Who doesn’t love the crispy, crunchy taste of battered fish? It pairs nicely with some steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes or with a plate of fries. Battered or breaded fish filet is very simple and quick to make. It’s much easier than fried chicken, I find, cooks faster, and is a whole lot healthier.
Now, most of the time that I am making breaded fish, I will use eggs as the binder. It helps the batter to not fall off the fish. Without egg, your batter may be too thin or not clingy enough and may detach from the fish. Eggs are probably the best binder you can use for fried foods, but not everyone wants to cook with eggs.
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Some people are allergic and others want to have a substitute for eggs when breading, just without egg, vegan style. I can understand wanting to find a substitute for eggs when breading. There are some foods you can use that won’t be quite the same when cooked up, but they will offer a similar binding quality. They will help to hold the batter on the fish batter than if you used nothing to bind with at all.
I want to share some of the best binders that can be used as substitute for eggs when breading fish or chicken. If you are looking to reduce the amount of protein in a dish or just cut back on eggs specifically, then these binders can help.
The simplest and most commonly used substitute for eggs when breading chicken or fish is butter. It’s not very healthy usually, but you can use a low fat, heart healthy butter and have to work just as well as any other butter.
How to use butter as an egg substitute? Just make up your batter as normal and then prepare your chicken with or fish with butter. Rub the melted butter over the meat and make sure you coat the entire piece of meat. You don’t need a lot of butter, but you do want a complete covering. Any spots you don’t cover with butter may lose their batter once they start to cook. Once the meat has been rubbed down with butter, you can coat the meat as you normally would with the batter and cook as normal.
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The butter isn’t always enough if you wat a heavy coating. Butter works okay for a light coating, but it can’t hold a heavy batter coating on once the meat hits the fryer. So, to get that heavy coating to stay on, you first cover the meat in melted butter and then coat it in a thin layer of flour. Be sure to knock off the excess flour. From there, add your coating of batter. The flour helps the batter to stay on better and the butter can still do its job as well.
A good substitute for eggs when breading for deep fry is heavy cream. It is pretty fattening, so it has that against it, but at least it is an eggless option for those who are allergic to egg. Typical dredging for a batter or breading coating happens in three steps- start with flour to cover the meat, then cover in egg, and then cover in batter or bread crumbs. The egg binds the other ingredients to the meat as it fries, but heavy cream can be used in much the same way.
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Heavy cream is an excellent substitute, keeping the bread crumbs or batter on the chicken or fish. It helps the outer layer to adhere better than just about anything else does.
What if you are going for a dairy free meal because of lactose intolerance or vegan eating habits? What can I substitute eggs for when breading chicken or fish that does not contain dairy. Your options are not as good once you remove dairy from the picture, but there are some methods you can try.
Gelatin makes for a decent substitute. It isn’t as sticky as eggs or heavy cream when cooked, so it won’t have the same effect, but it makes for a reasonable substitute.
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The benefit of using gelatin is that it won’t change the flavour of the batter at all. Your meat will still taste like it should, so that’s a big plus. On the downside, it can be difficult to work with. You have to do some prep work. First of all, you need to bloom the gelatin in water for about 5 minutes. That means dropping it in the water and letting it sit there for about five minutes, and then heating it up. Once it starts to get hot, you can mix the gelatin in the water until it dissolves. Then, allow it to cool and coat the meat with it.
So, gelatin will work, but to is kind of fussy and requires a lengthy process. It does a decent job of holding the batter or bread crumbs in place, though, so I think it is a fair substitute.
Another answer to the question of “What is a substitute for eggs when breading chicken?” is something called an egg replacer. This is fake eggs, essentially, made from a bunch of stuff- potatoes, tapioca, cellulose gum, and leavening. It even kind of tastes like real eggs, and it is an okay binder but the worst one on this list.
When I tried egg replacer as a substitute for eggs, the batter was a little patchy. It didn’t stick as much as I wanted it to, and the same is true of working with bread crumbs and egg replacer. They won’t stay on the meat like they would with eggs, but at least egg replacer works better than nothing.
Other Tips for Egg Substitutions
I have talked about the most effective, most commonly used ingredients for what to substitute for eggs when breading chicken. There are some other things you can use as well that won’t be as effective and may give you patchy looking chicken and fish batter.
Milk is a go-to binder for a lot of people cooking without eggs. It doesn’t bind well, but it is better than using nothing. Just coat your meat with the milk and then add the bread crumbs or batter.
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Can you substitute eggs for milk when breading? Yes, it works the other way as well. Eggs make a better binder than milk, so if the recipe calls for milk and you want a better binder and you want your batter or crumbs to stick to the fish or chicken better, then by all means use eggs instead of milk.
You can also use applesauce, water, tomato paste and mayonnaise, depending on what you are cooking and how you want it to taste. You really need something that allows the crumbs to stick to the meat, and anything wet will do, but sticky wet stuff works better.
These are as many binders as I can come up with for breading that don’t involve eggs. If you feel like eggs are not what you want to use for whatever reason, now you have a few options. I hope one or more of these works well for you and makes for a reasonable substitute in place of eggs.