An egg wash substitute is a fluid preparation containing one or more ingredients designed to replace an egg wash for glazing bread, pies and pastry items. It can be formulated to fully or partially replace eggs depending on the type of finished application.
Examples of ingredients used in egg wash substitutes include:
Milk, cream or butter
Vegetable or olive oil
Maple syrup or honey
Soy, rice or almond milk
Similar to egg-based washes, egg wash substitutes can be topically applied to fresh, par-baked or frozen bakery products for a crunchy-glazed crust. They can be also sprayed to coat the product after baking and before the product cools down.
Why replace eggs in egg wash?
Eggs and egg-based materials present food formulators and bakers with several challenges such as:
Availability and fluctuating prices: Eggs are the most expensive ingredient in bakeries, and there are frequent shortages in the supply
Quality and short shelf life
Enhanced functionality: Some egg alternatives provide better functionality and sensory properties than eggs in bakery products
Sustainability: Many bakeries and food manufacturers are implementing self-imposed sustainability program to appeal to younger consumers
Safety: Salmonella outbreaks, avian flu disease.
Allergens: Require segregating ingredients in production and warehousing areas
Nutrition and health: Eggs contain significant levels of cholesterol unlike plant-based ingredients, which are cholesterol-free
Lifestyle: Eggs are not compatible with vegans and vegetarian diets
Cross-contamination: Requires special handling and storage in bakeries
Eggs are an important component of bakery products surface treatment. Their unique composition, mainly the presence of the natural emulsifiers and proteins, help with stabilizing the crust texture. Also, they provide color and visual appeal.
Typically whole eggs, yolk, or egg white mixed with water or milk can be used in egg wash with the yolk providing darker finish. During baking, egg proteins unfold and cross-link which squeezes out moisture to form a smooth web surface.
The first step in choosing the right egg wash substitute is deciding on the desired functionality:1,2,3
Surface browner: When used to finish the surface of a bakery product, the mixture is brushed on prior to baking, usually an item with a crust such as pies, bread rolls, breads, Cornish pasties, empanadas, etc.
Binder: When used as a binder, an egg wash can help the coating of food being dredged to stick on better. pies or bread with decoratives. Salt in an egg wash helps break down the protein in the eggs, helping crumb coatings, etc, stick better to the wash. Ground spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg adds surface flavoring and a bit of coloring. Here oils, butter and other lipid-based EWR will be too slippery to keep seeds, nuts, etc. to stick.
Sealer: An egg wash can also “seal” the surface of a food item against moisture from the anticipated filling.
Ingredients used in egg wash substitutes and their corresponding properties:
Egg wash substitute (EWS)
Impact on baked goods
Proteins, milk, soy
Good crust browning
Good shine, crunchy texture
Slippery and doesn’t allow sticking nuts, seeds, etc.
Milk or Cream
Recreate egg color without unwanted oil flavor
Polysaccharides (Starch, Xanthan Gum, Alginates)
Corn starch can add gloss to the surface of baked goods
It should be applied immediately after baking, rather than before baking, to prevent overbrowning.
Light crispy texture
If used in excess may cause the dough to soak and not rise
Rice milk, almond milk, soy milk
Golden caramelized color
Suitable for vegan diets
Flaxseed (dispersed in water)
Compatible with vegan diets
Custard Powder dissolved in water
Malt Syrup, molasses
Honey or Maple Syrup
Deep brown color
It may burn very quickly in a hot oven. It is best used with quick recipes or applied towards the end of the baking time.
Coloring agents (caramel, lycopene, annatto, turmeric, and paprika extracts)
Added to impart golden or caramelized color to the surface in baked goods.
All ingredients used as egg wash substitute should comply with FDA regulations.
Julianti, E., Rusmarilin, H., Ridwansyah, H. and Yusraini, E. Effect of gluten free composite flour and egg replacer on physicochemical and sensory properties of cakes. Int. Food Res. J. 2016, 23, 6, pp: 2413-2418.
Wu, J. Eggs and Egg Products Processing, In Food processing: Principles and Applications, Second edition. S. Clark, S. Jung and B. Lamsai (Eds.). 2014, J. Wiley, pp: 437-455.
Kohrs, D., Herald, T.J., Aramouni, F.M. and Abughoush, M. Evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emir. J. Food Agric. 2010, 22, 5, pp: 340-352