By Erik Marcus
If you wish to avoid eggs, you can choose from a number of excellent vegan egg alternatives. There are plant-based egg substitutes appropriate for every sort of recipe. The products featured here deliver fantastic flavor and texture.
The Evolution of Vegan Egg Alternatives
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 1990s. 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 many uses, yielded unimpressive results. People would mash up tofu, apples, baked pumpkin, or bananas for moistness. This can work well in some recipes, but early egg-free recipes often yielded lackluster results. The absence of quality egg substitutes doubtless contributed to giving vegan cooking a bad reputation in the 1970s and 1980s.
Alternatives to Whole Eggs
Today, everything is different. Giving up eggs no longer requires sacrificing flavor or texture. Today’s vegan egg substitutes are superb. You can use these products to make dishes like omelets, French toast, and scrambled eggs:
- Crafty Counter: WunderEggs (Hard Boiled Style)
- Follow Your Heart: The Vegan Egg
- Hodo: All-Day Egg Scramble
- JUST: JUST Egg, Egg Folded, & Sous Vide
- Peggs: Plant Eggs
- Simply Eggless: Plant-Based Egg
- Yo! Egg: Fried, Poached, and Hard Boiled
Here’s a review from TheTakeout.com featuring the JUST, Hodo, and Simply Eggless products.
Vegan Recipes that Mimic Eggs
You can also make eggy dishes right in your kitchen, using easy-to-find vegan ingredients. Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook Vegan Brunch features a number of veganized egg-based breakfast recipes including omelettes, scrambles, and French toast.
Also, your basic tofu scramble is an easy and delicious alternative to scrambled eggs.
For more alternatives, see this excellent vegan egg coverage published by the BBC in 2022.
Egg Replacers for Baking
Now we get into an unusual category: egg replacer. 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 some finely-ground flax seeds together with water. Whisking together one tablespoon ground flax and three tablespoons water until gelatinous delivers the baking equivalent of one egg.
Note that using flax as a vegan egg substitute may yield disappointing results. The quality of your results will vary by recipe. While flax gives you the binding qualities delivered by an egg, it doesn’t provide the fluffiness.
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 brands:
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 ingredients used by these products to replicate egg’s binding properties is tapioca flour and potato starch.
The Neat Egg has a different formulation which bypasses those ingredients in favor of ground up chia seeds and garbanzo beans. Since this product is made primarily of chia, it contains 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 focus on egg-free baking. Given the wealth of terrific vegan baking recipes available today, egg replacer is no longer a mandatory pantry item for vegans.
Anyone serious about vegan baking should 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’ve ever cooked beans, you’ve probably had the cooking water foam up, sometimes uncontrollably, during cooking. If so, you’ve already unwittingly created aquafaba’s sole ingredient. All you need to do is take some of this foamy bean water and whip it up. The stuff delivers a level of moistness and binding that takes egg replacements to the next level. Here’s a tutorial for making it at home.
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.
Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry likewise features a number of great ideas and recipes for high-end egg-free baking.
It’s Easy to Go Egg-Free
Once upon a time, stones were needed to make tools and weapons, and eggs were indispensable for almost any baked food. Those days are happily behind us, and alternatives to eggs are now cheap, excellent, and easy to find.