If you or a loved one is allergic to eggs or not eating eggs for some reason, you know how life changing it can be. I know when our son was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies, it turned our world upside down.
Basically, he was covered in eczema as an infant and food allergies were the cause.
It took us awhile to figure out how to cook all over again–without dairy, egg, and many nuts. For me (someone who loves to bake), it was hard to get used to a new way of doing things.
One of the best helps to me was learning how to make my own dairy-free milk, and having egg substitutes that I could use for baking.
However, it is quite starchy, and our family has been moving more and more toward a low-carb diet, so I had to learn other ways to substitute for eggs including figuring out how to make a flax egg.
What Is a Flax Egg?
A flax egg is a vegan egg substitute made from–you guess it–flax. Basically, you combine ground flax seeds and some water, and the mixture results in a gelatinous mixture that works as a binder in many recipes that would otherwise use eggs for this function.
Flax eggs are 100% natural, vegan, gluten free, paleo, keto, low carb, and whole30. They also work for those on the Trim Healthy Mama diet, depending on the dish that you are using them in.
Of course, you can purchase organic flax eggs as well, and as such, they work well for almost any special diet.
Tips for Flax Eggs
First Things First
It is best to mix the flax egg before starting work on the rest of your recipe so that the “egg” is ready to go when you need it.
While the instructions say to let the mixture set for 5-15 minutes, flax eggs should work even if you let the mixture sit longer–it gets thicker as time goes by.
Don't Let Them Rot!
Flax seeds go rancid much more easily than do coffee grinds so I recommend using a washable grinder like this one for this purpose. That grinder is the one that we have and I love it.
They Don't Rise
While flax eggs are for binding baked goods and other things like pancakes, they don't work as a leavening agent. My Powdered Egg Substitute works better for that purpose.
Benefits of Using a Flax Egg
Eggs are a great source of nutrition, but if you can't eat them, well, you can't eat them. But flax eggs are at least a pretty nutritious addition to your egg-free recipe. Even though I LOVE my Powdered Egg Replacer in almost any dish, it's lacking in the nutrition department.
In contrast, flax brings with it a plethora of nutritional benefits:
- high in fiber
- low in carbs (if you are watching your carb intake, this is a plus for you)
- high in omega 3 fatty acids
- high in antioxidants
When to Not Use a Flax Egg
Even though flax eggs are quite versatile for vegan baking, there are times when a flax seed egg substitute simply won't work. For the most part, you will get good results when using flax eggs in cookies, bars, biscuits, veggie burgers, pancakes, and even cakes (though flax eggs can be a little heavy for most cakes), but following are some times when using a flax egg isn't the best choice:
Recipes with a Lot of Eggs
The most obvious is for recipes such as Meringue Cookies or Meringue Toppings for pies that consist almost entirely of egg whites. Another would be for a flan or other such recipe when a large component of the recipe is egg yolks.
Other not-so-obvious cases are recipes that call for three or more eggs for a typical recipe. The reason being is that the eggs are contributing so much to the recipe that when you use a substitute, the final result just isn't quite satisfactory.
That being said, I have had good results using my Powdered Egg Substitute, and also flax eggs or chia eggs, for this Focaccia Flax Bread, but the reason for that is, I think, that the bread is made almost entirely from flax.
This Grain-Free Coffee Cake is a good example of a recipe like this. It calls for 4 eggs and 2 egg whites. The cake turns out pretty well using my Powdered Egg Replacer, but is quite flat and gummy when using either a flax egg or chia egg.
Coconut Flour-Based Recipes
I don’t recommend using flax eggs as an egg replacement in recipes that use coconut flour. Coconut flour is very dense and absorbs so much liquid that it almost always needs eggs in order to work properly.
For recipes that are lightly flavored, a flax egg isn't typically the way to go. On their own, flax seeds have a light, nutty flavor and in the majority of recipes, you won’t taste them at all. In light-flavored recipes, you would be better off using a chia egg, gelatin egg, or, again, my Powdered Egg Replacer.
Please note that if your flax smells strong, it is likely rancid. Rancid flax has an almost fishy taste, especially when heating it–not something you want in your baked goods!
Tips for Making and Using Flax Eggs
Don't Make Ahead
Though I'm all for time-saving tips like this Measuring Tools Tip, Baking in Bulk, the Easiest Way to Peel Garlic, and my love of using a Pressure Cooker, grinding flax ahead of time is not a good idea.
Once flax is ground, it begins to go rancid very quickly. I've heard that it starts to go rancid / oxidize after only 3 days. If you grind it ahead of time, store it in the fridge or the freezer to preserve freshness.
Where to Buy Flax
You can find raw flax seed in many healthy food stores as well as online. I recommend, if possible, that you only purchase organic flax seed and that you purchase it whole, not ground, for the reason mentioned above.
Golden vs. Brown Flax
While golden flax is a more appealing color for most baking applications, the flavor of both is identical, so you can use them interchangeably in recipes. If you're making a lightly-colored baked good, then using golden flax seeds are a better choice.
Now that we've addressed almost everything you need to know about how to make a flax egg, here's how to do it!
How to Make a Flax Egg
- Combine ground flax seeds and water and place in a small bowl.
- Let sit for 5-15 minutes either at room temperature or in the fridge. The mixture will gel up more as more time goes by.
- Use the flax egg as you would a regular egg in your recipe.
So that's a lot of information beyond just a simple flax egg recipe. I hope you feel empowered to be able to use flax eggs in all o your egg-free and vegan baking adventures!