Are you a vegan baker? These 13 vegan egg wash options are easy and provide that special finishing touch to your vegan pastries!
So many popular recipes, especially when baking pastries or frying, call for an egg wash, but what is a good vegan alternative? There are actually several different options of things that you can use. I’ll tell you a few of my favorites that I have had good experiences with.
What is Egg Wash?
Egg wash is essentially eggs that have been beaten and are combined with water or milk. It can be whole eggs, egg whites, or even egg yolks. This mixture is usually brushed onto the top of pastries or other bread dough before baking to help them brown nicely and have a nice shine. An egg wash is also used when you are breading food so that the breading will stick to the food. This also makes it very beneficial when you are frying foods such as vegan chicken nuggets. It helps attach the breading or flour to the food creating an excellent batter that crisps nicely.
Not too long ago I was baking some homemade empanadas. I wanted to brush them with something to create that golden brown glisten that is uniquely distinct to baked goods.
But what could I use? I needed an egg wash alternative. Obviously, I couldn’t use typical egg whites or a whole egg. I needed a vegan egg substitute. That was when I dug into my vegan baking books and did some research on options that would create that same final product.
What I found were quite a few options that were super simple. All of the recommendations used ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge. These simple egg wash substitutes work for both savory dishes and sweet bakes!
Pick and choose what works best for your recipe based on the items you have on hand!
Why use an egg wash in baking?
The most popular reason why you would want to use an egg wash is to enhance the tops of what you are baking – an egg wash gives pastry dough a nice golden color and shines on top when baked in a hot oven. Another common reason to use an egg wash is to bind things together, such as bread crumbs onto another food or toppings onto a dough. This makes it especially useful for frying.
An egg wash can also be used to create a seal. For example, when making a quiche or pie, it can be brushed onto the bottom and sides of the crust before you put it in your filling to keep things from seeping through the crust. This helps the crust stay sturdy and not get soggy, while also giving it a nice color.
How Do You Make Egg Wash Without Eggs?
The thought of making an egg wash without eggs may sound like an oxymoron, but there are actually several ways that you can do this! The food that you choose to substitute for the eggs will need to vary based on what you are making.
For example, using soy milk instead of an egg wash would help brown a pastry, but would not give it a shine. Using oil instead of an egg wash would give a pastry a nice shine and even a little crunch, but because it is slippery, it would not be good to use for binding or sticking things on top and holding them in place, such as nuts.
I’ll go into which substitutes are the best and worst to use for each scenario.
What is vegan egg wash?
Vegan egg wash does not use egg but acts in the same way as a traditional egg wash would in baking. It helps toppings stick to your pastry, binds pastry together, and creates a shiny glowing golden brown finish.
What Can Be Substituted for an Egg Wash?
Just Eggs (Vegan Egg Substitute): These are plant-based eggs and can be used as an egg replacement in almost any mixture, including an egg wash. You can use it just like you would an egg. There are other brands of vegan-friendly egg substitutes, but Just Eggs seems to be the easiest to find. This is great for sealing, binding, and giving a pastry a nice color and shine.
Soy Milk: This will give you a nice brown crust on a pastry, but not the shine. If a nice color is what you are going for, soy milk would be a good choice. You won’t want to use this to bind, though. It is thin and runny, so it’s tricky to get things to stick to it.
Soy Powder: Combining soy powder with soy milk, is another simple substitute if you have it on hand. Use a 1:2 combination. One part soy powder, to 2 parts soy milk. Use unsweetened no flavor added soy milk.
More Plant Milk Options: Using plant-based milk such as almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, or cashew milk will provide your baked goods with a golden brown sheen. Avoid using milk with added sugars.
Oil: Using oil in place of an egg wash will give your pastry a nice shine and is a good option if you want what you are baking to have a little crunch. Because it is slippery, you won’t want to use oil to bind ingredients together. I suggest using coconut oil, or olive oil. Although, you could use vegetable oil or canola oil if that is what you have at home. You will get a nice golden brown finish, however, it doesn’t achieve a good shine.
Polysaccharides (Corn Starch): This starch will give a nice shine to your pastries, but instead of putting it on before baking, you’ll want to spread it on afterward. Corn starch can also be used for frying. It actually absorbs moisture, so it will give you a crispy finish.
Plant-Based Butter: When melted butter is brushed on top of baked goods, it provides a nice sheen. It has a very good flavor and will help crisp your pastry. You won’t want to use too much, though, or it will soak through and give you a soggy pastry. If you are making something savory, you can even use a flavored compound butter for some extra flavor. Melted butter, like Earth Balance baking sticks, can be applied with a pastry brush to lightly coat your baked goods.
Flax Seeds – Ground flax seeds with water make an excellent egg wash substitute. They give pastries a nice shine and can also be used as a binder, making them a great alternative. An added bonus? Flax seeds are full of nutrients and health benefits! However, they will leave flecks of flax on top of your baked goods, so you may not like this look.
Chia Seeds: Similar to flaxseeds, you can combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds, with 2.5 tablespoons of water, and whisk together. It will create a beaten egg-like consistency.
Honey – Similar to agave nectar, honey, combined with non-dairy milk provides sweetness and a good shine. However, honey is not considered vegan.
Malt Syrup – With a similar flavor as molasses, malt syrup is thick and sticky, and has a slightly sweet flavor. You will need to add some water or plant milk to the malt syrup and whisk it together before brushing on your baked goods. It is best to use for sweet bakes.
Aquafaba: If you’re not sure what aquafaba is, you’re about to find it! Aquafaba is the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Whenever I make a recipe with chickpeas, I reserve the aquafaba to use in other recipes such as this chocolate mousse. It makes for an excellent egg replacer because it whips up to create meringue, but it’s also a wonderful substitute to use for savory baked goods. It will help your pastry achieve a golden brown sheen!
Agave Syrup or Maple Syrup: One of the most popular substitutes, as mentioned above. Agave nectar and maple syrup are quite sweet. This combination works best for sweet baked goods, like these puff pastry pop tarts.
This is my simple go-to vegan egg wash for any sweet-baked items I’m making. It’s super simple, and is ready to go in only 2 minutes!
- Add the maple syrup and unsweetened almond milk to a small bowl.
- Whisk together with a fork or small whisk.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat your pastry. You may need to reduce bake time slightly, as the sugars in the wash cook and brown more quickly.
Yes! You can make an egg wash without eggs. If you find yourself in a bind while baking, and don’t have any eggs left, or you are preparing vegan baked goods, it is simple to create an alternative wash that will have the same end result.
Yes, you can use a vegan egg replacer to create an egg wash. Combine the replacer with water or dairy-free milk. Whisk together, and brush on the surface of your pastry.
Almond milk can be used in some situations to substitute for egg wash, but not all of the time. It makes a great option if you just want to add a touch of color to your bake. It browns nicely when baked, but it will not give you a shine. It also doesn’t bind well because it is so thin. If you want to use this as a binding, add a few drops of maple syrup and whisk it in. This gives it the stickiness that it needs for breading to stick. One benefit of using almond milk as a substitute is the added protein and the low-fat content.
The best egg wash substitutes to use for breading would be plant-based egg substitutes, such as Just Egg or flax seeds. The plant-based eggs would work just like a regular egg. Simply whisk them with water, and they are ready to use. Flax seeds ground and whisked with water also make a good binder for breading. Because both of these options are thicker, the breading sticks really well and helps create a crunchy texture.
Aquafaba can also be used as an egg wash substitute. Aquafaba is the liquid that comes out of a can of chickpeas. This might sound icky, but it has a nice flavor and will give your bake a touch of color. It even gives a little shine. For binding or breading, you’ll want to add a little fat with it, like coconut oil. This thickens it up enough for things to bind with it. It can also be used when you are frying.
Just Eggs, or another plant-based egg substitute, is my favorite option to use in place of an egg wash when frying. Because the consistency is so similar to eggs, this really helps your breading stick to the food. You can find this at most grocery stores near the eggs. Ground flax seeds (or flaxseed meal) whisked with water also make a good egg wash substitute for frying. This mixture is also known as flax eggs. You’ll want to do about 2.5 tablespoons of water for every tablespoon of flaxseeds. The thickness and slightly sticky texture of this mixture make a good binding agent, and they don’t have much of a taste, so it will not affect the flavor
- For best results, if you are making a savory goods, refrain from using a substitute that uses a sweetener.
- Each egg wash substitute will have a slightly different end result. I recommend giving different methods a try to see which one yields the result you are looking for.
- Sugar browns quickly in the oven. So you may need to reduce your baking time.
- Melt any hard oils before using.
- Use a pastry brush to gently apply.
More Vegan Cooking Tips!
Vegan Egg Wash
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave syrup
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk or other unsweetened dairy free milk
- Add the maple syrup and almond milk to a small bowl.
- Whisk together with a fork or small whisk.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat your pastry.
- Bake according to the recipe directions.
- If you are making a savory bake, refrain from using a substitute that uses a sweetener. Instead try melted coconut oil, or melted vegan butter.
- Using this egg wash substitute will result in browning more easily as the sugars heat more quickly in the oven.
- Use a pastry brush to gently apply.