Are you looking to go egg-free, for health or ethical reasons? Do you actually eat eggs but ran out of them in the middle of your recipe? We often get asked how it is possible to bake vegan desserts. It is actually surprisingly easy to substitute eggs. The key to success is understanding what the role of eggs are in the particular recipe you are trying to adapt.
Eggs in recipes like pancakes, soda bread, or muffins often serve to “fluff up” the baked good. Usually only 1 or 2 eggs are required in the recipe. Acceptable substitutions per egg are:
a) A commercial “egg replacer” from brands like Ener-G (the best!), Pane Riso, Planet Organic, or Bob’s Red Mill. Their recommended amount of replacer plus water per egg is written on the box. Check ingredients on the box if you have any allergies. Mix with a fork until homogeneous.
Egg replacer usually comes in a cardboard box and is white in colour.
b) 1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice + 2 tbsp water per egg. Whisk tougher with a fork.
c) If you are making muffins or quickbreads that already have more than 2 tsp of baking powder/soda, try using a substitute from the “enrichment” category instead.
Eggs in these recipes need the stickiness and protein of eggs to glue bits together. If only one or two eggs are needed, such as in a pastry crust, this is doable. Lots of eggs cannot be replaced for this type of recipe, however, such as in choux pastry – the whole recipe would need to be reformulated, which is a topic of its own. This is also what is needed when you are coating things with breadcrumbs, like sliced green tomatoes or tofu nuggets.
Flax egg on the left and psyllium on the right
a) Combine 1.5 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.
b) Combine 0.5 tsp of pysillium (Metamucil) husk with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.
c) Make an emulsion of oil and vinegar. Into a mixing bowl of vinegar, drizzle canola oil with the egg beaters running. When it looks white and frothy, it can be used for dipping things that need to be breaded. Prepare immediately before using.
d) Mix equal proportions of Aquafaba (see section below) and water.
Eggs give softness and flavour to sweet breads, cupcakes, and muffins. Substitutes in this category are best sticky or mushy. This is the easiest egg to substitute.
a) Combine above quantities of ground flaxseed or pysillium husk with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.
b) 2 tbsp of mashed banana or canned pumpkin and one Tbsp of water or oil per egg.
c) 3-4 tbsp of mashed silken or “dessert” tofu per egg.
Eggs brushed on pastries and bread combine with the natural starches in the dough to produce a rich brown crust. While this can be eliminated altogether, substitutes will keep the nice appearance you are used to.
a) Soymilk, almond milk, or dairy milk combined with a little melted margarine. If low-fat milk is used, add a pinch of sugar per tbsp of milk.
b) If canned fruit was used to prepare a pie, combine some of the syrup with a few drops of oil and/or a splash of milk. This makes the richest pie glaze ever, but it browns faster than plain milk.
Note: BOTH of these options are improved by the addition of 1/4 tsp of psyllium husk (I use this in my Tourtière recipe), as it helps the wash cling to the pastry
From left: fruit syrup plus oil, fruit syrup plus oil and milk, milk plus margarine and sugar.
This gets a section of its own. In honesty, I researched, photographed, and prepared 90% of this post back in late winter, before I first heard of aquafaba. It’s a cool alternative to eggs that whisks up really well, just like egg whites.
It is the “juice” drained from a can of chickpeas or navy beans! Full of starches and protein, it’s both gooey and whisks into something fluffy. I’ve mostly used about 3 or 4 tablespoons of liquid per egg with success.
I have used them to make numerous variations on homemade marshmallows and marshmallow creme, and have experimented a bit with meringue pies. I’m still working on perfecting using them to make a chiffon cake, so stay tuned for that recipe in a few months! Until then, also check out Seitan Is my Motor and Vegan Dad for some aquafaba recipes.