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When I was deciding to become vegan, I thought I couldn’t live without chicken. Surprisingly to me, meat was not the hardest food for me to give up. No, it wasn’t cheese either. It was eggs. Eggs were the last animal food product that I quit. My reluctance to stop eating eggs confused me at first. I didn’t think I was a big fan of eggs. I only liked them two ways: scrambled or as omelets. But when you start reading labels carefully, you discover that it seems like eggs are in everything! If you cook, then you know that eggs are a very common ingredient in recipes, whether for binding, leavening, or breading.

The truth is that eggs are not necessary to make delicious dishes — not even ones where eggs are the main ingredient. Eggs can be easily replaced for any of your cooking or baking needs. There are commercial egg replacers you can buy, but it’s easier and less expensive to make your own. Here are some easy and convenient ideas for substituting eggs in cooking and baking:

1. Know Which Part of the Egg You Are Replacing and Why

There are a dozen ways to substitute eggs in recipes. In order to choose the best substitute for your purposes, you need to know which part of the egg you are replacing and why. Eggs are used in cooking and baking as binders, leavening agents, or for taste. They can be used for dredging and breading, and sometimes the egg is the main ingredient as in omelets or egg salad. Sometimes, recipes require the whole egg, and other times they require just the whites or the yolk. If you know why a recipe says to add eggs, it will be easier to make the appropriate substitution.

 2. Make Tofu or Chickpeas the New Star of the Recipe

Tofu is an excellent substitution for making scrambles, omelets, frittatas, quiches, or “egg” salad. Adding ground turmeric will give it that familiar yellow color and Himalayan black salt will add the sulfuric smell and taste of eggs. For a soy-free option, you can also make these same recipes using chickpeas and/or chickpea flour, which also have an “eggy” look and taste.

3. Dredging and Breading

Eggs are often an important step in dredging and breading, because they help the breading stick to the food. Instead of eggs, you can use anything that will make what you are breading sticky. A light coating of mustard or vegan mayo works just as well. Another method is using non-dairy milk mixed with either a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed or vegan mayo to thicken it. If the recipe requires only an “eggy” dredging as in French Toast, chickpea batter made by mixing chickpea flour with water or milk is a delicious alternative.

4. Making Gels for Binding

There are so many ways to add binders to recipes without eggs. In cooking and baking, you can replace one egg by mixing one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with three tablespoons of warm water and letting it rest for five to ten minutes until it becomes a gel. Then, add it to the recipe as you would the egg. Gels can also be made by combining three tablespoons of flour with an equal amount of water, or two tablespoons of either cornstarch or arrowroot powder with three tablespoons of water.

5. Binders for Cooking

If you need to substitute eggs for the binders in recipes such as veggie burgers or a veggie loaf, try mashed potatoes, tomato paste, rolled oats, bread crumbs, cornmeal, flour, or arrowroot powder. Each of these items thicken and gel with other ingredients to create a binding effect. Quinoa flakes are another amazing ingredient that can replace eggs in cooking, baking, and even matzoh balls.

6. Fruit Binders for Baking

In baking, any high-pectin fruit can replace eggs for binding purposes. To replace one egg, use ¼ cup of mashed bananas, canned pumpkin, or sweet potato puree or unsweetened apple sauce. Keep in mind that the fruit will add flavor to your recipe. It may also add some heaviness, so you might want to add a bit of baking powder to lighten things back up.

7. Other Egg Replacers for Baking

To replace one egg, use ¼ cup of blended silken tofu or non-dairy yogurt plus ½ teaspoon of oil. Another choice is to use three to four tablespoons of vegan mayo for each egg that you need to replace. This is the secret to my vegan and gluten-free challah. For leavening purposes, mixing two tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of oil and two tablespoons of baking powder will add lightness to your recipes. If you only need to replace the egg whites, try adding a combination of one tablespoon of agar powder with an equal amount of water that has been whipped, chilled, and then whipped again.

Once you understand why recipes contain eggs, it’s easy to find suitable replacements for them, most of which are healthier and safer. With the proper egg substitution, your recipes will come out perfectly, whether you are cooking or baking.

Lead image source: Southwestern Tofu Scramble with Greens