Egg allergies are on the rise and one of the most common allergens in children, second only to dairy allergies. My most recent test showed that I had actually reversed my sensitivity to grains and dairy but still had a strong reaction to eggs. (A little parting gift from my autoimmune disease.)
Avoiding eggs can be inconvenient and difficult for the growing number of people with allergies. Many common baked goods, breaded foods, and breakfast dishes contain eggs. Thankfully, all is not lost, because there are great options for substitutes.
Egg Substitutes in Baking
Eggs are really two distinct parts: yolk and white. That’s why some recipes call for just one or the other. The yolk is fatty and helps bind while the white offers moisture and lightness (leavening). In most recipes that call for whole eggs, the eggs act in all three of these roles:
- As leavener
- As binder
- As moisturizer
When replacing eggs in recipes consider what the role of the egg is before choosing your egg substitute. It’s not always easy to figure this out but here are some guidelines:
- If the recipe does not contain another leavening agent (like baking powder), assume the egg acts as a leavener.
- If the recipe calls for 3+ eggs, assume they act in all three roles.
- If the recipe has little moisture besides eggs, assume they act as moisture.
- If the recipe calls for just egg whites, they are probably used as a leavener (and moisturizer).
- If a recipe calls for just yolks, they are for binding.
If you’re not sure, assume the eggs acts as all three and choose an egg substitute or a combination of them that cover all three functions.
What to Use Instead of Eggs
Whether you’re egg-free by choice or necessity, these egg substitutes are a great way to enjoy your favorite recipes.
In Baking Recipes
When you’re baking (cakes, muffins, quick breads, etc.), you can usually find an egg substitute that works well.
If an egg acts as a binder in a recipe, almost any of the below substitutes will work:
- 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + ¼ cup of water (mix and let sit for 15 minutes)
- ¼ cup full-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + ¼ cup water (mix and let sit for 15 minutes)
- 1/3 cup applesauce (will be more crumbly)
- ¼ cup pureed banana (obviously not what I use!)
- 1 tablespoon gelatin powder + ¼ cup water (mix and let sit for 15 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons dates, raisins, or prunes + 2 tablespoons water, pureed together
- ¼ cup peanut butter or almond butter
If eggs act as a leavening agent in the recipe, yogurt can be used or a teaspoon each of baking powder (or baking soda), white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), and water (mix together).
When the egg is needed for moisture, yogurt, juice, applesauce, or pureed/ mashed banana should be used.
If you’re not sure, use more than one type of egg substitute. For example, use a gelatin “egg” (binding and moisturizing) and a leavening “egg” like yogurt (even if the recipe only calls for one egg… in my experience, it turns out fine!)
For coconut flour recipes, eggs are needed for both binding and moisture, so I typically use a chia, gelatin, and applesauce mixture.
For breading, an egg mixture is often used, but there are some easy substitutions. My favorites are melted butter, coconut oil, or plain yogurt. Full-fat coconut milk also works.
For a more flavorful binder for breading, I mix equal parts mustard and honey or maple syrup.
For this one, you are out of luck! I haven’t found anything that replaces the eggs completely in taste or texture, but I’ve learned to love breakfast stir frys with many of the ingredients that would often be added to an omelet (peppers, onion, cheese, meat, spinach), sautéed together sans eggs.
I also think it’s time to buck the “eggs or cereal for breakfast” rule and consider that leftovers, stir-frys, and even salads can be excellent healthy breakfast choices!
Here are some of my favorite egg-free breakfast recipes to try:
- Wellness Bars – These do have a fair amount of sugar from dates but when paired with a high protein food (like homemade sausage) they are a healthy breakfast.
- Protein “Brain Power” Smoothie – Just leave out the egg yolks and you have a filling and delicious breakfast smoothie that won’t make you sick.
- Chia Seed Pudding Parfait – For something a bit different, try this pudding as a parfait. Add nuts, berries, coconut, or whatever you have in your pantry, for a tasty egg-free breakfast.
When you can’t have eggs, you quickly find other options for breakfast. I feel like it’s helped me have a more varied diet too, which is important for getting all the nutrients the body needs.
FAQs on Egg Replacers and Substitutes
Here are some of the most frequent questions I get on the topic of egg substitutions:
1. How do you know if you are allergic to eggs?
There are a number of tests your doctor can perform to see if you are allergic to eggs (or other foods. Some of these include:
Many people find out they have an egg allergy because they feel sick every time they eat a certain food. You can get a test to confirm but many people don’t see the point (if it came back negative they still wouldn’t eat the food based on how it makes them feel).
2. Are eggs the problem, or is it the chickens’ feed?
Some people believe that what the chicken eats can cause a reaction. Some have found that they can eat eggs from chickens fed with an organic, soy-free, corn-free feed. Others have found that duck eggs don’t bother them the same way chicken eggs do.
3. Why is silken tofu not on the list?
The short answer is that tofu is made from soy, so it’s not a healthy choice.
4. Why is Ener-g not included on this list?
Ener-g is a highly processed food so I don’t recommend it. It also contains synthetic gums. Since there are so many healthy alternatives, I’d just stay away from this.
5. How can you replace just the egg whites?
Assuming that you are only replacing the egg white in a recipe that calls for a whole egg, the simplest thing is to use two egg yolks for each egg in the recipe. You could also use 1 egg yolk and 1 of the other egg replacements in many recipes.
If you want to replace egg whites in recipes that use just egg whites (like meringue) you may be out of luck. There’s no great substitute for egg whites in these kind of recipes. However, you may be able to use a gelatin egg in some recipes like royal icing.
6. How many eggs can I replace?
For recipes that call for 1-3 eggs, any binding egg replacement will probably do fine. For recipes that call for more eggs you may have to mix and match egg replacers to meet the needs of the recipe. As I mentioned earlier, coconut flour recipes usually need eggs as a binder and for moisture. This is why coconut flour recipes tend to have many eggs.
But this same reasoning can work for other recipes types too. Recipes that call for 4+ eggs usually also need eggs for more than one action. I would use one egg replacement from each category and adjust as needed. For example, a recipe that calls for 4 eggs could have 2 unsweetened applesauce eggs, 1 chia seed egg, and 1 gelatin egg.
However, for recipes that call for many eggs, egg replacements may not cut it, so have a backup plan.
Egg Substitutes for Egg-Free Living
Many people have food reactions and allergies to healthy foods like eggs. Some food allergies can be addressed (like improving gut health and diet) but in the meantime, egg substitutes can help you enjoy some of your favorite recipes (even gluten-free ones!).
Do you avoid eggs by choice or necessity? What do you use for substitutes?