What Is a Flax Egg? How to Make This Vegan Egg Substitute
Given the health benefits of flaxseeds, you don't have to be a vegan to want to learn how to make a flax egg. That said, if you are a vegan, you'll love this easy, plant-based egg substitute you can use for baking.
A healthy egg substitute
Thinking about going vegan, but not sure you can give up eggs? It’s true, eggs are one of the most versatile foods out there, especially when it comes to baking. But the popularity of vegan diets has skyrocketed, and more and more people are opting to go fully plant-based for health, ethical, and environmental reasons.
The good news is there’s an all-natural, vegan egg substitute that culinary experts and enthusiasts use as their secret weapon in vegan baking: flax egg.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about this go-to, plant-based egg alternative, so you can have your vegan cake and eat it, too.
What is a flax egg?
A flax egg is a popular egg substitute for vegans and people who have egg allergies or sensitivities. It’s completely plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free, making it a great alternative for people following egg-free diets.
Most flax eggs have two simple ingredients—ground flaxseeds and water. When mixed with water, the soluble fiber in flaxseeds forms a sticky gel similar to the consistency of egg whites. This helps bind ingredients together, creating a smooth batter for flour-based vegan recipes like bread and cookies. (Here’s more on how to buy, make, and eat vegan bread.)
You can buy flaxseeds whole or pre-ground. Whole flaxseeds can pass through you undigested—and you’ll miss out on the great nutrients—so grind them either in a food processor or coffee grinder.
Health benefits of flax egg
Flaxseeds are one of my go-to healthy diet staples. They are one of the healthiest high-fat foods you should eat. I frequently recommend adding a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed to yogurt, eggs, smoothies, and oatmeal for additional fiber and heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Since flax eggs use ground flaxseeds, you get the same health-boosting benefits from a flax egg as you do with flaxseeds when you use them in your favorite vegan recipes.
So what makes flax eggs so healthy? Let’s start with the nutrition breakdown, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for 2 tablespoons of organic, ground flaxseed, which is typically the amount used to make two flax eggs:
Protein: 2 g (4% DV)
Total Fat: 5 g (8% DV)
Carbohydrates: 4 g (1% DV)
Total Fiber: 4 g (16% DV)
Sugars: 0 g
Calcium: 40 mg (4% DV)
Iron: 0.72 mg (4% DV)
Monounsaturated Fats: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fats: 3.5 g
Trans Fats: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Compared to regular eggs, flax eggs have about half the calories and are higher in fiber and omega-3 fats. They’re a bit lower in protein, but they are also lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than regular eggs.
As I mentioned earlier, flaxseeds are high in fiber (specifically, soluble fiber), which has well-established benefits for heart health.
A review of studies, published in 2019 in the journal Nutrients, confirms the large body of research showing that high-fiber diets decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and even reduce the need for cholesterol-lowering medications.
Another study in Nutrition and Metabolism even found that eating flaxseed three times per day for one week lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by up to 15 percent compared to the control group in the study.
Soluble fiber also helps balance your blood sugar, promotes weight loss, and supports a healthy digestive system, according to research in the Journal of International Medical Research and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Flaxseeds are also a great source of plant-based omega-3 fats. They contain high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fat that gets converted to the active forms of omega-3 in our body, which in turn help combat inflammation and support many beneficial functions in the body, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A report in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that omega-3 fats from flaxseeds specifically have been found to decrease the risk factors for heart disease and improve insulin resistance.
So if you want to boost the fiber and omega-3 content of your favorite baked goods, swap out eggs for flax eggs in these recipes.
How to make a flax egg and use it in baking
Flax eggs are made by simply whisking together one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water.
A flax egg can be substituted for regular eggs at a one-to-one ratio. If your recipe calls for several eggs, you can multiply the recipe to make as many as you need.
It’s best to make your flax eggs first because “you need to let the eggs and water mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms a gel-like consistency,” says vegan chef Marisa Peluso. Then, add it to your favorite recipes.
Because flax eggs don’t offer much in terms of adding structure and fluffiness to your baked goods, Peluso says it’s best to use them in quick-bread recipes with wheat-based or oat-based flours (think dessert loaves, pancakes, and muffins). They don’t tend to work well with gluten-free and nut-based flours. It’s also best to add them to wet ingredients first before adding dry ingredients.
Flax Egg Recipe
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds or flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons water
Add flaxseed meal and water to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together or stir with a fork until the mixture is smooth. Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes until the mixture forms a gel-like consistency.
Substitute in your favorite recipes using a 1:1 ratio (one flax egg per one chicken egg).
Flax eggs are a great plant-based alternative to regular eggs. They are simple to make, easy to bake with, and are completely all-natural with no added chemicals or preservatives.
They are nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, and gluten-free. And they’re great for people on special diets or people with food allergies and sensitivities.
A great source of soluble fiber and omega-3 fats, flax eggs are especially good for the heart and digestive health.
- USDA: "ORGANIC GROUND FLAX SEED"
- Nutrients: "Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease"
- Nutrition and Metabolism: "Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depend on food type"
- Journal of International Medical Research: "A review of the role of soluble fiber in health with specific reference to wheat dextrin"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effects of isolated soluble fiber supplementation on body weight, glycemia, and insulinemia in adults with overweight and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials"
- National Institutes of Health: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- The Canadian Journal of Cardiology: "The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid"
- Marisa Peluso, vegan chef