Looking for the perfect vegan egg wash to add shine and golden color to your vegan pie crusts and more? This simple recipe works like a charm. This guide also gives a look at 10 different egg-free 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? Will your crusts be ruined if you just skip it?
I decided to experiment to find out.
What is an Egg Wash?
In order to replicate an egg wash, it’s important 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 — found in milk
- Fat — found in fats and oil.
This is why some of the best pastry washes combine ingredients like eggs and cream.
Egg-Free Pastry Washes
I did some research on the best egg wash alternatives and from there chose 10 of the most popular options.
- Coconut oil
- Vegan butter
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
- Flax egg
- Cornstarch slurry
Yes, that’s only 7, but the three remaining are a combination of the others, plus a plain piece to serve as a point of comparison.
Is a vegan egg wash really 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.
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 in place of eggs to make things like vegan meringue.
- 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 (like melted coconut oil), this would be an even better option.
- Rating — 8/10
Wash #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
Wash #3: Plain
- About this Wash — I baked one pie disc without any wash on top to serve as a control. Is a vegan egg wash even necessary?
- Results — Actually, there is a bit of color with this option, making me think that a pastry wash is not absolutely necessary, 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 add shine or browning? That is the question.
- Results — I was not impressed with cornstarch for adding hue or shine to my little pie round. It didn’t add any color besides what you see in the plain crust. I would choose no-wash over this option, even for home baking.
- Rating — 4/10
Wash #5: Flax Egg
- About this Wash — The flax egg is a great binder and used often in vegan baking. By that reasoning, it should work as a 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. Be 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. I was right that the flavor is amazing as well.
- Rating — 9/10
Wash #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
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. 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 stick with #8. But if you want a rich, golden, shiny crust, this one delivers. I find combining the minimal syrup with the recently melted butter helps it blend together the best.
- Rating — 10/10
Now, let’s discuss making the best 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.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- 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.
How to Make Vegan Egg Wash
- Stir together the ingredients. Allow it to cool slightly.
- Lightly brush the top of the pie crusts or pastries with the vegan egg wash.
- Follow the recipe instructions for baking the pie or pastry.
How to Use Vegan Egg Wash
Here are some best vegan pastry recipes to use your pastry wash:
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.