Whether you’re following a vegan diet, serving a guest with an egg allergy, or simply running out of eggs, there are plenty of reasons to substitute eggs when baking.
Luckily, it’s possible to create delicious pastries without eggs, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Not all egg substitutes are created equal and the best ingredient substitute depends on the type of recipe. Learn more about easy egg swaps and how to use them.
Why eggs are used in baking
When it comes to cooking, eggs have several main functions. According to Penny Stankiewicz, head teacher of pastry and baking arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, they offer a good amount of fat, which is essential for top-notch flavor and texture. The egg white portion also contains protein, which gives structure to the finished product. As Stankiewicz explains, when eggs heat up, “proteins coagulate or connect, [which] contributes to the stability of a bakery product. Eggs also act as binders, starters, and sources of moisture, ensuring your treats look (and taste) great.
Egg substitutes for baking
For this swap, use ¼ cup mashed ripe banana per egg. Note that riper bananas contain more sugar and moisture, so consider reducing other sweeteners and liquids in the recipe. The bananas “will also add flavor to the item, which is wonderful, but you’ll want to make sure the flavor profile suits what you’re making,” says Stankiewicz. This egg swap can make recipes more tender, which is great for things like muffins, cakes, quick breads and pancakes, she notes.
In addition to giving your baked goods a seasonal twist, pumpkin puree is a great egg replacement. Use ¼ cup of pumpkin puree for each egg, says Traci Weintraub, chef and founder of Gracefully Fed, a meal delivery service and restaurant in Los Angeles. This works especially well in recipes that contain complementary ingredients, such as cinnamon, caramel, and apples. Also, be sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which is often sold next to the puree. Or you can try making your own pumpkin puree using a sugar pumpkin.
“Generally, the rule of thumb is to [use] ¼ cup applesauce per egg,” says Weintraub. For the simplest swap, use unsweetened applesauce. If you only have sweet applesauce on hand, she recommends reducing the sugar in the recipe to avoid overly sweet treats. Weintraub also warns that this ingredient will make your recipe denser, but adding an extra half teaspoon of baking powder will help lighten the texture. Also, “applesauce [adds] flavor, so only use this swap in recipes where the apple complements other ingredients,” she adds. Try it in blueberry muffins, banana bread, or cupcakes.
Ground flax seeds and water
Ground flaxseed, or flax meal, is a popular egg substitute in vegan cooking. “When substituting flaxseed for eggs, the general rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water per egg,” Weintraub shares. Simply mix the two ingredients together, then let the mixture sit in the refrigerator until it becomes gelatinous, about 15 minutes. The consistency will help bind the ingredients together, much like an egg. “Flax seeds add a mild, nutty flavor to recipes, which is great for pancakes, brownies and cookies, and [especially] banana bread,” adds Weintraub. However, it’s not the best for adding structure, so she recommends skipping this option when baking cakes.
For this egg substitute, use ¼ cup per egg. Depending on the recipe, yogurt can make your baked goods more chewy and even gooey, which can be ideal. Cow’s milk yogurt is also stellar for boosting the protein content of your treats. However, if you must avoid dairy products, you can use thick non-dairy Greek yogurts. Most other non-dairy yogurts may be too thin to replace eggs in baking, so keep that in mind.
For a protein-rich, vegan egg substitute, opt for silken tofu, also known as soft tofu. Puree the silken tofu in a food processor or blender, then use ¼ cup per egg. “When you replace an egg with silken tofu, most baked goods won’t brown as well, [but it] will keep them very moist,” says Weintraub. She recommends using this egg swap for denser baked goods like bread cakes, loaves, and brownies.
Use ¼ cup buttermilk per egg in the recipe. Like eggs, this ingredient will help bind ingredients together while adding extra moisture. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, combine 1 cup whole milk and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice, then let sit for 10 minutes or until curdled. Note that buttermilk has a tangy flavor, which can work well in cookies or brownies.
Thanks to the neutral taste of sparkling water, it’s a great egg substitute, says Weintraub. You will need ¼ cup of sparkling water for each large egg. “Compared to many other egg substitutes, sparkling water is best used in lighter recipes, such as cakes, cupcakes, and breads. The bubbles will trap air, resulting in a lighter finished product. and fluffy,” says Weintraub.
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