The Creamy Egg Wash Substitute You Probably Have In Your Fridge

Perhaps nothing is as irresistible as the aroma of freshly baked bread, pies, and pastries with gorgeous, glazed crusts. That signature golden-brown sheen usually comes from an egg wash, which also helps as a surface adhesive for sugar, seeds, spices, and breadcrumbs on dough or other foods, like chicken, before baking or frying. Overall, using egg wash is important because it adds color and texture to baked and fried foods without altering their taste. However, if you're out of eggs, and don't want to waste your remaining eggs on egg wash, there is another incredibly creamy (dairy-free) substitute you probably already have in your fridge. Believe it or not, a thin smear of mayonnaise produces a similarly magical effect with savory foods.

Here's how it works: The oil content in mayonnaise browns foods because it triggers the Maillard reaction. Besides creating a crispy, glossy top, the egg yolk in mayonnaise also acts as a binding agent that helps toppings, breading, or seasonings stick to food, as egg wash does. Suppose you're concerned about the faintly sweet and acidic taste that mayonnaise imparts. In that case, dilute the spread with a tiny amount of water, or use vegan mayonnaise instead. Mayonnaise can even be used instead of egg wash to coat DIY pizza crusts before baking, but it may not go well with desserts due to its mildly tangy flavor even when diluted.

Other egg wash substitutes

If you dislike mayonnaise, don't have either regular or vegan mayonnaise on hand, or have an egg allergy, you may want to use other egg wash substitutes to produce a similar finish to your baked goods. Other egg wash substitutes include water, milk, cream, yogurt, butter, olive oil, maple syrup, and honey. What you substitute can be flexible depending on your desired outcome. For example, if you want to achieve the same golden-brown crust that egg wash is known for creating but need a neutral flavor profile, try using milk or cream. Similarly, melted butter can amp up the flavor of pie crust or other pastry shells. For a darker brown color, extra crunch, and a touch of sweetness, the sugars from maple syrup, honey, or molasses will caramelize on the exterior of whatever surface you brush them onto before baking. However, be mindful that anything with a high sugar content can burn, so this application should be used when your dish is almost finished baking or in recipes with a short baking time. 

If you need an egg wash substitute for dietary purposes, aquafaba and coconut oil work well as vegan options, as both have a more neutral taste that is perfect for sweet or savory baked items. Ultimately, whatever your reason is not to use traditional egg wash, don't be afraid to experiment with different substitutes and find the one that works best for you and your baking needs.