Flax Seeds Are The Key To An Ideal Vegan Egg Substitute

Whether you're dabbling in vegan baking, allergic to eggs, or just plain running out of eggs in the fridge, it's good to know what you can sub in for a recipe. And though by all appearances, eggs and flax seeds seem to have nothing in common, by just blitzing them up if needed and adding water, you can make what is known as a "flax egg." 

To understand why flax eggs are such a great vegan alternative to eggs, it can be helpful to remind oneself what eggs do in dishes. Aside from preparations like omelets and scrambles, eggs can also be used to make spongy cakes, airy meringues, and fluffy pancakes. Luckily, flax eggs can perform many of the same functions. When mixed with water, the soluble fiber in the flax seeds forms a gel with a similar texture to a beaten egg that can thicken mixtures, help with emulsions, and add body to recipes.

How to make a flax egg

To make a flax egg, all you'll need is some ground flax seed (also known as flax seed meal) and water. If you only have whole flax seeds, you'll want to use a blender or spice grinder to process them before using them in your flax egg. The ideal proportions to replace one egg are 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal. Simply mix the two together and let them sit at room temperature for five to ten minutes to form a gel. Once your flax egg is prepared, you can add it to a recipe just like you would an egg.

Good as they are, there are plenty of options if you're looking for some egg swap ideas beyond flax eggs. Chia seeds are the most similar to flax seeds, so they can be used ground or whole in the same preparations and proportions. Another option is aquafaba — the liquid you're probably pouring out of your canned chickpeas. This liquid in aquafaba contains albumin (the same protein found in egg whites), along with globulins and saponins, which come together to make an egg white-like substance that's especially magical when whipped into meringue and mousse. Lastly, commercial egg replacers sold in powder and liquid form can be used in places where other egg replacements can't, including cakes, scrambled eggs, frittatas, and omelets. But let's see where flax eggs in particular really shine. 

The best ways to use flax eggs

Flax eggs can be used as an egg replacement in many but not all recipes. They work best in those that require one to two eggs, but may negatively impact your results in more egg-heavy recipes. They don't have the leavening properties, flavor, or color to be used in omelets, frittatas, cakes, meringues, mayonnaise, or custards. The good news is that muffins, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, cookies, meatballs, breadings, and salad dressings all play well with flax eggs.

From aquafaba to chia seeds, there's a whole world of egg-free options out there. But when it comes down to it, flax seeds are one of the best — easy to use, accessible, full of fiber, and great in so many recipes. So the next time you're whipping up a batch of baked goods like brownies or a sweet breakfast like pancakes, whip up a flax egg while you're at it. It's a simple swap that works wonders.