Baking with Chickpea Liquid

By Laura McGuiness

What in the world is aquafaba?

Aquafaba is being considered the greatest culinary discovery in the last 10 years. Aqua is Latin for water and faba is Latin for bean. Aquafaba is the term used to describe the liquid from cooking legumes or simply the liquid drained from a can of beans. You can use almost any kind of bean, but the most common and reliable is chickpeas (or garbanzo beans).

The liquid you've been draining from your beans all these years is actually surprisingly similar to raw egg whites and can be used for baking in much the same way. The liquid can be baked, whipped to make meringue, turned into marshmallows, or used to create uncanny cheese substitutes.

How was aquafaba discovered in the first place?

Born out of the undying search to create a vegan meringue, the secret of aquafaba was slowly unearthed by a variety of people, the most notable being Joël Roessel (a French ténor and chef) and Goose Wohlt (an American software engineer). Roessel investigated vegetable foams, but his foam wasn't stable enough and he was forced to add starch and gum to make the meringue. The technical nature of this discovery prevented a wide audience from adopting it. Goose Wohlt, however, hearing about Roessel's successes, eventually discovered that chickpea liquid was stable enough by itself to act as a replacement for egg whites. Its simplicity was crucial and quickly the world of aquafaba opened up to the general public, spurring a frantic crowdsourcing of sorts.

A Facebook group was created and recipes began popping up in blogs. Aquafaba made it into the news, a book was published, and vegans everywhere were finally enjoying mile-high lemon meringue pies.

What is the science behind this magical bean water?

Aquafaba is still largely a mystery, even to scientists. The proteins and starches in the bean juice appear to mimic the proteins in egg whites, but the exact science leaves something to be desired. What we do know from an analysis by The Norwegian Food Research Institute is that aquafaba is mainly composed of starch and proteins. Because of the high starch content, aquafaba is able to form stable gels, which may aid in its ability to emulate egg whites.

Tips for harnessing the power of aquafaba:

  1. Invest in a standing mixer with a balloon whisk. Unless you have muscles of steel (which you might get after eating all the chickpeas you're about to have on your hands), it will be virtually impossible to whip the aquafaba into stiff peaks by hand. If you can't afford a standing mixer, do some research — I've seen people rig up a whisk and drill to get the job done.
  2. How much aquafaba replaces one egg? This is a great question and also a very important one. Generally, 3 Tablespoons of aquafaba equals one egg. Sometimes, however, recipes call for you to reduce it on the stovetop to make it a thicker consistency. You should also keep in mind that recipes calling for a large amount of eggs (the limit is about three) can be difficult to make with aquafaba because it begins to lose its ability to bind together. There is quite a bit of success using aquafaba to replace three eggs and substituting the last egg with a "flaxegg." This is 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed into 3 Tablespoons of water and placed in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to thicken. Still, for some recipes that require 4, 5, or 6 eggs — it might be difficult — or even downright impossible — to use aquafaba as a substitute.
  3. Aquafaba can be frozen! An ice cube tray is the perfect container to store pre-determined amounts so you know that one cube is exactly 3 Tablespoons.
  4. Chickpeas are the most reliable form of aquafaba, but you can also use cannellini beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc. Experiment!
  5. Many online sources stress the importance of buying unsalted beans, but I have had plenty of success using beans without worrying about the sodium content.
  6. Peaks — knowing your peaks is extremely important when whipping aquafaba. If you search the Internet, you can find many videos demonstrating exactly what soft, medium, and stiff peaks look like and how long it takes to achieve each stage, but the best way to learn is to practice. Eventually, you'll attain a somewhat telepathic bond with your mixer. If you're looking for a video, I recommend referring to Zsu's Vegan Pantry's "The Peaks of Aquafaba."

To break it down for you: Soft peaks take about 4 minutes. When you dip the whisk into the meringue and lift it up, it's bubbly and melts back into itself. It is incapable of standing up on its own. Medium peaks can be achieved around 10 minutes. The meringue will be brighter and whiter. When you dip the whisk into the meringue and lift it back out, it will start forming peaks, but will still fall over easily. Stiff peaks will be seen around 20 minutes, when the meringue is showing ripples that don't fall over in the bowl. The ultimate test is lifting the bowl over your head. Nothing should fall out!

Unlike egg-based meringue, it will not deflate the longer you whip it. It will continue to get stronger the longer it is whipped.

Now that you know all there is to know about aquafaba, feel free to start baking!

Basic Meringue Cookies

(Makes 36 cookies)

  • Aquafaba from a 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup organic granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the mixer bowl with the cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Attach a balloon whisk to the mixer. Start by beating at medium-high for about 10 minutes, until medium peaks begin forming. Slowly pour the sugar in as the beater is running, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Increase the speed to high. Beat until you see stiff peaks and the aquafaba does not collapse.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry bag or a spoon, dollop the meringue into even mounds onto the baking sheet. Bake for 2 hours. If you're in doubt about whether the meringue cookies are done, remove one. It should come off the parchment paper easily and stay intact. Let it cool for a few minutes and then determine whether it is the correct texture. It should be crunchy all the way through and light enough to melt in your mouth.

It is important to store these in a cool, dry place. If planning on keeping them overnight, store in a sealed container. If your environment is especially humid, they may not ever reach the correct consistency.

Total calories per serving: 17 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 4 grams Protein: <1 gram
Sodium: <1 milligram Fiber: <1 gram

Baked Alaska

(Makes 4)

Sponge cake:

  • ⅔ cup aquafaba
  • ¾ cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Italian meringue:

  • Aquafaba from a 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup plus 3 Tablespoons organic granulated sugar
  • Store-bought or homemade vegan ice cream (as many flavors as you'd like)

For the sponge cake: Whip the aquafaba starting on medium-low in a standing mixer. Once soft peaks have formed, slowly add the sugar. Increase speed to high until forming stiff peaks and gently fold in the flour and oil. Pour into a six-inch cake pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.

For the meringue: Place the aquafaba, xanthan gum, cream of tarter, and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whip on medium low until soft peaks form. In a small pot, combine ¼ cup water with the sugar and heat until it reaches about 245 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once it has reached this temperature, you can slowly pour it into the whipped aquafaba with the beater still going on high. Let it continue to beat until glossy and stiff.

To assemble: Using a large glass or cookie cutter, cut 4 large circles out of the sponge cake. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop a hefty portion of ice cream onto each round of sponge cake. Spread the meringue over the ice cream domes, completely covering them. Use the back of a spoon to give it the iconic Baked Alaska peaks. Using a chef's blowtorch or the broiler on your stove, brown the meringue all over.

Total calories per serving: 685 Fat: 21 grams
Carbohydrates: 116 grams Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 51 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Lemon Apocalypse Pie

(Makes one 9-inch pie with 8 slices)

Store-bought or homemade vegan 9-inch pie crust

Lemon curd:

  • 1 ½ cups lemon juice
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 can (13.66-fluid ounces) coconut milk
  • 2 cups organic granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch


  • 1 ½ cups aquafaba
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons agar powder
  • 1 cup water

For the lemon curd: Combine the lemon juice, zest, coconut milk, and sugar in a saucepan and heat on medium-low for several minutes. Once thoroughly combined, pour about half the mixture into a mason jar and add the cornstarch. Close the jar and shake until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. (This prevents the cornstarch from clumping up in the pot.) Pour back into pan and heat for about 15 minutes, allowing the cornstarch to thicken. Once done, pour into pie shell and refrigerate overnight.

For the meringue: Pour aquafaba, xanthan gum, and vanilla extract into a standing mixer and beat on medium-high. In the meantime, place sugar, agar powder, and water into a pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil and stir often to prevent burning. Using a candy thermometer, allow the temperature to reach 250 degrees. At this point, the aquafaba in the mixer should be reaching stiff peaks. Turn the beater up to high and pour the sugar syrup in carefully, aiming between the side of the bowl and the moving whisk. The mixture will deflate a little bit, but it will be thick, glossy, and wonderful. Continue to whisk until the sides of the bowl return to a more lukewarm temperature.

Put the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large tip or use a rubber spatula to spread it on top of the lemon curd. Use the back of a spoon to achieve the quintessential lemon meringue pie look. Using a chef's blowtorch or the broiler on your oven, brown the meringue slightly.

Total calories per slice: 863 Fat: 17 grams
Carbohydrates: 177 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 173 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Chocolate Mousse

(Makes 3 ramekins - individual small baking dishes)

  • 1 cup aquafaba
  • 1 Tablespoon organic granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Fresh raspberries (for garnish)

Pour aquafaba into the bowl of a standing mixer and mix until stiff peaks form. Pour in the sugar little by little with the mixer still beating. While the mixer is going, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave by heating in increments of 20 to 30 seconds. Stir in between heating until the chips are just barely melted. Cool the chocolate mixture until lukewarm. Add the chocolate into the whipped aquafaba gradually with a rubber spatula.

Divide the mixture into three ramekins and place into the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight) until it's light and fluffy. Top with fresh raspberries.

Total calories per serving: 315 Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 41 grams Protein: <1 grams
Sodium: <1 milligram Fiber: <1 gram

Walnut Fudge

(Makes one 9- x 9-inch pan; yields 48 servings)

  • ¾ cup marshmallow cream (see below)
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 1 ¼ cups organic granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup vegan butter
  • 6-ounce vegan bittersweet chocolate bar
  • 2 ounces vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup walnut pieces

Marshmallow cream:

  • ½ cup aquafaba
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ cups organic granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the marshmallow cream: Place the aquafaba, xanthan gum, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until stiff peaks form. In the meantime, place the water, corn syrup, sugar, and vanilla into a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the syrup reaches 260 degrees. Pour the syrup into the meringue as it is being beaten on high, trying carefully to aim in between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Let the mixer continue to beat on high for about 10 minutes. The sides of the bowl should be lukewarm by the time you stop the whipping.

On the stovetop, combine the milk, sugar, and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring frequently, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 236 degrees over a period of about a half hour. When the mixture has reached this temperature, turn off the stove and add the chocolate but do not stir. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until the chocolate melts and the mixture is entirely smooth. Slowly add the marshmallow cream as the fudge is mixing. Lastly, add the walnut pieces. If you find that your mixture seizes up and no longer looks smooth, bring a cup of water to a boil and slowly, Tablespoon by Tablespoon, add the water to the mixture while it's being beaten until it is smooth. This should resurrect even the most stubborn fudge recipe.

Transfer the fudge to a 9"x 9" square pan lined with parchment paper; let it sit at room temperature to set up.

Total calories per square: 76 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 15 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Lemon Dacquoise

(Makes one four-layer cake, serves 10-12)


  • ½ cup aquafaba, reduced from ¾ cup
  • ½ cup blanched and toasted hazelnuts, ground into meal
  • ½ cup + 3 Tablespoons organic granulated sugar
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 1 ⅓ cups organic powdered sugar

Lemon Buttercream:

  • ¾ cup vegan margarine
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 ½ cups organic powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Non-dairy milk (optional)

Chocolate filling (ganache):
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the dacquoise: Pour the aquafaba into a pot on the stovetop and heat until reduced to ½ cup. Blanch the hazelnuts at the same time, toast them, and grind into a meal using a food processor. Sift the hazelnut meal, almond meal, and powdered sugar together into a bowl. Beat reduced aquafaba in a mixer until soft peaks form and slowly add in granulated sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, add the nut-sugar mixture. Pour the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe 3-4 large circles on two baking sheets covered in parchment paper. In preparation, it may be a good idea to trace the circles out before piping. Bake at 200 degrees for two hours, preferably on the top shelf. When finished, turn the oven off and allow them to cool inside.

For the buttercream frosting: Cream the margarine and shortening together in a bowl with an electric mixer. Slowly mix the powdered sugar into the bowl cup by cup. Add both the lemon juice and zest. You want to mix until stiff peaks form. At this point, you can add food coloring or thin with non-dairy milk.

For the chocolate filling: Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave carefully. To prevent the chocolate from seizing up, make sure there is not even a drop of water on the bowl you're melting them in and all your utensils are clean and dry. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for a minute to start with. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir before returning it to the microwave for shorter intervals. Continue stirring in between until the chocolate has completely melted.

Assembling: Once the dacquoise discs are cool, pipe the lemon buttercream around the edges of the disc. Fill in the discs with the chocolate ganache. Repeat with each disc, decorating the top as desired. Top with chocolate dipped candied lemon wedges.

***This dacquoise can be made with any kind of filling or frosting you'd like — be creative!

Total calories per serving: 726 Fat: 42 grams
Carbohydrates: 89 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 147 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Laura is a former VRG intern and continues to do volunteer work for The Vegetarian Resource Group. She lives in California.