How to Make Egg Wash: Egg and Milk Mixture

  • Egg wash is a simple mixture of whisked egg and water or milk.
  • When brushed onto raw baked goods, egg wash adds golden color and shine to the finished product.
  • The composition of an egg wash — such as using whole eggs or egg whites — can influence color and shine.
  • Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.

If you’re tackling a baking recipe, namely pastries, there’s a good chance that adding an egg wash is included in the directions. But certainly, don’t let that intimidate you.

Whisking together an egg wash is quick and simple. It’s an important addition for many recipes as it enhances the appearance and adds beautiful golden color to finished bakes. For other recipes, it can function as an adhesive as well.

For advice on how to make an egg wash and when to use it, we asked Erin Emmett, pastry chef and founder of Pistachio Culinary Studio, to share her expertise. 

What is egg wash?

If you’ve ever admired the gorgeous shine and wonderfully golden color of a pastry such as a homemade pie, croissants, or danishes, you have egg wash to thank for that. An egg wash is simply a mixture of whisked egg with either water, milk, or another form of dairy such as heavy cream.

“Depending on the combination and timing, an egg wash can act as an adhesive as well as adding browning color or shine to baked items,” says Emmett. “It’s also used for attaching dry garnish ingredients to the food item like sprinkling raw sugar on pie dough or getting breadcrumbs to stick to a chicken cutlet.”

Different types of egg wash and their effects on a recipe

A large loaf of braided challah bread aside two smaller challah rolls, all topped with poppy seeds

Challah’s deep burnished brown color is achieved by a yolk-heavy egg wash.

SMarina/Getty Images

The composition of your egg wash will have an effect on your finished bake. And there are a few options to consider before diving in. “The more fat in the egg wash, the darker the color and less shine,” says Emmett. “The less fat in the egg wash, the shinier and lighter in color.”

If you’re using an egg wash to enhance the color and shine of a dough while baking, incorporate the egg yolk in the mixture. If you’re simply using an egg wash to bind or seal edges, such as making homemade Pop-Tarts or hand pies, and you don’t care much about the finished color, egg whites alone will suffice.

Insider’s takeaway

Many recipes call for an egg wash, whether you’re putting together a pie, a batch of croissants, or baking a beautiful loaf of brioche bread. Egg wash is made up of a simple combination of egg and liquid, but the composition can vary depending on the appearance you’re hoping to achieve.

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