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What Is an Egg Wash and Why Is It a Baking Essential?

Have you ever wondered what the secret is behind the golden sheen of your favorite pastries and breads? It is all in the egg wash. With one or two strokes, an egg wash adds an elegant finish to your baked products. Read ahead as we discuss everything egg wash, from basic techniques to creative alternatives.

By Cookist

You know a pastry is going to be delicious when you sight a golden brown color on its exterior. But, did you know that the secret to this visually striking feature is an egg wash? An egg wash is a simple mixture of eggs and a preferred liquid base that is typically smeared onto pastry before baking. Discover how this simple yet essential step can transform your baked goods below:

How to Make an Egg Wash for Your Pastries


  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water or milk


  • In a small bowl, crack the egg and add the water or milk.
  • Beat the egg and liquid together thoroughly until well combined.
  • Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash in a thin, even layer onto your pastry before baking.

What are The Different Types of Egg Washes?


Egg wash is a versatile tool that you can modify as needed to achieve your preferred texture and appearance. Therefore, there are various types of egg washes, including some surprising options that don’t use eggs, but that still provide a gorgeous hue for baked goods:

  • Only Egg: Whisked egg brushed onto pastry results in a darker golden brown baked good with a medium shine.
  • Only Egg Yolk: Brushing on whisked egg yolk leads to a deep golden browned baked good with a good shine.
  • Only Egg White: Applying egg white results in a paler baked good with a very good shine. It's useful for creating a watertight barrier on the bottom of blind-baked pie crusts or helping sugar adhere to pastry.
  • Egg and Water: Whisking egg with water produces a golden brown baked good with a medium shine, suitable for various pastries.
  • Egg and Milk or Cream: Mixing egg with milk or cream leads to a lighter golden brown baked good with a good shine.
  • Only Milk or Cream: This is commonly used for brushing on top of biscuits or certain pies, leaving the pastry with a slightly shiny finish without adding browning.

Pro tip: If you are vegetarian, some egg wash substitutes you can consider include water, syrups, oil or melted butter.

Why are Egg Washes Important?


Egg washes serve three major purposes:

  • It enhances the appearance with a golden color and shine. Egg washes are prized in baking for several reasons. Firstly, they impart a beautiful golden color and glossy shine to baked goods, enhancing their visual appeal.
  • It acts as a glue, helping toppings like sugar, seeds or edible sprinkles adhere to pastries, or sealing edges together for a polished finish.
  • They can add moisture and richness to certain types of dough, contributing to a more tender and flavorful product.


Egg washes are crucial to enhance your baking skills. Choosing the perfect egg wash, whether for a golden-brown shine or a tight seal, can transform your baked goods. With options ranging from classic egg and water to customized mixtures with milk or cream, egg washes offer endless opportunities for pastry decoration and texture.

Don't overlook the power of egg washes next time you're baking up a storm!

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