If there’s one thing we’ve learned about ourselves in our current state of shelter in place, it’s that many Americans are finding new comfort within their kitchens; the baking bug has bitten many who have found an expanse of time on their hands. It appears we are reconnecting with the simple joy of cooking from scratch.
Eggs are often a vital ingredient in baking. They play many important roles, such as binding, trapping air, adding moisture, enriching, leavening, and adding healthy fat and protein. Some health officials even deem them as in the running for the perfect food. To boot, they keep well in the fridge, are inexpensive, and incredibly versatile.
But what happens when you’ve been summoned by your sweet tooth only to realize your egg supplies are running dreadfully low? Or maybe your local grocery is out of stock? While there’s no substitute for a perfect sunny-side up egg (though tofu and nutritional yeast do succeed in making a decent scramble), there are plenty of other common pantry items to use in eggs’ place. Just keep in mind that 1) most substitutions will only work if you are replacing just 1 – 2 eggs per recipe (applesauce flan will never be flan, for example), and 2) you might want to add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder per “egg” for some extra rising power.
1 egg = ¼ cup (unsweetened) applesauce
Applesauce is already a staple for many families – it’s sweet, wholesome, and makes for a great snack or dessert. It works especially well as an egg replacer due to the natural presence of pectin, the fiber that causes jam or jelly to have that gooey consistency. Pectin will not only help to hold the baked good together, but will also keep the baked good nice and light by preventing the gluten from forming large networks. If you use sweetened applesauce, simply cut back on the sugar in the original recipe. With the lack of raw eggs, you can go ahead and taste the batter as much as you’d like to get it right! For inspiration: Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 egg = ¼ – ½ cup ripe mashed banana
Bananas not only make a great snack, but make excellent additions to smoothies, desserts, or mole sauce. They work well as egg replacers due to their pectin content, as well as their ability to bind ingredients and to add moisture. Nutritionally, they are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Did you know that the peels are actually edible too? Before you toss them in the compost, check out this recipe for banana peel bacon! For inspiration: Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes, Banana Pancakes, Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies!
Silken Tofu or Plain Yogurt
1 egg = ¼ cup strained and blended tofu or yogurt
Tofu and yogurt are great options that will add moisture, healthy fat, and bulk without a lot of added sugar. They can make baked goods a bit dense, so these are better for cakes and brownies. If using tofu, be sure to drain any liquid and blend it smooth before using. If using yogurt, use the thickest one you have, preferably unsweetened (if sweetened, cut back on the sugar in your original recipe). For inspiration: Gluten Free Cinnamon Toast Morning Muffins
1 egg = 2-3 tablespoons mayo
Yes, mayonnaise. With egg and oil as the two main ingredients, this option actually makes a lot of sense. Mayonnaise cakes have been around since the 1930’s, when Hellmen’s brand promoted their product to bind and give moisture to cakes. (Due to the country being in the midst of World War II, oil and eggs were hard to come by). To mask the mayo taste, this option is best for strongly flavored cakes, such as chocolate or spiced. It’s also suitable for frosting and cookies! For inspiration: Chocolate Cake
Water, Oil, Baking Powder
1 egg = 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 teaspoons baking powder
Perhaps the least fussy and most straight forward, this time-tested substitution is a great resource for those with a simply stocked pantry. Use a neutral flavored oil like vegetable, canola, safflower, or grape seed, and be sure to look for expeller pressed oils due to their limited processing. For inspiration: Gooey Brownies
Other suitable substitutions:
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chia seed mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas, whipped)
1/4 cup pureed potato or sweet potato
1/4 cup nut or seed butter