What is Aquafaba and How Do You Use It?

Lentine Alexis
by Lentine Alexis
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What is Aquafaba and How Do You Use It?

You know that murky liquid leftover in a can of chickpeas? Well, it has a name, and it’s very on-trend at the moment. Yes, aquafaba is what it’s called, and it’s a protein-rich liquid worth its weight in gold — particularly if you’re looking for a plant-based way to replace egg whites in your recipes. Here’s everything you need to know about using aquafaba.

WHERE TO GET AQUAFABA

Aquafaba is the protein-rich liquid leftover after chickpeas are cooked, and it’s a hot new ingredient in vegan and vegetarian cooking. You can get it in one of two ways:

  1. Drain a can of chickpeas and reserve the liquid for best results.
  2. Cook your own chickpeas and reserve the leftover cooking liquid. (This method is a bit less reliable, because the liquid may need to be reduced or cooked down, depending on how much water was used, etc.)

BEST PRACTICES

Aquafaba’s claim to fame is that, when whipped vigorously, it develops a frothy texture similar to egg whites. In fact, the protein structure of aquafaba is strong enough it can actually substitute traditional meringue in many traditional recipes. Take aquafaba from a can of chickpeas, add cream of tartar (for sturdiness) and either:

  1. Whip it by hand. This takes a bit of patience and time, but it can be done.
  2. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer as you would to whip egg whites. To whip aquafaba you simply place the aquafaba in a bowl and get after it. It will take 3–6 minutes to develop semi-firm peaks, depending on the equipment you’re using, and the starting thickness of your aquafaba. Take your time, trust the process and be patient. It’s worth it.

A GOLD-STAR EGG WHITE SUBSTITUTE

You can add aquafaba anywhere you would add egg whites as a standalone ingredient or as a whipped ingredient to add loft to your baking and cooking recipes. A few ideas:

  • Add a dollop to your pancake and waffle recipes to add loft and fluffiness.
  • Stir a spoonful into cookies to give them a more airy crumb.
  • Try your hand at making meringue to top cakes or to bake up as sweet treats.
  • Make healthier coconut macaroon cookies using the recipe below.

That said, here are a few things not to try with aquafaba:

  • Substituting aquafaba for egg whites in an omelet.
  • Using aquafaba in recipes that contain whole eggs. The texture and flavor will end up off.
  • Using aquafaba to brush the tops of pastries before baking (as with an egg wash).

Eggless Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

For the macaroons

  • 2 cups (120g) packed unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) aquafaba from a 14-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 8 tablespoons (115ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

For the chocolate drizzle

  • 2/3 cup (115g) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or vegan chips)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165ºC). Spread the unsweetened coconut on a parchment-lined sheet pan and toast for 5–8 minutes, until fragrant and just golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Transfer the coconut to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blend together the coconut with half of the maple syrup until a nice dough forms. Be careful not to overmix. You don’t want coconut butter — just a nice, chunky, moist dough. Set the coconut aside while you whip the aquafaba.

In a large bowl or a stand mixer whip the aquafaba with the cream of tartar. This will take a few minutes, be patient and make sure to whip the mixture at the very bottom of the bowl. Then the aquafaba starts to transform into a fluffy, white mixture. When firmish peaks form and the mixture is very fluffy, add the remainder of maple syrup, the vanilla and salt. Whip again to incorporate. Lastly, add the 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, whipping one last time to mix.

Next, incorporate the coconut mixture. You’ll want to do this incrementally to prevent deflating the aquafaba. Add 1/2 of the coconut, and fold gently with a spatula. Then, add the remaining coconut by the spoonful, watching the texture as you go. You want a nice moist, cohesive dough that doesn’t have too much excess liquid, and isn’t too dry either, which could cause your cookies will crack and break. If you need moisture, add a small bit more maple syrup, mixing gently. If you need to absorb water, add a tiny bit more unsweetened coconut.

Now, scoop and bake your cookies. Use a heaping tablespoon to portion the cookies out onto the parchment-lined baking pan you used to toast the coconut, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake the cookies for 20–25 minutes until they just barely turn golden, then turn up the oven to 350°F (180ºC) for the last couple of minutes (3–5 minutes) to really get them golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

While the macaroons are baking, blend together your chocolate drizzle. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate with the coconut oil until just liquified. You can do this in 30-second increments in the microwave, or with the bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Be very careful not to burn the chocolate — stir after each microwave interval.

When the macaroons are cool, dip their bottoms in the chocolate to coat; drizzle the tops with remaining chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set, then enjoy! Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to five days in the fridge.

Serves: 22 | Serving Size: 1 cookie

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 118; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 9g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 28mg; Carbohydrate: 9g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 1g

About the Author

Lentine Alexis
Lentine Alexis
Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

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