Looking for the perfect vegan egg wash substitute to add shine and golden color to your vegan pie crusts and baked goods? Here are a variety of options to choose from, including a simple recipe that works like a charm. You’ll love this guide that gives a look at 10 different egg-free egg wash options.
Most pastry recipes call for brushing your dough with something (typically an egg wash) before it’s placed in the oven. But what’s a vegan baker to do?
You have questions, such as will your crusts be ruined if you skip the egg wash?
You want to know, what is the best vegan substitute for egg wash? I decided to experiment to find out.
What is an Egg Wash?
To replicate an egg wash, it’s essential to understand the original and how it works.
These components encourage browning and/or shine on a crust:
- Protein — found in eggs and/or milk
- Sugar — provided in milk
- Fat — in fats and oil.
This is why some of the best pastry washes combine ingredients like eggs and cream.
Egg-Free Pastry Washes
I researched the best egg wash alternatives and chose 10 of the most popular ingredients.
- Coconut oil
- Vegan butter
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
- Flax egg
- Cornstarch slurry
Yes, that’s only 7, but the three other options are a combination of other ingredients. I added a plain piece to serve as a point of comparison. If you’re looking for a vegan egg wash substitute, here is your chance to check out a variety of options!
On the other hand, is egg wash necessary for egg-free baking? Let’s find out!
For testing purposes, I used my vegan pie crust recipe. I rolled it out and cut 10 rounds. Then I brushed all of them except one with a different wash. Then I rated each wash based on color, sheen, and consistency of browning.
Egg Wash #1: Aquafaba
- About this Wash — Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Although it doesn’t sound pleasant, it’s been used instead of eggs to make things like vegan meringue.
- It’s also been touted as an excellent vegan alternative to egg wash.
- Results — I was skeptical but actually pleased with the results. You can see the pie round has a nice golden hue and a slight rustic shine to it. Combined with a bit of fat (like melted coconut oil), this would be an even better option.
- Rating — 8/10
Option #2: Coconut Oil
- About this Wash — Melted coconut oil is a popular option for an eggless wash in the vegan community. Because of its high-fat content, I knew it would provide shine, but what about browning?
- Results — The baked circle of crust shows a bit of shine and a bit of color. I could see using this, especially if you have refined coconut oil. However, virgin coconut oil might add a coconut flavor to the crust.
- Rating — 7/10
Egg Wash #3: Plain
- About this Wash — I baked one pie disc without any wash on top to serve as a control. Is vegan egg wash for pie or pastry even necessary?
- Results — Actually, there is a bit of color with this option, making me think that a pastry wash is not required, especially if you’re ok with a slightly rustic, flat sheen on your crust and pastries. However, if I’m serving a pie to guests, I will use a wash.
- Rating — 7/10
Wash #4: Cornstarch
- About this Wash — When you combine cornstarch with water, you create a slurry. Would it be suitable as a vegan alternative to egg wash?
- More specifically, would it add shine or browning? That is the question I set about to answer.
- Results — I was not impressed with cornstarch for adding hue or shine to my little pie round. It didn’t add color besides what you see in the plain crust, and I wasn’t thrilled with the flavor. I would choose no-wash over a cornstarch slurry egg wash, even for home baking.
- Rating — 3/10
Egg Wash #5: Flax Egg
- About this Wash — The flax egg is a great binder used often in vegan baking. By that reasoning, it should work as a pastry wash, too.
- Results — It’s true that the ground flax meal I used wasn’t as ground as some, leaving behind whole seeds. That said, it illustrates the point that ground flax is not a great option to top pies or pastries because of the color and texture that it adds.
- Rating — 3/10
Wash #6: Vegan Butter
- About this Wash — Vegan butter has a lot of fat and therefore should be a great wash for vegan pastries. Because of its buttery flavor, I expected it to be the best option.
- I was careful to use a vegan butter product and not tub margarine (most of which are made with water).
- Results — Vegan butter is my second favorite egg wash substitute thanks to the even golden color. It seemed fitting that the flavor was fantastic as well.
- If you want your vegan egg wash savory (to use in a vegan pot pie or another savory dish). this may be the way to go.
- Rating — 9/10
Option #7: Soy Milk
- About this Wash — There are so many plant-based milk options on the market these days, but I chose soy milk because, with its protein content and sugars, it most resembles whole milk, although it is lower in fat.
- Results — I was very skeptical but actually pleased with the results. You can see the pie round has a nice golden hue and a slight, rustic shine to it. Combined with a bit of fat, this would be an even better option.
- Rating — 8/10
Egg Wash #8: Vegan Butter + Soy Milk
- About this Wash — Since I was so pleased with these two ingredients individually, I figured together they would work great.
- Results — Now we’re starting to see some real results. I loved the golden color the flavor, and the shine offered by these two together. Soy milk has a few natural sugars, so combined with the vegan butter, we have protein, fat, and sugars. No wonder it made such a great wash!
- Rating — 10/10
Wash #9: Almond Milk
- About this Wash — Sometimes you have to go with what’s in your cupboard and these days almond milk is the go-to plant-based milk. That’s why I decided to try almond milk as an egg wash. I used unsweetened, plain almond milk for this experiment.
- Results — The almond milk wash is not bad. It’s at least comparable to soy milk in the results. Because of its low-fat content, it doesn’t produce a lot of shine, but it does add a hint of color, making it better than the plain option. I would definitely use this in a pinch.
- Rating — 8/10
Egg Wash #10: Vegan Butter + Soy Milk + Agave
- About this Wash — Adding a bit of sugar to #8, combines the trifecta of ingredients (sugar, protein, and fat) for the eggless egg wash. Will it be the primo option? Let’s see.
- Results — I actually like this option the best, even though it comes with some risks. If you don’t stir the syrup sweetener enough, it can leave streaks across the crust. For that reason, you may prefer to stick with #8. But if you want a rich, golden, shiny crust, this one delivers.
- Tip: Combining the syrup with recently melted butter helps it blend together the best.
- Rating — 10/10
Now, let’s go over some questions and then discuss making the best vegan egg wash.
How to Apply Egg Wash Without a Pastry Brush
Don’t have a pastry brush? You can still apply a wash to your unbaked bread, pie, or pastries. Here are the best ways to do it:
- Spoon — Use a spoon to drizzle the wash liquid over the unbaked goods. Then use a lightly moistened paper towel to gently spread the wash around, covering the whole surface.
- Makeshift Brush — Using a piece of parchment or waxed paper, fold it in half a few times. Then use scissors to cut one end into little strips. Voila. You have created a brush that you can use to apply your wash liquid.
- Fingers — I’m not against drizzling the wash over the subject and using my washed fingers to spread it around. Getting your hands into action is one of the best parts of cooking and baking!
What's the best vegan egg wash for bread?
For savory bread, I recommend using vegan butter or vegan butter combined with a bit of almond or soy milk. For sweet bread, adding a bit of agave nectar to the mixture will give it more shine and color.
Can you use almond milk for egg wash?
You can use almond milk for egg wash when you want to help your pastry or bread achieve more of a golden color. However, almond milk will produce minimal shine, creating a more rustic look to your baked good.
Can aqufaba be used as egg wash?
You can use aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) to create an egg-free egg wash. Simply brush the aquafaba over unbaked pastries or bread to create a subtle golden hue.
How to Make Vegan Egg Wash
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Stir together the ingredients. Allow it to cool slightly.
- Lightly brush the top of the pie crusts or bread with the vegan egg wash.
- Follow the recipe instructions for baking the pie or pastry.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Vegan Butter — I recommend using storebought vegan butter (not tub margarine which has too much water in it) or homemade vegan butter.
- Soy milk — You can substitute different plant-based milk, but I find soy milk works the best because of its high protein content.
- Agave — We’ll use just a pinch of agave nectar because the sugars help with browning. However, you must stir it vigorously so it doesn’t cause streaks on the pie crust. You can substitute maple syrup.
Egg Wash Substitute
- Vigorously stir together the ingredients. Allow it to cool slightly, and then use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pie crusts or pastries with the vegan egg wash.
- Follow the recipe instructions for baking your pie or pastry.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.