Effective egg substitutes for vegan baking
Whether you’re vegan, cutting down on dairy for dietary reasons, or you just discovered you forgot to buy eggs while in the midst of baking, there may be occasions where you find yourself looking for egg substitutes to use in your baked goods. The good news is, you can achieve fluffy pancakes, moist brownies, beautifully risen cupcakes and airy vanilla sponge without the use of a single egg. All you need is a few ingredients you’re likely to have in your fridge or pantry already and a rough idea of the result you want to achieve.
Eggs have different functions in baking. They act as a binding agent, a leavening agent, an emulsifier and they add moisture and fat to the baked result. Different egg substitutes can mimic those effects in different ways, with wonderful results. Below you’ll find seven of my go-to ingredients for luscious egg-free baking, plus tips on when and how to use them. If you have additional tips, please comment below; I’d love to hear!
Yogurt is one of my favourite ingredients to use when baking cakes and cupcakes. It gives baked goods a lovely and moist texture with a light and fresh finish. Depending on your preference, you can use Greek yogurt or plantbased yogurt; I usually go for coconut yogurt because of its fresh flavour.
- Use ¼ cup/65 ml/4 tbsp. of your yogurt of choice per egg in the original recipe.
Like eggs, yogurt adds moisture and a rich feel, but it doesn’t act as a leavener or binder. So depending on the other ingredients in your recipe, you can choose to replace all of the eggs with yogurt, or combine the use of yogurt with one of the more binding or leavening substitutes listed below. For recipes and examples of how yogurt-based bakes can look, you could take a peek at my lemon and poppy seed muffins or my sweetpea and vanilla mini cakes.
2. Flax seeds and chia seeds
Flax seeds and chia seeds make excellent binders. When mixed with water, they expand and bind the water, forming a gelatinous substance so much like egg white they’re usually referred to as flax eggs or chia eggs.
- To make 1 chia egg: stir 1 tbsp. chia seeds with 2½ tbsp. water. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until thick and gloopy, then use to replace 1 egg.
- To make 1 flax egg: grind 1 tbsp. flax seeds in a mortar or a coffee/spice grinder, then mix with 2½ tbsp. water. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until gelatinous, then use to replace 1 egg.
- Instead of freshly ground flax seeds you can opt for preground flax meal. This is easier, but ground flax seeds are prone to oxidation and may turn rancid when stored for a longer period of time. When gone bad, they’ll leave your baked goods with an unpleasant oily flavour. Grinding your own takes away that risk, which to me makes the extra bit of effort quite worth while.
Because of the difference in texture, flavour and cost I have a completely personal preference for flax eggs over chia eggs, which means you’ll find flax eggs in my baked oats, pancakes and brownies. They do lend a slightly nutty flavour to your baked goods, as well as a brown-speckled look. Apart from this, they’re excellent for trapping water, but they don’t work well for trapping air or lending structure to, let’s say, a high cake. These qualities make flax eggs most suitable for use in wholegrain bakes and chocolate goodies, where flecks of seed don’t show and a moister, denser structure is welcome.
3. Fruit or vegetable purée
Fruit and vegetable purées act as bindeners, as well as adding moisture to brownies, cookies, cupcakes and sponge cakes. The most commonly used purées are mashed banana and unsweetened apple sauce, but depending on the baked good, other fruits, like plums, pears or avocados, can be used as well. Vegetable purées make good alternatives too, adding moisture as well as delicate flavour and colouring. You could try mashed purple or orange sweet potato, for example, pumpkin mash, as in my pumpkin loaves or pumpkin cinnamon rolls, or pea purée, as in my vanilla and sweetpea sponge cakes.
- Use ½ medium banana, mashed, to replace 1 egg.
- Use ¼ cup/65 g/4 tbsp. unsweetened apple sauce to replace 1 egg.
- To make apple sauce, peel, core and dice 3-4 apples. Put them in a saucepan with a bit of water and gently cook for about 20 minutes until soft and mashable. Drain if there’s a lot of liquid left – you want the apples to be moist, but not swimming. Mash and cool. The purée will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months, stored in an ice cube tray for use when needed.
- Use ¼ cup/65 ml/4 tbsp. of vegetable purée to replace 1 egg.
- For tips on how to make pumpkin purée as a base for baking, see here.
Fruit and veg purées work wonders when replacing just one or two eggs. Bear in mind, though, that the purées may add their own flavour and sweeteness to your baked good. This can be a desired side-effect; just make sure to adjust the amount of sweetener used in the original recipe.
Because it lacks protein, fruit purée won’t support the structure of high cakes. When replacing more than two eggs, using only fruit purée can make your cake dense or chewy. In this case you could choose to use half fruit purée, half yogurt for a lighter structure. Adding a bit of fat may be a good idea, mimicking the fat level in the egg yolks. Finally, try adding ½ tsp. baking powder for a more airy result.
4. Baking powder, or baking soda with vinegar or lemon juice
A fourth easy egg substitute uses the leavening effect of a few common storecupboard ingredients: baking powder and the combination of baking soda and acid.
- Use 1 tsp. baking powder + 1½ tbsp. each of water and vegetable oil to replace 1 egg.
- Use 1 tsp. baking soda + 1 tbsp. of either white wine/apple cider vinegar or 2 tbsp. lemon juice to replace 1 egg.
This works well in brownies and pancakes, as well as fluffier baked goods like cupcakes and vanilla cakes. Too much baking soda and vinegar can give your baked good an unpleasant, bitter taste, though, so it may be best to use it to replace 1 egg only, and in recipes which don’t contain baking soda already.
5. Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil is a good option if you only need to replace 1 egg in a recipe which doesn´t call for oil already.
- Use ¼ cup/60 ml/4 tbsp. vegetable oil to replace 1 egg.
Using oil to replace more eggs can make your baked goods greasier or more oily-flavoured than you want them to be and the same goes if you add it to a recipe which already contains oil. In this case, mixing and matching with one of the other substitutes may be a better idea.
Aquafaba is the cooking liquid of legumes. In most recipes the term refers to the cooking liquid of chickpeas, which can be used for any baked good because of its light colour and mild flavour. Depending on what you want to make, other legumes work just as well, though; the liquid of white beans, for example, can be used for light-coloured baked goods, whereas that of kidney beans or black beans can work well for making brownies.
Aquafaba is a bit of a miracle ingredient amongst other egg substitutes. Because of its combination of starch and proteins, it mimics some of the properties of both egg white and yolk. It can be used to replace whole eggs, for example in quiches, as a binder in burgers or sweet baking, or it can be whipped to a meringue-like consistency, providing structure and volume to muffins and cakes. Whipped up, it can even be used to make fluffy mousses, meringues and macarons.
- Use 2 tbsp. (30 ml) aquafaba to replace 1 egg white
- Use 3 tbsp. (45 ml) aquafaba to replace 1 whole egg.
You can either use the strained liquid from a can of chickpeas, or use the cooking liquid of freshly cooked legumes. Ideally it should have the same consistency as egg whites. If it seems watery, you can reduce it by simmering over a low heat; if it’s too thick, simply dilute with water. A can of chickpeas or a pan of freshly cooked legumes usually yields much more than you need, so you can make your life easy and freeze it in an ice-cube tray for use when needed.
7. Silken tofu
Silken tofu is the softer variety of the tofu sold in blocks for frying. When whipped, it takes on a yogurt-like consistency and can be used to make creamy desserts, or to replace eggs.
- Use ¼ cup/about 65 g/4 tbsp. puréed silken tofu to replace 1 egg.
Silken tofu is relatively flavourless and takes on the flavour of the other ingredients well. It doesn’t have a lifting effect, though, and using too much of it can make your baked goods dense. Because of this, it’s best reserved for brownies, muffins and some quick breads. Combined with yogurt and some extra baking powder, it also works well in cakes.
Eggs have many different functions in baking and used one on one, plantbased alternatives won’t take over all of those functions simply on their own. It may take some trial and error to find out which egg substitutes work best for you and which combinations yield the nicest results. But doing so will open up a whole range of egg-free baking options and clear the way for some luscious, airy, full-flavoured sweetness.
15 August 2019 @ 15:20
I thank you for this this is very helpful in the vegan world..
26 August 2019 @ 16:22
Thank you Pamela, I’m very happy you find it helpful!