There’s a chemistry to baking that allows very little room for improvisation. It’s not like in cooking, where you can mix different ingredients together and sample the result along the way. With baking, each ingredient in the recipe plays an integral role to the success of the final product—even the humble egg, which usually acts in one of three ways: as an ingredient binder, as a leavening agent (what makes baked goods rise or keeps them light and fluffy), or as a source of moisture and richness. Sometimes eggs provide all of these services in a recipe, making their absence that much more likely to create an inedible mess fresh from the oven.
1. Silken Tofu
1/4 cup pureed = 1 egg
Because tofu absorbs other flavors well, it makes a perfect, tasteless substitute for eggs in recipes that need extra moisture. However, adding tofu also creates more of a rich, heavy product, so don’t use it for light and fluffy baked goods, like cookies. The texture will likely be off, unless you add a teaspoon of cornstarch to balance out the density. Silken tofu works best with cakes and brownies, especially the chocolate kind.
2. Flaxseed Powder
2 1/2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg
When ground flaxseed is whisked together with water, it creates a slightly thick liquid very similar to a whisked egg’s consistency. It serves as a handy binder when eggs aren’t an option. But unlike tofu, flaxseed has a distinct flavor; baked goods with added flaxseed often taste a little nuttier and denser than usual. Those qualities are perfect for whole-grain fare, like cornbread, oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, and muffins.
If you don’t have flaxseeds on hand, use one tablespoon of cornstarch instead for similar results.
1/4 cup = 1 egg
Yogurt and buttermilk make baked goods more moist and flavorful, but according to the website Eggless Cooking, they might affect the way a dish rises in the oven if there are ingredients like baking powder in the recipe. That’s because yogurt and buttermilk can act as leavening agents, as well. If the recipe calls for baking powder, and you want to use yogurt or buttermilk, the website recommends using a quarter as much baking soda instead. Try this when making cookies, quick breads and muffins, and cakes.
4. Pureed or Mashed Fruit
1/4 cup = 1 egg
Applesauce, mashed banana, pumpkin or prune puree all make fine—and low-fat—binders and moisteners in baking recipes, provided their flavors complement the recipe itself. The faint taste of fruit doesn’t lend itself well to every recipe; for example, putting pureed prunes in chocolate cake probably doesn’t yield the yummiest results. But if the flavors in the recipe are compatible, the effect is quite enjoyable. Pureed fruit works in a number of baked good varietals—anything from cakes to quick breads to pancakes. (Cookies are an exception; the texture can be compromised.) Keep in mind that it does make the final product more dense than usual, and that you might need to add a little more baking soda to help it rise well.
5. Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 1/2 teaspoons Egg Replacer + 2 tablespoons water = 1 egg
This is a popular vegan product that uses potato and tapioca starch (among other ingredients) to mimic eggs’ effects in recipes. It’s used as a low-calorie, allergy-friendly leavening agent and binder for baked goods, but vegan website Post Punk Kitchen warns that it can give cakes and cookies a “chalk-y” taste and too heavy of a texture. The Ener-G website has many recipes that use its Egg Replacer, so it’s best to start with one of those and see if you like the results.
6. Vinegar and Baking Soda
1 tablespoon vinegar + 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1 egg
Mixing white or apple cider vinegar with a little bit of baking soda creates an apt leavening agent, helping give baked goods, like cupcakes and quick breads, a light, fluffy texture. Be mindful of how much baking soda the recipe already calls for, though. Putting in more than a tablespoon or so in one batch could give it a bitter taste.
7. Agar Powder
1 tablespoon agar powder + 1 tablespoon water = 1 egg white
If a recipe only calls for an egg white, try mixing agar powder and water together, putting the blend in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes, and then giving it a quick whip before adding it to the rest of the ingredients when the recipe specifies.
When recipes call for more than one egg, it’s likely that eggs fulfill more than one role, such as leavening agent and binder. That’s when it’s a good idea to use two different egg replacements, like combining the flaxseed-water mixture with yogurt in a quick bread. But keep in mind that recipes that call for more than two eggs don’t respond well to that many ingredient swap-outs. If that’s the case, it’s better to find recipes that are specifically egg-free rather than trying to tweak your old standbys. Like any scientific formula, a baking recipe doesn’t offer much room for experimentation. But if your recipe only calls for an egg or two, any of these tested replacements should prove a winning addition to your baked goods.