This Genius Hack Replaces the Eggs in Your St. Paddy’s Day Irish Soda Bread

Plus it’s cheaper and there’s no shortage of it.

<p>Sara Haas</p>

Sara Haas

If you're going all out for your St. Patrick's Day feast this year, there's a good chance you'll be making Irish soda bread. It's a perfect pairing for Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, and all of that Guinness and green beer  (or green mimosas!). But many Irish soda bread recipes call for eggs, which are expensive and can be hard to find these days, so what's a devoted St. Patrick's Day celebrant to do? Grab your favorite seltzer water and get baking!

What To Use Instead of Eggs in Irish Soda Bread

Eggs can be hard to find these days. But if there's anything that this egg shortage has taught us, it's that there's more than one way to crack an egg. Meaning, we've had to problem-solve and adapt (even forgoing them altogether), and that's not a bad thing. And one thing we've learned is that seltzer makes a pretty good stand-in for eggs in some baked good recipes, including muffins, quick breads, cakes, and cupcakes. This might not be a surprise for some people, since this "hack" is relatively commonplace in vegan cooking. But how does it work?

How Does Seltzer Water Work as a Replacement for Eggs in Baked Goods?

First it's important to know why your favorite baking recipes use eggs. Eggs play an important role in the structure and stability of a recipe, and they also add tenderness, moisture, and flavor. For certain recipes, including Irish soda bread, swapping seltzer for eggs is a substitution that works. That's because seltzer water is serving similar purposes: it's adding moisture, but more importantly, the carbonated bubbles create air pockets, which get trapped in the batter. That bit of space gives the end product a light, tender, airy quality, similar to eggs. Rossi Anastopoulo, Blog Editor for King Arthur Baking Company, adds that another benefit of seltzer water is that unlike other egg substitutes, it doesn't contribute to the flavor or color.

How To Replace Eggs With Seltzer Water in Baked Goods

To use seltzer in place of eggs in your recipes, simply substitute each egg with ¼ cup seltzer water. Be sure to use unflavored seltzer and start with a fresh bottle or can to maximize the benefits of carbonation. And remember, this trick doesn't work for all baked goods, says Anastopoulo. It turns out that seltzer water doesn't blend well in recipes that call for eggs to be creamed with butter, so skip it for these applications, and definitely don't use it for recipes that rely almost entirely on eggs for structure and leavening, like chiffon cake.

Does Seltzer Work as an Egg Substitute in Irish Soda Bread?

Since Irish soda bread doesn't require yeast, it falls into the "quick bread" category. That makes it a great test subject. To put this hack to the test, we made two versions of Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread, one with egg and one with seltzer, and here's what happened.

We followed the recipe as written with one difference: we used ¼ cup seltzer water in place of the egg in one of the batches. After mixing, we noticed that both doughs had a similar consistency, but the egg version had a slightly more yellow hue to it, thanks to the egg yolk. 

After 50 minutes of baking, we found another small difference: The seltzer loaf spread out a bit more during baking than the egg loaf, which led to a slightly flatter loaf. Taste- and texture-wise, we were pleasantly surprised that there was no significant difference between the two loaves.

The Bottom Line

If you're out of, can't find, or don't want to use eggs, use seltzer water in their place for your next loaf of Irish soda bread. It's a substitute that we've tested and we're happy to report works. And once you've had your fill of Irish soda bread, try any of your favorite quick bread, muffin, or cake recipes next!