Flash in the Pan

Don’t discard your bean water


When I hear the word aquafaba, the term for the leftover liquid in a can of beans, my mind reflexively thinks “fabulous water,” which is appropriate considering its many uses, including as an egg substitute.

Egg prices have more than doubled in the past year, thanks to an outbreak of avian flu. As the egg industry scrambles to rebuild its flocks, now is a good time to remember aquafaba and its many uses. You can beat it stiff like egg whites, use it in baked goods and even emulsify it into the finest mayonnaise.

Its egg-like properties are due to the fact that legumes contain albumins and globulin proteins also found in eggs, which allow aquafaba to trap and hold air when beaten. The water from garbanzo beans and other white beans, like great northern or white navy, is used the most because it has mild flavors and whips particularly well.

When using aquafaba to replace whole eggs, measure out 3 tablespoons per egg or 2 tablespoons for each egg white. Lightly whisk to aerate, just as you would with eggs. I’m not a baker, but I’ve had spectacular results from adding garbanzo aquafaba to Krusteaz pancake mix. The pancakes were fluffy and firm.

Most impressively, you can use aquafaba as an emulsifier in a delicious, egg-free mayonnaise that’s easier to make than typical homemade versions. It might be the best mayo I’ve had, and I don’t say that lightly.

My research on aquafaba resulted in many cans worth of garbanzo bean byproduct. Before my discovery of aquafaba, it was usually the other way around, with the liquid being forgotten and discarded. But now, I found myself hoarding the liquid from the bean cans while I figured out what to do with the beans themselves. I ended up making a lot of hummus. The only problem, it turns out, is I needed aquafaba for the hummus too. Hummus, like many other dishes, is better with aquafaba.

Here are some fabulous recipes using aquafaba, including mayonnaise and baked meringue. I’ve also included my hummus recipe since you’ll need to do something with all those leftover garbanzo beans.


Aquafaba mayo

This recipe is more forgiving than traditional mayo recipes. It’s closer in consistency to factory-produced supermarket mayo, and the flavor is spot on. Thick, creamy and tangy, it’s totally perfect. You’ll need a narrow jar or cup and some kind of mixer, ideally an immersion blender.

3 tablespoons garbanzo bean aquafaba
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
One cup oil, such as olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil
Optional: for aioli, minced garlic

In an immersion receptacle or blender, combine all of the ingredients except the oil. Blend for 20 seconds. Slowly add the oil, a teaspoon at a time, until the mixture starts to noticeably thicken. Pour in the rest of the oil and garlic, if using. Blend until it’s as thick as mayo.

Aquafaba meringue cookies

These cookies are sweet and tart and melt in your mouth like cotton candy.

Makes 10 cookies 

1 refrigerated can of garbanzo beans, shaken vigorously for 30 seconds
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Empty the liquid into a wide bowl and set the beans aside for later use. Add the cream of tartar, sugar and lemon. With an electric beater or stand mixer — something more than a whisk — beat the aquafaba until you have stiff peaks. While the oven preheats, dollop the foam onto a parchment-paper-covered baking sheet.

Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool before serving.


1 can of garbanzo beans
The aquafaba from that can of beans, or as much as you can get
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend, adding more oil and aquafaba until irresistibly smooth and creamy. Use water if the aquafaba runs out.


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