When we found out that Baby V was allergic to eggs (and other stuff), we figured “ok, we just won’t feed her eggs. How hard can that be?”. No scrambled eggs, big deal. Weeelllllll then we realized that some of her other favourite things contained eggs, like French toast, the mayo in her tuna sandwich, pancakes, muffins, and even meatloaf and burgers. We had to come up with some substitutions and creative cookery!
Because the diagnosis was still new, we didn’t know just how much egg, if any, she could tolerate (stay tuned for the next step in our Journey with Allergies series – spoiler alert, some things are ok, and some are not). So everything that would usually use an egg, or any products with egg in the ingredients list, needed to be substituted.
Fortunately her egg reaction is not super severe or anaphylactic and she does have a small tolerance to egg, so we can still have eggs in the house (yay because mom loves her boiled eggs!) and we don’t have to worry about cross contamination from our cooking utensils or from manufacturing shared lines. If you or your little has a more severe allergy, talk with your allergist or a dietitian (here’s my contact info!) about how to prevent cross contamination.
Whether you are living with an egg allergy, are vegetarian or vegan, or are avoiding eggs for any other reason, you may find that cooking and especially baking can be difficult! But, there are many everyday foods that can be used as an egg substitute; which substitute to use varies by the situation. For example, if I am making something that I want to be more moist or chewy, I would use a moister item like applesauce or yogurt. If I want something a bit more crunchy like a cookie, I would use a starchier item like a commercial egg replacer (usually made with potato or tapioca starch or soy powder). If the flavour of my product would be affected by using a puree, like using fruit puree in my burgers, I might use a flavourless substitute like flaxseed instead.
Thankfully these days we have this wonderful thing called *the internet* and there are loads of egg-free recipes out there for your perusal, plus lots of egg-free bakers and cooks who have done much of the experimenting for you and posted it on their websites to save you the trouble! That said, it doesn’t always work because everyone has different tastes – I’ve used some “really great” egg-free recipes that just didn’t work out, but were worth experimenting with other substitutes. Figuring out what works where can be challenging, but also fun. It’s part of the journey. Yes it can be frustrating to make yet another batch of muffins that just didn’t turn out right, but with some trial and error you will find the right combination!
I found this summary of egg substitutes from forkandbeans especially helpful. Each of the combinations or items on this image equals one egg (so if you need to substitute 2 eggs, simply double the amount). I will add though that if you’re replacing with yogurt or mayo, it doesn’t have to be non-dairy – that’s just this writer’s preference.
The substitutes I use most commonly include:
- Applesauce: I use this most often in my turkey burgers or meatloaf to keep them extra moist. Also great for muffins if the flavour works out.
- Mashed banana: Delicious in pancakes, adds a very yummy flavour! Again, also great for muffins if the flavour works. I’ve even seen recipes for banana French toast using mashed bananas as the egg (haven’t tried it myself yet, but I’m intrigued!)
- Ground flax and water: this is my go-to for most things. It’s versatile because it doesn’t add flavour to the food. Simply mix your flaxseed and water together in a little bowl and leave it to sit for about 5 minutes until it thickens up and has an egg-white consistency. I use this most when making beef burgers or meatloaf, as a breading for meats (like breaded chicken or fish), and baked oatmeal.
- Commercial egg replacer: can be tricky to find in some grocery stores, I ordered one from Amazon. Most are made from something like potato or tapioca starch or soy protein, I use this frequently for baked goods that need the egg for leavening, like muffins, cookies and cakes. I made Baby V’s birthday cupcakes with this and got rave reviews of how tasty they were from our guests, no one could tell that they were egg-free!
- Egg-free mayo: for things where there’s just no replacement for mayo, I have an egg-free version that I purchased at the grocery store (and it’s actually very convincing!). For things where we want the creaminess but the “tanginess” isn’t as necessary, we also use mashed avocado in place of mayo.
- Combinations: sometimes I find that recipes need more than one egg substitute, or need some extra moisture to replace the eggy goodness. Those oatmeal blueberry banana muffins in the photo, for example, called for 2 eggs originally. The recipe already included mashed banana, yogurt and applesauce – so I replaced the eggs with my commercial egg replacer and added a bit extra banana and yogurt. They turned out fantastic, but it took some experimenting to make it work!
Food should be enjoyable, even without eggs. It’s an extra step to think through a substitution, but certainly doable and empowering to make discoveries along the way.