If you’re looking to avoid eggs, you can choose from a number of excellent egg replacer products. There are vegan egg substitutes appropriate for every sort of recipe. It’s easy to get rid of eggs with no loss of flavor or texture.
The Evolution of Vegan Egg Replacer
The art of baking has evolved for hundreds and hundreds of years. And for nearly all of that time, people have relied on eggs to add moisture and to bind dry ingredients. Eggs have been an essential baking ingredient for centuries, for which there was no satisfactory replacement. Until recently, there was no such thing as egg replacer.
The word vegan wasn’t coined until 1944, and the concept didn’t begin to go mainstream until the 1980s. So it’s fair to say that, when it comes to baking, eggs had a 500-year head start over vegan alternatives. The first attempts to replace eggs were primitive and, for most uses, yielded unimpressive results. People would mash up tofu, apples, baked pumpkin, or bananas for moistness. This could work reasonably well in some recipes, but oftentimes egg-free recipes failed to deliver the proper texture. The lack of adequate egg substitutes doubtless contributed to giving vegan cooking a bad name in the 1970s and 1980s.
Vegan Egg Substitutes
Just like vegan meats have improved spectacularly in recent years, so too are today’s egg alternatives enormous upgrades over previous versions. The first product you should know about is “egg replacer” powder. Every natural foods store stocks it in the baking aisle.
The term egg replacer seems so straightforward that it could never create confusion, but in fact this stuff does require explanation. Counter-intuitively, egg replacer is not a substitute for whole eggs, so forget about using it to make vegan scrambled eggs, omelets, or flan. Instead, egg replacer is simply intended to provide the binding properties needed for foods like cakes, muffins, and pancakes.
You can make an inexpensive egg replacer yourself simply by mixing together some ground flax seeds (flax meal) and water. Whisking together one tablespoon ground flax and three tablespoons water until gelatinous will give you the baking equivalent of one egg. Note that using flax as a vegan egg substitute may yield disappointing results. While flax gives you the binding qualities delivered by an egg, it doesn’t provide the fluffiness. A leaden texture is the worst case scenario from using flax as an egg replacer.
Egg Replacer Brands
If you’re seeking a more egg-like performance, and a lighter and airier texture, consider using an egg replacer product. There are several popular and inexpensive brands of egg replacer:
All of the above products come in powder form. The package will instruct you on the amount of powder and water to mix together to replace one egg. The magic ingredient used by these products to replicate egg’s binding properties is tapioca flour.
The Neat Egg has a different formulation which bypasses the usual tapioca flour and potato starch in favor of ground up chia seeds and garbanzo beans. Since this product is made mostly of chia, it’s got a significant amount of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.
It’s fair to say that egg replacer powders were indispensable back when only a few vegan cookbooks existed. But today, countless vegan cookbooks focus on egg-free baked items. Given the wealth of terrific vegan baking recipes available today, egg replacer is no longer a mandatory pantry item for vegans.
Egg replacer powder is cheap and convenient, and nicely delivers the binding properties that many baked goods require. But if you’re truly serious about vegan baking you should also know about aquafaba, which was dreamed up by some mad kitchen genius and caught on widely around 2015. Aquafaba can do things that egg replacer powders can’t. Most notably you can use aquafaba to make soufflé, angel food cake, and a killer lemon meringue pie.
If you do even a little cooking, you’ve probably noticed that when beans are boiled the cooking water foams up, sometimes uncontrollably. If so, you’ve already witnessed aquafaba. It turns out you can transform this foam into an ingredient ideal for replacing eggs. All you need to do is take some bean water and whip it up, and you’ve got aquafaba. The stuff delivers a level of moistness and binding that takes egg replacements to the next level. Here’s a tutorial for making your own.
Aquafaba has attracted a cult of vegan cooking enthusiasts, and has even spawned a popular cookbook: Zsu Dever’s Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water. Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry likewise features a number of great ideas and recipes for high-end egg-free baking.
Whole Egg Replacements
Both aquafaba and egg replacer powders serve their purposes admirably. But neither of these products can replicate the eggiest of foods, like scrambled eggs and omelettes. If you want to make these meals, you’ve got some great options:
- Vegan Brunch, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, features a number of veganized egg-based breakfast recipes including omelettes, scrambles, and eggy French toast.
- Your basic tofu scramble is an easy and delicious alternative to scrambled eggs.
- JUST egg is a cutting-edge product that comes in a convenient bottle. You can use it to make omelets, French toast, and scrambled eggs.
- Follow Your Heart makes a product called The Vegan Egg. It’s available at many natural food stores. Unfortunately, unlike egg replacer powder, it’s not cheap.
Once upon a time, stone was the required material for tools and weapons, and eggs were an essential ingredient for almost any baked food. Those days are happily behind us, and alternatives to eggs are now cheap, excellent, and easy to find.