Questions for cooks: Egg substitutes

Reader M submitted the following to Questions for cooks:

My son is allergic to egg. I’m wondering if you know if any substitutions for eggs you can use in recipes such as meatloaf and meatballs that use egg as the binder. I’m also looking for substitutions for eggs in the standard breading procedure like you would find for breading chicken and other things. Thanks!

Since we talked about restricted diets earlier in the week, I thought it might be nice to continue this conversation into Friday’s column.

I don’t have any personal experience with an egg allergy, so I talked to a number of my vegan friends who abstain from eating eggs. They said that they use a number of alternatives for binding agents that will likely go over well with your son.

About 1/4 cup of blended tofu, combined with a few drops of soy sauce or barbecue sauce can be a nice replacement for an egg in meatloaf (my vegan friends weren’t hip on the meat part, but all confirmed it works with vegetableloaf). Mashed potatoes and tomato paste (also good for meatloaf) work well for savory dishes, and apple sauce is a great replacement in sweet baked goods. The consensus was that 1/4 cup of these items all work for one egg, but that you may need to tweak things a little for each recipe.

For breading on pork chops or chicken, I use buttermilk. I don’t actually like using eggs for breading, as I find the egg too heavy. I like a light, crispy texture and the buttermilk does this. I highly recommend the Crispy Pan-Fried Pork Chop recipe from Cook’s Illustrated as a primer on amazing breading.

Thank you, M, for submitting your question for our Questions for cooks column. Please check the comments for even more suggestions from our readers on alternatives to eggs.

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12 comments posted

  1. Posted by Rae - 04/15/2011

    It depends on what the egg is being used for. If it’s there as a liquid, then apple sauce or even water will work. If it’s there for leavening, then you need to add a little baking powder in addition to your substitute liquid (ie. water, milk, applesauce, etc.). For breading, milk is good (whether it be of the cow, soy, almond, or rice variety).

  2. Posted by infmom - 04/15/2011

    My son’s allergic to eggs, so I’ve had to figure out workarounds for a long time.

    In meatloaf and similar products you don’t actually need the egg as a binder. Make a panade with bread and milk instead and that works just as well.

    Likewise, as you noticed, the egg isn’t essential to make breading stick. I often use cornstarch instead of flour as a breading material because it gives a crisper crust, and that sticks fine without the egg.

    For baked goods, I’ve found that a product called Ener-G Egg Replacer makes a decent substitute. The texture won’t be quite the same as with an actual egg, but you’d have to compare two batches side by side to really notice the difference. You can buy that product in health food stores.

  3. Posted by Zarah - 04/15/2011

    For baked goods, you can also make a “flax egg” – mix ground flaxseed meal and water, allow it to sit for about 3-4 mins, and the flax will absorb the water creating a texture very similar to a raw egg. Google it for exact proportions.

  4. Posted by Anon - 04/15/2011

    For baking, I totally recommend recipes by Isa Chandra Moscowitz ( You can always sub milk for soy/almond milk in her recipes if you prefer, and they’re created to not need eggs.

  5. Posted by @minkitch - 04/15/2011

    When baking, substitute 1 tbsp soy flour and 1 tbsp water for each egg.

  6. Posted by Sheila D - 04/16/2011

    I was really interested in seeing the pork chop recipe but must sign up for a very brief free trial with that website, including giving them my credit card number, which I will not do. I’m disappointed in that.

  7. Posted by Erin Doland - 04/16/2011

    @Sheila — You don’t have to give them your credit card number. That is only if you wish to subscribe to the magazine. You can just enter your e-mail address and be done with it.

  8. Posted by cng - 04/16/2011

    I tried it too, Erin and Sheila is right – the site won’t allow you to start the free trial until you’ve added credit card info. Too bad.

  9. Posted by Erin Doland - 04/16/2011

    @cng — I have no idea why it’s making some people have to enter their cc info and not others. On mine, I only had to enter my e-mail address. I asked a friend to check the link, and she only had to enter her e-mail address, too. Very weird. I have no idea.

  10. Posted by STL Mom - 04/20/2011

    For breading chicken, I sometimes use mayonnaise. I brush on the mayo with a silicone brush, then dip the chicken in cornflake crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, and Bay’s. Bake it in the oven and you have wonderful, crunchy chicken nuggets!

  11. Posted by STL Mom - 04/20/2011

    Oh, never mind, I just realized that mayo has egg in it! I feel like an idiot. Oh, well, milk works too…

  12. Posted by ladygoat - 04/21/2011

    I was allergic to eggs as a kid, and my mother would use something called Ener-G Egg Replacer. For baking, you can also combine the replacer with a packet of gelatin to make it bind more, though I don’t know if that works in breading as well.

    For breading, you can also use milk, and refrigerate the breaded foods for a while to improve the stickiness.

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