When you think of baking, the first ingredient that usually comes to mind is vegetable oil. Simply put, vegetable oil is a staple in baking. It all comes down to its texture, which is light in body and light in taste. The problem is some people want another alternative—a healthier alternative, if you like. And let’s be honest, it can happen that you are out of your go-to baking oil. So, with that in mind, what is a good substitute for vegetable oil?
There have been many debates as to whether canola oil or vegetable oil is better. We won’t go into that debate today. Instead, we’ll look at options for healthy vegetable oil substitutes. They are all simple, and most of them can be used in a 1-for-1 ratio.
How to substitute vegetable oil in baking
As mentioned previously, substituting vegetable oil is quite easy. You can use alternatives for cakes, muffins, brownies, and any other baking recipe. Your main concern is whether the alternative you use is mild enough. You don’t want to impair the flavor profile of the dish you are making.
As noted, most of these options are good for a 1-for-1 ratio. And the best part is you can even pair them together. For example, for 1 cup of vegetable oil, you can use half a cup of olive oil and half a cup of coconut oil. One thing to note: always use light-flavored oils. Dark colored oils have a deep flavor, one that will overpower the taste of your muffins and similar baked goods.
So, let’s check the alternatives.
Olive oil is our first choice as a vegetable oil substitute. One of the reasons olive oil is so good is because of its high smoke point. For frying foods, this is the most important aspect. Just remember, if olive oil is overheated past its smoke point, it loses its health benefits. Olive oil is no longer a healthy oil past its smoking point.
Another point is that olive oil can be rather strong. For baked goods, olive oil is not as good an option as butter, for example. For dressings, marinades, and toppings, however, olive oil is perfect. The replacement ratio is 1-for-1.
Think of coconut as another versatile, healthy oil. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients, coconut oil is one of the best options you can use. It remains solid until heated. Coconut oil has a light and nutty flavor and texture. This makes it a great substitute for vegetable oil in baked goods, as well as when frying meat and vegetables.
When you measure coconut oil, go for a 1-for-1 measure. But measure the coconut oil in its melted, liquid form, not in solid form.
One of the most underestimated oils in cooking has to be sesame oil. Most people use coconut and olive oil for frying. However, sesame oil is another great option. Speaking of frying, sesame oil is best used for stir-fries and cooking beef. The nutty flavor will definitely change the outcome of the dish, but not too much.
For baking, however, sesame oil is an absolute no, as it will overpower the taste of your baked goods.
Extracted from the seeds of the flax plant, flaxseed oil is a great source of soluble fiber. Its laxative effects will help with constipation. The only thing to pay attention to is that flaxseed oil cannot be used for cooking over heat. The reason is because flaxseed is not heat-stable. However, salad dressings and marinades could benefit from flaxseed oil. You can also sprinkle it over grilled vegetables.
This is another oil that you can use as a substitute for vegetable oil in salads, salad dressings, and marinades. You can also cook with avocado oil, but you cannot use it for baked goods. Because it is much more expensive than other oils, avocado is best used in recipes that don’t call for a lot of oil.
All of the previous options for vegetable oil substitutes were not suitable for baking. Butter, on the other hand, is your go-to alternative for baking. You can use it for any cookie, cake, muffin, brownie, or anything else in a 1-for-1 ratio. You will end up with a dish that is crisp, flavorful, and light brown.
Dairy products are another alternative you can try. With the exception of buttermilk and yogurt, you can use ¾ cup to substitute for 1 cup vegetable oil. If you use low-fat dairy products, you will reduce the overall fat and calorie value of your dishes. Low-fat dairy products deliver a denser, drier mix, so you can add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons for a moister dish.
For muffins, applesauce is your best substitute for vegetable oil. Naturally moist and sweet, applesauce can be used sweetened or unsweetened. If you go for sweetened applesauce, reduce the amount of sugar you add to the recipe. An old favorite for trimming the fat, applesauce is used in a ¾ cup-for-1 cup ratio. You can expect your brownies to be spongier and slightly thinner.
Yes, I know this seems like an odd choice. However, remember that mayonnaise is basically oil mixed with raw eggs. If you don’t have any oil on hand, you can use mayonnaise for baked goods.
If you want to reduce the amount of fat in your baked goods, go for vegetable or fruit puree. Using purees adds more moisture to your baked goods, preventing them from drying out and crumbing apart. Most fruits and veggies will get the job done. However, remember that if a fruit has a strong flavor, you will taste it in the baked goods. Some of the frequently used purees include banana, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Use it in a 1-for-1 cup ratio.
Prunes, or pureed dried plums, have a very low calorie and fat nutritional value. They work great in chocolate baked goods. You can experiment until you find the right amount. If you are making brownies, for example, you can even reduce the sugar by 25% because of the sweetness of the prunes. Your brownies will be moist and fudgy as never before. And because they are loaded with vitamins A and K, they will be much healthier.
This is another odd choice. However, black beans are common in Asian dessert recipes. The secret to using black beans is to blend the beans beforehand. Use a food processor or blender and then add the mash directly to the mix. You can also try a mixture of black bean puree and yogurt for a butter replacement. Low-fat baked goods will benefit from the added fiber in beans, improving their texture.