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Since the early days of old-fashioned southern cooking, eggs have been a staple ingredient for cooking fried chicken. It helps form the breading and adds flavor and volume to fried chicken, keeping the white meat juicy inside and independently crispy on the outside. In fact, eggs are a standard in almost all fried recipes to some degree, but not everyone can eat them due to dietary reasons. Many recipes on the internet claim to have alternative ingredients to eggs that will perform just as well. This raises the question, “What is the best substitute for eggs in fried chicken?”
The best substitute for eggs in fried chicken includes plain milk, yogurt, and heavy cream. If you are vegan, a good alternative for eggs in fried chicken can be things such as applesauce and even tomato paste. In this article, we will explore the role that eggs provide in fried chicken recipes and provide more detail on your options for replacing eggs in this traditional southern food classic.
Do You Need Egg Wash For Fried Chicken?
Before seeking any alternatives to an egg wash, we first need to understand what eggs do for fried chicken. Eggs are a well-known binding agent, securing other ingredients in place, making them ideal for holding breading. It also helps food retain moisture by trapping it inside. The result is that you get juicy fried chicken packed with flavor.
Not only that, eggs contain various vitamins and nutrients. Some of the things you can find in eggs include:
- Vitamin A
- Good cholesterol
- Healthy fat
Eggs have nutrients that help develop cells and promote good connections within the nervous system. It also has antioxidants that prevent cell degeneration. Because eggs are a high-protein food item, you can eat a large amount of them and not have to worry about calories as much. It is the reason eggs are a regular inclusion for weight loss and athlete diets.
Egg-Free Fried Chicken
As mentioned above, milk is the best substitute for an egg wash as it has the same consistency as eggs, and that helps it become a bonding agent to breading. Other dairy products, such as yogurt and heavy cream, are also ideal as they provide your chicken with a sticky layer for bread crumbs or flour to latch on to.
Milk works well for both dipping and coating. It also contains healthy fat and a slew of other nutrients. Milk also works best as it also helps trap moisture and retains it. You’ll experience all the goodness and juiciness of fried chicken without the egg.
If you have concerns about dairy products in general, then there are also other milk options available. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you can opt for plant-based milk instead.
You’d have to consider that depending on the type of milk you choose, its flavor may change. Sweetened or flavored milk may not suit what you are looking for, and it may take some experimentation to figure which type of milk works for you.
Like milk, other dairy products also produce the same results as fried chicken due to their similar characteristics. The only difference will be the taste, depending on the product you choose. Yogurt can work, but its sour taste may not be to everyone’s liking.
If you don’t mind a high-fat, calorie-dense alternative, heavy cream also works wonders. It creates the perfect surface for your choice of breading to adhere to without heavily altering your fried chicken’s flavor profile.
Best Vegan Egg Substitute For Frying Chicken
If you don’t want to touch milk due to a vegan diet or lactose intolerance, there are other alternatives besides the non-dairy milk options listed above. The same principle remains for each of them. They must work as a bonding agent and trap moisture within the chicken. Some of these work effectively, but the flavor can change. Consider each one if you’re looking for a substitute.
One good alternative that many recommend is applesauce because of the flavor. It adds a layer of taste that wouldn’t be available to you through ordinary batter or breading. Applesauce works well with breading or flour to give you a nice coating.
Similar items to applesauce that have a sticky consistency can also work. Some people use tomato paste, which is an ingredient that works well for all types of meat. Its dense consistency creates a good layer for coatings to stick to. However, you may need to be careful with the frying time as you could end up burning this substitute.
Flour and Water Dredge
A popular and simple coating option is flour with water. Mixing equal parts of water to flour creates a paste that allows the breading to stick. While it does work, it doesn’t have the same flavor or nutritional benefits that eggs or milk have. The lack of fat can also mean a higher chance of the chicken drying out.
Olive oil and other healthy vegetable oils are a good alternative for those who own air fryers, although it is important to remember that not all oils can be used for frying. Oils with higher smoke points, such as non-extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil, are ideal for this and also contain certain types of fats found beneficial for the body.
To use oil as an egg wash alternative, simply slather oil on your chicken, then coat it with your choice of seasonings and breading before cooking them in your air fryer.
Fried Chicken Without Eggs Is Possible
Eggs provide a variety of benefits and are an ideal ingredient for any fried food. However, not everyone can consume eggs, which is why many people seek alternatives. If you don’t have any problems with dairy products, milk is the best option with almost similar qualities to eggs. Other dairy products are also usable, but they may change the taste of the chicken.
For those who cannot consume dairy, there are many other workarounds for getting your breading to stick to your chicken. Some options, like apple sauce and tomato paste, work well with chicken and add a layer of flavor that eggs are not able to do.