Soy-Free Egg Substitutes

By Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD

There are ways to replace eggs in many recipes, ranging from baked goods to veggie burgers. You can even make egg- and soy-free ‘omelets!’ Before we discuss egg substitutes, though, we need to explore what the original ingredient brings to recipes. Egg yolks provide fat, moisture, and color, while egg whites bring protein and moisture into play. Eggs help with thickening and leavening in baked products. Thickening, in addition to creating the texture we want, creates binding. Leavening gives baked goods their ‘rise’, and creates fluffy and ‘light’ products.

Identifying which function eggs serve in a particular recipe will help to determine how to replace them. Different ingredients can serve as egg replacers, if we know what ‘job’ we are looking to replace.

For example, cookie dough and muffin batters don't need too much thickening, but they do need the moisture that eggs supply. In custard pies, like pumpkin pie, eggs are used mainly for thickening. Quick breads, such as carrot cake, corn or zucchini bread, and cakes, need both the thickening and leavening qualities. Keep in mind that we can't produce super-light desserts that call for lots of eggs with egg substitutes, though. In general, we can use different ingredients when recipes call for no more than four eggs.

If a goal for egg replacement is to reduce fat, use one-quarter cup of applesauce, a puréed ripe banana, or cooked, puréed squash or pumpkin to replace one large egg. These lowfat items can add moisture to recipes, but they also add color and flavor. This means you'll need to consider your final product's appearance and taste. Puréed pumpkin could work with carrot cake or oatmeal cookies, but it won't work with a lightly colored or flavored product such as sugar cookies.

If replacing eggs in non-baking recipes, we'll assume that the eggs are being used for moisture and binding. Leftover mashed potatoes; hummus; cooked, puréed beans or cooked, mashed beans; or cooked, puréed mushrooms can provide binding for items such as burgers, croquettes, patties, and loaves. You'll need to adjust the moisture content, using water, broth, or juice, as appropriate for your menu item.

If you plan to replace eggs with different ingredients, be ready to experiment a bit with all recipes. The rule of thumb for changing ingredients is to test the new recipe at least three times to ensure the results can be reproduced.

Here are some ingredients used to replace eggs, with some basic measurements and directions.

Agar Agar

Agar agar is produced from seaweed but does not have any flavor. Agar agar should not be used to replace whole eggs or egg yolks, but it is a good substitute for recipes calling for egg whites. Some patient vegan cooks have been able to create an almost meringue-like topping using agar agar.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are becoming more and more available. They are similar to flaxseeds in texture but perhaps a bit more ‘gel’-like. However, chia seeds have an advantage over flaxseeds in that they are almost flavorless, a good attribute when it comes to baking.

Chia seeds can be ground and used in baking recipes like flaxseeds are. (See below.) They can also be used to make a pudding-like gel (such as vegan Jell-O or chocolate pudding) with a cornstarch base.

Chickpea Flour

Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour has a slight ‘bean’ flavor, so you should consider this before selecting this ingredient for recipes. Chickpea flour produces ‘chewy’, not ‘fluffy’, results. Mix it with enough water or non-dairy milk to moisten, and use it in ‘tougher’ baking recipes, such as oatmeal cookies or zucchini bread.

Chickpea flour makes great homemade pasta or noodles. If you have patience, and are willing to practice, chickpea flour can be used instead of eggs or tofu to create thin pancakes or ‘stuffed’ omelets. When making ‘omelets’, add a bit of mustard powder and nutritional yeast to give chickpea flour an ‘eggy’ flavor. Very small amounts of turmeric or mustard powder can be used to create a yellow color.

Chickpea flour is sold as ‘besan’ or ‘gram dal’ in South Asian shops. If you can't find chickpea flour in local markets, you can search for it online.


When making heavier cakes, such as pound cake and quick breads, add two Tablespoons of cornstarch to the dry ingredients for each large egg to be replaced. The cornstarch helps to bind (thicken) the cake batter and provides a soft texture.

Ground Flaxseeds

One Tablespoon of ground flax-seeds mixed with three Tablespoons of liquid (such as water or rice or almond milk) is equivalent to approximately one large egg. The flaxseeds and liquid can be whipped by hand, with an electric mixer, or in a blender until they have a thick, eggy consistency.

If you can't find ground flax-seeds, you can grind whole flax-seeds in a spice or coffee grinder. Don't grind more than you need, as the mixture does not hold for very long. This flaxseed combo may be used as an egg substitute in baking recipes.

Potatoes or Instant Potato Mix

Sometimes, unflavored mashed potatoes or instant potato mix can be used instead of eggs in cookie or quick bread recipes. Potatoes have other uses beyond baking, though. They are good binding agents and can serve as the ‘glue’ that holds veggie burgers, patties, or loaves together.


Psyllium husks have been available as a ‘health food’ for a long time. Psyllium, along with its cousins flax and chia, is gluten-free. Brands of psyllium husks differ in texture, but the guidelines for using psyl­lium in baking should follow fairly closely those of flaxseeds.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is similar to psyllium in that it is gluten-free and fairly neutral in flavor. The commercial food industry has used xanthan to produce a creamy, smooth mouthfeel, such as is desired in vegan pudding or ice cream. Xanthan gum is available at some natural foods markets and from many online retailers.

Oatmeal Cookies

(Makes 36 cookies)

These cookies are very sensitive to heat, so be certain to watch carefully when you are baking them!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick oats (Be certain these are not ‘long-cooking’.)
  • 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
  • ½ cup almond or lowfat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and oats. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mash the margarine with the sugar until fluffy. Whisk the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla into the margarine mixture and mix until well-combined. Whisk the dry ingredients into the margarine mixture. Fold in the coconut and the chocolate chips or raisins and mix until just combined.

Drop the batter by the Tablespoon, approximately 2 Tablespoons per cookie, onto a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes, only until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Total calories per cookie: 145 Fat: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 126 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Makes 36 cookies)

These cookies are soy-free. If they come out a bit too dry the first time you make them, add an extra Tablespoon or two of oil during your next attempt.

  • 1 ¾ cups oat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla rice or almond milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
  • ½ cup sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup vegan chocolate or carob chips
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flaxseeds and milk until well-combined. Add sugars to flaxseed mixture, stirring until combined. Add oil and vanilla and mix until well-combined. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just mixed. Fold in chocolate or carob chips, coconut, and cinnamon.

Drop the batter by the Table-spoon onto a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until cookies are golden. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Total calories per cookie: 75 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 36 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Frosted Chocolate Cupcakes

(Makes approximately 10 cupcakes or 18 ‘mini’ cupcakes)

Bake these cupcakes fresh and serve within a day or two.

  • Cupcakes
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup plain or vanilla rice or almond milk
  • ½ cup very ripe, peeled, pitted, and puréed avocado (Using a blender or food processor works well.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake or muffin tins with vegetable oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, rice or almond milk, avocado, and vanilla. You can also blend these ingredients in a blender or food processor or use an electric mixer. Combine the avocado mixture into flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared tins, approximately 2-3 Tablespoons for regular-sized tins. Bake for 20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes and 15 minutes for mini-cupcakes or until a toothpick inserted into cupcake center comes out with some crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack.

  • Cupcake Frosting
  • ⅔ cup lowfat coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup pitted and chopped dates
  • 1 cup shelled, raw or roasted cashews
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in the canister of a food processor or blender, and blend together until very smooth. If too thick, add a small amount of coconut milk to thin it slightly. Store in the refrigerator until cupcakes have cooled.

Frost each cupcake with approximately 1 Tablespoon of frosting. If there are leftover frosted cupcakes, refrigerate.

Total calories per frosted cupcake: 297 Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrates: 51 grams Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 203 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

Total calories per 'mini' cupcake: 165 Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 113 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Frosted Brownies

(Makes one 9 x 9-inch pan or approximately 16 brownies)

  • Brownies
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 8 ounces unsweetened vegan chocolate
  • 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 2 ½ cups sugar (Use your favorite vegan variety.)
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with oil. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and margarine over low heat, stirring until just melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and combine until just mixed. Stir in nuts. Add in the chocolate mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out almost clean. Remove from oven and allow brownies to cool.

1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine

Melt chocolate chips on the stove or in the microwave. Allow chocolate to cool slightly and then mash the margarine into the chocolate with a fork. Mix until smooth. Spread over cooled brownies. Allow to set for approximately 15 minutes before serving.

Total calories per brownie: 450 Fat: 26 grams
Carbohydrates: 55 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 342 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams

No-Egg Omelet

(Makes 1 generous, filled omelet)

This recipe will not stand on its own as an omelet, so have some fillings in mind!

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup rice milk
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ¼ cup chopped bell peppers

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, yeast, turmeric, and baking powder. Add the milk and 1 teaspoon oil. Stir well to create a smooth batter and set aside.

In a large skillet (approximately 9 inches), heat the remaining oil. Add the scallions, mushrooms, and peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for approximately 3 minutes until the vegetables are nicely wilted and soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour the omelet batter into the hot pan in an even layer. Tilt and turn the pan to create an evenly cooked omelet. The omelet should set in approximately 3 minutes. When set, add the vegetables into the center, fold, and allow to cook for 1 more minute or until the edges start to brown. If you are feeling brave, you can try flipping the omelet to allow browning on both sides.

Total calories per serving: 494 Fat: 18 grams
Carbohydrates: 73 grams Protein: 18 grams
Sodium: 347 milligrams Fiber: 13 grams

Chickpea Flour Omelet

(Serves 2)

This is a very flavorful omelet. This recipe makes two servings, so cut the omelet in half and share!

  • ½ cup chickpea flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Up to ½ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or Italian flat-leafed parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon deseeded, chopped fresh chilies (You choose the heat!)
  • Vegetable oil spray

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and black pepper. Slowly add water until the thickness of pancake batter is reached. Mix well and add in the cilantro or parsley and fresh chilies. Cover the mixture and allow to set (stand) for 10 minutes.

Spray a large frying pan with oil and allow to heat over medium heat. Pour in the mixture and spread out evenly. Cook for 1 minute or until the edges begin to brown. Flip the omelet over. After the other side is lightly browned, remove from the pan, cut in half, and serve hot!

Total calories per serving: 92 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 14 grams Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 106 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams

Nancy Berkoff is The Vegetarian Resource Group's Food Service Advisor.