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"What can be substituted for eggs when cooking?"

Dear Anne and Sue,

Many people are allergic to eggs. What can be substituted for eggs when cooking meatloaf, cookies, and casseroles? It seems like eggs play a different role in different foods.

— P. Blevins


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Dear P. Blevins,

You're quite right that eggs play a variety of roles in cooking. While you can usually find other ingredients to fulfill a particular egg function, the finished dish will not be exactly the same as the one made with an egg.

You may have to fiddle a bit with the substitutes, but that's often part of the fun of creative cooking. Chances are you'll easily find willing "taste-testers" that are happy to voice their opinions on taste and texture.

In meatloafs and casseroles, egg proteins act as binders by coagulating, or holding together, the ingredients during baking. As a substitute, try stirring a thickener, such as wheat or potato flour, into some of the liquids (ketchup, milk, or bouillon) called for in the recipe. Also add some oatmeal or breadcrumbs to the recipe. During baking, the starch granules swell to absorb liquid; so as gelatinizing starch granules thicken the sauce, they will also help bind the ingredients together. The oatmeal or breadcrumbs will also absorb extra liquid, making the loaf less likely to fall apart. You might also add some grated cheese. The proteins in the cheese coagulate when heated, and adds flavor as well.

As for the cookies and other similar baking recipes, eggs can boost leavening action (especially if they're beaten), hold ingredients together, and because yolk contains fat, increase tenderness slightly.

Shortbread cookies seldom include eggs, so they're a safe bet for those avoiding eggs. If you're into experimenting, however, try one of the following suggestions:

  1. For each egg called for, substitute 1/4 cup soft (silken) tofu. Blend it well with the other liquid ingredients. Also add 1/4 teaspoon extra leavening[SUCH AS?] per egg to compensate for the leavening action lost by omitting the eggs.
  2. Substitute 1/2 mashed banana OR 1/4 cup applesauce OR 1/4 cup prunes (for dark batters) PLUS 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking powder for each egg in the recipe. Take note, pureed fruit substitutes will also alter the flavor slightly.
  3. Use an egg replacer according to the manufacturer's suggestions. If the result is not as tender as you might like, add 1 teaspoon canola oil for each egg called for in the original recipe.

You might consider posting your request for an egg-free meatloaf and egg-free baking suggestions on the recipe section of the Forum. No doubt there are others who've run into the same difficulties of cooking without eggs. It's likely that the keen cooks who frequent this site will offer some good recipes and ideas.

Thanks for checking in.
Good luck, Sue and Anne




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