Did you run out of eggs? Or is it that time of the year when there's a low supply of eggs, so they're a bit too expensive and hard to find? Perhaps you're preparing for someone vegan or vegetarian? Use an egg wash substitute!
You'll find several options, but I have narrowed them down to make finding the right browning or glazing and binding or sealing agent that can replace the egg wash.
13 Best Egg Wash Substitutes
As promised, here are my top picks for alternative egg washes that will work as well as, sometimes better than, the traditional ingredient:
1. Melted Butter
As a versatile and easily accessible ingredient, melted vegan butter or regular butter is number one on my list. Not only that, but it also has a naturally rich flavor that can elevate the taste of your dish.
To use, place a small saucepan over low heat. Once heated, turn your stove off, place a small amount of your butter (or vegan butter), and allow it to melt.
Once you have melted vegan butter (or regular butter), transfer it to a bowl to avoid burning or browning. Remember that burnt or overburnt butter will have a bitter taste that can affect your dish's taste and balance of flavor.
Next, dip your pastry brush into the melted butter, and tap it at the edge of the bowl to remove excess butter. Lightly brush an even, thin layer of the butter onto your soon-to-be-baked goodie or at the edges of your pastry.
Make sure you don't use too much melted butter because it can soak into the dough, giving you oily bread or pastry. I also would like you to remember that the butter will only give your baked goods a light golden brown sheen and color instead of the dark golden brown you're familiar with when using egg wash.
Best for browning and sealing.
If you don't have access to vegan butter, cooking oil is another easily accessible ingredient you can use as a vegetarian and vegan substitute for egg wash.
Vegetable oil is your best option because of its neutral flavor. However, you can opt for other oil products, depending on your recipe's or guest's special requirements.
For instance, olive oil is perfect for herb-flavored bread and for those looking for a healthier and more flavorful option. Meanwhile, use coconut oil if you're making baked goods requiring a bit of a sweet note.
One thing to note about coconut oil is that it's solid at room temperature, like butter. Thus, you have to melt it before use. Simply follow the same process as melting your butter to have properly melted coconut oil.
Like butter, whatever oil product you choose, you must use it sparingly to avoid having greasy food. Also, vegetable, olive, and melted coconut oil will only give your baked goodies a light golden brown sheen and color. Nonetheless, expect the same crunchy texture as when you use traditional egg wash.
Best for browning.
What is a better egg wash substitute for pastry than an ingredient you also use to make traditional egg wash, right?
Like butter, you have plenty of choices: regular milk, non dairy milk, or plant based milk. Any milk will give your baked goodie the signature golden brown color and crust.
While most milk products won't affect the taste and smell, you'll find options with distinct flavors and aromas that you might want to take advantage of.
For instance, almond milk will give your baked bread and pie crusts unique nutty notes, while your taste buds will get hints of earthy flavor when you use oat milk. Perhaps you want to serve your kids or guests baked goodies that will remind them of the tropical paradise? Then go ahead and use coconut milk!
Whatever type of milk you use and your purpose for choosing it, always substitute ¼ cup of egg wash with one tablespoon of milk. I also recommend sprinkling a few dashes of sugar onto the dough after brushing it with milk if it won't affect the overall taste of your baked goodie. This last step will give your pastry a homestyle glaze.
Best for browning.
Unflavored yogurt isn't just a good substitute for egg wash on pastry but also an excellent egg wash substitute for breading because of its binding properties.
For pastries, yogurt can effectively seal off edges, so you can bake them without worrying about their content spilling from the dough while baking.
As a browning agent, you won't be able to brush it evenly on the dough because of the yogurt's thick consistency. Thus, it will produce light brown streaks with a bit of a sheen.
Fret not; there's a quick solution to it. What I do is add one or two tablespoons of water to the yogurt and whisk them together before brushing the dough with it.
As a substitute for egg wash in frying, it helps the breading or bread crumbs bind to your main ingredient easily while retaining moisture. It means you'll end up with a dish that's crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside!
You simply need to dip your chicken, fish, or any ingredient you need to coat, allow excess yogurt to drip, and then roll it in your breading or bread crumbs.
If the yogurt seems too thick for you, you can dilute it as above before dipping your main ingredients into it.
Best for just about anything.
With egg as one of its main ingredients, it was one of the first kitchen staples I tried using as an egg wash alternative. And it didn't disappoint! If you're looking for a vegetarian and vegan substitute for egg wash, you can always find vegan mayonnaise products in your local grocery store.
Regular and vegan mayonnaise has a thicker consistency than egg wash and yogurt, so it works perfectly as a substitute for egg wash for frying and sealing pastry edges. That is even if you only use a tiny amount.
However, this same consistency makes it unsuitable for browning. While you can dilute it with water (even milk), it would still not be thin enough to allow you to spread it evenly on your pastry or bread dough.
Best for binding and sealing.
Like sugar, honey caramelizes when exposed to heat, giving your baked goodies an amazing golden hue that makes them look more appetizing. Of course, it won't work for every recipe, especially for most savory dishes, because of its sweetness.
I also want you to remember that honey burns at a high temperature or when exposed to heat for an extended period. It's why it's best for quick-baking goodies.
Nonetheless, you can apply this substitute for egg wash in the latter stages of the baking process. I suggest brushing it on your bread or pastry three to four minutes before the end of the required baking time.
Best for browning or glazing sweet baked treats.
7. Maple, Malt, or Agave Syrup
What if you need a sweet vegan egg wash substitute but can't find vegan honey? You can choose from maple syrup, malt syrup, or agave syrup. These three products will give your pastry the same golden brown color as honey.
When using any of the three sweet, vegan egg wash substitutes, you must not expose them to too much heat, like honey.
Of course, these syrups have differences you should be aware of to help you decide which one will work best for your recipe. This is especially true if you're serving people with other dietary restrictions besides being vegan or vegetarian.
Use agave syrup if you need a sweet, vegan egg wash substitute with a neutral flavor. Meanwhile, you can opt for malt syrup and real maple syrup if you're looking for healthier options, as these vegan egg wash substitutes have low glycemic indexes.
While both have their own distinct flavor, malt syrup is your best bet if you need a glaze that's less sweet than agave nectar syrup, real maple syrup, and honey.
Best for browning or glazing sweet baked treats.
Made from sugarcane or sugar beets, molasses is an excellent egg wash substitute for vegan pastries and glazing some savory ingredients. But it has rich caramel undertones and a smoky-sweet distinct flavor that you need to consider.
I also want to note that this ingredient is available in different varieties. Use light-colored molasses if you need an egg wash substitute for pastry, while the medium and dark-colored varieties will work best for savory recipes.
Lastly, you must not expose molasses to too much heat, like honey and the other syrup products above. So again, it's best to use it a few minutes before the baking time ends and for recipes with short cooking or baking time.
Best for glazing salmon and ham and fruit-based baked goods.
9. Custard Powder
Give your bread rolls and other baked goods the tempting golden brown finish without the egg wash with the help of an affordable, simple ingredient: custard powder.
To use, place an equal amount of hot water and custard powder in a bowl and mix them using a whisk or spoon until you have a creamy solution. Once ready, dip your pastry brush into the solution, allow it to drip, and simply brush on the surface of your unbaked dough.
Best for browning or glazing.
10. Ground Flaxseed
Also known as flaxseed meal, ground flaxseed is one of the healthiest egg wash substitutes, even if you're a vegetarian and vegan baker and cook. Not only is it rich in omega 3, but also in protein and dietary fiber.
To use, you need to turn it into flax eggs by dissolving it in the right amount of water. Simply mix one tablespoon of flaxseed powder and three tablespoons of warm water. Allow the mixture to sit for five to 10 minutes or until it has a gooey consistency.
This mixture will replace egg wash containing one egg.
Once ready, you can use the flax egg as a substitute for egg wash in frying or substitute for egg wash on pastry. For the former, dip your main ingredient into the mixture, allow it to drip for a while, and dredge or coat your ingredient with breading.
As a glaze or browning agent, dip your pastry brush into the mixture, allow the excess mixture to drip, and lightly brush your unbaked pastry with it. You can also use flax eggs to seal the edges of your pastries.
Best for just about anything.
11. Chia Seeds
These seeds are another healthy egg wash substitute for breading and sealing pastry edges that I have tried and tested. They help promote better digestion and weight loss and reduce the consumer's risk for diabetes and heart disease. It's also an ideal choice for your vegetarian or vegan dinner rolls, pies, and more.
When you substitute egg wash with chia seeds, the surface of your baked goods will have a speckled appearance, which isn't a bad thing. In fact, they can look like they have toasted sesame seeds on top of them! However, they will only have a colorless sheen instead of golden brown.
To use, soak a tablespoon of chia seeds in three tablespoons of water. Leave it for about two minutes for the seeds to absorb the water. Once ready, mix it into your breading or brush it lightly on the edges of your dough that require sealing.
Best for binding breading and sealing pastry edges.
Do you have a can of chickpeas in your kitchen pantry that you intend to cook in the next few days?
If yes, then go ahead and pop it open, drain the liquid into a clean container, and use it as a substitute for egg wash! Of course, don't forget to wash the chickpeas and place them in a container. Seal the container tightly and store it in your fridge for later use.
The chickpea liquid or aquafaba is flavorless, so it can work for sweet and savory baked goods. Brush it lightly on your goodies to give them a golden brown color and a slightly glass-like sheen that will make them look more appetizing once baked. You can also use it to seal the edges of your pie crusts and any pastry.
One thing to keep in mind is that aquafaba is runny. Thus, it can be challenging to control while brushing it on your uncooked dough. Make sure you allow a few drops of the liquid in your pastry brush to drip before using. This thin consistency is also why you can't use aquafaba as an egg wash substitute for frying.
Best for sealing and browning.
13. BBQ Sauce
This delicious ingredient is my go-to substitute for egg wash for frying and baking if I want to give my savory recipes an additional flavor that most of us are too familiar with.
With its sticky texture, the breading will adhere to your main ingredient perfectly. It also ensures you can seal pastry edges in an instant!
This stickiness can be an issue when you brush the sauce on your unbaked dough. You won't be able to spread it evenly, so you'll end up with golden brown streaks.
Like using yogurt to substitute egg wash, I sometimes dilute the BBQ sauce with water to thin it out a bit. It won't 100% eliminate the streaks, but at least it can help take away the stress from trying to cover the baked good's whole surface with the sauce.
BBQ sauce can also burn easily, so it's mostly ideal for recipes requiring short baking time. Still, you can always apply it at the later stage of the baking process. After all, the heat from the slightly baked pastry can make spreading the sauce on its surface a bit easier.
I also would like to note that the sauce will give your baked goods a good sheen but dark color. Hence, make sure you're perfectly okay with it before using it as an alternative to the egg wash.
Best for just about anything.
Always Pick the Right Egg Wash Substitute
Whether you need a flavorless or flavor-filled egg wash substitute, there is an ingredient that will work well for your browning or glazing, sealing, and breading. You can even find vegetarian and vegan egg wash substitutes and those with low nutrition calories and glycemic index.
Just make sure you keep in mind each of their pros and cons so you don't end up using the wrong egg wash substitute for frying (or breading), sealing edges, and browning surfaces.
Homemade Egg Wash Substitute
- One small bowl
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Place all ingredients in your small bowl.
- Whisk together until well blended.
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