Maybe you forgot to buy eggs at the supermarket. Or you dropped the carton on the floor. Or you don’t eat animal products, period. In these cases and then some, egg substitutes come in handy. Today, we’re going to answer your need-to-know questions, and share some of our favorite eggy—but egg-free!—recipes.
The egg chapter in On Food and Cooking, one of the most acclaimed food science books ever printed, is 47 pages long. Which is to say: Eggs are a multi-talented ingredient. They emulsify sauces, leaven baked goods, thicken custards, hinder crystallization...and that’s not even getting into separating the yolks and whites.
If a recipe was developed with eggs and you’re forging your own path with a substitution, there’s no getting around that the recipe will turn out differently (after all, you’re using a different ingredient). But the ingredients below will ensure that the eggs’ absence is noticed as little as possible, if at all.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds have an earthy, nutty flavor. When ground up and combined with water, their mucilaginous superpowers kick into gear, yielding a consistency much like a beaten egg. Flax eggs are a popular pick in baked goods, from cookies to quick breads, because they add body and structure. But unlike eggs, they don’t assist in leavening.
1 egg ≈ 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons water
Though they have a milder flavor than flaxseeds, chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids (not to mention protein and fiber). Their thickening powers make them an A+ shortcut to homemade jam and, for the same reason, they’re useful when you need to add more structure to vegan baked goods, like waffles, quickbreads, and more. Note: This also doesn’t contribute to leavening.
1 egg ≈ 1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons water
If you’re like me, you always have bananas around, which makes this a super convenient substitute. As The Kitchn notes, this ingredient works best “in chewy baked goods like brownies,” as well as blondies. But depending on the recipe, the flavor might be a dealbreaker. In a 2015 vegan baking experiment, our contributor Sophie used mashed banana as a replacement for eggs in a muffin recipe, and reported back: “Out of all the muffins, the banana one clearly looked the most appealing...The texture was ever so slightly dense with a moist crumb. The only characteristic of this muffin I found problematic was the fact that it really tasted of banana.”
1 egg ≈ ¼ cup mashed banana
Like mashed bananas, applesauce is an everyday ingredient that you might already have around. Unlike bananas, it has a more neutral flavor, which can go less noticed in baked goods. Optionally, you can stir a pinch of baking powder into the applesauce to aid in leavening and to avoid the applesauce weighing down the batter.
1 egg ≈ ¼ cup applesauce
As its name implies, silken is one of the softest, silkiest tofu classifications. Add it to a blender or food processor and you’ll end up with a fluffy-smooth puree, which can serve as a sturdy binder in baked goods. I love how its creamy flavor doesn’t cause any distractions.
1 egg ≈ ¼ cup blended silken tofu
Aquafaba is the buzzword for: chickpeas’ cooking liquid. While it looks unappetizing and smells like a bean, we’ve relied on it as a “magical” egg replacement for years. Add aquafaba to a stand mixer with some sugar and you’re on your way toward a doppelganger vegan meringue. It also works well as a whole egg substitute in baked goods, like cakes and quick breads.
1 egg ≈ 3 tablespoons aquafaba
Starches, such as arrowroot powder, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch, and agar, all mixed with a bit of water, can serve as an egg substitute in enriched breads, cakes, and as a thickening agent in custards.
1 egg ≈ 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca starch mixed with 3 tablespoons water or 1 tablespoon agar mixed with 1 tablespoon water as a mock egg white
Combine these two ingredients and you have a lightning-rod leavening agent on your hands (remember, eggs add structure to baked goods and help with rising). While this combo can encourage cakes, muffins, and the like to reach their highest potential, it’s also more sensitive—and prone to error—than the ingredients listed above. Definitely follow recipes with this substitute (like this Genius vegan birthday cake!), but I wouldn’t recommend it as an off-the-cut replacement.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking a chance on any one ingredient, consider turning to a commercially developed egg replacement, such as Energ-G, Orgran, or Bob’s Red Mill. Just follow the package instructions and rest easy.
Now that we know the most common egg substitutes, let’s dive deep with some recipe examples, and figure out what’s your best bet in each.
Flax eggs, mashed banana, applesauce, aquafaba, or commercial replacers.
Flax eggs, chia eggs, or commercial replacers.
Mashed banana, applesauce, aquafaba, or commercial replacers.
Mashed banana, applesauce, or commercial replacers.
Flax eggs, chia eggs, aquafaba, silken tofu, or commercial replacers.
Turmeric adds sunny color, Dijon mustard and nutritional yeast add savoriness, and tahini adds richness. (Tempeh bacon on the side, highly encouraged.)
Classic pumpkin pie relies on eggs to thicken the custard when baked, but in this case, a homemade cashew cream and a bit of tapioca starch do all the work. (And yep, the flaky crust is vegan, too!)
These chocolate chip cookies, with crispy edges and gooey middles, defy all reason. There’s no standard egg replacer in sight—just water and oil.
Baking powder, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar join forces to make these pumpkin pancakes light and fluffy. Add some ground ginger to the batter if you want them spicier.
“Ultra-crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and the tiniest bit chewy, these waffles are phenomenal not in spite of the full package of tofu,” our resident Genius Kristen Miglore writes, “but because of it.”
Talk about overachievers: These muffins are vegan and gluten-free and double-chocolate. Flax eggs save the day here, giving the muffins a confident structure.
Flax eggs, we meet again. We’d eat this raisin-studded carrot cake plain, but the coconut cream frosting really sends it over the top.
Baking powder, baking soda, and vinegar give this chocolate cake its plush texture, while mashed avocado (yes) adds tons of moisture and richness.
Oatmeal cookies without eggs? Totally possible. These include oats (duh), brown sugar, and tahini. Because, in this case, the egg substitute is magic.