Even with the creation of hybrid desserts in recent years, (tried a cronut yet, anyone?) the gooey deliciousness of a chocolate brownie still reigns as one of the most popular desserts today.
Variations on the classic brownie are abundant, and they can be both a mouthwatering taste sensation and a thing of beauty, as one quick glance at any baking blogger’s Instagram feed will demonstrate. Hashtag ‘foodporn’.
However, with the growing number of people experimenting with the ingredients they put in their brownies, there is also an increasing amount of adapted recipes that remove one or more of the 4 main ingredients. If the title of this article didn’t give you a clue, we’re talking about brownies that have been made without eggs.
There are a number of reasons why people might choose to whip up a batch of brownies without using eggs. Maybe you’re following a vegan diet, maybe you’re deathly allergic to eggs, or maybe you just used the last of them for breakfast and can’t be bothered to run out to the store.
Whatever your reasons, making eggless brownies has never been easier and there are thousands of recipes available online for you to follow.
How are brownies made?
In my household, usually from a box. But traditionally, you’ll find a mixture of eggs, butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate or cocoa powder are used to achieve the classic, fudgy, gooey goodness that chocolate brownies are best known for.
As one of the easiest desserts to make, the process of combining your brownie ingredients is fairly uncomplicated. Simply melt the butter and the chocolate together over a low heat before pouring into a bowl and adding the dry ingredients. Seriously, that’s it!
Take care to gently fold the dry ingredients into the melted ingredients, as stirring too vigorously can knock some of the air out of the mixture, which will result in denser, more cake-like brownies.
Eggless brownies are admittedly a little harder to master, as one of the key ingredients is taken out and substituted which can lead to temperamental results.
The Science Behind Baking Brownies
Once you understand the science behind what egg actually does during the baking process, you’ll be able to switch it out with a replacement ingredient of your choosing, allowing you to more freely experiment with your bakes.
In baking, there’s more to contend with than just flavor combinations, and each of the main ingredients serves a specific technical purpose.
Butter - as the main source of fat, butter will enhance the rich flavor of the brownie and is usually melted so it can be easily incorporated into the rest of the mixture. You can use margarine or cooking oil too, but be sure to choose one that won’t overpower the taste of the other ingredients.
Flour - provides structure to keep the brownies from being too crumbly and falling apart in your hands. Unlike recipes with a wetter, looser batter, which can cause lumps of flour to form, brownies have a higher fat content which makes it easier to incorporate flour into the mixture.
Eggs - a binding ingredient that holds it all together and encourages a good rise. If you were to remove the eggs without substituting it with another ingredient, your brownies would not be set in the middle.
You may prefer your brownies to be indulgently gooey on the inside, but without a binding ingredient you won’t achieve the ever so slightly cracked surface and crispy corner pieces that are so satisfying to bite into.
Sugar - you can use white or brown sugar in a brownie recipe as both will provide added sweetness. The texture of sugar is also important and it will usually be stipulated where you should use granulated or caster sugar.
Chocolate - okay, so this one might not actually be an ‘essential’ ingredient as some recipes only contain cocoa powder. However, in my humble opinion the best brownies are the ones that have an intense chocolatey flavor.
Don’t share my sweet tooth? No problem! Choose a darker chocolate which has more of a bitter taste, or leave it out completely.
Egg Replacement Ingredients
Numerous ingredients can be used as a substitute for eggs in baking, but it’s important to get the quantities right if you want to end up with perfectly fudgey, freshly baked brownies.
You can usually find pre-packed egg replacements in most stores, but if you’re someone who bakes regularly these can be an expensive option, and if the reason you’re making eggless brownies is simply because you don’t have any eggs in the house, it’s unlikely you’ll have some egg replacement lying around either.
A cheaper, more convenient way to bake brownies without using egg is to swap it for something you already have in the house, and you may be surprised at some of the things you can use. For example:
Unsweetened applesauce - best used in cupcakes, cakes, and brownies, although if you use too much it can cause a rubbery texture. For recipes with 1 egg, replace with ¼ cup of applesauce.
Vinegar and baking soda - best used in cakes and brownies, these two ingredients need to be combined before adding them to the rest of the mixture. For recipes with 1 egg, replace with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
Plain yoghurt - best used in brownies, cupcakes, cakes, and traybake bars, it should be beaten before combining the other ingredients as this will make it lighter. For recipes with 1 egg, replace with ¼ cup of yoghurt.
Ground flaxseed - best used in brownies, bread, and cookies, but use too much and it’ll take your baked goods from chewy to dense. For recipes with 1 egg, replace with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water until the mixture is gelatinous.
There are plenty more ingredients that would work well as an egg replacement, such as mashed banana, chia seeds, and silken tofu, but the ingredients listed above are the best options for use in brownie recipes as they perform the same function without negatively altering the taste.
Here is a basic recipe that’s been adapted slightly from one online to remove the eggs. Feel free to adapt a recipe of your choice, or alternatively you can follow a recipe that already excludes the egg.
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 stick or ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe for eggless brownies you can start to add extra ingredients to enhance the flavors. Optional extras can include:
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts… go nuts for nuts!)
- Chocolate chips (white, milk, or dark depending on personal preference)
- Salted caramel
- Cherries, raspberries, or other fruits that will compliment the chocolate flavors
First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit or 180 degrees celsius.
Next, line an 8x8 inch baking tray with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter.
Sift your dry ingredients in a bowl and put this to the side.
Heat your butter and chocolate gently over a low-medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Alternatively, you can melt them in the microwave, but be sure to check them at 30-second intervals. Once completely melted, allow to cool slightly then pour into a mixing bowl and whisk in the yoghurt, vanilla extract, and sugar for approximately 2 minutes.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients by folding the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, and stir until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into your prepared tray and bake for 40 minutes. The last 5 minutes are crucial, so at around the 35 minute mark, insert a skewer into the brownies to see if they’re cooked. You’ll know they’re done if the skewer comes out clean.
Here comes the hard part. Once out of the oven, allow your brownies to fully cool before slicing and serving.
The only way to find the best method for baking brownies without eggs is to practice, practice, practice.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your recipe, tweaking it each time to try it with different egg replacements and see how the results differ. Definitely don’t worry about how you’ll manage to polish off the trays of practice brownies - it’s all in the name of science, after all.