100 Techniques

Technique #44: Use Aquafaba for Body and Structure

From cupcakes to vegan cocktails, this starchy chickpea liquid has a ton of uses.

Published Sept. 18, 2023.

This is Technique #44 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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Aquawhatta? Aquafaba is the liquid that comes in a can of chickpeas—and it’s aqua-fabulous. This starchy liquid binds and whips just like eggs, giving baked items structure and a fluffy, lofty crumb. It's one of our secrets for vegan baked goods so superlative you’d never know they are egg-free.

You can use it to make everything from rich chocolate cupcakes to breakfast-worthy blueberry muffins to delicate dessert meringues. 

But it’s not just for baked goods: This starchy stuff is a great binder used straight from the can, bringing rich body and thicker texture to items as diverse as pasta dishes, vegan mayonnaise, and even cocktails.

Here's how to get the most out of that liquid gold.

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Shake and Stabilize

It's important to shake the unopened can of chickpeas well. The starches in the liquid settle in the can, so to take full advantage, you need them evenly distributed throughout the liquid. Drain the beans through a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and reserve for another use. Whisk the liquid, and then measure.

If you're baking with aquafaba, you'll need a stabilizing ingredient to whip it properly. When we're whipping eggs, we often turn to cream of tartar. Happily, we found that cream of tartar works equally well with aquafaba.

The Science Behind Aquafaba Foam

The proteins in aquafaba denature when combined with cream of tartar, so they're able to trap air bubbles to create a stable, stiff, and fluffy foam. The starches in aquafaba help reinforce this structure.

And because aquafaba contains some naturally occurring sugar, it's hygroscopic, which limits the foam's tendency to weep liquid and collapse.

Use Canned (Not Dried) Chickpeas

In testing, we had good results with chickpea liquid from every can of chickpeas we tried (organic brands and those with preservatives, salted and no-salt-added brands) except for Progresso, which didn't consistently whip up to a foam.

We also couldn’t create a decent foam with the liquid from dried chickpeas cooked at home. And other types of beans don’t work well (yes, we tested them).

Freeze Some For Later

We also learned that frozen-then-thawed aquafaba whips just as successfully as fresh, so you can freeze the liquid in 1-tablespoon portions in ice cube trays. Once the bean liquid cubes are frozen solid, pop them into a freezer bag for future use.

To speed things along, you can also thaw the aquafaba in the microwave (don't cook it, though). Aquafaba will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week

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Step by Step: How to Use Aquafaba in Baked Goods

Now that you know the science behind the technique, follow these steps to achieve whipped egg whites that are perfect for baked goods.

Step 1: Shake and Strain

Shake can of chickpeas to distribute starches. Drain chickpeas through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl; reserve chickpeas for another use.

Step 2: Give it a Whisk

Whisk aquafaba liquid, then measure according to recipe.

Step 3: Whip to Stiff Foam

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk or handheld electric mixer, whip aquafaba with cream of tartar on high speed until stiff foam that clings to whisk forms.

Step 4: Fold in One-Third

For chocolate cupcakes, using rubber spatula, stir one-third of whipped aquafaba into batter to lighten batter.

Step 5: Fold in Remaining Whipped Aquafaba

Watch former Cook’s Illustrated’s Andrew Janjigian demonstrate how to use aquafaba in Pasta e Ceci.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Ready to put your newfound knowledge of aquafaba to use? Try it with these recipes.


Vegan Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes aren't just for kids, and there's nothing more grown-up than ultrarich chocolate cake.
Get the Recipe

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

Pasta and chickpeas is a homey Italian standard. Our tweaks added depth but not fuss.
Get the Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Dairy and eggs are the cornerstones of conventional chocolate mousse. Leaving them out for a vegan version leads to a whole new standard for what this dessert can be.
Get the Recipe

Chana Masala

Chana Masala, the wildly popular North Indian dish of chickpeas simmered until tender in a tangy, fragrantly spiced tomato-ginger sauce, is a dinnertime hero.
Get the Recipe

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

The blueberry muffin never goes out of style.
Get the Recipe

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