Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy many of the same breaded foods you did before.
Although it won’t be the exact same.
None of these are perfect substitutes for eggs in breading, but most do a pretty good job. Some people actually prefer them.
I did my research, and there were 3 breading substitutes for vegans that kept being recommended. So, I tested these 3 alternatives and will share the results with you below.
Table of Contents
The 4 Step Process to Good Vegan Breading
When it comes to plant-based cooking, it’s not just the egg that you’re changing, you’re also changing what you’re breading.
Something like tofu or sweet potato acts differently than meat, and if you use the wrong process, it won’t work well.
So after lots of reading and testing, here’s what you need to do, regardless of which egg replacement you use:
- Remove as much moisture as possible from your main ingredient (i.e. press and dry tofu).
- Roll your main ingredient in flour – Your binder will not stick to a wet surface (i.e. the outside of tofu). You need to cover it in flour first so that the binder can adhere to the surface.
- Coat your ingredient in your binder – Regardless of which one you choose, make sure all the flour on the surface of your ingredient is covered. Now the surface is “wet” again.
- Cover in breadcrumbs or other mixture – To get the best coverage, put your ingredient in the middle of your breading mixture, then scoop the mixture on top of it. Avoid touching your main ingredient as much as possible.
If you do those 4 steps, just about any egg substitute will yield decent results.
How Egg Substitutes Work
Eggs are used in breading for 2 reasons:
- As a binder – The main purpose of an egg is to be sticky so that you can stick your breading mixture to your main ingredient. There are many plant-based liquid mixtures that are sticky and can be used instead.
- As a leavening agent – They “fluff” up and give some rise to batter. It’s hard to find a good plant-based alternative for this. You can try using carbonated water or baking powder, but I’ve found that they don’t help too much.
Testing Plant-Based Egg Substitutes for Breading
The three types of substitutes I tested are the most commonly used ones:
- Vegetable oil (olive oil)
- Flax eggs
- Starch eggs
I’ll walk you through how to use each of them later below, but for now, let’s just look at the results.
I pressed my block of extra firm tofu, and cut it into sticks to test. Then I used the 4 step procedure above, except using a different egg substitute before rolling them in panko breadcrumbs (which are typically vegan as a side note).
Note that I baked them instead of deep frying. Deep frying will get an even better result, but is obviously less healthy.
Here’s what the sticks looked like before being cooked (click to enlarge):
It’s pretty clear that I’m not a recipe blogger, these are very realistic pictures for the average cook.
At this stage, all of them were covered pretty well. However, the olive oil did provide a weaker coverage.
So how did they turn out?
They all “worked” fairly well, but some better than others.
The olive oil ones looked quite good as the oil helps with browning, but I thought they tasted the worst of the 3. And while the breading did stick together, it sort of slipped off at parts.
The winner for me were the tofu sticks coated with a starch egg. They mostly cooked evenly, and had a solid crispy breading layer. They tasted the best to me.
The flax eggs were not far behind, and it’s certainly a viable alternative.
Here’s a quick summary table of the results:
|Type of egg substitute
Now I’ll walk you through each option.
Option #1 – Starch Eggs
That’s the “starch egg” in the metal bowl above.
Most “egg replacement” powders that you can buy in stores use a mixture of starches.
You make it by mixing starch (cornstarch, arrowroot starch, etc.) with warm water in a 1:2 ratio.
Give the starch a minute to soak up the water, you may need to add more until you get an egg-like consistency.
You don’t want it too thick or you’ll get extra clumping, but if it’s too thin it won’t stick as well.
Here’s a closer view at how they turned out:
Personally, I’m quite happy with this result.
I was regretfully too lazy to flip them half way through baking, but the other side looked even better.
Option #2 – Flax Eggs
Flax eggs are versatile when cooking and baking vegan things.
The flax absorbs the water and makes an almost jelly-like mixture.
To make a “flax egg”, mix 1 tbsp of ground flax with 2 tbsp of water and mix well. Then, let it sit for 5 minutes.
Finally, here’s a closer look at how my flax egg sticks looked after being cooked. You can see that the breading was very thick because it stuck on quite well.
They stuck together really well even when being cut into pieces. So while I thought they were a bit worse than the starch egg ones, I think it’s a good result.
Option #3 – Vegetable Oil
For most non-professional breading, just using a bit of oil is enough to get bread crumbs to stick fairly well.
It’s also the simplest option.
On the surface, they looked really good with an even consistency of breading and a nice color:
The problem is that when you cut them, the breading isn’t really stuck to the tofu, so the breading essentially slid off in chunks, which obviously isn’t ideal.
Not a terrible result, but worse than the other egg substitutes.
While I prefer the starch egg over the other options, I’d recommend trying all the options at some point so you can figure out which one works best for the foods you’re making.
It’s possible that one might work best for one recipe, but not another.
If you come up with a creative substitute not on this list, feel free to get in touch and suggest it for this page.