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8 Oil Substitutes to Use When Baking

You likely have a few of these on hand.

Fact checked by Marcus Reeves

No oil? No problem! Though oil is an essential ingredient in so many recipes, just like eggs, oil can be replaced with several trusted substitutes for baking. Typically, oil’s function in a recipe is to keep the baked good moist, so swapping oil for a different ingredient that adds moistness and tenderness can work well, and may even result in a new permanent change in the way you make your favorite brownies, cookies, and cakes. Here are a few of the best and easiest oil substitutes to use when baking.

Related: 21 Classic, Delicious Cookie Recipes

<p>Bit245/Getty Images</p>

Bit245/Getty Images

Melted Butter

Melted, unsalted butter is the perfect substitute for oil, and can even add a richer flavor to baked recipes. Swap in butter for oil in a 1:1 ratio, melting butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Vegan butter or ghee can also work in this instance. Try subbing melted butter into any baked recipe, like this Rainbow Sprinkle Snacking Cake or your favorite birthday cake.

Avocado

Avocado is full of natural fats that can replicate oil and add a creaminess to your baked goods. The swap is simple and can be used in recipes from scratch or from a box. Use a 1:1 ratio for swapping oil with smashed avocado (fresh is best, not frozen or packaged, which may be watery when defrosted or have stabilizers). Note that the fruit’s color can affect the recipe, so only use avocado in something dark-hued, like brownies or chocolate cake, or a recipe where the exterior appearance doesn’t matter, such as a frosted treat. You could also enhance or hide the baked avocado color with food coloring.

Unsweetened Applesauce

Adding applesauce to baked goods instead of oil is a common hack to try, and brings a little more nutrition and moistness into a cake. Pick natural applesauce, which won’t change the flavor of your baked goods too much, and try this hack with bold flavored baked goods, like Cinnamon-Spiced Pumpkin Muffins or an Apple Spice Cake. The swap can be done in a 1:1 ratio, and is easily executed with a boxed mix or a more intricate recipe.

Related: The One Thing You Need to Do to Bake Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, According to Jacques Torres

Greek Yogurt

Whole-fat Greek yogurt is a great swap for oil in baked goods. It’s creamy and rich, and adds a nice texture to pound cakes, cookies, and Blueberry Muffins, plus a bit of extra protein. Due to its thickness, you’ll want to add a bit more yogurt to the recipe than the amount of oil called for. Start with a 1:1.25 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, use 1 ¼ cup of yogurt for baking. If your batter seems dry, slowly stir in a bit more yogurt.

Shortening

If you have shortening in the pantry, it can be subbed in for oil in an equal ratio. Heat the shortening over low heat in a small saucepan until it becomes liquid. Transfer to a bowl, allow it to cool slightly, and then add it to your recipe as you would oil. This works well for sturdier baked goods like Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, Fudgy Brownies, breads, or cakes.

Coconut Oil

Though it’s often sold as a solid, coconut oil is indeed oil that can be used as a liquid, and in an equal ratio to other cooking oils. Microwave the desired quantity in brief increments to ensure the coconut oil is liquid, and stir it into your recipe as directed. Coconut oil has a neutral flavor, and can be used in most recipes, though it may add a heaviness to anything fluffy (like sheet cakes) that changes the end result. 

Related: 8 Clever Uses for Coconut Oil (That Are Almost Too Good to Be True)

Bacon Grease

Before you dump the liquified bacon grease from your bacon pan, bake with it! Strain out any solids with a small mesh sieve or disposable coffee filter, and then sub the bacon grease in for cooking oil, using half the amount of bacon grease as the recipe calls for oil, a 1:.5 ratio. Bacon grease does retain a bacon-y flavor, so only use this in a recipe where you may want some savory and salty notes—in pancakes, savory scones, or a breakfast bake, this could be a welcome addition.

Nut Butters

Rich, creamy, and a source of natural oils within themselves, nut butters can be a flavorful substitute for oil in many recipes. Use an equal amount of nut butter to replace the oil in any recipe, measuring by volume. If the nut butter feels too hard to measure, microwave it in 10-second increments to slightly soften it. Opt for a natural, unsweetened, smooth nut butter to not alter the chemistry or consistency of the batter too much. This hack would work nicely in baked goods that would go well with nut butter, like Chewy Chocolate Brownies with some added peanut butter, Raspberry-Almond Crumb Bars with cashew butter, or a citrus cake with almond butter.

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