A Is for Aquafaba

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelsey McClellan)

The name might sound alien, but it’s something that’s been under your nose in the kitchen all this time. Aquafaba is the name for the liquid that’s in your can or pot of cooked chickpeas. And while it may seem like an easily-discarded byproduct of the beans, it’s actually a powerful, surprising ingredient in the kitchen that can aid you in everything from baked goods to cocktails.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

What Is Aquafaba?

Aquafaba refers to the liquid from cooking any dried bean or legume, whether it’s in a can of cooked beans or the remaining liquid in a pot of beans cooked over the stove. Beans leach proteins and carbohydrates into the water they’re cooked in, which transforms that water into a substance rich in those nutrients.

But lately, when you hear the term being tossed around, it’s most likely referring specifically to chickpea cooking liquid. This composition of proteins and carbohydrates gives aquafaba strong emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing, and thickening properties — similar to the qualities you’d expect from an egg.

Aquafaba as an Egg Replacement

Both egg whites and whole eggs can be swapped out successfully with aquafaba. That means vegans, those who just want to avoid eggs, or even those who simply hate to see that nutrient-rich liquid get poured down the drain, can whip aquafaba up into meringue or bake it into a sweet treat like chocolate chip-studded blondies instead of reaching for eggs.