Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Substitute Eggs

How do you substitute eggs in a recipe?

There are several possibilities for egg substitutions. It can be daunting to stare at a recipe and wonder, which egg substitute(s) do I use? Probably most important is to understand the function of the egg in the particular recipe you're altering. When you can understand what the eggs are contributing to the recipe, you can choose a particular product or group of products that contribute similarly. There are no egg substitutes, as far as I hear, that will mimic the egg exactly. But you can still have successful baked goods without the egg.* Four of the basic functions of eggs in baking are: to aid leavening/lighten, to bind, to provide richness/flavor, and to add moisture.

Here again are the basic roles of eggs, this time with various egg substitutes listed under each**


1/4 cup fruit puree: especially prunes, applesauce, banana, apricot, pear.
1/4 cup pureed carrot, pumpkin, winter squash, etc(can use baby foods or puree and freeze small amounts of produce to have on hand)
1/4 cup silken tofu, whipped; or add to liquid ingredients and blend til smooth.
1/4 cup yogurt(dairy or soy)

Leavening/Lighten: provides structure to allow rising agents to work. Egg lightens product.

1 tsp. baking powder, 1 T. liquid, 1 T. vinegar(mix together then add to recipe)
1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder
Egg replacer powder such as Ener-G Egg Replacer(follow box instructions, or try twice amount powder as called for(suggested by Carol Fenster)

NOTE: general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 T. baking powder total in a recipe, and no more than 1 tsp. baking soda total.

Binds(reduce crumbling, sticks product together)

1 T. flaxmeal + 2 T. warm water (for 2 eggs I 2 T + enough water to equal 1/3 cup)
Mix, let stand 5-10 min. to gel.
1 packet unflavored gelatin, 2 T. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin, 3 T. cold water & 2 T. plus 1 tsp. boiling water
1/2 banana, or 1/4 cup mashed


1 T. flaxmeal + 2 T. warm water (nutty flavor)
1/4 cup fruit or vegetable purees(see above)
1/4 cup coconut yogurt, coconut cream

Also to help provide richness or flavor in baked products, desserts, dishes:

Coconut oil or coconut milk can be used to replace some of the fat or liquid in recipe(richness)
Chocolate can be added to recipe(richness)
Molasses, added in small amount, like a small drop from the bottle, adds dimension of flavor(for example, in a coconut cream pie without eggs, 1 little drop helped the pie from tasting "flat.")
Spices can be added like cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

The egg has several contributions to a baked product. But often in any given recipe, the egg will have one or two roles that are more important than the other functions of an egg. For example, some recipes have adequate leavening, and do not rely on the egg to provide more(the egg could provide additional lightness, yes, but the product could still rise satisfactorily without egg). Perhaps the recipe does not have much leavening, yet has a large amount of liquid. Perhaps the egg is not as important for its moisture as it is for the leavening. Perhaps a recipe has sufficient amounts of leavening and a large amount of liquid, but nothing to help the product "stick" together. Thus it would be important to choose an egg replacement that would bind.

When I adapt a recipe, I often use combinations of egg substitutes when there are two or more eggs. For example, flaxseed meal to bind, and then a leavening such as the baking powder or soda combination, or egg replacer powder. Or flaxseed meal or gelatin to bind, and then fruit/vegetable puree to add flavor and moisten. What I use to replace eggs also depends on the type of product I'm making, and what end results are most important to me. Waffles do not have to be light and fluffy for me to enjoy them. I would rather they have a good flavor and texture. So I often use flaxseed meal to add nuttiness, or applesauce or prunes to add moisture, and I don't worry about extra leavening. When analyzing if a recipe has sufficient leavening, keep in mind that too much baking powder or baking soda in a recipe can produce a bitter flavor in your finished product. A rule of thumb I learned from my "expert homemaker" sister is not to have more than 1 tablespoon baking powder per 2 cups of flour, or no more than 1 tsp baking soda per 2 cups flour. Even those amounts sound like too much for my taste preference. I am sensitive to the flavors of baking powder and baking soda. You'll learn what's okay with you as you bake and taste. Also, I think Carol Fenster has a listed amount of leavening to look for when deciding whether to add more leavening to a recipe. I came across a chart once, I think it was in her book "Special Diet Solutions: Healthy Cooking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Yeast, or Refined Sugar;" Carol Fenster PhD.1997

Living Without Magazine(http://www.livingwithout.com/) lists suggestions for substituting eggs:

If recipe calls for a lot of eggs, use silken tofu, pureed. (Note, I am avoiding soy presently, and have successfully replaced 4-5 eggs in a banana bread recipe satisfactorily, with no tofu used).

Otherwise, choose from the following substitutions. Amounts given are to replace 1 large egg.

3 T applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder

1 T flaxmeal + 3 T hot water(Let stand 10 min.); + Egg Replacer(follow package directions)

4 T pureed silken tofu + 1 teaspoon baking powder

This is found in the Living Without magazine, section called Living Without Pantry(p 62). Check out this magazine if you cannot have gluten and dairy or if you have multiple food allergies. Selections from the Living Without magazine can be found online at livingwithout.com.

Note that these substitution choices each have a binder and a leavening agent.

Analyzing a recipe for content of leavening, moisture, etc. and deciding the more important functions of the egg can be both science and art. It takes judgement. Maybe even guesswork. It takes practice. It takes experimentation. It can be quite subjective. Carol Fenster does give particular tips which are fairly objective, in "Special Diet Solutions: Healthy Cooking Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Yeast, or Refined Sugar;" Carol Fenster PhD.1997. Carol Fenster has a later book titled "Cooking Free: 200 Flavorful Recipes for People with Food Allergies and Multiple Food Sensitivities, By Carol Fenster, Ph.D. Avery/Penguin Group, 2005.

Fenster's tips help with deciding when to replace eggs with a binder, or with a leavening agent, or simply with a moistening agent, by giving actual amounts of ingredients to look for(ie how much baking powder/soda the recipe contains). Also she states percentage amounts of how much moisture/liquid to increase when substituting a leavening or binding agent for an egg. I haven't used Carol Fenster's objective amounts. Just thought that some of you might like something more objective than what I work with. I do use my sister's rule of thumb a lot to decide whether or not to add leavening to the recipe. Does it already have the max amount of baking powder? Then likely the recipe won't need yet another leavening agent for an egg replacement. Of course, just how light and fluffy you want the product to be might be a factor for you in deciding your egg substitute(s).

When adapting a recipe to be egg-free, I look at how much leavening is in the recipe. Does it already have a large amount of baking soda or powder, or yeast? In this case, adding more of the leavening that's already being used may result in a bitter off-taste. (My sister told me a rule of thumb that you don't want to exceed 1 tablespoon baking powder per 2 cups flour, or 1 tsp baking soda per 2 cups flour. Those amounts sound like too much for my tastes). If you want more leavening in the recipe, perhaps use some egg replacer powder, as it tastes different from the leavening agents already being used. Or, consider something that binds and moistens, rather than adding more leavening. Does the recipe have a fair amount of leavening without the egg? Consider a substitute that includes a little leavening and a binder, and/or moistening agent. If the recipe calls for 2 or more eggs, you can use a leavening agent to replace one egg, and then choose an additional egg substitute which binds or provides moisture or flavor. For example, a banana bread recipe calls for 4-5 eggs. I use a baking soda combination to replace one egg and then add flaxmeal(2 eggs worth), then one extra banana(2 eggs worth). If you are not familiar with baking from scratch, it may be hard for you to judge what a large or adequate amount of leavening or binder would be in a recipe. In that case, maybe you want to check out Carol Fenster's tips which give actual amounts to look for.

If the substitutes you use don't seem to make up for the liquid lost from the egg, you can slightly increase the liquid already called for in the recipe. When you adapt a recipe, you usually try to keep the liquid to dry ingredients proportion the same. I think Carol Fenster talks about increasing the liquid in the recipe 25% when substituting leavening or binder substitutes(I'll have to check on that sometime). So if a 1/2 cup of milk is called for, add an additional 1/8 cup of milk. I haven't bothered with this step. Or I don't do it so objectively. If my product is mixed together and doesn't look thin enough, I add more liquid. As you bake more, you can get used to what consistency a product should be before baking.

Learning how to adapt your own recipes to be egg-free can be a rewarding challenge. Choose a recipe and experiment with one set of egg substitutes, then substitute a different egg substitute, and compare texture and flavor. Finding specific recipes that already are adapted without eggs is very helpful. But it is limiting to have to rely solely on recipes you find that are adapted for all your needs. So pull out an old favorite recipe and try your hand at adjusting it! And keep experimenting! When you use already adapted recipes, analyze and try to understand how the recipe was adapted. Was the egg simply omitted? What was substituted in the egg's place? Was the moisture content of the liquids already present in the recipe increased? Sometimes you can find a set of two recipes that are easy to compare: one that was the original, and then one that is egg-free.

This is your opportunity to learn to provide satisfying, wholesome food for you and your family. Best wishes! Feel free to contribute any tips you learn or any recipes! : )

Notes, Resources, and Additional information

*Yes, some recipes really will not lend to any egg substitutions. I really wonder if angel food cake would turn out okay without the eggs! On the other hand, some recipes can simply have the eggs omitted without a problem. WikiHow online http://www.wikihow.com/Replace-Eggs-in-Your-Cooking says any recipe calling for 1-2 eggs usually survives not having a substitute. Now that would depend on what you're making, and what results are satisfactory to you. I've made microwave cake mixes without egg (just mix cake mix and water together in a microwavable container). I make waffles and pancakes without egg. Just experiment with different egg substitutes(or no substitutes at all) and see what happens! I usually have a satisfactory product that's made various ways.

** These substitutes and amounts have been drawn from numerous sources, from books to internet sites, including:

"Dealing With Food Allergies in Babies and Children," by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja, PhD, RD

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/egg.html Four substitutes listed, editors say they work well when substituting 1-3 eggs in baking from scratch. Here are the substitutions: 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 T. liquid, 1 T. vinegar; 1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water ; 1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder; 1 packet gelatin, 2 T. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Jones(2001)

The Complete Food allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini(1997)

Some helpful websites for substituting eggs:
http://www.egglesscooking.com/ contains "recipe round ups" for egg substitutes. So far the substitutes featured in the recipes are: pureed fruit(applesauce, banana, prune), flaxseed meal, silken tofu, egg replacer powder. Also, the site includes a table on various egg substitutes and which baked goods they are best suitable for. I highly recommend this site!
Document called Egg Free Baking, updated November 2006. Tips for replacing eggs, and recipes.
Downloadable Booklet; Egg Free and Excellent; Tips and Techniques from My Kitchen to Yours; By Carol Fenster, Ph.D. – President, Savory Palate, Inc. $6.95. Carol's latest tips on selecting and using egg substitutes in baking. NOTE: I have not seen this booklet, but assume it would be informative. Carol Fenster is an allergy-free cooking/baking expert, and I've gleaned helpful information from books I've checked out from the library authored by her.
Other substitute suggestions:
For one cake recipe, a friend uses a gluten-free flour mix (Sylvian Border Farms General purpose Gluten-Free), and adds 1/2 c applesauce and then 1 tsp xantham gum per 1 c non-wheat flour(to compensate for lack of gluten, see post on non-wheat substitutes). In The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook, by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger(2004), 1/2 c - 1 c applesauce is used in place of 4-5 eggs in several cake recipes. For cookies, however, the author uses Ener-G egg replacer. The author explains that she uses the dry egg replacer when it's important for the good to have firmness and to have a good binder.

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Jones(2001) and The Complete Food allergy Cookbook by Marilyn Gioannini(1997) give instructions for boiling flax in water, to form a mixture that has the consistency of a raw egg-white. This is useful for keeping things together in meatloaves or patties, says Jones. You boil 1/2 c water and 1 T whole flaxseed, and cook for 5 minutes on LOW heat. Flaxseed provides the greatest nutrition when freshly ground. In meal form, our bodies digest the nutrients more effectively than in the whole form. But as flaxseed meal ages, you lose vitamins. I assume that freezers help to preserve the vitamins. So I grind a batch of seeds into meal right before use and then freeze leftovers. I use my VitaMix to grind the seeds. Coffee grinders or hand-held cereal or spice grinders should work.

Gioannini's Complete Food Allergy Cookbook lists some advantages and disadvantages of substituting for eggs tofu, banana, flax seed, psyllium seed husk powder, arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, and commercial egg replacer. She directs how to use the subtitutes in recipes. I utilize tapioca starch or arrowroot starch in my gluten-free baking(see under non-wheat flour substitutions). Gioannini suggests 1 T per 1 c non glutenous flour used, for binding and lightening muffins or cookies. I've read that cornstarch can be used in place of arrowroot or tapioca starch, and I've used that succesfully in recipes. A note on the tapioca starch: Gioannini warns that tapioca is very sticky, use only a little(that's why the 1 T per 1 c flour), where Jones suggests you can substitute up to 25-50 percent of your flour to lighten baked goods. So, if you experiment with somewhat large amounts of tapioca and your product seems overly sticky, maybe it's too much tapioca.

Using tofu as an egg substitute provides moisture and nutrition. Tofu has high-quality protein, calcium, vitamins, and minterals. Use 1/4 c per egg. Whip it before adding it to the recipe. In the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, it is suggested that Silken tofu (Mori nu brand in a box) works best in dense cakes and brownies. I got that suggestion off a blog, which, by the way, I suggest checking out at http://foodallergyqueen.blogspot.com/. The blogger author also cites Moskowitz in saying that 1/4 c soy yogurt can be used for 1 egg. Probably regular yogurt works, too, if dairy can be tolerated.

Psyllium seed husk powder is used a lot in Gioannini's baking recipes. It is a binder and adds fiber. It works well for breads, cookies, cakes, or muffins. It also can be used in meat loaf. Mix 1 T psyllium with 3 T water and let sit a few minutes before adding to the recipe. Or mix psyllium into dry ingredients and add 2 or 3 T extra liquid. Psyllium is sold in bulk as a laxative, but Gioannini claims that the amount she suggests in a recipe will not produce a strong laxative effect.

If using commercial egg-replacers, read the ingredient list VERY CAREFULLY. Some egg replacers have egg products in them, and there are a variety of egg replacer combinations depending on brand. Ener-G doesn't have any wheat, nut, eggs, or dairy. Hammond says she uses dry egg replacer when it's important for the good to have firmness and to have a good binder. I notice she uses it a lot in cookies. On http://www.egglesscooking.com/, egg replacer powder is said to be suitable for all baked goods, especially cookies. This info(from egglesscooking.com)was obtained from a Carol Fenster book and a vegan baking book by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

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