Frying a food to create a crust usually requires you to dredge the item in flour and egg before coating it in breadcrumbs. But if you're allergic to eggs or prefer consuming a plant-based diet, this won't be an option. You can use oil as an egg substitute for breading instead.
Egg Substitutes for Breading
Egg is traditionally used to fry foods. Generally, you dredge the food you're going to fry in flour and dip it an egg wash. You then coat it in breadcrumbs or some other type of crust, like tempura, panko or matzo.
However, you can also make fried and breaded dishes without egg. Egg substitutes include buttermilk, tomato paste, chia seeds and even oil. The exact egg substitute for breading you should use is completely dependent on what you're frying and the final flavor you're hoping to achieve.
Using oil can be a particularly healthy choice of egg substitute for breading. However, using oil as an egg substitute for breading is different from using other substitutes. If you want to use only oil, you won't need flour. Ideally, you'll also be frying using an air fryer.
Choosing a Healthy Frying Oil
If you want to use oil as an egg substitute for breading, you'll first need to choose your oil. Many oils have different flavor-based undertones. Coconut and palm oil are both likely to add a sweet flavor to the food you're frying. In contrast, sesame oil, peanut oil and nut-based oils all have nutty flavors.
Olive oil has a wide range of different flavors. The exact flavor of your olive oil will be determined by the way it was processed. Olive oil may also be infused with different spices, like rosemary, thyme, garlic, sage or chili, which can enrich the flavor of your fried food.
Vegetable oils like olive oil are rich in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are considered good for you. Harvard Health Publishing recommends consuming oils like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Don't assume all plant-based oils are suitable as egg substitutes for breading, though. According to a February 2012 study in the Journal for Preventive Cardiology, oils with low smoke points, like extra virgin olive oil, aren't the best choice for frying.
Other oils, like coconut oil or palm oil, aren't considered very healthy — they have more saturated fat compared to unsaturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends consuming these fats in limited amounts, because excessive saturated fat consumption can be bad for your cardiovascular health.
Oil as an Egg Substitute
Oil is an optimal egg substitute for breading vegan foods. All you need is your chosen oil, breadcrumbs, seasoning and the ingredient you're breading. Your seasoning can be made with just about anything — from a basic salt and pepper to a flavorful curry powder.
You can create fried mushrooms or tofu, for instance, simply by dipping these ingredients in oil and then coating them in the mixture of breadcrumbs and seasoning. This strategy is a very hands-off method of breading and frying; all you need to do is leave this mixture in an air fryer until it's golden brown. The entire process should take around 15 to 20 minutes.
For the best results, you should use breadcrumbs made from a flavorful bread, like garlic bread. This will enhance the flavor and minimize the amount of seasoning powder you need to add. Fine breadcrumbs are ideal, because these stick to the item you're frying more easily.