What is aquafaba? That’s the food question that everyone seems to be asking lately. There’s no doubt that the vegan ingredient has been quietly growing in popularity in recent years. But little did you know that the mysterious-sounding egg substitute is probably already in your pantry right now. When you hear about all the incredible cooking tricks that aquafaba can do, you’ll want to take it out immediately and see how the magic works for yourself.
What is aquafaba?
Let’s cut to the chase: Aquafaba is the water of canned legumes, with its name merging the Latin words for water (aqua) and beans (faba). It usually comes from the water in cans of chickpeas, but some people prefer to use water in cans of other legumes, such as cannellini or soy beans. We know what you’re thinking right now: “That’s the liquid I usually toss right down the drain. That stuff looks disgusting!”
But in reality, aquafaba can be a wonderful egg white substitute when it’s whipped into foam or whizzed in an immersion blender. And with a great egg white alternative comes many innovative cooking opportunities: If you’re not vegan, you probably don’t realize the wide variety of recipes that typically include egg whites, such as mousses, meringues, and brioche breads. But you don’t need to follow a plant-based diet to enjoy the impressive versatility that aquafaba has to offer: It can be used as a thickener, binder, emulsifier, and a foaming agent, among other cooking hacks. We could all use a helping hand in the kitchen, especially when it comes from another one of our ingredients.
Experts aren’t entirely sure yet why aquafaba works so well as an egg substitute, but they suspect that the proteins and starches in the liquid mimic the proteins in egg whites. In any case, it’s pretty convenient that you can get this fantastic egg alternative straight from a can of chickpeas, isn’t it? Even if you’re avoiding canned food, you can also cook dried chickpeas at home using any standard recipe and make aquafaba yourself — here’s a Facebook group you can join to get the best homemade aquafaba recipes in its “Files” section.
Are there any health benefits of aquafaba?
According to Beaumont Health, aquafaba is not a significant source of nutrition on its own. Though it’s made up of protein, starches, and vegetable gum, it doesn’t hold a candle to the nutritional value of an actual legume or an egg.
That said, it’s worth noting that aquafaba contains very few calories, so it can be quite useful if you’re working with your doctor to cut the amount of calories you eat per day. And since it’s such a versatile ingredient, you can up the nutritional value by adding other healthy ingredients to a recipe, such as vegetables and certain spices.
How to Prepare Aquafaba
Interested in using aquafaba as an egg substitute? It’s pretty easy to do. According to Goose Wohlt, the software engineer who helped coin the term “aquafaba” back in 2015, a general rule of thumb is to substitute 1 Tbsp. of aquafaba per egg yolk, 2 Tbsp. per egg white, and 3 Tbsp. for a whole egg. Once you get comfortable with quite literally whipping this ingredient into shape for cooking, the possibilities are seemingly endless. You can make cakes, waffles, cookies, breads, vegan burgers, and more by utilizing something that usually goes in the garbage disposal.
That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that aquafaba doesn’t necessarily replace egg whites in every single recipe out there that calls for the original non-vegan ingredient. For example, Wohlt and other aquafaba fans have been unable to find a way to craft angel food cake from aquafaba. (But hey, you never know — if you experiment enough, you might be the one to discover that highly sought-after secret!)
If you’d prefer to work more with established recipes than with trial and error, there are a few aquafaba cookbooks on the market that you can use to help you get started, including Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water ($14.92, Amazon) and Baking Magic with Aquafaba: Transform Your Favorite Vegan Treats with the Revolutionary New Egg Substitute ($8.66, Amazon).
Prefer to do a taste test first? You might consider indulging in Sir Kensington’s Classic Fabanaise Vegan Mayo ($5.99, Amazon), which is made using aquafaba. You know what they say — don’t knock it ’til you try it!
Next, learn about some tasty superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below: