What is Egg Substitute and Does it Contain Eggs?

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Question: What is Egg Substitute and Does it Contain Eggs?

Egg Substitute is listed in many low fat or low cholesterol recipes as an alternative to whole eggs. Egg substitute looks a lot like beaten eggs, but what’s it actually made of?

Answer: Most egg substitute products—fresh, frozen, or powdered—contain mostly egg whites, so if you have an egg allergy, these are not suitable as egg alternatives.

But egg substitute is an excellent alternative to eggs if you want to cut your intake of fat and cholesterol, which are concentrated in the egg’s yolk.

Although whole eggs are not especially high in fat—just 5 grams of total fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per egg—they are notoriously high in dietary cholesterol, containing more than two-thirds the daily recommended total. So multi-egg dishes such as omelets and frittatas, which often contain cheese or other high-fat, high-cholesterol ingredients, are good candidates for using egg substitute, at least in part.

What else in is egg substitute?

Well, egg substitute products such as Egg Beaters brand, contain 99 percent egg whites. The other one percent comprises undefined “natural flavor,” coloring, spices, salt, onion powder, xanthan gum and guar gum. Many nutrients are added to make up for the ones lost from the yolk, so egg substitute will usually contain varying amounts of iron, zinc, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamins A, E, B6 and B12, and have an equivalent amount of protein as whole eggs.

While some brands, like Egg Beaters, contain no fat or cholesterol, others use ​vegetable oil as an ingredient, which adds to the fat content again—though the fat is largely unsaturated.

Check the label on the egg-substitute product to see if it’s low enough in fat, and also to see whether the egg substitute is suitable for all your needs.

Some egg-substitute products are great for adding leavening qualities to baked goods, but unless the egg-substitute also contains added lecithin, which is normally found in egg yolks, it can't act as an ​emulsifier, or thickener. This also makes egg substitute unsuitable for custards. In these cases, it's wiser to replace some rather than all whole eggs if you need to lower the fat and cholesterol content of a recipe. Powdered egg substitute may work very nicely in baking but not at all in scrambled eggs. If you need an egg-free alternative for this, then tofu would be your best bet.

For more on egg-free egg substitutes, Jolinda Hackett, About.com's Guide to Vegetarian Cuisine, has some excellent suggestions.

Egg to Liquid Egg Substitute Conversion:

  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2 eggs = 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 4 eggs = 1 cup egg substitute
  • 8 eggs = 1 pint carton egg substitute