One of the most commonly asked questions in the world of baking is, "Can I make this without eggs?"
And it's easy to understand why. Some people can't have eggs due to allergies, while others avoid them for ethical, cultural, and other reasons. And while eggs are definitely keto-approved, not everyone on keto diet can consume eggs for the above reasons.
But as keto-ers have proved time and time again, there's a way to replace any ingredient if you do your research and understand the purpose of using one or the other. The same holds true for eggs, which can definitely be substituted even in desserts. So keep reading to learn more about eggs and how to replace them.
The Role of Eggs in Baking and Desserts: Exploring Their Purpose and Importance
The main reason eggs are found in so many desserts and baked goods is that they can do it all. This is because their unique proteins can perform so many roles in baking, which include the following:
Eggs can contribute to leavening in two ways. For one, their proteins can expand and puff up by trapping air bubbles in baking. And secondly, their high water content creates steam during heating, which also helps mixtures rise and expand.
Thicken and emulsify
When slowly heated, the proteins in yolks coagulate, helping thicken puddings, custards, sauces, and creams. In addition, some of these proteins repel water, while others attract it — which also helps emulsify oil and water .
Binding and structure
As the proteins in eggs set, they help bind other ingredients and provide structure to things like baked goods. Both yolks and whites provide these properties since both are high in protein.
Flavor and browning
Browned goods have a distinct flavor thanks to something called the Maillard reaction. This chemical reaction happens when egg proteins combine with carbs or reducing sugars to produce compounds that give browned foods their color and aroma.
Coating, sealing, and shine
Whisked eggs can be smeared over baked goods to help coat them with toppings. They can also be used to "glue" together different pieces of dough, or you can make an egg wash to add shine to baked goods.
Why Go Eggless? Exploring the Top Reasons for Using Egg Replacements in Keto Baking
Eggs are hard to replace in desserts, so people who choose to do so usually have valid reasons:
Egg allergy — up to 1.3% of children have an egg allergy, which happens to be one of the most common allergies in children under 5 years of age .
Ethics — Like all foods of animal origin, eggs can raise ethical and environmental issues. They're also not consumed in certain religions.
Dietary restrictions — Certain medical conditions (e.g. kidney or liver disease) are treated with a low-protein diet, and reducing one's egg intake may take priority.
Or you may also substitute eggs because they're not easily available where you live or haven't stocked up on them. Again, a handy substitute can save the day in such scenarios.
Revamp Your Keto Baking: 6 Delicious Egg Replacements to Try in Your Recipes
Truth be told, it's hard to find one egg substitute that performs all of its tasks well. You'll likely need to use a combination of different ingredients to create the leavening, browning, thickening, and other functions of eggs in a given recipe. With that out of the way, check out these egg replacements that happen to be keto-friendly.
Chia seeds or flax meal
Chia seeds and flax meal contain unique dietary fibers that become sticky and gel-like when mixed with water. This feature can help bind ingredients and add moisture to baked goods. Combine either one with water at a 1:3 ratio to make your egg replacement.
Nut butters like peanut, almond, or macadamia are high in protein and fat, just like eggs. Their proteins can help baked goods like muffins and brownies brown and hold moisture. They can also help thicken creams. However, keep in mind that they will impact the flavor. Use 2 to 3 teaspoon of nut butter to replace one egg.
Another stand-in for eggs in things like muffins and brownies, avocado helps bind ingredients thanks to its fiber. It is also rich in water, which adds moisture, and is abundant in healthy fats for added creaminess in puddings and custard. Use a quarter of an avocado to replace 1 egg.
Like eggs, tofu is rich in water, protein, and fat . But unlike eggs, it's vegan. Plus, it's fairly mild-tasting and has a neutral off-white color that can blend in with most recipes. Use it to add moisture and structure to pancakes, brownies, muffins, and cake. Use ¼ of a cup of tofu to replace 1 egg.
Baking powder and oil
When you need something to replace the leavening power of eggs (along with their fats), use a combination of baking powder and oil. For example, you can replace one egg with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 ½ teaspoon vegetable oil. One caveat: you absolutely need to add something with protein when replacing eggs with baking powder; otherwise your baked goods will collapse.
Psyllium husk fiber
Psyllium husk fiber is a product that's 100% fiber and an excellent substitute for eggs. It binds ingredients together and holds moisture well. It can also thicken and emulsify ingredients. You will need just 1 small teaspoon to replace 1 egg in any given recipe.
While eggs are definitely keto-friendly (they have zero carbs), not every low-carb dieter can eat them. Replacing eggs may not be easy, however, especially in baked goods and desserts. That's because eggs are a multi-tasking ingredient that binds, emulsifies, and leavens.
But replacing them isn't impossible. You first need to see what function they perform in a recipe and use an ingredient that can do the same. For example, if we're talking about leavening, baking powder is what you should use. Or, if you need something to thicken a pudding, reach out for silken tofu.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Egg, whole, raw, fresh. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171287/nutrients
- Anton M. Egg yolk: structures, functionalities and processes. J Sci Food Agric. 2013;93(12):2871-2880. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6247
- Samady W, Warren C, Wang J, Das R, Gupta RS. Egg Allergy in US Children. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8(9):3066-3073.e6. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2020.04.058
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Tofu, soft, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride (nigari). April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172449/nutrients