I often get questions on my site about how to “veganize” recipes, especially for baked goods. The main issue is eggs, which are present in almost every baked recipe I post. Eggs are an important binder, they are essential in many baked recipes. Luckily there is an easy, healthy, all-natural substitute for eggs that will work in almost any baked recipe – flax or chia seeds. When these seeds are ground into a meal and mixed with water, they thicken and become gel-like, similar to a raw egg. They bind like eggs in most baked goods, making them a great choice for vegans and folks with egg allergies.
Both flax and chia seeds have their own unique health benefits. Flax is a rich source of fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Chia is a complete protein, and it’s being studied for its potentially positive effects on weight loss, heart health, diabetes and blood pressure. So adding these seeds to your diet is a good idea all around! It’s up to you which seed you’d like to use, they both work equally well as binders. Keep in mind that flax seeds will add a bit of their own flavor to whatever you use them in (no big deal for most quick breads and cookie recipes). Chia seeds have very little flavor and are easily masked, making them a better choice for more delicately flavored pastries and cakes.
Flax seeds can be purchased as a powder, but the pre-ground varieties should not be used when making egg replacers; the oil releases from the seeds during grinding and can cause the powder to turn bad rather quickly. It’s always best to start your egg replacer with whole, raw seeds. Store unused chia or flax seeds in an airtight container or sealed bag and place in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use again.
The recipe below makes the equivalent of one egg, but feel free to multiply depending on how many eggs you’ll be needing.
- Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the flax or chia seeds into a fine meal.
- Transfer the meal to small bowl. I like to sift with small mesh strainer to be sure that no whole seeds remain, but this is just a personal preference.
- Mix in 3 tbsp of water. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
- Chia will need at least 15 minutes in the fridge, but an hour is better if you have the time. This gives your egg replacer plenty of time to thicken. Flax generally needs 1 full hour in the fridge. Once thickened, you will have the equivalent of one egg to substitute in your baked goods. Feel free to multiply the above recipe based on your needs.
- If you do a lot of baking, you can make some of these eggs in advance and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use tiny Tupperware containers, one for each "egg."