Flax Seeds as a Vegan and Cost Savings Egg Substitute
If you are a vegan or allergic to eggs, you can still make many recipes that call for eggs by substituting flax seeds. As a bonus, there is a cost savings when you substitute flax seeds for eggs! Check out my cost analysis at the bottom of the page.
Flax seeds require a bit of preparation before they can be used as an egg substitute. There are two methods to prepare the flax seeds. Boiling whole flax seeds is perhaps the more complicated method, but is the preferred method for certain recipes, such as cakes. The ground flax seed method is quicker and works well in many recipes, but the flax flavor may be slightly more detectable in recipes.
I find it worth the time to boil the flax seeds and keep it frozen (ice cube trays are good for this) so it’s always on hand. Not only does flax gel go better in certain recipes than ground flax seed, but I also get more bang for my buck with the gel. Some may prefer the ease of the ground flax seed method. I explain both methods below.
Flax Gel: Boiling Method
- Add 3 cups of water and 5 tablespoons of whole golden flax seeds to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, uncovered.
- Lower heat and maintain a low boil, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has an egg-like, gelatinous texture.
- Using a sieve, strain the flax gel into a bowl. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to speed up the process, pressing the gel through the sieve.
- If the gel refuses to push through the sieve, it is probably too thick. Whisk in enough water to form an egg-like texture.
- Discard the flax seeds.
- Cool the gel before use.
Yields: About 10-12 large egg substitutes (approximately 2 cups of flax gel)
To replace a large egg, use 3 tablespoons of cooled flax gel.
Flax gel keeps for a week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Ground Flax Seed Method
- To replace one whole egg, stir together 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of hot water. Allow to cool. The mixture should become gelatinous.
Cost Compared to Eggs
I weighed 5 tablespoons of flax seeds and came up with 1.75 ounces.
At the time of this writing, Amazon had Now Foods Certified Organic Golden Flax Seeds listed for $11.83 for two 16 ounce bags. That equates to $0.37 per ounce.
5 tablespoons of flax seeds makes 10-12 egg substitutes. For this calculation, we’ll assume 10 egg substitutes.
10 egg substitutes = $0.37 x 1.75 = $0.65.
The cost to replace a dozen eggs would be ($0.65/10) x 12 = $0.78!
But wait… my calculation doesn’t include energy usage to boil the water. I didn’t personally do the work to figure this out, but a little Googling and I found an electricity usage calculator. If you have a gas range, then you may expect to spend even less. The calculator indicated it costs approximately $0.15 per hour to use an electric range. Of course, this recipe only requires a fraction of an hour, so it would cost about $0.05 of energy to make flax gel. That brings the total cost for a dozen egg substitutes to $0.83!
I was paying around $4.99 for a dozen free range eggs, so that is a savings of 143% for me! In all fairness, the average cost of a dozen eggs was $2.01 in 2014 from January through August (data was available through August at the time of this writing). That means, on average, a dozen eggs cost 83% more than what it costs to make a substitute with flax seeds.