My first few years of veganism meant giving up my favorite baked goods, from morning pastries to decadent desserts. Most of the time I’m eating one-bowl salads + grains, but I’m all about dessert. Luckily, over the last few years I’ve learned enough from friends, cookbooks, and food bloggers that being vegan does not mean giving up the extra serving of cheesecake or morning cinnamon rolls. The holiday season had me baking more often, which meant I needed to find egg replacers of all kinds, from sweet potatoes to apple sauce. I have been on a quest to find vegan egg replacers that are made from my favorite fruits and vegetables. I’ve put together a short list of my top vegan egg replacers that are natural + wholesome, so that you can choose the right one for any recipe. A few weeks back I also put together a guide to gluten-free flour. I am going to update my blog every Monday for the next few weeks with Kitchen Tips, ranging from substitutions to my favorite chopping techniques that I’ve picked up along the way.
What’s the purpose of vegan egg replacers?
Strangely enough, eggs have the ability to add structure, leavening, richness, and flavor to your baked goods. I have a bad memory, so I created a mnemonic device to help me remember this when I am working with a recipe – Savoring Leftovers is Really Fun. That’s it. Hopefully I can plug this away in my brain with PEMDAS and the other devices I have floating around from when I was a kid.
Heating an egg causes the runny gooey mess to turn into a solid firm egg, especially the longer you cook it. Adding an egg to baked goods creates unique structures, from cookies to puff pastries. You may have noticed that breads, pastries, cakes, and pies all use an egg; however, they have different structures. This is caused my changing the ratio of eggs to other ingredients or only using the yolk or whites.
Best Replacement Eggs for Structure: Flax, Bananas, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Tofu
You can find many different leavening agents, from baking powder to baking soda, at the market. A leavening agent is typically used in doughs and batters to create a light and soft texture – think the airiness of cake and cookies! The leavening agent reacts with the starch in flour, as well as the water, to create a unique and airy texture. An egg white is a great example of a leavening agent because it can produce foam that expands the structure during baking.
Best Replacement Eggs for Leavening: Flax, Chia, Apple Sauce, Tofu
Richness + Flavor
Egg yolks also provide the fat content for non-vegan baked goods, which produces the richness in sweet breads and other desserts. By reproducing the richness found in eggs you no longer have to do without morning pancakes or your next birthday cake.
Best Replacement Eggs for Richness + Flavor: Sweet Potatoes, Avocado
Flax + Water
Use In: Breads, Pastries + Wholesome Breakfast Goods
I use this recipe almost every day because it is easy to get put together! It took me a long time to start stocking my cabinet with milled flax, but luckily I found a great brand that works well with almost any recipe. For one egg, I generally use 1 tbs of milled flax to 2.5-3 tbs of water. Mix the two together in a bowl + you can use them right away or let them sit for 15-20 min. to firm up. Flax is especially great for breads + pastries; however, if you want to create delicate + light desserts (i.e. white cakes + sugar cookies), then you might want to stray away from the nutty flavor of flax. This is also a great way to slip some extra nutrition into your diet. Flax seeds are most well-known for carrying Omega-3 essential fatty acids, or ‘good fats’, as well as antioxidants + fiber.
Flavor: Light + nutty
Use In: Breads, Muffins, Waffles
This works similarly to flax + water; however, chia seeds create a thicker texture than the former and require a bit more preparation time. For one replacement egg, place 1 tbs of chia seeds in 2.5-3 tbs of water and let sit for 25-30 min. Similar to flax seeds, chia seeds are best used with chocolates and hearty grains, from muffins to waffles. At this point, you’ve probably read 100 articles about the health benefits of chia seeds + made chia pudding in the morning until your heart’s content; however, if you haven’t – chia is super nutritious. This little seed is high in omega-3 healthy fats, fiber, protein + antioxidants. In fact, 8 tbs of chia seeds has more protein than an entire chicken breast at 30g…who knew?!
Flavor: Rich + Creamy
Use In: Muffins, Breads, and Pancakes
This egg substitute comes packed with a strong flavor. At some point, you might get tired of your baked goods having a slight hint of banana, but this works perfectly with muffins and breads. You can easily whip this up my mashing 1/2 cup of banana to replace 1 egg. Bananas are your best friend and are high in vitamins, including potassium.
Flavor: Sweet + Light
Use In: Cookies, Cakes, Muffins, and Breads
Apple sauce is an easy way to replace an egg if you are short on time. I have a fondness for the flavor of apple creeping into most my baked goods, from sugar cookies to white cakes. I made a cake the other day that had a hint of apple that was really delicious. You just 1/3 cup apple sauce to replace one egg. I go for the unsweetened organic apple sauce at the market, which contains high amounts of vitamin c and fiber.
Flavor: Sweet + Earthy
Use In: Muffins, Breads, Pastas, and Pastries
I always have an emergency can of organic pumpkin in my kitchen, which helps for any flash baking that I might do late at night. I’ve been known to make cookies before bed, no matter the time – I think that timelessness is a product of living in the city. Either way, pumpkin tastes great in baked goods as long as you don’t mind the earthy flavor of pumpkin. I know this year a lot of people were also fans of pumpkin cupcakes (including myself), so you can try this egg replacer in all sorts of baked goods. My recommendation is to start out with heartier + darker sweets, then work your way from there. You can use 1/3 cup of pureed pumpkin or canned pumpkin to replace one egg, just make sure not to pick up pumpkin pie filling from the market! Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, some of those derived from carotenoids, fiber, and antioxidants found in beta carotene.
Flavor: Sweet + Earthy
Use In: Brownies, Breads, Muffins
With my sweet tooth, I’ve never gotten over the sweet potato craze. I was happy to find that you can use sweet potatoes everything from brownies to muffins. This gives your baked goods a slightly earthy flavor; however, it can be good with the right cream cheese frosting. Simply use 1/4 pureed sweet potato to replace 1 egg. Sweet potatoes are chock full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and B-6 – so you can enjoy an extra helping of vitamins with your next pan of brownies.
Flavor: Rich + Creamy
Use In: Scones, Brioche, Breads
I didn’t know eating avocados with a spoon was a Californian-thing until I moved out east. I can never get enough of avocados, which is probably the main reason why I have such difficulty with seasonal eating – trying more than ever this year! Regardless, any excuse to use avocado in new recipes is welcome. You can place 1/3 cup of mashed avocado in your baked goods for a rich and creamy flavor. The healthy fats of avocado provide the richness that is made possible by egg yolks.
Flavor: Light, Creamy, and Nutty
Use In: Cakes, Cookies, and Breads
Tofu has the least flavor compared to other egg substitutes, which makes it great for light cakes, cookies, and breads. As the most processed amongst this list, tofu is a great choice if you don’t want to alter the flavor profile of your sugar cookies or vanilla cake. Tofu is also very light, which means it works as a great substitute for egg whites. Use 1/4 cup pureed tofu to replace 1 egg. Tofu is a great source of more than just protein, including omega-3 fats and iron.
I’ll update this list as I do more testing in the kitchen. Drop me a line with your favorite vegan egg substitutes in the comment section below!