I was recently talking with my wife and wondered why and how is lecithin used in baking and cooking. I know how to use it to make bread but I wondered what else it could be used for. So, I did some research and some actual testing to find common ways that lecithin is used in both baking and cooking.
So, how and why do you use lecithin in baking and cooking? The two biggest reasons to use lecithin are to mix two things together that don’t want to be mixed (emulsify them) and to add a natural preservative for shelf life. How to use lecithin is a bit trickier question and is mostly determined by what you are trying to bake or cook and what you are trying to achieve. I’ll go into more detail below.
Why Use Lecithin in the Kitchen?
First, lecithin is a natural preservative and will add shelf life to whatever you’re baking or cooking. If you look at the ingredients of most commercial goods, you will notice lecithin in almost everything. That is because it will add shelf life to products without adding any harmful chemicals.
Second, and maybe more importantly, it is a great emulsifier. “Emulsifier” is a fancy way to say that it helps two or more things mix together better. The definition of emulsifier is “a substance that stabilizes a mixture, such as a food additive used to stabilize foods.”
An example of this is trying to get oil and vinegar to mix together for a dressing. You can put them together and mix them with a whisk and they seem to mix together. However, this emulsion, will only be temporary and soon they will separate. If you add an emulsifier such as lecithin to this and then mix it together the emulsion will stabilize and become more permanent. This is because the oil and vinegar are now bonded together. The lecithin has one side of it that likes oil and one side of it that likes vinegar so it links them together. The best way for me to visualize this is to think of Legos. They have one side that has bumps and one side that receives the bumps. One side likes the bumps and one side likes the holes so it joins them together and holds them there. As you know, there are many ingredients in cooking and baking that don’t mix well or need to be smoother or more consistent so this is why you would use lecithin in cooking. I know in baking bread it will make the dough hold together better and help it rise more making it lighter and fluffier.
Forms of Lecithin
There are three main forms of lecithin that can be used in baking and cooking. The three forms are liquid lecithin, lecithin granules, and lecithin powder. As I researched this across the internet, it appears that each form is preferred by different people. My favorite is liquid because I feel like you can use it for all forms of cooking and baking. Let’s review each of the forms.
Liquid Lecithin – Liquid soy lecithin has a brown or almost light yellow color, almost no odor and a very bland taste. In a glass container I think it has a color very similar to motor oil although the consistency is much different. It is a little more runny than honey and it is messier than honey. It doesn’t come off of surfaces very easily (it sticks to ingredients too as talked about above) and it is hard to clean up. That is one reason I really like the Fast Easy Bread lecithin because it comes in a squeezable bottle that helps prevent messes. Another tip I’ve learned from my wife to avoid messes is to indent the amount of lecithin you need into the dry ingredients and then squeeze the liquid lecithin directly into the ingredients. Liquid lecithin doesn’t need to be dissolved to be used where powder and granules do. Lecithin can be used in cooking to make foams or emulsions (mixtures). One side effect of liquid lecithin is that it may have more influence on the color of the finished product than the powder or granules. Usually this isn’t much of a problem because you use such little amounts.
Powder Lecithin – Powder lecithin is lecithin that has had all the moisture removed from the lecithin and has been blended into a fine powder. Powder lecithin is usually referred to as oil-free lecithin because it has had all of the natural soybean oil removed. Because it’s finer than granules, it usually dissolves faster and easier than the granules. It doesn’t have any color side effects like the liquid but because you need to dissolve it, it will take more time and more effort. Also, if not dissolved completely, it will make foams gritty or with an unpleasant texture.
Lecithin Granules – Lecithin granules are my least favorite to cook and bake with because they require the most effort to dissolve them. I’ve read of horror stories about how long and how hard it is to dissolve the liquid lecithin granules. This is especially true if you are trying to make a foam or drink or even a dressing. For example, I read one story where they used it to emulsify a drink and said it worked great “as long as you don’t mind drinking the granules.” I read about people trying to dissolve it and they ended up powdering it in a blender to get it to dissolve (seems like they should just buy the powder or liquid form). Another story I read said that they couldn’t dissolve the granules in water by stirring for a long time. Then they tried dissolving them by soaking them in oil and stirring. Lastly, they put them in water and stirred them after letting it sit in the water for an hour. With all that trouble, I suggest going for the liquid or powder lecithin. Even if your recipe calls for granules, I would suggest using the liquid and I will talk about substituting the granules with liquid later in this article.
Types of Lecithin
There are several types of lecithin as described below.
Soy Lecithin – The FDA in the US lists Soybeans as a food allergen but soy lecithin does not contain sufficient soy protein to cause allergic reactions. I am most familiar with soy lecithin and therefore I prefer it over the other types. Also, the chemical makeup of soy lecithin and any other type is indistinguishable.
Egg Yolk – There is lecithin found in egg yolks. Eggs are a common baking and cooking ingredient and it’s no wonder that it has lecithin that occurs naturally to help mix things together. You can see this happen in cookie dough when you mix in the eggs it seems to make everything mix better. Egg yolk is approximately 9% lecithin, 16% protein and 50% water, and the rest is made up of fats and carbohydrates by weight. So, a decent amount of egg yolk is made up of lecithin. The only problem is that egg yolk has many other components such as fats and proteins. It isn’t easy to just add egg yolk lecithin to a recipe. You can purchase egg yolk lecithin powder for baking/cooking on Amazon but it is more common as a supplement.
Sunflower Lecithin – Sunflower lecithin is another common type of lecithin. It is similar to soy lecithin and comes in powder, granules, and liquid. Some people prefer the sunflower lecithin just because they hear soy and think it could cause allergic reactions. Also, sunflower lecithin can be made in a similar method to olive oil using a cold pressing system and many claim this raw process makes it superior to soy lecithin.
How to use lecithin in baking recipes
Most baking recipes use either a flour or starch (for gluten free). To use liquid lecithin in baking I suggest you use this simple ratio of about 1.5% of lecithin by weight of the flour (great weight charts found here weight conversion found here). For example, if your bread recipe calls for five cups of bread flour and one cup of bread flour weighs 120 grams then the total weight of the bread flour is 600 grams. Therefore, you would need about 1.5% of that weight in liquid lecithin. That is about 2 teaspoons which would weigh about 9 grams (1.5% of 600). Now, if you are using a powder or granule form then you should only use about 65% of the liquid conversion. I find it easiest to start with the liquid conversion and then just multiply it by .65.
How to use lecithin in cooking froths, foams, or airs
Foams are great in cooking for three reasons. 1) They feel lighter than a plain sauce. 2) They add texture. 3) They spice up a plate with design and decoration. Lecithin is perfect for converting juices and watery liquids to froths, foams, or airs. You can use lecithin to make bubbles and create stable froths that have the bubbles that can last from 30 minutes up to an hour. The ratio of liquid lecithin to use in a froth, foam, or air is about 1% by weight. So for every 100 grams of liquid that you are foaming, you should add 1 gram of liquid lecithin. Again, for powders or granules, you should convert that to 65% or .65 grams. You should whisk or blend the foam to get the air bubbles to form. Some great examples of foams that you can make are basil foam, lemon foam, corn foam, mustard airs, etc. Hint, if your foam is collapsing, try using less lecithin first.
How to use lecithin in mixtures or emulsions.
An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that don’t want to stay mixed together and typically don’t. Lecithin comes in handy here as mentioned above to keep these ingredients mixed and held together (think Lego blocks). The ratio for emulsions is 1% of liquid lecithin by weight. For example, 1 gram of liquid lecithin to 100 grams of liquid emulsion. You should see the emulsion start to stabilize and smooth out immediately upon adding the lecithin. Again, a 65% conversion rate of powder or granulated lecithin should be used. Common emulsions in cooking are salad dressing (such as vinaigrettes, vegan ranch dressing), chocolates, vegan mayonnaise, icings, frostings, ice creams, margarine, and confections.
Hopefully this will answer your questions about how and why to use lecithin in cooking and baking. I know I was a little confused before I researched this and experimented with it. I’ve tried to consolidate what I found here and I tried to have it make sense to a below average baker like myself. I would love your comments to know if I helped you.
How do I add the liquid lecithin? To the flour or the liquid, or does it matter?
You can add it to the mixed dry ingredients. That seems to work best.
If it is granular, take 3-4 tablespoons of your measured water and mix it with the lecithin in a little prep cup. After about 5-10 minutes the granules will “gel” in the water then you can mix it in with the other ingredients. I usually measure my water first and let the lecithin dissolve while measuring the other ingredients and letting the yeast proof.
If you just add the granules without hydrating them, they never dissolve and you will have a sticky mess.
Thanks Gracie, I think I’ll stick to the liquid lecithin to avoid the extra steps. After all, this is Fast Easy Bread! Happy Baking!
The measurements, you mentioned refers to how many grams of wheat flour and how many grams of lecithin?
hi, how to use it in sugar glazing ? is the ratio still about 1,5% by weight of the sugar?
Which would I use for hard candy and how much do I use?
How much Liquid Sunflower lecithin oil for 3 cups of flour . . . it’s a simple question and yet I can’t get a straight forward answer anywhere
About 1 tsp for 3 cups of flour…we use 1 tsp for 2.5 cups so you could add a touch more but if you’re using the back of your tsp spoon to dimple your flour and pour the lecithin directly into your flour then you’re probably fine.
I’m looking to use lecithin in a product to extend shelf life. The issue with the product now is high water quantity, so should I use powder instead of liquid if I’m already having issues with high water content?
I would try liquid lecithin first and then if that still doesn’t fix the extra water problem try powder. Usually the liquid works better but what is the other ingredient (dry ingredient) you are trying to emulsify ?
Try a product called Glycerol Monostearate. It’s the preferred emulsifier for products that have high water content
Thank you for this. I found a set of lower-calorie pancakes, blintzes and wheat cakes using lecithin in a recipe collection of my mother’s from the late 70’s. She combed magazines for alternative recipes to use while dieting. On the opposit e page of this magazine is an advertisement for Cannon Royal Family International Fashions’ Tulip Sunday when the People of Holland flock to the splendid tulip fields to pay tribute to their flower monarch. The company reproduced the springtime, sun-glazed, warm spectrum-colors of Dutch tulips into lush towels, cotton and no-iron percale sheets and bedspreads. My mother bought these linens. I found Cannon Royal Family linens in her cedar chest. Perhaps this ad will help date this set of recipes using lecithin for lower-calorie pancakes like German Pancake with Peaches and Blintzes with Cottage Cheese filling.
I use lecithin granules and have success by keeping it simple. I use 1/2 tsp. per cup of flour. From the measured water for the recipe, I take 1 tablespoon per 1/2 tsp. of lecithin granules in a small prep cup and mix them together. Let the granules absorb the water while you are proofing the yeast and gathering all other ingredients. By the time you are ready to mix your dough, the granules will be swollen to a gel state and will blend in easily. DO NOT put pure granules directly into the mix. They need about 10 minutes to absorb the water and break down.
Thanks Gracie, I like the liquid lecithin because it is “Fast and Easy.” LOL… See what I did there?
Thanks Gracie. That was exactly the info I needed!
Thanks for the advice.
I’m looking to use lecithin in diy deodorant. After setting the oils usually settle on top of the Dr ingredients. Help, thanks
Yes, liquid lecithin is great for emulsifying the ingredients. Try using it a little at a time until you don’t get the separation after mixing. Let me know how it goes.
Oh my gawd. You’re a freaking genius. I hope this works. I’m going to try this out with gluten free baking and Ice cream. I know that you said 1.5% for baking and .65 for froths and what not. I’m curious if you think it would be the same for ice cream? The .65, and when would be a proper time to add the lecithin. The same time as you normally would for eggs and what not? Do you have any easy recipes to play with that include lecithin. I’m so glad I bought the bottle now. Lol
Thanks! I love being called a genius!
Yes, I would add the lecithin at the same time other recipes say to add the eggs.
I am following this question. I too want to know the ratio for ice cream or recipies.
Did you ever get a response on how much lecithin powder to use for vegan ice cream? Ratio of powder to liquid? Thanks
I’ve never tried it in ice cream. It might be best to try liquid lecithin. I’m not sure what ratio to use on this.
Thank you! I love when I search for something (in this case, “liquid lecithin vs granules”) and actually come across a thorough, well-written article that perfectly answers all my questions. Very helpful! Look forward to checking out the rest of your site.
hi, i want to use lecithin in a recipe for granola bars, i was wondering if you knew what proportion of lecithin i should use. im using it for its nutritional value, binding capability and its ability to make products shelf stable. i dont plan to use any eggs or water.
Tammy I typically follow the rule of 1 teaspoon of lecithin per 2.5 cups of dry ingredients. Hope that helps. PLEASE share your recipe! Homemade granola bars yummy! We are about to launch Sunflower lecithin if you are interested in that!
I need something to extend shelf life of low carb baked goods. Would this work? Thank you
Yes, this is a natural preservative.
Hi Lindsey! I’m a home baker and have found a growing number of my customers have food allergies. I have recently been getting requests for Egg-free options. I have used applesauce for a couple recipes with success, but tried to use it in my “blondie” recipe….epic fail! I came across your article about lecithin and I believe it may be exactly what I need to give my cookies body and prevent them from sticking so bad to my pans. I like the idea of the sunflower lecithin….not a fan of using soy. What is a guideline to replace it for each egg required in a recipe??
I would use 1 teaspoon of sunflower lecithin to replace one egg. Good Luck! I love Blondies!
I’m thinking about using Lecithin to emulsify plant milk and sunflower oil in order to create a cheap plant based alternative to cream.
I try to eat mostly plant based but to cut out the high fat animal products like sour cream or just regular cream is the most difficult because it makes my cooking either bland or expensive (store bought alternatives). This guide is so helpful! I hope this works 🙂
Hi Sophie, That is an interesting idea. Let us know how it goes. I hope it works too.
Hello Greg, you could also use ground flax seed as an egg substitute in baking. You mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons water for each egg. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before using.
For granola bars, are you adding liquid or powdered lecithin and are you adding it to dry ingredients or wet? I am adding a heated oil and sugar mix to nuts and oats (dry ingredients). Thank you for any support.
Do you have any posted recipes that use the powdered lecithin? How much powdered Lecithin is added to a bread recipe that has powdered ingredients? Is it the same conversion – 65% of the liquid so if you are using 2 tsp of Soy Lecithin, then it would 1 1/3 tsp powdered lecithin?
I’ve never used powdered lecithin but from what I’ve seen, you need to create a liquid out of the powder. If that’s the case then just create the liquid and use the same amounts.
What type of lecithin and how much would I need for a cookie dough that has 6 cups of flour? If I read correctly, if using liquid lecithin, I smoosh (for lack of a better term) into the flour before adding to wet ingredients? I’m looking for a preservative. Thanks so much!
I would use 2.5 teaspoons of the sunflower lecithin. I would mix all your dry ingredients and put dimples into the dry mixture with the back of your teaspoon and squeeze in the lecithin for a no-mess trick. Then add your wet ingredients.
Hello his is a new question new person…I bought some lecthin granules, my first time…I had spinal surgery and ant to restore nerve “sheath” I want to try the lecithin in thos egg white clod cookies with choc chips any ideas/ so glad I found this string
What kind of ratio would you use?
I’m trying to put it a cheese sauce, how much lecithin for 500ml of sauce?
I would usually start with a drop per cup. This is just a little bit more than two cups so start with two drops. If you need more emulsifying then add more. You will need very little.
Hi Lindsey, thank you so much for your knowledge, I would like to know how to use sunflower liquid lecithin to give body to my vegan mayo, can you please help?
For 1.5 cups of oil I would use one teaspoon of sunflower lecithin instead of one egg yolk. The lecithin should take the place of the egg yolk in a typical mayo recipe. I would whisk the sunflower lecithin, mustard, and Acids (citrus Juice + vinegar) and salt until completely blended. Then I would try adding just one drop of oil, and whisk until fully blended again and repeat it about 4 more times. Each time ensure that the mixture is fully blended before adding the next drop.
Then I would increase the amount of oil and add about a half teaspoon, and again whisk until blended. Do that about 4 more times. Each time ensure that the mixture is fully blended before adding more.
At this point the mixture should have enough oil emulsified that you can slowly add a stream of oil while whisking and the existing emulsion should stay together.
Let me know how it turns out. Good luck!
Could I use sunflower lecithin instead of eggs when baking cookies? Will this alternative suffice since I know the lecithin won’t have the same protein and fat as the eggs.
Yes! this should work you might need a little water to help mix the dough since I image you are removing the whole egg, not just the yoke.
Is using lecithin gel from capsules acceptable and would 1 tsp of sunflower lecithin be equivalent to the gel?
I am not sure what else is in the gel capsules. I know our lecithin has no other ingredients, its pure lecithin. But I usually add a teaspoon of lecithin per 2.5 cups of dry ingredients (like flour or starches).
How do I mix the soy lecithin granules when making bread dough. In the wet or dry ingredients?
Hi Donna, I prefer to use liquid lecithin because it usually turns out smoother. When adding the liquid lecithin, mix all your dry ingredients and then add the liquid lecithin. If you use the granule lecithin then you should add that in with the dry ingredients.
Happy Baking! Let me know how it turns out.
Did I screw up because I added the liquid lecithin to the liquid ingredients? First time making gluten free bread in a bread machine
That should work… How did it turn out? If not, try adding it to the dry ingredients just before the liquid ingredients.
Hi, any recipe for sunflower Lecithin used in plant-based mylks to help with the separation and added creamy texture for making lattes? Hope I can use it for my business instead of purchasing commercial brands. Thanks!
The liquid sunflower lecithin should work just great to emulsify the ingredients, that’s what it does best. It should make them mix together nicely. I hope you can use it too! Let me know how it goes.
If i use it in making chocolate spread, what if i use 300g of chocolate, how much liquid lecithin should i add..??
I would add a 1/2 tsp. For every 150g it would be 1/4 tsp. Happy baking/cooking!
Curious about this 65% conversion rate when talking about an O/W emulsion using powdered lecithin. In this case, if 1% was one ounce then 65% powdered lecithin and 35% water mixed into one ounce of ‘liquid lecithin’? I understand the part about hydrating it before it can allow oil to bind to it.
I’m not sure I understand the question. Can you please clarify for me?
Apologies. I figured it out by tossing my powdered lecithin and working the liquid type into my recipe. At the time I bought it, I didn’t know a liquid kind was available. Best
Thanks for wonderful article you posted. I want to add Lecithin in cake to make more spongy and moist. How do I go about it?
Also, is it possible to make those Japaneses “Jiggly Cake” omitting eggs totally and using lecithin? If so so how to do it?
What is the substitution ratio of granular lecthin to liquid lecthin?
Hi Denise, Thanks for the question. I would say your powder will be anywhere from 65% to 75% of the liquid lecithin. So if your recipe calls for 3/4 tsp then I would go up by 25% of liquid lecithin because the powder doesn’t have the water yet. Make sense?
Hey, I’m making a 4 oz Herbal tincture/syrup do have any idea how much lecithin to use. I plan to add this tincture to beverages so the lecithin will be diluted But I want to make sure I Add the right amount of lecithin to add to my tincture so my beverages will be perfectly emulsified with my tincture/syrup?
I’ve never experimented with anything like that but if I were doing it I would start with a drop and see how that works. If that doesn’t work then increase it drop at a time. A 4 oz mixture shouldn’t need too much lecithin.
I am so glad I stumbled upon the post. I didn’t realize soy lecithin can be used as an egg replacement in baking! How exciting!
Can someone offer tips on how to replace an egg in 1- cookies, 2- breads and 3- cakes? Is the consistency still the same? I’m so excited to start experimenting!
Thank you so much for this post and all the comments!
Hi Janah, I would try the same replacement ratio. 1 tsp per egg or 1 tsp per 2.5 cups of flour. Let us know how it works. Happy Baking!
Hello, thank you so much for your information. I just want to ask, does lecithin give off an unpleasant smell in foods stored for around 2 months?
If your food is giving off an unpleasant smell, I don’t think it will be the lecithin. Lecithin is good for up to 18 months from when it is filled. It is more likely that another ingredient has spoiled than the lecithin.
Can I use this in edible cookie dough as an emulsifier and a preservative? if so how much
Hi Taehala, yes you can! I usually replace an egg with a teaspoon of liquid lecithin. It acts as a preservative and emulsifier but you may need to add more liquid to replace some of the egg liquid. Try adding a little water to the dough.
Lindsey, I am a total vegan or plant based eater and baker. Have used the sunflower lethicin, but sometimes I come across a recipe that calls to separate the eggs and use only the yolks. Until now I have used only the lethicin , am I doing this right? Have not seen or tasted much difference . Could you answer this question?
So sorry for my delayed response. Egg yolks contain lecithin and you can usually replace the egg yolks with lecithin as a replacement in almost any recipe.
Happy Baking! – Lindsey
I have a question – has anyone ever experienced the liquid Sunflower Lecithin not blending with hot water on the stove? My recipe called for me to add 1 teaspoon of the lecithin to a cup of boiling water and sugar and corn syrup. The Lecithin just kept clumped together. The temperature was only about 170 degrees. Any thoughts???
Im trying to make vegan chocolate. its turned our fairly ok but is missing the hardness n snap you get from regular chocolate. I am making mine dairy n nut free. so am using coconut milk n cocoa powder. would soy lecithin give it the snap ie remove the fudginess that i am still coming up with? If so for say a 100gm of liquid how much soy lecithin to add?
I’m not sure if the lecithin would help with the snap or not. Lecithin is used in every chocolate factory I’ve ever visited and every chocolate label has it on it. I know it helps the ingredients mix together better. If you aren’t already using lecithin I highly recommend it. As I mentioned, I’ve been to quite a few chocolate factories and every one of them uses lecithin.
I use sunflower lecithin in many foods, including bread. My favorite way to use it is in making mayonnaise. It works like egg to keep the oil and vinegar in solution. When I go to the fridge to get my homemade may, it hasn’t separated… looks just like store-bought, but much healthier for you if you use avocado oil instead of soy or other oil.
I need to add Lecithin to Rice Flour to make a consistent dough. Need to make a sheet out of it and cut through a Die. The cooking of dough is with steam.
How much should I add?
Kindly guide me on this.
Did you try the ratio mentioned in the article? “Most baking recipes use either a flour or starch (for gluten free). To use liquid lecithin in baking I suggest you use this simple ratio of about 1.5% of lecithin by weight of the flour (great weight charts found here weight conversion found here).” I’d start there and adjust as needed.
Could I add a tbsp of sunflower lecithin to my keto coffee? I usually add 1 tbsp of keto collagen powder and 1 tbsp of MCT oil to 1 mug of coffee and whip. Would doing this damage the lecithin powder?
I’m not very versed on lecithin powder but if you want to add liquid lecithin I would just add a little at a time until you have the consistency that you want.
Never worked with granular lecithin but for liquid lecithin I have learned the following.
When using liquid lecithin for oil in water add lecithin to the oil, for water in oil add lecithin to the water phase.
Water in Oil 0.2 to 4% by weight
Oil in Water 4% to 8% by weight
If using liquid lecithin you can mix by volume since its specific density is very close to that of water and “A pint is a pound, the world around”. The granular lecithin is twice as bulky so you need twice as much.
Don’t know a rhyme for “A liter is a kilogram”.
Main thing is don’t be in a hurry. Nowadays if possible I use xantham gum instead but it has its own quirks. A booger to mix with water but easy to use if mixed with oil or glycerin first.
The granules are a nightmare when it comes to baking, as, if not completely dissolved, you will get patches of what looks and smells like burnt plastic in the finished product.
Hi, did you ever tried the liquid lecithin for vegan ice cream? I’m trying to figure the ratio to use. Thanks !
Trying to change from ground soy lecithin to liquid. Are the measurements the same?