Let’s talk about flax eggs! We’re living in a strange alternate reality where flaxseed is often easier to find than actual eggs. Flax eggs, made simply with ground flaxseed and water, are a pantry-friendly substitute that just might save you a trip to the store. In fact, you can also make chia seed “eggs” using this technique, if you have those on hand.
If you’re vegan or have an egg allergy in your family, you may be well familiar with flax eggs already. I didn’t invent them and I don’t know who did, but I’ve learned a lot about them over the years.
I’ve been guilty of referencing flax eggs as a substitution option without providing more detail. Now, I can link to this page so you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about. Today, you might learn more than you ever wanted to know.
Flax eggs work well when they’re a small component in baked goods, pancakes, and other flour-based recipes. Flax eggs yield a “gluey” substance similar to egg whites, which helps bind ingredients together. They also contain some fat, like real yolks do. As a bonus, they also offer some fiber, which you won’t find in real eggs.
Unfortunately, flax eggs don’t offer as much structural support as real eggs, and they definitely don’t work in egg-focused recipes like scrambled eggs or frittatas.
Flax eggs are an imperfect substitute, but in the right recipe, they can work great!
How to Substitute Flax Eggs
Flax eggs are easy to make as needed. You can make as many “eggs” as you need for your baking project in one bowl.
The mixture will need 10 to 15 minutes to rest. Mix it up before you get started on the rest of your baking prep. That way, it’ll be ready to go when you need it.
Note that flaxseeds come in two colors, golden or brown. They work interchangeably, though the darker color may impart more flavor.
Flax eggs work well in many recipes…
Flax eggs are well-suited for quick breads, such as banana bread and muffins, as well as simple cookie recipes. Flax eggs are a pretty safe bet when the recipe meets the following qualifications:
- The recipe calls for a wheat-based flour, such as all-purpose or whole wheat. Oat flour seems to work well, too.
- The recipe is stirred together by hand (no mixer required).
When possible, I try to offer egg substitution suggestions in the recipe notes. Here’s a small selection of recipes that work well with flax eggs:
- Banana Bread and Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Blueberry Muffins (view more suitable muffins here)
- Citrus Olive Oil Cake
- Monster Cookies
- Peanut Butter Oat Cookies
…but not all recipes.
You can’t whip flax eggs to infuse them with air, so they don’t offer much “lift” to your baked goods. In other words, if your recipe calls for whipping whites together until fluffy (like a soufflé or an angel food cake), flax eggs will not be a suitable replacement. Aquafaba would be a better option in these situations.
Gluten-free baked goods require special consideration.
Why? Gluten is a protein that provides structure. Real eggs also provide structure. In the absence of gluten, flax eggs often struggle to make up the difference.
Fortunately, flax eggs tend to work pretty well with oat flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour blends, such as Bob’s Red Mill.
Flax eggs do not work well with almond flour or other nut-based flours. When I was recipe testing for my cookbook, I tried to substitute flax eggs in my lemony almond blueberry cake recipe (page 197). I ended up with what could only be described as… pudding, and not in a good way.
Sometimes, you can skip the eggs altogether.
Surprisingly, I’ve found that you can often omit eggs in pancake and waffle recipes. My vegan pancakes turn out well without them, and I’ve successfully made these oat flour-based waffles without the eggs (they were just a bit more delicate).
When in doubt, adding a flax egg is a safer bet than omitting the egg. If you’re willing to a risk, you might find success without them. My vegan chocolate chip cookies are egg-free, and you’d never guess it!
Flaxseed Storage Suggestions
Flaxseed contains good-for-you polyunsaturated fatty acids. The only downside to this kind of fat is that it deteriorates (turns rancid) fairly quickly. Ground flaxseed goes bad even faster than whole flaxseed, since it has been cracked open and exposed to air.
To prolong the life of your flaxseed (ground or whole), store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. When properly stored, whole flaxseed will last about one year, whereas ground flaxseed will last about six months.
Always give your flaxseed a whiff before using. If it smells like “oil paint or a box of crayons,” it has gone bad and should be discarded.
How to Grind Your Own Flaxseed
Since whole flaxseeds store better, I like to grind my own flaxseed meal. It’s easy! Just blend whole flaxseeds in a food processor for about 60 seconds, or until it feels like a somewhat gritty flour when you rub it between your fingers. You may be able to do this in a blender if you use a sufficient quantity, but I haven’t tried.
How to Make Flax “Eggs”
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 flax egg 1x
- Category: Baking
- Method: Stirred
- Diet: Vegan
Learn how to make flax eggs for egg-free baking! Flax eggs are a great solution for vegans and those with egg allergies. They’re also a nice, simple substitute for baked goods if you run out regular eggs. Recipe as written yields 1 flax egg; multiply as needed.
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds,* also known as flaxseed meal
- 3 tablespoons water
- Combine the ground flax and water in a small bowl (if your recipe calls for multiple eggs, just multiply the ingredients as necessary and mix in the same bowl). Stir with a fork until combined.
- Let the mixture rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s somewhat “gloppy” or congealed. Use in place of the eggs in your baking project!
*How to grind flax seeds: You can either start with store-bought ground flaxseed (Bob’s Red Mill offers one) or grind your own. To grind your own, blend at least ¼ cup in a food processor for about 1 minute, or until it feels like a slightly gritty flour. Store any leftover ground flax in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
More uses for flaxseed: I love to blend a tablespoon or two into my smoothies for some nutty flavor, additional fiber and omega-3s. It’s especially good in my basic blueberry smoothie and banana almond smoothie.
Chia seed alternative: You can also use ground chia seeds in place of ground flaxseeds (same amount and method)!