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I often make fried chicken fingers the traditional way with an egg and milk covered cutlet dredged in seasoned flour, however my girlfriend is now on not only a gluten-free diet, but also a hypo-allergenic one which excludes eggs and dairy as well.

My questions is, what are some ideas for an egg-less batter for fried chicken?

For the dry mix, I'm mostly using rice flour as a GF alternative to standard all purpose flour, which is okay.

My concern is with the wet mix, some things I have already tried for the wet potion of the mix:

  • 3 parts cornstarch to 1 part water to replace the same quantity of eggs: This resulted in a good flavor, but lacked the flaky texture I was going for, the batter was very crunchy but smooth on the outside.
  • A mixture of prepared mustard and water thickened up a bit with some of the dry mix: This resulted in the perfect flaky texture that I wanted, but I dislike the taste of the mustard in the batter.
  • A mixture of apple sauce and water, thickened up with some of the dry mix: This resulted in a flavor that was better then the mustard, and a texture that was better then just the cornstarch, but I feel as though the apple flavor makes this option better suited to something like a pork schnitzel than a chicken cutlet.

I do have gluten free bread crumbs as a last resort to help get the texture I want, but I usually prefer to have a bread crumb free batter in my chicken fingers.

What might be a good egg alternative or a good wet mix substitute that will allow for a flaky texture with either a neutral flavor, or one that lends itself well to chicken.

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  • What do you mean by "flaky" breading? Flaky is something I associate with pie dough or biscuits, not fried foods.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:26
  • Hmm, sorry. By "flaky" I mean the external surface of the batter isn't smooth as seen in most beer batters, etc. But rather very rough and crunchy which I usually get with a thick coating of flour and egg. Aug 15, 2013 at 14:31
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    By 'flaky', are we talking about the property Kenji was trying to accomplish with this breading recipe: seriouseats.com/2012/07/… Aug 15, 2013 at 14:34
  • You may wish to look at this article for inspiration. The breading is based on wheat flour (but you seem to have expertise on making those changes), but the buttermilk is not essential. You could use, for example, soy milk. seriouseats.com/2012/07/… The method may apply.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:34
  • Okay, that is odd. But I don't think he used egg.... let me read it again.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:35

5 Answers 5

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It is not necessary to have any egg to make a breading.

You should instead take a step back: rather than trying to create a substitution for egg in a breading which relies on their unique properties, instead use one of the many breading methods which does not.

Among them are:

  • Simply dredging in an acceptable starchy flour (such as corn meal)
  • Using a (gluten free) tempura type batter
  • Using a (gluten free) beer batter without egg

All of them can be enhanced with spices or seasonings that you prefer such as chili powder, garlic powder, and so on. The latter two can even accommodate wet prepared condiments (in reasonable quantities) like prepared mustard or soy sauce.

While the result will not be identical to the classic triple-layered French breading, it can be very good in its own right.

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  • I see a couple Tempura batter recipes that may fit the bill perfectly. I think you're right that I was restricting myself to replacing eggs instead of finding an alternative. Such a prime example of the law of the hammer. Thanks. Aug 15, 2013 at 14:35
  • Buttermilk is also a good breading liquid. Aug 15, 2013 at 15:51
  • @ElendilTheTall Absolutely, but OP specified dairy-free...
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Aug 15, 2013 at 15:56
  • So he did. I'll get my coat... Aug 15, 2013 at 20:45
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Managed to make crispy spicy seitan strips with the 'rough' texture I think is being described: boiled seitan in chicken-flavour stock; dipped strips in a mixture of aquafaba + oat milk; coated in a mix of corn flour + wheat bran instead of breadcrumbs (with spices); dabbed into chilli oil before frying at high heat.

Crispy seitan

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  • Bran would not be GF as poster requires.
    – Pat Sommer
    Jul 18, 2022 at 1:16
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Also you can just substitute out a fat instead of the egg wash, dredge the food in flour, then dip in whatever oil you may prefer (corn, olive, coconut, etc.) coating completely, but be sure to press firmly into the breading (Outer coating). Just to make sure it sticks well; I use this while baking a fried food rather than frying it in oil, just to make sure the breading doesn't fall off while frying.

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Acarajé type mix is a good option. Replaces egg and gluten.

Soaked dry black eyed peas (or another legume like split red lentil) ground with onion, nicely seasoned, with a bit of baking powder, clings well and can handle longer frying times.

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Egg "Wash" is being used as a binder for fry breading.

Basically, the starch (glue) of the egg white allows breading to stick to the food to be fried.

You need something sticky, yet tasty, to replace that egg starch.

Honey, Maple Syrup, Reduced Fruit Juices, Nut Butters, Reduced Sodas, Roux-Based sauces such as Mayo, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, A1 Sauce, etc. will probably work as a binder.

You can also better insure that the breading does NOT come off during frying by FREEZING the breaded food BEFORE frying. Works for deep fried candy bars...

I'd also switch from dredging to breading using a shake down method to avoid contamination of breadcrumbs.

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  • You're roughly right about the egg acting as a "glue", but eggs contain no starch. "Sticky" is not really what you're looking for -- note that eggs aren't sticky -- and most of your suggested replacements aren't really workable. For instance, mayonnaise is basically just oil with a bit of water (and eggs, so another problem there); would you oil foods to get them to stick more?
    – Sneftel
    Jul 11, 2022 at 7:47
  • Additionally, your suggestion to freeze the chicken before frying is a really bad one. It would make it utterly impossible to fully cook the chicken without overcooking or burning the outside. I think you've misunderstood why they do that: the point is to keep the candy bar (which will melt at high temperatures) solid long enough, not to improve adhesion.
    – Sneftel
    Jul 11, 2022 at 7:48

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