Zoe, it's a brave new world!