What Is Egg Wash?

And how to make and use it.

May 09, 2023

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close up of a bottle of egg wash

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close up of a bottle of egg wash

Photo by: zkruger/Getty Images

zkruger/Getty Images

By Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

You might have seen baking recipes that direct you to “brush the surface with egg wash,” or recipes for breaded cutlets that tell you to dip the item “in egg wash until thoroughly coated.” But what is egg wash, and how do you make it? Read on for everything you need to know about this culinary staple.

What Is Egg Wash?

Egg wash is beaten egg used to glaze or seal baked goods or to adhere breading to foods like cutlets. Whole egg is beaten alone or with another liquid like water, milk or cream. The wash is brushed over the surface of goods like breads, pastries and pies to give them a shiny browned appearance after baking. A wash can also be brushed on the edges when forming pastries to help seal one crust to another, as it is in hand pies or turnovers. And in the classic breading process, foods like meat cutlets, fish fillets or vegetables are dipped in egg wash before being rolled in coatings like breadcrumbs or cornmeal.

Baking sheet of raw homemade croissants stuffed with chocolate spread

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Baking sheet of raw homemade croissants stuffed with chocolate spread

Photo by: Seva_blsv/Getty Images

Seva_blsv/Getty Images

How Do You Make Egg Wash?

If you’re following a recipe you’re most likely to be given exact directions, but if not you can use these three easy steps.

Step 1: Combine your ingredients. Crack your egg or eggs into a bowl; use a small bowl (or a cup) if the wash is for baked goods and a wide, shallow one if it’s for breading. Add about 1 tablespoon water or milk per egg. One egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water will make about 1/4 cup wash, enough to coat several loaves of bread or pie crusts; about a dozen pastries, rolls or scones and 2 to 3 cutlets.

Step 2: Lightly beat the mixture. Use a fork or small whisk and beat until the color is mostly uniform; a few stripes of egg white are okay, but for the best coverage you’ll want a homogenous mixture.

Step 3: Brush or dip the egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of baked goods lightly with the wash. (Try not to let the wash pool or run down onto the pan if you can; it can taste “eggy” if it’s applied too thickly, and drips on the pan can burn.) For breading, coat the food item first with flour if your recipe calls for that, then place it in the bowl and turn to cover all sides with egg wash. Let any excess wash drip back into the bowl, then roll the item in the breading mix.

What Should You Do with Leftover Egg Wash?

If you’ve used the wash on raw fish or meat it’s best to discard it to avoid the chance of food-borne illness. If, however, it’s not been in contact with meat you can save it for another use. According to the American Egg Board, raw beaten egg will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Place leftover egg wash in a covered container and refrigerate it. If you don’t have another baking project coming up, add it to one of these dishes:

  • Omelet
  • Scrambled eggs
  • French toast
  • Quiche
  • Strata
  • Fried rice
  • Meatloaf or meat balls
  • Pasta carbonara
  • Fritters
  • Bread pudding

Recipes That Use Egg Wash

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

This sandwich features a classic breading process using egg wash and dried breadcrumbs. The cutlets fry up golden and crispy, while remaining moist and tender inside.

Photo by: Ryan Dausch

Ryan Dausch

These savory individual pies get a beautiful golden glow from a traditional egg wash. If you like you can line the baking sheet with parchment to prevent any drips from burning on the pan.

Spinach-Chicken Calzones

The Italian treats calzones and strombolis are almost always brushed with egg wash to give them a delicious browned appearance, as are some Italian breads.

Challah is a bread that gets it’s classic shiny crust from egg wash. Here the wash not only glazes the crust, but also helps the seeds adhere to the surface during baking.

Food Network Kitchen's Ginormous Toaster Pastry, as seen on Food Network.

Food Network Kitchen's Ginormous Toaster Pastry, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

This fun riff on Pop-Tarts gets a shiny, professional looking finish from egg wash. A butter, cinnamon and brown sugar filling couldn’t be easier or more delicious.

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