Egg whites are a common ingredient in many foods, from baked goods to cocktails. Recently, they’ve become even more popular as a replacement for whole eggs because of their lower calorie and fat content.
But how do you replace egg whites in baking, cocktails, and meringue?
In this article, we’ll take a look at five great vegan egg white substitutes, including our favorite, aquafaba. Keep reading to find out which recipes each of these substitutes work best in and to get answers for some of the most common egg white substitute questions.
The 5 Best Egg White Substitutes
Whether you are vegan, allergic to eggs, or just cooking with a bare pantry, these five egg white substitute options are sure to come in handy. Here is everything you need to know to make these substitutes work in a variety of recipes.
The best egg white substitute is aquafaba. Not only is this substitute vegan, but it comes free with every can of chickpeas! In fact, by opting for aquafaba, you’ll actually be helping to reduce food waste.
So, what is aquafaba?
Aquafaba is the viscous liquid that results from cooking legumes. It is made up of protein, sugars, and fiber. These nutrients are able to seep into the cooking water thanks to a unique starch gelatinization process that occurs when beans are exposed to boiling water.
Like egg whites, aquafaba is made up largely of protein and has no fat in it. Unlike egg whites, this viscous liquid does have some soluble and insoluble fiber. It is the soluble fiber and protein that allows aquafaba to hold a meringue-like form when it is whipped.
Chickpea liquid is the most common form of aquafaba used as an egg white substitute because it has a neutral taste and a lower amount of insoluble fiber, which gives it the right texture to create gels and meringues.
You can find a detailed aquafaba recipe and preparation instructions at the bottom of this article, but here’s a quick run-down:
To use aquafaba as an egg white substitute in a standard baking or savory recipe, simply measure out the amount needed and stir until it is foamy. For use as a meringue, whip the aquafaba for about 13 minutes until it thickens up.
2 tbsp aquafaba = 1 egg white
Aquafaba can also be used as a whole egg replacer.
3 tbsp aquafaba = 1 whole egg
2. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds also make a great egg white substitute.
These seeds are well known for their use as a dietary supplement. They are rich in omega fatty acids as well as B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. They are also packed with fiber and make for a great constipation treatment.
These tiny, nutrient-rich seeds have a unique outer layer that contains mucilaginous substances. When exposed to water, this material swells and becomes slimy. It forms a binding agent that perfectly mimics egg whites used in baking.
To best emulate the texture of eggs, use fresh ground flaxseed. When mixed with water, ground flaxseed creates a relatively smooth, viscous liquid that binds and thickens to elevate your baking without the need for animal products.
Unlike aquafaba, flax seed substitute does not whip up into a meringue. It is best used for baking applications. It has a slightly nutty taste that lends itself well to pancakes, hearty muffins, and grain-heavy cookies and cakes.
½ tbsp of ground flaxseed + 1 ½ tbsp water = 1 egg white
To create an egg white substitute from flaxseed, mix ground flaxseed with warm water, stir vigorously and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. To replace whole eggs, double the ingredient ratio listed above.
3. Agar Powder
Another great egg white substitute is agar powder.
Agar, also called agar-agar, is harvested from certain kinds of red seaweed. When this seaweed is boiled, the viscous liquid that helps support the structure of the cell walls escapes into the water. This water is then dehydrated to create thin, opaque flakes that can be sold as is or ground into a fine powder.
Despite having a low-calorie content, agar is surprisingly packed with micronutrients. It is high in calcium, iron, and folate. It also contains a lot of fiber–something that real egg whites lack. While not as high as eggs in protein, it does contain some protein per serving.
Most often, this seaweed product is sold as a vegan gelatin replacement. But it also works surprisingly well as a white egg substitute. It is most often used in desserts such as custard and puddings, but can also be used as a thickener for soups and sauces.
1 tbsp agar + 1 tbsp water = 1 egg white
To make agar into an egg white substitute, mix equal parts water and agar. Whip well and then place the mixture in the refrigerator to chill. For the fluffiest texture, whip the mix again after it has cooled and place it back in the fridge. The more you whip and chill, the fluffier the mixture will become.
4. Xanthan Gum
An egg white substitute that works well in certain situations is xanthan gum.
This white powder is used in many commercial food products as a thickening agent. It is produced during the fermentation of glucose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacteria. The gooey substance is dehydrated into a fine white powder that quickly turns back into a viscous liquid when it comes in contact with water.
This product is entirely made up of fiber and doesn’t really contain much in the way of other nutrients. But it is believed to have some health benefits when consumed in large quantities. Studies have shown that it may be effective at lowering blood sugar after meals, lowering cholesterol, aiding in weight loss, and may even fight some cancers.
As an egg white substitute, xanthan gum works both as a thickener and a leavening agent. It is best used for baking and making ice cream.
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum + ¼ teaspoon water = 1 egg white
To make xanthan gum into an egg white substitute, mix it with equal parts water and allow it to sit until thick. Then whip until the desired consistency is reached. Because a little xanthan goes a long way as a thickener, you may have to adjust the amount of other liquid ingredients in the recipe to make up for the missing liquid that would have been provided by real egg white.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds work a lot like flax seeds and can be used in many of the same situations.
These mucilaginous seeds are harvested from a type of mint called Salvia hispanica. Like flax seeds, a substance on the outer layer of chia seeds reacts to water and forms a sticky, viscous liquid that is perfect for thickening and binding ingredients in baking.
Chia seeds are highly celebrated for their health benefits. They are high in omegas, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. They also contain a decent amount of protein.
To replicate the smooth texture of egg whites, you’ll want to use ground chia seeds or chia flour.
1 tsp chia seeds + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg white
A little chia goes a long way for making viscous liquid, so you will need much more water than ground seeds. Mix well and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Then whisk vigorously for at least 15 seconds to get the frothy texture needed to replace egg whites.
Quick Reference Chart for Egg White Substitutes
Here are the amounts you will need for each of the above substitutes in order to replace one egg white. You may have to adjust the other liquid ingredient amounts in the recipe to make up for changes in the amount added with the substitute.
|Substitute||Amount Needed to Replace 1 Egg White|
|Ground Flax Seed||½ tablespoon + 1 ½ tablespoons water|
|Agar Powder||1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon water|
|Xanthan Powder||¼ teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon water|
|Chia Seeds||1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons water|
Egg White Substitute FAQ
Can you substitute egg whites in cocktails?
If you are a fan of alcoholic sours or fizzes, then you have probably had a cocktail with raw egg white in it. For those who would prefer to skip the side of salmonella, there’s good news. You can use an egg white substitute when making cocktails too! For this, we would recommend aquafaba for its thin, eggy consistency and mild flavor.
Can you buy aquafaba?
Aquafaba comes free in all cans of plain beans. But if you want to buy aquafaba a la carte, you are in luck. A few companies have started selling just this viscous liquid. You can even buy it as a rehydratable powder from a company called Vör.
Is aquafaba only from chickpeas?
Aquafaba is most commonly associated with chickpeas, but the word actually refers to the viscous liquid that is produced by cooking any type of legume. In terms of egg substitutes, chickpea and yellow split pea broth work the best due to their consistency, composition, and neutral taste. But liquid from any type of bean would work in a pinch (especially in savory recipes).
Can I make my own aquafaba?
Aquafaba is just the liquid that results from boiling beans, so all you have to do to make your own is cook up some dry beans. We recommend soaking dried chickpeas in water overnight, rinsing them, then cooking them in a pressure or slow cooker with enough water to cover them by about 2 inches. Once the beans are tender and cooled, strain the liquid into a separate container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to Make the Best Egg White Substitute
When it comes to the best egg white substitutes, you won’t find anything better than aquafaba. This viscous liquid is cheap, easy to make, and versatile. It works as a binding agent and can be whipped up to create a meringue.
Here’s our easy-to-follow recipe for preparing aquafaba for use in egg-free meringue, baked goods, and more.
- Chickpea brine. This is the thick, gooey liquid leftover from a can of chickpeas—a.k.a. aquafaba. Theoretically, you can also use the liquid from home-cooked chickpeas, but it may be too thin to be used as an egg replacement. The easiest, most convenient option is to use aquafaba from the can.
- Cream of tartar. Though it’s possible to make aquafaba without cream of tartar, this ingredient provides structure and form.
How to Make Aquafaba
To use aquafaba as an egg white substitute, you’ll have to whip it into a fluffy foam. This is easy to do! All you need is a standing or hand mixer. Here are the steps:
- Place a strainer in a bowl. Pour the canned chickpeas into the strainer, letting the liquid drain into the bowl. One can contains about 3/4 cup of brine. Save the chickpeas for another recipe.
- Combine the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar in a large bowl.
- Whip the liquid with the standing or hand mixer. It’ll start to become foamy and white.
- Continue whipping until the aquafaba reaches your preferred thickness and stiffness. This depends on the specific recipe that you’re making, but generally, this can take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes.
How to Make Aquafaba (Egg White Substitute)
- ¾ cup liquid from can of chickpeas from 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Place a strainer in a bowl. Pour the canned chickpeas into the strainer, letting the liquid drain into the bowl. Save the chickpeas for another recipe.
- Combine the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar in a large bowl.
- Whip the liquid with the standing or hand mixer. It'll start to become foamy and white.
- Continue whipping until the aquafaba reaches your preferred thickness and stiffness. This depends on the specific recipe that you're making, but generally, this can take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes.