If you’ve ever started to make a recipe — pulling all the ingredients out of the fridge and getting your measuring cups and cutting board ready to go — only to realize you don’t have eggs, which are required for the dish, you’re not alone. Eggs are so basic and so necessary to so many dishes, that they’re easy to put on auto-pilot, as in: “Surely, I’ve got eggs.” It’s why we often forget to buy them while grocery shopping. Also, unlike pantry staples like baking powder and sugar, eggs crack and go bad. Even if you’ve got ’em, you can’t always use ’em. It’s why “egg substitutes” is among Google’s most frequently searched food phrases.
Fortunately, substitutes for eggs do exist, and include everything from aquafaba to applesauce. Below is a list of the best egg substitutes for baking and cooking, and ingredient swap ratios you’ll need for each.
Why do you need egg substitutes?
There are plenty of reasons you might need an egg substitute besides just running out of eggs. Perhaps you’re serving food to a guest with an egg allergy, or your partner has recently started following a vegan diet. Whatever the case, it’s important to consider the purpose eggs serve in your recipe. This will help you choose the ingredient swap that’s best matched to your dish.
Eggs serve many purposes in baking and cooking, including:
- Moisture: The liquid from raw eggs soaks into other ingredients in the recipe, adding moisture and fluffiness.
- Structure: Eggs are binding agents in a recipe, creating structure and preventing crumbling.
- Leavening: Eggs help foods puff up and expand when heated by trapping air into air pockets. Soufflés and meringues, for example, benefit from this egg trait.
- Aesthetics: Eggs can also contribute to a recipe’s taste, texture, and coloring.
So, which egg substitute is right for your recipe? Keep reading.
Applesauce is a natural sweetener that can also be used as a vegan egg substitute in recipes that require moisture and binding. Because the fruit puree is usually sweetened with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, it works best in quick breads and desserts like brownies and muffins. (Of course, unsweetened applesauce is also available if you want all of the benefits of this gluten-free substitute in a non-baking recipe.) To use applesauce as an egg substitute, replace each egg with ¼ cup applesauce. Remember that applesauce may alter the flavor and texture of the final product, making it more suitable for recipes that complement its natural sweetness.
Yogurt can be used as an egg substitute in recipes that require moisture and acidity. It works well in recipes such as pancakes, waffles, and cakes. Simply replace each egg with ¼ cup of plain yogurt. Yogurt adds moisture and acidity to the batter, which helps with leavening and creates a tender crumb in the final product. Just be wary of using sweetened or flavored yogurt as an egg substitute — the added flavor may change your recipe.
Mashing up a banana and using it as a substitute is another popular solution when you’ve run out of eggs. Simply replace each egg with ¼ cup pureed banana. The finer the puree, the better. Although the desserts and baked goods you make with pureed bananas might not brown quite as deeply as eggs, they tend to have a richer, denser flavor. One note: If you have to replace many eggs, your final product may taste distinctly banana-y.
Like yogurt, buttermilk is a tangy substitute for recipes requiring leavening and acidity. For this reason, it’s particularly useful in recipes like pancakes, biscuits, and scones. Replace each egg with ¼ cup buttermilk and let the acidity of the buttermilk activate the leavening agents, resulting in a light and fluffy texture.
Another great egg substitute for recipes that require leavening: carbonated water, such as club soda or sparkling water. The bubbles in the carbonated water help create a light and airy texture in the final product. All you need to do is replace each whole egg with ¼ cup carbonated water, and you’re all set for a fluffy final product.
Commercial Egg Replacer
If you’ve forgotten to buy eggs, chances are slim that you have commercial egg replacer in the fridge. Still, this is a useful egg replacement option if you’re cooking for someone with an allergy. Commercial egg replacer is available in most grocery stores and is specifically designed to replace eggs in recipes. These products are typically made from a blend of starches, leavening agents, and other ingredients that mimic the properties of eggs. They are often used in vegan and allergy-friendly recipes and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for eggs. If you’re hosting vegans or folks with egg allergies, this is the egg substitute for you.
Flaxseed or Chia Seed Gel
Flaxseeds and chia seeds aren’t just nutritious — in gel form, they can also be used as an egg substitute in many recipes. Making flaxseed or chia seed gel is easy: Mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Then, let it sit in the warm water for a few minutes until it thickens and becomes gelatinous.
This gel can then be used as a 1:1 replacement for eggs in recipes such as muffins, pancakes, and cookies. Plus, flaxseed and chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, making them not just a functional substitute for eggs, but a healthy one, too. If you didn’t have enough reasons to stock these superfoods in your pantry, consider them necessary now. Just note that using flaxseed or chia seed gel as a replacement may give your recipe a denser, nuttier flavor, so it might be best used in recipes like pancakes, waffles, and baked goods.
Silken tofu is another popular egg substitute in vegan and vegetarian recipes. It has a smooth, creamy texture that closely mimics the moisture and binding properties of eggs, meaning it’s a useful substitute in creamy dessert recipes like custards and pies. To use silken tofu as an egg substitute, simply blend or mash it until it reaches a smooth consistency. Use ¼ cup of silken tofu puree for every egg your recipe needs. Like chia seed and flaxseed gel, this substitute can make foods a bit denser than an egg would, so keep that in mind when cooking and baking.
Aquafaba, or the leftover liquid from beans, makes for a surprisingly effective egg replacement. You probably have it in your pantry already — the liquid in a can of chickpeas or beans is aquafaba. This substitute is effective because the texture of the liquid is very similar to egg whites. It’s a great substitute for recipes that call for egg whites, such as homemade marshmallows, meringue, and even certain cocktails. Use 3 tablespoons aquafaba for each egg the recipe calls for.
Some Favorite Egg-Free Recipes
Many incredible recipes are actually egg-free. For instance, this tasty oat nog is a dairy-free take on the classic holiday drink:
- 4 cups oat milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 4 ounces bourbon
- cinnamon sticks, if desired
- Active Time: 10 mins
- Cooling Time: 2 hrs
- Total time: 2 hrs, 10 mins
- Yield: 4 glasses
- Combine first 4 ingredients in saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in bourbon.
- Let cool in fridge at least two hours.
- To service, garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Another fantastic sweet treat that makes a delicious egg-free dessert recipe: Dolly Parton’s Butterfly Coconut Cupcakes. Simply replace the eggs with plain yogurt, flax egg, or nut butter for a hint of sweetness and density in the finished product.
Finally, you can make Irish soda bread without any eggs or egg substitutes at all. You need only flour, salt, buttermilk, baking soda, and raisins. Whether baking for yourself or an egg-free friend, you can’t go wrong with this comforting seasonal bread.
No eggs? No problem.
Sometimes you have to bake without eggs for dietary reasons; other times, you just forget to include them. Whatever the case may be, don’t panic — there are a ton of egg substitutes at your fingertips, most of which are probably already in your kitchen.