How to Replace Fatty Oils in Your Baking Recipes


If you are looking to reduce or completely rid your cooking of fatty oils – like coconut, olive, and vegetable oil – it can sometimes be difficult to think of a good replacement. A whole foods, plant-based diet with no oil has been advocated by many plant-based doctors, and I even attribute much of my successful weight loss to this diet and lifestyle change.

7 Oil Replacements for Your Baking:

1). Applesauce. A time honored classic for oil replacement in the kitchen, applesauce proves itself to be an excellent alternative with many applications. A good rule of thumb for utilizing applesauce in your cooking as an oil replacement is to use 75% of what the recipe calls for in oil. To put this in simple terms, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of olive oil, replace this with ¾ cup applesauce. In most contexts, you will want to use unsweetened applesauce as this does not bring a powerful dose of flavor (or added sugar) to your cooking. From time to time, particularly for baked deserts, it may be worthwhile to experiment with some other applesauce flavors though for the sake of variety.

2). Dried Plums. A pureed prune mix can do wonders for reducing the fat content of your cooking recipe. Much like applesauce, replacing oil is as simple as using the 75% rule. For those unfamiliar with the taste of dried plums, just think about the taste of raisins. There is a similar fruity taste that is not overpowering, another reason why it is a great fatty oil alternative. While reducing the overall calorie count of your cooking, utilizing prunes in the kitchen can allow you to cut back on the sugar content of your recipe (by as much as 25%) thanks to the fruit’s natural sweetness. You can create your own dried plum puree, or purchased pre-pureed plums in a grocery store.

3). Black Beans. I will admit, I don’t usually think of black beans as a binding agent, but more as a meal in and of itself when prepared (like in an Instant Pot pressure cooker). As it turns out, black beans serve the same function as applesauce and dried plums in that, replacing oil with 75% blended black beans can provide you with an excellent oil alternative in the kitchen. Like black beans themselves, the taste is again subtle, and can complement many other ingredients in your recipe quite well. The added fiber and protein content, in exchange for the high fat and high calorie content of many vegetable oils, is an excellent benefit.

4). Tofu. Tofu is derived from soybeans, much like some plant-based milks and ice cream substitutes. Sometimes, it would seem, that the word “tofu” can scare some people away from trying it – especially those not already into a plant-based lifestyle. One reason why tofu is so popular among those eating vegan and vegetarian type diets is because of how it tends to absorb flavor from other ingredients combined with it, and it only offers minimal flavor on its own. For some, eating raw tofu can be a little bland, but it shines best when combined into a larger recipe. As an oil replacement, tofu seems to shine quite well! 

5). Pumpkin. While pumpkin is not a “perfect” oil replacement as it does harbor some flavor, it is excellent for specific recipes – particularly those seasonal ones that begin to creep into the picture more and more as the fall and winter months come along. I know just walking around the local grocery store, pumpkin flavored everything seems to be on its way in. For baked goods, using pumpkin puree as a replacement for fatty oils is a simple logical step. Much like the other replacements, only use 75% pumpkin puree to however much oil is called for in your recipe. If batter is too dry, try adding extra pumpkin puree until…perfect!  

6). Zucchini. A commonly overlooked vegetable, zucchini makes for a great oil substitute. It is naturally moist, and has many properties comparable to veggie oil when used in cooking situations. It does not have too much flavor that comes out in your cooking, so it will only add something subtle to your mix. You can remove the skin (which can be bitter) before shredding and blending. Suggested use is about 1 cup of zucchini for every 1 cup of oil called for!

7). Bananas. One of my favorite oil substitutes is bananas – especially when used in specific contexts like when baking banana bread, muffins, or cake. Having a substantially healthy option that tastes naturally sweet is desired by most who have adopted a whole food plant based diet – in part because many of our “old lives” (mine included) involved way too much artificial sugar and processed foods. Having moved away from this sad old diet of mine to this new diet has changed my life – but like most people, I still crave something sweet now and again. Similar to zucchini, bananas are naturally moist and a great for no oil cooking applications. Use 1 cup of mashed or blended bananas per 1 cup of oil to have an effective replacement.

Replacing oil in your baking does not have to be a painful experience. The ideal replacement ingredient tends to add subtle flavoring – much like olive oil, canola oil, and many others themselves. Some of my personal favorites are applesauce and bananas because of their naturally sweet and savory flavor – it can really enhance a large number of baked goods. The best part of all these oil alternatives? You will reduce fat and calories from your recipes very significantly! 

For more: Check out our recipes section and keep an eye out for new one's we cook up that are specifically for "no oil" meals!