Simple-yet-satisfying sugar cookies rely on a short list of ingredients including butter, sugar, flour and eggs. However, if you're unable to use eggs because of a food allergy or if you've gone plant-based or fully vegan, all is not lost — there are alternatives to try!
Find out the best egg substitute for cookies to use in your own homemade recipe. And if you're looking for a healthier, vegan alternative to butter, don't miss this guide on swapping fats with yogurt in baked goods, too.
3 Best Egg Substitutes for Sugar Cookies
First off, it's important to understand why eggs are a crucial ingredient when it comes to baking cookies — they have an important job to do.
The egg as whole acts as an emulsifier, which means that it helps combine the wet ingredients with the higher-fat ingredients, like butter or oil, producing a smooth dough that's not prone to separating, per the American Egg Board.
"The yolk, specifically, acts as a thickener and flavor enhancer," says Dr. Anthony Crifase, LDN, a chef and dietitian. The yolks also add richness and color and help soften a cookie's texture. "The whites, on the other hand, create texture and are a rising agent," adds Crifase.
The following plant-based options replicate eggs' emulsifying properties, making for effective and healthy egg-free sugar cookies.
1. Potato Starch
Potato starch comes from... you guessed it, the potato. One reason potato starch works so well is because of its flavor (or the lack thereof), which is what you're going for in a simple cookie like sugar cookies. "Starches will generally have neutral flavors that work well with different dishes," says Crifase. "They're used as a thickener, which is why cornstarch is often added to sauces and glazes."
The ratio depends on how thick the cookie batter needs to be. For sugar cookies with a medium-thick batter, start with one tablespoon of potato starch and then work your way up to two tablespoons. "You want the batter to resemble the consistency of something like fondue," adds Crifase.
2. Tapioca Starch
This starch comes from another tuber, but in this case, it's the cassava root. Like potato starch, it has minimal flavor and acts as a thickener for the cookie batter. "You want its neutral flavor so that it's easier to manipulate to the cookie flavor you're trying to create," Crifase says. In this case, it's the simple sweetness of a sugar cookie, likely topped with frosting and sprinkles.
"Like potato starch, two tablespoons of tapioca starch for one egg would likely be enough but it's best to start with one tablespoon and adjust as needed," Crifase recommends. You can always add more, but it's difficult (read: near impossible) to remove once you've added too much.
3. A Pre-Made Egg Replacer
If you'd rather not experiment with ingredients you've never used before, opting for a store-bought egg substitute is a good option.
In fact, Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer is a vegan and gluten-free buy that not only works well in sugar cookies, but also in cakes, quick breads, muffins, pancakes and brownies. It's made with four different ingredients including both tapioca and potato starch. "This is most likely a 'proprietary blend' that has just the right amount of each of these ingredients, which makes it the perfect swap as an egg substitute, compared to just using one of these ingredients on its own," Crifase says.
And just like the egg, each ingredient has its own unique function in baking: "Potato starch and tapioca flour are thickeners, baking soda acts as a raising agent (it's what gives the cookies a lift) and the psyllium husk fiber adds to the overall texture of the cookie," adds Crifase.
To replace a whole egg in your sugar cookies, combine one tablespoon of the powdered egg replacer with two tablespoons of water and let it sit for a minute to allow it to thicken. Specific instructions for replacing just the yolk or just the whites are also included on the packaging.
Another brand we love: The Neat Egg