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Egg Substitutes for Breading

By Cook's Illustrated Published

If you are allergic to eggs, is there anything you can substitute for the beaten egg when breading foods like chicken and eggplant?

The traditional process for breading foods like chicken cutlets and eggplant slices requires three steps (known as a bound breading): Dredge the food in flour, dip in beaten egg, and then coat in bread crumbs. The egg behaves like a glue, holding the crumbs in place. On occasion we’ve employed mustard to do the job, but we wanted to find a more neutral-tasting, all-purpose replacement.

We compared batches of chicken cutlets and eggplant dipped in egg to those in which we swapped in heavy cream, gelatin, and store-bought Ener-G Egg Replacer, a powdered mixture of starches, gums, and leaveners that gets hydrated before use. Cream could be used as is, while the gelatin required blooming in cold water for 5 minutes and then melting the mixture in boiling water and letting it cool before use.

The breading on the egg replacer sample came off in patches during frying. The gelatin worked and didn’t add flavor but was fussy to use. Luckily cream worked well, adhering the crumbs nicely.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We recommend using heavy cream when breading foods if you cannot use eggs.

CREAM IS BEST: If you can't use eggs, use heavy cream to hold breading in place.