Eggs are a healthful and high-protein food that provides structure and binding in baked goods, but not everyone can eat them. They're one of the top eight allergens (meaning one of the foods it's most common to be allergic to), and a vegan diet, which about 3% of the U.S. population follows, does not allow them. For those looking to avoid eggs in their baking, there are a variety of options that work well at replicating the structural and/or binding power of eggs. We'll review the ones that work best, and how to use them most effectively so that you can recreate your favorite baked goods without eggs when needed.
Note: one egg has a standard volume of 1/4 cup. That basic measurement informs all the info below in terms of the amount of replacement ingredients used.
If you're looking for all of the qualities of a real egg, such as volume, protein, binding power, and fat, your best bet is a vegan egg product. These are sold in powder and liquid forms; for the liquid, you use it as is straight from the container, and for the powder, you mix it with water. These products have interesting attributes that make them the closest facsimile to actual eggs, such as the addition of a specific salt of salt that mimics the sulfurous smell of eggs. They hold up to cooking as a scramble or omelet, so it's no surprise that they're highly versatile in baked goods. Use vegan eggs in any recipes that call for the regular version; from cookies to custards, you're unlikely to notice the difference between these products and the real thing. Follow package instructions for quantities used.
Vegan Egg Replacer
Not to be confused with vegan eggs, vegan egg replacer is a starch-based product that can be used to replicate the binding power of eggs. These products are sold as powders and won't have the volume of a vegan egg, so if that is necessary for your recipe, such as with a sponge cake, they aren't an appropriate choice. Vegan egg replacer works best in situations where all that's needed from eggs is their ability to hold things together: cookies, quick breads, cakes, and muffins are all passable with vegan egg replacer. For most of these products, you'll use a teaspoon of egg replacer mixed with two tablespoons of water, but check packages for instructions.
Translated to "bean water," aquafaba is used as a replacement for egg whites. To make it, you whip the liquid that surrounds beans—usually chickpeas or white beans, for color's sake—when they're purchased in a can. The liquid whips up similarly to egg whites, and you can get a surprising amount of volume out of them. Some people go so far as to make aquafaba meringues with the bean water! You can use aquafaba in baking for any recipes that call for egg whites, either straight from the egg or whipped until peaks form. Examples of recipes where aquafaba can be used in lieu of egg whites include ice cream, mousse, fudge, brownies, and macarons. Two tablespoons of aquafaba (unwhipped) will replace one egg white.
Flax meal has a naturally gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid, so it has been used for decades as a functional egg replacer. With flax meal mixed into water, you can equal the approximate volume of eggs, as well as the binding property. You'll want to use golden flax unless your recipe is dark, as an unlabeled or brown flax meal will discolor anything light. The typical ratio to make a flax egg is one tablespoon of ground flax meal stirred into three tablespoons of water, which you'll want to let sit for about ten minutes before using. Because flax has a bit of a savory taste, as well as a slightly gritty texture, flax eggs work best in strongly flavored recipes. Think carrot cake, anything with chocolate, and bran muffins.
The tiny seeds once relegated to plant pets have since been recognized as nutritional powerhouses. Similar to flax, chia becomes gelatinous when mixed with water. The chia seeds absorb water and grow to many times their original size after sitting for a few minutes, becoming a gel substance. To make a chia egg, the standard ratio is one tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water. Note that unless you buy white chia seeds, which are not as widely available, chia seeds are black. That means that if you want to use them in any light recipe, they'll be fully visible, with an appearance similar to poppy seeds. Because their flavor can be viewed as bitter, chia seeds work best in strongly flavored recipes. Combined with the need for darkly colored recipes, you’re looking at brownies, chocolate cake, or gingerbread as your best bets for chia eggs.
Long a favorite for bakers wanting to remove the fat of eggs from recipes, mashed bananas can be used in place of eggs to provide moisture and volume. They don't have any binding power, so they're best suited for recipes where that isn't vital. To use bananas in place of eggs, mash or blend 1/4 cup banana per egg you want to replace. Use ripe bananas to ensure there are no lumps. Because bananas are sweet, if desired you can scale back on sweetener in your recipe, removing one teaspoon per banana used. Bananas as egg replacers are best in fruity recipes including muffins, cupcakes, and quick breads. They may darken when baked, so avoid their use in anything white.
It's important to mention that the ingredients in dairy and vegan yogurts are different from one another. Usually dairy yogurt is made of only milk and probiotics, while vegan yogurt is made from plant based milk, probiotics, and starches and/or gums. For baking, the starches and gums in vegan yogurt lend their binding power in addition to the moisture and volume that both dairy and vegan yogurts have. That means vegan yogurt will have more of an egg's thickening power than dairy yogurt does. Plain is the easiest choice in either case, but you can use a flavored yogurt to add flavor to your baked goods if you'd like. Use 1/4 cup of yogurt per egg replaced. Yogurt works best in cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and quick breads. Avoid their use in anything chocolate, as the flavors can be conflicting.
Blended Silken Tofu
Tofu is known for its lack of taste, and in this situation that comes in quite handy. Providing protein and volume, silken tofu can be blended until smooth and used in place of eggs without disrupting the flavors of your recipe. You'll blend 1/4 cup per egg that you want to replace; make sure to blend the tofu until no lumps remain. Because tofu is white/beige in color and without any flavor, it's highly versatile in baking: use it in cakes, breads, muffins, or brownies.
Eggs are a vital component of many baked goods, and with the above replacement options you can make all the treats you love—without the struggle of figuring out egg substitutions.