Additional Science of Recipe

Double-Caramel Flan : Substitution


Oh no! We don’t have eggs to be used as a thickener, but do not fret, we have our substitute cornstarch!

Flan is a delicious dessert that everyone should be able to enjoy! Unfortunately some can’t because of health concerns or because of personal lifestyles. So we have come up with some alternatives to the eggs in the original egg recipes. We welcome you to explore this substitution of our original recipe to this healthier version of flan! Please feel free to let us know how much you enjoyed it!

In custards, the importance of eggs is their ability to coagulate (change from liquid to solid). This makes eggs and yolks be used as thickeners for the custard. A dessert known to be a custard without eggs is insane, right? Wrong! We are going to show you the right way of substituting eggs, and egg yolks in flan. 

In baking, looking for a substitution is not about finding the next substitute an egg could be. In other words, the mistake that most people would make is substituting the egg with a vegan option of eggs. Unfortunately, that would not work. This substitution is focusing on the properties of the egg’s ability to be fried, scrambled, but not as a thickener. In substituting an ingredient, you really have to focus on what it is contributing to the recipe. 

What we will be substitution the egg with is cornstarch. The proportions we will be using for substituting our eggs with cornstarch is, for every egg replaced, we will be using two tablespoons of cornstarch and three tablespoons of water. For every two yolks replaced, we will be using one tablespoon of cornstarch and two tablespoons of water.

Our thickening agent for the revised recipe will not have eggs, but cornstarch. Why does this work? Did you say that? Well, like all the other questions you’ve asked, I am very glad you asked. Starches have a similar property that eggs have with coagulation. 

When the starch is heated in a liquid, its granules soak up the water, swell up, and release long, starch molecules. These factors make the liquid thicken. 

Don’t the tangly molecules seem similar to the protein coagulation in an egg? Mind blowing, right?! In this revised recipe, we will not need to worry about tempering the eggs, or baking. The starch is able to set through a temperature change. So, allow it to be fully cool for at least 3 hours.


Baker, A. M. Easy Vegan Flan (no-bake!). (accessed May 6, 2022).

Daniels-Zeller, D. Thickeners. (accessed May 6, 2022).

6.2a starch. 6.2a Starch | EGEE 439: Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources.

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