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Thursday, December 15, 2022

Egg Substitutions: Which to Choose?

Another baking substitution post, and again, a substitution that I'm needing this month. I'm down to 2 dozen eggs to get through the end of the month. That sounds like a lot, but we have a couple of family holiday brunches coming up and lots of holiday baking to do yet. So, I'm considering where I can substitute eggs and where I should follow recipes exactly. So how do I decide which recipe merits an egg or two and which recipe can take a substitute, plus what substitute to use? Basically, I consider the function of the egg in each recipe.

In baking and cooking, eggs have 3 functions, to add moisture, add leavening, and act as binding ingredients. In most recipes, eggs will fill a couple of these functions. In cookie dough, eggs both bind the dough together, and they add leavening. In cakes and muffins, eggs add leavening and moisture. In meatballs, eggs serve as binding agents, but also can add moisture.

To give you an idea of why having just one all-purpose, egg substitute won't give you the best results every time, here are examples of different substitutes and how they can and can't work:

  • applesauce as egg substitute. Applesauce will add moisture to muffins and quick breads, but it has no leavening power of its own.
  • flax seed meal or soy flour, plus water. Both are great binding ingredients, but neither can leaven. 
  • baking powder. It leavens doughs and batters, but has no ability to add moisture, in fact it can dry out some baking.

So, to simplify which to use, here's my list -- the general functions of eggs and which substitutes work best. 

***Important -- For most recipes, the best results will come from doubling up on your substitutes (2 substitutes from different categories, such as -- add a moisture sub and a leavening sub for muffins, or, add a binding sub and a moisture sub for meatballs).

Adding moisture (like for muffins, cakes, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, meatballs)

To add moisture to a recipe, for each egg, substitute 

  • pureed fruit/veg like applesauce, pumpkin or banana (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup for each egg), or
  • yogurt (1/4 cup) or
  • silken tofu (1/4 cup) or
  • 1/4 cup of mayo  

Adding leavening (muffins, breads, pancakes, cakes, cookies)

To add leavening to a recipe, for each egg, add

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder (for cookies, 1/2 teaspoon is generally sufficient -- but see the cookie recommendation below*, for muffins and quick breads 1 teaspoon worked better for me), or the equivalent substitute of baking soda and vinegar

In a 1-egg muffin recipe, you might substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder. This would satisfy both the leavening power and moisture addition that eggs give to muffin batter.

For cakes, you'll have the best results if you use a 2-egg, or more, cake recipe, and only substitute baking powder for 1 of the eggs.

Adding a binder (meatloaves, cookies)

To add a binding agent to recipes which normally call for eggs, for each egg, add

  • 1 heaping tablespoon soy flour, plus 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of flax meal, plus 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu

All-purpose flour can also have binding properties, especially when used in conjunction with other egg substitutes, see below.

*I found with baking cookies, the following formula worked very well,

for each large egg, whisk together:

  • 2 tablespoons flour, 
  • 2 tablespoons water, 
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil and 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • In addition, for cookies that we like slightly moist, like chocolate chip cookies, I substituted 1 tablespoon of applesauce for 1 tablespoon of the butter called for in the recipe.


  1. This is something I've never quite understood. I knew of different egg substitutes, but didn't know how to use them exactly. Thanks for the information. I think I will print this out and put it with the cookbooks.

  2. Another comment. And when you use an egg substitute when baking, you can eat the raw dough without worrying about salmonella risk. A definite win for me. :)

    1. Yep, eating the raw dough is a big win for all of us who love cookie dough more than the actual cookies.

  3. This is great. Thanks for doing the hard work of figuring this out for us! How are your baking projects going? I'm getting there slowly but surely. My sister is now adding your spiced nut recipe onto her list of "must-have" treats for the season. It's a good one!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm really ramping up the baking this week, as I bake a bunch of treats for my son and daughter-in-law as part of their gift. I do love those spiced nuts. They are so, so good. And I love that while they're a bit sweet, they're fairly healthy for a holiday treat.

  4. Yes, thanks, Lili for this explanation. This is very helpful. I recently cooked chickpeas from dried and have the leftover liquid. I guess it's called aquafaba, from what I've read, and can be used as an egg substitute as well. I'm thinking it could be a binder or provide moisture but would require leavening? Do you think that is correct? Right now, I've got eggs, but trying not to waste anything, I may stick the aquafaba in the freezer and then experiment maybe with a meat loaf or something similar in the future. Thanks for all the information that you so readily impart and share.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      My experience with aquafaba is that it doesn't leaven (as you pointed out) and it only mildly adds moisture. We did muffins a few weeks ago, using aquafaba, that dried out quickly. I think this is one of those scenarios where you need a couple of substitutes. My best guess is for a quick bread or muffin -- 3 tablespoons aquafaba,1 or 2 tablespoons pureed fruit/veg (applesauce) and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon baking powder. Last time we had garbanzo bean liquid, we froze it in 3 tablespoon portions, so just what we needed could be thawed. Good luck!

    2. Lili, that's good information. Thanks for doing the hard work calculations for me! I'll freeze it as you suggested. And it tasted okay in muffins? Again, I may not need it as I've got eggs currently but would like to be prepared and would like to use something that I typically would throw out.

    3. Hi Lynn,
      absolutely no taste from the bean liquid at all. I feel the same way, wanting to use something I would ordinarily throw out. It feels like part of being a good steward.


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