Expert Guidance for Egg Alternatives

This article, entitled "Expert Guidance for Egg Alternatives," comes from partner site Best Food Facts.

Many of us enjoy devouring our favorite dinner dishes and baked goods that are all made possible with the combination of the right ingredients, including eggs. So what happens when you are in the middle of a recipe and you reach into your fridge only to discover you are out of eggs? We reached out to registered dietitians Anne Cundiff and Connie Diekman to see what their advice is on egg substitutes and replacers.

For this article, Best Food Facts defines egg replacers as a substitute that may still include egg whites, such as Egg Beaters, and defines egg alternatives as an option that contains no eggs at all, such as applesauce.

What are some egg alternatives to use in cooking and baking instead of using real eggs?

Anne Cundiff, RD: A few of my favorite alternatives are applesauce, pureed bananas, Greek yogurt, and chia seeds (my favorite). There are also commercial egg replacers on the market that work just as well.

Substitutes for 1 Egg
Applesauce: 1/4 cup
Bananas: 1/4 cup pureed or ½ medium banana, mashed
Greek Yogurt: 1/4 cup
Chia Seeds: Combine 1 tbsp. chia + 3 tbsp. water; (let it sit overnight & puree in the blender for a smoother texture)
Cornstarch: Combine 2 tbsp. cornstarch + 3 tbsp. water
Bread Crumbs: 2 tbsp.
Potato Starch: 2 tbsp.
Peanut Butter: 3 tbsp.
Vegetable Purees: 1/4 cup
Fruit Purees:1/4 cup
Silken Tofu: 1/4 cup
Commercial Egg Replacement: Follow package directions

Substitutes and amounts may vary depending on recipe, ingredients, altitude & oven.

Are there different egg substitutes to use for a specific purpose?

Anne Cundiff, RD: Yes, there are differences in egg alternatives. Applesauce is great for light and fluffy textures, so it works well in cakes. Greek yogurt provides a denser texture and is better for brownies. Chia seeds tend to be a good, general, all-purpose egg substitute for many types of recipes.

Connie Diekman, RD: The first step in finding an egg alternative is understanding how the egg functions in your recipe. If the recipe is using eggs to bind together ingredients you can use cornstarch, bread crumbs or potato starch for a savory recipe. For baked items, substitutes like mashed bananas, applesauce or peanut butter are great options. If the egg is the moisture in the recipe, fruit or vegetable purees work well. You can also use softened chia seeds or silken tofu to boost the protein in your recipe.

When eggs are used for leavening, the ability to find an alternative is harder. Using pureed fruit can work nicely when an egg is there for moisture or even for binding, but the ability to help dough rise is more challenging. If a baked recipe calls for three or more eggs, you will need to use a commercial egg replacer rather than trying to use another “at home” option. Commercial egg replacers are made from different starches. Depending on the brand, some will use potato starch, some tapioca, while others use soy flour or wheat gluten.

Are there any nutritional differences for using an egg alternative versus a real egg?

Anne Cundiff, RD: Eggs do contain different nutrients compared to some of the substitutes mentioned above. There is no real positive or negative effect on nutrition when using an alternative. If an individual is concerned with total fat intake, using an egg alternative when cooking and baking is a healthy option to utilize.

Connie Diekman, RD: There can be nutritional differences depending on the egg alternative. If the alternative is applesauce or mashed bananas then the protein of the egg is lost, but the vitamins, minerals and fiber of the fruit boost that aspect of nutrition.

Can you expect the same flavor and texture that you get from baking with real eggs when using an egg substitute instead?

Anne Cundiff, RD: If you use the right alternative for the type of product you are making, it should have very similar taste and texture to the original recipe.

Connie Diekman, RD: Eggs provide many functional benefits to baking – they bind, provide texture, moisture and aid in leavening. Using something other than eggs can change the end product. You can avoid drastic changes, and in some cases total failures, if you don’t replace more than three eggs in a single recipe. If a recipe calls for more than three eggs, that frequently means the eggs are key to the outcome of the product – a quiche or soufflé are good examples of this. The moisture that the eggs provide can often mean that egg alternatives won’t allow a baked good to stay fresh as long, but if you bake smaller batches or freeze products it shouldn’t be a problem.

Given the choice between using real eggs and an egg substitute, what is your preference and why?

Anne Cundiff, RD: My personal preference is eggs, because eggs do add nutrients to foods we prepare with them. Eggs have protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals - specifically choline, which is a vitamin that assists in healthy fat metabolism and liver function.

Connie Diekman, RD: This is a tricky question since it depends on the product – quiche versus a cookie – and it depends on the alternative. Depending on what alternative you are using in place of the egg, it may affect what you are making. For example, using applesauce in chocolate chip cookies might not work as well as using applesauce in oatmeal raisin cookies. If you are using an egg substitute, which often still contains the egg white, then functionality is different and it often mimics the whole egg very well.

For people that have an egg allergy, are egg substitutes a safe alternative for them?

Anne Cundiff, RD: Absolutely! I always recommend those with egg allergies try other, more natural, ways to supplement for eggs before buying a commercial egg replacer.

Connie Diekman, RD: “For those with an allergy to eggs, the most important thing is to read the label of the products they choose. Most egg substitutes, such as Egg Beaters, still contain eggs so you would need to look for commercial egg replacements or alternatives. Food Allergy Research and Education, also known as FARE, provides good information on egg replacements or alternatives.

For each egg, substitute one of the following in recipes. These substitutes work well when baking from scratch and substituting 1 to 3 eggs.

  • 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. liquid, 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. water, 1 1/2 tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 packet gelatin, 2 tbsp. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.

Source: Food Allergy Research and Education

Anything else worth noting about egg substitutes?

Anne Cundiff, RD: I think it is good for everyone to know about different egg alternatives because there will be a time, mid-recipe, when you go to the refrigerator and you are out of eggs!

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Best Food Facts
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