We baked and taste-tested six egg replacers so you didn't have to. Here are the best and the worst

Why did five Forum staffers consume a week's worth of carbs in one hour by taste-testing multiple muffins? They were checking out a range of different egg substitutes — so you didn't have to.

Forum reporter and columnist Tammy Swift, far right, with help from colleagues Kris Kerzman, John Lamb, Angie Wieck and Thomas Evanella, taste-tested six different batches of oatmeal-buttermilk muffins — each made with different egg substitutes.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

FARGO — Aunt May would be proud.

Last week, I practically wore out the recipe card containing my beloved late aunt’s trusty recipe for buttermilk-oatmeal muffins by baking it six times.

So why spend an entire afternoon baking 72 muffins, then two hours more doing dozens of dishes?

It was all in the interest of chemistry and journalism.

That is, I was exploring whether egg replacers are all they’re cracked up to be.


After months of watching egg prices go not-so-sunny-side up, prices have started heading southward again . Even so, they are still pricier than they were a year ago. And with up-and-down nature of groceries these days, there's no guarantee we won't be shelling out more for eggs again.

Also, if you’re considering a vegan lifestyle or have an egg allergy, these replacements could come in handy.

So I recruited Forum staffers Angie Wieck, Thomas Evanella, John Lamb and Kris Kerzman to consume a week’s allotment of carbs in one hour by bravely taste-testing six batches of muffins made from six different egg replacers.

(Dare I say they deserved a Pullet-zer Prize for their selfless sacrifice?)

The replacements used were mashed banana, plain yogurt, aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacement, carbonated water and chia egg—a gel-like mixture of chia seeds and water.

As I didn’t want the tasters’ opinions to be swayed (I mean, who wants “bean water” in their muffins?), the proxies weren’t revealed until after they rated their favorites.

In short, most of the replacers worked pretty well, producing batches of muffins that looked remarkably alike.

Muffins A-F.jpg
Although the different egg replacers in the six batches of oatmeal muffins caused some taste and texture differences, it was surprising how well most batches turned out without real eggs. The different replacers used for this identical recipe were: A: mashed banana; B: plain yogurt; C: aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas); D. Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer; E: sparkling water; F: chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons water).
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Overall, however, the egg-replacer muffins weren’t as airy and light as those made from the real thing. As someone who made this recipe with eggs many times in the past, I noticed that the egg-free versions tasted the same, but didn’t hold together as well.


Another note: A couple of days later, when we were STILL eating the leftovers, the eggless muffins were much crumblier and dryer than Aunt May's original version.

“They all kind of have a flatter appearance than something made with eggs,” Kerzman said. “Eggs, if you beat them at all, they get air in them and you get a little lift.”

However, he also noted that none of the substitutions created results so drastically different from a regular muffin that they were unpleasant to eat.

Pictured are the six muffins made with different egg substitutes, which were, from left to right: A: mashed banana, B: yogurt, C: aquafaba, D: Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer, E: sparkling water, F: chia seed egg.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Even so, some worked better than the rest. Read on to discover what our taste-testers thought:

  • Favorite substitute: Mashed banana (¼ cup=1 egg): This was the favorite muffin for the majority of taste-testers. The muffin was moist and sweet, but had a definite banana flavor. That might not work with certain recipes but it was ideal for oatmeal muffins. Hey, who doesn’t like banana bread? 
  • Second: Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacement is a powdered concoction of potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda and psyllium husk fiber. The equivalent to one egg is made by mixing 1 tablespoon replacement with 2 tablespoons water, then letting it sit for one minute. Bob’s Red Mill produced the most attractive muffins, with a beautifully even color, and more “lift.” Wieck described them as “moist, good flavor, not crumbly.” Evanella agreed: “The egg replacer was a really good replacer. They were a mystery to me. I thought, ‘Is this just a normal muffin? What’s the catch?”
  • Third: Plain yogurt (¼ cup=1 egg): Several of the tasters found the yogurt muffin to be denser, dryer and crumblier than the others. (This could be because I accidentally bought a nonfat plain yogurt.)  It also didn’t produce as much “rise” as the other muffins. A couple of us agreed that this muffin seemed tougher, but we also thought it won points in the flavor category: It brought out a rich, buttery quality and had a pleasant tanginess. “Tastewise, I think I liked the yogurt one better,” Kerzman said.
Forum reporter Thomas Evanella and Business/Features Editor Angie Wieck share a laugh while taste-testing muffins made with different egg replacements during a March 7, 2023, taste panel held at The Forum.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

  • Fourth: Aquafaba (3 tablespoons=1 egg): Several vegan baking sites insist this ingredient more closely mimics an egg, with its viscous quality and egg-like composition of carbs, proteins and soluble plant solids. Aquafaba can even foam like egg whites when whipped.  Despite all those seeming advantages, the blind-tasters didn’t love this muffin — and a couple of our super-tasters detected an aftertaste. “Dense, crumbly, flavor fell flat when compared to the others,” Evanella wrote. “I’m kind of dying to know what’s in that one because that’s the one where I really felt it had an aftertaste,” Wieck said. Kerzman agreed: “There was something at the end of it where I was like, ‘Well, that’s not super-good.’”
  • Fifth: Carbonated water (¼ cup=1 egg). On the “up” side, sparkling water produced a great-looking muffin. But many described it as dry and flat-tasting. Several commented that it had the strange quality of tasting simultaneously gummy yet crumbly. “It doesn’t know what it wants to be,” Lamb says.  Evanella: “The flavor just really wasn’t there.” In short, It seemed the sparkling water delivered from a leavening standpoint, but not so much as a flavor enhancer or a binding agent.
  • Sixth: Chia egg. Similar to a “flax egg,” the chia egg stems from mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water, then letting it sit for 5 minutes until it forms a gel-like consistency. The chia egg produced the most diverse looking muffin of the bunch. In addition to the black seeds peppered throughout the finished product, it baked up browner, lumpier and with a crispier crust. The seeds produced a chewy, slightly nutty texture, which Evanella and I actually kind of liked. But we were the minority. Wieck wasn’t impressed: “This one did have an aftertaste I didn’t care for, but I can’t identify why.”  “Denser, less agreeable taste,” Kerzman said, rating it fifth out of the six muffins. “Not as good the second time around,” said Lamb, giving it three points out of a possible 12.

    Upon learning what this final replacement was, Wieck announced, “I will not be eating chia egg.”

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An eggs-istential crisis?

So what did we learn (besides the fact you can gain 4 pounds in a single day)?

We found any of these replacers would work in a pinch, suggesting eggs are perhaps not as crucial to certain baked goods as one might assume.


Forum reporter Tammy Swift, far right, made six batches of muffins using the same recipe but with different egg substitutes and had colleagues, from the left, Thomas Evanella, Angie Wieck, John Lamb and Kris Kerzman sample and rate them.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

But this seems to apply mostly for simpler baked goods — like muffins, quick breads or cookies. In these instances, eggs primarily serve two purposes: One, they act as a leavening agent. Two, they are a binder, meaning they help the different ingredients fuse and hold together.

Eggs become trickier to swap out for more elaborate baked goods, like layer cakes, custards or souffles. These desserts rely on eggs for a complex number of purposes, ranging from structure, emulsification, flavor and color to moisture and fat provision.

So, in order to get the best results from a substitute, it’s helpful to determine what purpose the eggs primarily hold in a recipe.

For example, certain replacers (mashed banana, applesauce, fruit purees) work well at holding baked goods together, but they don’t offer much “lift” or lightness to the final product. For that reason, you might try adding an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder to recipes using a fruit substitute.

Some other general tips on using egg-replacements effectively:

  •  If you’re making a custard, quiche or something else that heavily relies on eggs for binding and flavor, you might hunt down a recipe which has a similar taste but uses fewer eggs.
  • Powdered egg replacers cannot be used to create egg recipes such as scrambles or omelets. Silken tofu is a better substitute for eggs in these applications.
  • Consider cost when assessing whether or not to use an egg replacer. It may seem expensive to plunk down nearly $5 for a bag of Bob’s Red Mill, but that one bag will replace 34 eggs. So if you do the math, it still is a cheaper baking substitute than eggs.
  • If a baking recipe calls for three or more eggs, it is important to choose a replacer that will perform the same function (i.e., binding or leavening).
  • When adding tofu to a recipe as an egg replacer, be sure to purée it first to avoid chunks in the finished product.
  • For recipes which use eggs primarily for leavening, try a commercial egg replacement product (Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, etc.) or the following concoction to mimic one egg: 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil mixed with 1 ½ tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon baking powder.
  • Trying to replicate airy baked goods that call for a lot of eggs, such as angel food cake, can be very difficult. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs, which will be easier to replicate.
Forum staffers make careful notes and assess the different muffins in terms of texture, flavor and appearance during the taste-test held at The Forum March 7, 2023.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Aunt May’s Buttermilk-Oatmeal Muffins


1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar added)
1 egg (or equivalent replacement)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup shortening or melted butter
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt


The night before preparation: Mix oatmeal into buttermilk, cover and let soak overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees and place paper liners in muffin tin. Lightly beat egg in small bowl and mix into oatmeal mixture. Then blend in brown sugar and melted shortening, just until blended.

In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture, just until combined. Fill muffin cups ⅔ full. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Sources: , ,

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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