Looking to substitute oil out for a healthier option? This post will give you the 6 best healthy oil substitutes perfect for baking to take the guesswork out for you! Good news: It’s easier than you’d think!
There is nothing better than making a batch of healthy muffins for breakfast or snacks or serving a healthy pumpkin pie at holiday time. Walking into the house when there is a tray of cookies baking is something my kiddos love, too! Delicious comfort food that is good for you just can’t be beat.
And I love showing my family the love through food.
Cuz sitting down and talking about the school or work day (yes, Dustin likes my yummy cookies, too) is pretty special.
To keep within my clean eating lifestyle when making these tasty treats, I’m happy to say that I often use other good-for-you foods to replace the oil.
Sure, there is a place for healthy oils in baking and cooking. But sometimes, for instance, if your goal is to lose weight, you may want to skip the oil. And believe me, when you do, you are not sacrificing the flavor or texture at all.
I say food is for enjoyment and I don’t think you should deprive yourself of treats now and then, especially when there are so many healthy desserts out there – like 50 of them! – to indulge in.
So, read on for the 6 best oil substitutes for baking and then decide on your next recipe! Maybe it’ll be BEST Easy Banana Nut Muffins, yummy Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake, or even the super-rich Chocolate Zucchini Bread!
WHY REPLACE UNHEALTHY OILS WITH ALTERNATIVES?
Unhealthy oils are typically those that have been refined. Refining an oil can mean the oil was bleached, filtered, deodorized, and even treated with chemicals.
But also, when oils are processed, and then processed even more, some will go so far as to become trans fats. And we all know how bad they are for you. Some of the problems they cause are:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- A rise in cholesterol levels
So, you’ve got to avoid trans fats. Other reasons to steer clear are that trans fats may be passed on to the fetus in pregnancy, and studies show that trans fats may raise the risk of diabetes.
Trans fats are commonly known as hydrogenated oils because hydrogen gas is put into the oil to harden it. Products like margarine and shortening are perfect examples. You’ll also find hydrogenated oils in packaged products like cookies and crackers, along with unbelievable amounts of sugar.
When you are baking your own snacks and desserts, avoid over-processed oils. Enjoy the delicious taste of homemade goods baked with the healthiest of ingredients and you don’t have to worry about being fooled by foods that look as though they are good for you when really they are not! Avoid processed foods (which have trans fats) and stick to wholesome foods – you feel amazing as a result.
IS VEGETABLE OIL HEALTHY?
Vegetable oil is not the healthiest oil to cook with. Why? Well, what is called “vegetable oil” is often a combination of oils like canola, soybean, and sunflower. This oil combo contains saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats, for example, have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Ideally, in an oil, we’ll look for omega-3 fatty acids, found to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Flaxseed, walnut, and olive oil are excellent choices.
Yet, many recipes call for vegetable oil. But now you’ll have the scoop on the best healthy oil substitutes for baking.
So, why do we use vegetable oil so often in baking?
Vegetable oil is a common ingredient in baking because it adds moistness that lasts, essentially making the cake or cookies stay softer longer. Oil is 100% fat and that helps keep the consistency of the cake perfect, whether it is to be refrigerated or left on the counter.
WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD OF VEGETABLE OIL?
Applesauce is one of the most common replacements for vegetable oil. Sometimes applesauce is used as a weight loss tool in baking as opposed to a substitute for when you are out of oil and in a pinch. Either way, it’s the ideal choice!
Remember, when using applesauce as a swap for oil, use an unsweetened product. It’s sweet enough without adding extra sugar that you just don’t need.
Puréed pears are another common replacement, as are mashed bananas. Yogurt, flax meal, mashed tofu, and puréed prunes are good options to consider. I’ll cover those more directly below!
HOW MUCH APPLESAUCE CAN I USE INSTEAD OF VEGETABLE OIL?
When using applesauce as a healthy oil substitute, you can use it as an equal swap. What could be easier? My post here tells you all about switching oil for applesauce, including info on calories. And not only that, you can use less sugar when you bake with applesauce because of the natural sugars. So it’s a win-win!
Using vegetable oil in moderation is okay, but if you can replace it, why not?
BEST HEALTHY OIL SUBSTITUTES FOR BAKING
Often, when we want to substitute oil altogether, that is super easy to do since there are so many great alternatives. Take a look:
Any kind of fruit purée, like applesauce, pears, and prunes makes a good substitute. For puréed pears, follow the same scenario as the applesauce, which means an equal quantity of oil can be replaced by the fruit purée.
A prune purée is easily made using water and vanilla to make it a smooth and workable consistency. Prunes are a great source of potassium and are known as an aid to bone health. Sub pumpkin purée for ¾ of the amount of oil you need in a baked recipe but be aware the taste may change slightly.
Vegetable purées include sweet potatoes and butternut squash, two veggies that work well in baking, and have a natural sweetness. Fruits and veggies help fight inflammation and that’s an excellent reason to eat more of them.
This fruit deserves mention on its own since it is used so often. Mashed bananas are great – they add a natural sweetness and are pretty versatile. I like bananas in frothy shakes, muffins, and banana bread with no added sugars. Bananas have lots of potassium and are known as a good energy source. For mashed bananas, if the recipe says 1 cup of oil, use ½ cup of mashed bananas instead.
Yogurt can replace vegetable oil cup for cup (always use full-fat dairy). Yogurt is a fermented food which provides lots of benefits like increasing bone mineral density. I love using plain Greek yogurt to make carrot cake.
Purée one-third cup of silken tofu to replace ½ cup of oil. Vegans can even use silken tofu as a substitute for eggs when baking by swapping ¼ cup of tofu for each egg.
Flaxseed meal is used in a ratio of three parts flaxseed meal to every part oil (for example, 1 tablespoon of oil is replaced with 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal). Along with being a super source of fiber, flaxseed meal provides benefits like managing your blood sugar.
CAN I USE OLIVE OIL INSTEAD OF VEGETABLE OIL?
Most baking recipes work quite well with olive oil as a swap for vegetable oil. Because olive oil can have a strong flavor, some bakers will use half olive oil and half vegetable oil in their recipes. Olive oil also works as a great alternative to vegetable oil in dressings – in fact, it’s the better choice.
CAN I USE COCONUT OIL INSTEAD OF VEGETABLE OIL?
Coconut oil has a rich flavor. It can be used instead of vegetable oil, and in equal quantities. When using coconut oil in a recipe that calls for liquid oil, simply melt the coconut oil and add it to the ingredient mix. When adding it, the other ingredients should not be cold. Otherwise, the coconut oil may solidify again.
TOP HEALTHY OILS FOR BAKING OR COOKING
I discuss the top oils that I use in my post “What is the Healthiest Oil to Cook With?” in case you have a recipe where you want to use oil instead of one of the 6 best healthy oils substitutes for baking:
- Extra virgin olive oil: Always check the label to make sure the oil is pure extra virgin olive oil, and not processed with other less healthy oils. If it’s good quality, know that you are benefitting from the phenolic compounds that help prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Avocado oil: Avocado oil has a lot of good things going for it, such as lowering the risk of diabetes and maintaining the ideal cholesterol levels.
- Walnut oil: Walnut oil is used for salad dressings as opposed to cooking or baking, but it is an excellent oil to keep in the pantry. It is known to reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Grapeseed oil: Known to have anti-inflammatory effects grapeseed oil is often used in muffins and quick breads.
- Flaxseed oil: Flaxseed oil, like walnut oil, is best for things like salad dressings. It’s a great oil to keep on hand because it is heart-healthy.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a great addition to baking. It does have saturated fat – but saturated fat can be healthy – so don’t be afraid to use it!
- Peanut oil: Unless you have allergies, peanut oil can be a good oil for recipes, including tasty salad dressing.
- Safflower oil: Safflower oil is often used for sautéing and frying. You can also use it in baking, although the texture may change a bit. Safflower oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sesame oil: From healthy hair to aiding in the healing of the skin, sesame oil is another good oil to add to your pantry.
- Canola oil: Canola oil does undergo some processing so look for cold-pressed versions of the product. It helps insulin sensitivity and can be swapped out equally with vegetable oil when used in baking.
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