What can I use instead of eggs?
In this brief guide, we learn about eggs and their uses, and explore them in detail. This guide also outlines and explains what you can substitute for eggs if you cannot eat eggs or are unable to procure them.
In the UK, a ban on battery cages was implemented in 2012 and replaced by the slightly larger enriched/colony cages, following a European Union Directive first passed in 1999. In the intervening period the market for free-range eggs grew rapidly in the UK. In Australia, while battery cages have yet to be banned, there has also been a rapid rise in free-range egg production since the early 2000s, and which now constitute over 40% of the shell-egg market (1).
The following are some options you can consider:
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Mashed banana
- Ground flaxseeds or chia seeds
- Silken tofu
- Vinegar + baking soda
- Yoghurt or buttermilk
A brief about eggs
When we refer to eggs, we usually mean chicken eggs, however, there are many different types of eggs available on the market such as duck eggs, quail eggs and turkey eggs to name a few. There are many types of chicken eggs available that vary in size and nutritional value. They may be enhanced to have more vitamins and minerals and also are available as brown eggs (2).
The yolks have high nutritional value as they are a great source of fat, vitamins and minerals and carotenoids. Eggs are cheap, easily available and extremely healthy with a lot of health benefits (2).
Eggs are used in baking and play an important role in it as they act as a leavening agent and add flavour, texture and structure to the dish. Eggs have multi-functional properties, including emulsification, coagulation and foaming (3).
What are eggs used for?
Because eggs are such a great source of bodily nutrients, they are a popular breakfast food. They are also eaten as a source of protein for muscle building and weight loss, however, it is advised to not eat the yolk if it is for the latter. They can be eaten both directly as well as incorporated into dishes. Ovomucin is one of the egg white proteins that is considered a good source of nutrients and has two vital nutrients, protein and carbohydrates. Ovalbumin has the highest amount of egg white protein with good amino acid composition. The rest of the egg white proteins also are considered to be good sources of essential amino acids; thus, egg white can be used as an excellent protein source for many food items (4).
Eggs can be cooked and eaten directly in a variety of different ways. Some of them include being boiled, scrambled, poached or cooked with other ingredients as an omelette.
Aside from being eaten as is, they are an important component in a range of different recipes such as :
- To bind ( for example in dumplings)
- Used as an egg wash to add a golden glaze and crisp to pastries.
What can be used instead of eggs?
Eggs are sometimes avoided by those who have egg allergies or are vegans, for example. In this case, there are many substitutes that can be considered, especially in baking and cooking;
1. Unsweetened applesauce
Applesauce is made from pureed, cooked apples. You can use the sweetened variety however, you will have to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe to compensate. This is a healthy substitute that can be used for muffins, cupcakes, cookies and bars that adds moisture. However, keep in mind that using too much applesauce can result in a rubbery texture.
In a study, apple products were found to have very useful emulsifying properties. Apple powder used as an emulsifier agent in oil-water mixtures displayed a high stabilizing potential, and the network created during emulsification remained unchanged over time. A mixed network of particle-stabilized oil droplets and powder particles may have been created (5).
An egg can be replaced by one-fourth cup of applesauce in most recipes.
2. Mashed banana
Mashed, ripened bananas are an excellent, nutritious substitute for eggs. It adds density and moisture to your baked goods, however, it does add a slight banana flavour so make sure that the recipe can afford that.
Studies show that bananas have the ability to form foam and act as egg substitutes. Overripe bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and natural sweeteners. However, egg substitutes such as bananas are characterized with high moisture content, which helps lower the viscosity of the batter (6).
This alternative works for quick breads, muffins and cakes. Use a banana of moderate ripeness as the riper it is the sweeter it will be and can change the flavour of your dish. One egg can be replaced by ¼ cup of mashed banana.
3. Ground flaxseeds/chia seeds
These seeds are highly nutritious seeds containing omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. This is quite a healthy option. You can mix a tablespoon of ground seeds with 3 tablespoons of water to create a thick paste that will easily substitute one egg.
Chia can form gum, which has good functional properties. Thereby, they improve the functional properties of its food products as emulsifiers and stabilizer agents (6).
Water-soluble flaxseed polysaccharides, commonly referred to as flaxseed gum, are of special interest due to their functional properties when included in aqueous solutions. Solutions of flaxseed gum have considerable viscosity and readily form stable emulsions, gels and foams (7).
Keep in mind, however, that this option makes your dish dense and can also leave a nutty flavour. It is hence advised to be used for savoury baked goods like pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and cookies.
4. Silken tofu
Tofu is the result of pressing processed, condensed soy milk into blocks. Silken tofu has higher water content and is hence softer. ¼ cup of silken tofu can be pureed to replace an egg. It is flavourless in comparison with the other alternatives however can make the dish denser so is better used in brownies, cakes and breads and other recipes that call for only a few eggs.
Soy protein ingredients are used to aid formation and stabilization of emulsion for many food products including cake batters. Generally, the emulsifying capacity of soy protein products increases with increasing solubility and interfacial tension is progressively reduced as concentration is increased (8).
5. Yoghurt or buttermilk
This option adds a good amount of moisture and texture to the dish. Be sure to use plain and unsweetened yoghurt so that it does not add any further sweetness or flavour to the recipe. You can replace one egg with ¼ cup of yoghurt or buttermilk.
This can be a heavy substitute so beating it before adding can be helpful. It is best used for muffins, cupcakes and cakes.
Buttermilk can be used to replace eggs due to its good emulsification and good water-holding capacity. Whey proteins and milk fat globule membranes in buttermilk possess inherent emulsifying properties. Buttermilk has been used in bakery, chocolate, cheese, yogurt, and for the delivery of bioactives as wall material for encapsulation. Buttermilk improved crumb texture and enhanced water-holding capabilities of yogurt (9).
Yogurt contains casein. Sodium caseinate is a valuable food ingredient with its high protein content and functional properties of emulsification, water binding, and texture improvement (10).
Other FAQs about Eggs that you may be interested in.
What can I substitute for eggs in cakes?
As you have seen, this guide has explained why eggs are important in our diets and our cooking and how they can be substituted by different ingredients that also include vegan options.
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- Réhault-Godbert, Sophie, Nicolas Guyot, and Yves Nys. The golden egg: nutritional value, bioactivities, and emerging benefits for human health. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 684.
- Kohrs, D., et al. Evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emirates J Food Agric, 2010, 340-352.
- Lotfian, Fahimeh, et al. Protein beverages made of a mixture of egg white and chocolate milk: Microbiology, nutritional and sensory properties. Food sci nutr, 2019, 7, 1466-1472.
- Huc-Mathis, Delphine, et al. Emulsifying properties of food by-products: Valorizing apple pomace and oat bran. Colloids Surf A Physicochem Eng Asp, 2019, 568, 84-91.
- Saleh, Samaa. Zucchini Puree as a Novel Egg Substitute in Cake: Comparing with Other Substitutes. Alexan Sci Exch J, 2022,43, 219-228.
- Liu, Jun, et al. Conlinin in flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) gum and its contribution to emulsification properties. Food Hydrocoll, 2016, 52, 963-971.
- Jideani, V. A. Functional properties of soybean food ingredients in food systems. Soybean-Biochemistry, chemistry and physiology, 201, 345-366.
- Zhao, Lili, Ran Feng, and Xueying Mao. Addition of buttermilk powder improved the rheological and storage properties of low‐fat yogurt. Food Sci Nutr, 2020, 8, 3061-3069.
- Isleten, M., and Y. O. N. C. A. Karagul-Yuceer. Effects of dried dairy ingredients on physical and sensory properties of nonfat yogurt. J dairy sci, 2006, 89, 2865-2872.