3 Lower Calorie Substitutes For Butter & Oil

3 Healthier Substitutes For Butter & Oil
Written by Derek Howes

So you’re attempting to make a healthier version of one of your favorites desserts but have no idea where to start. Lets fix that and start by replacing some or ALL of the butter or oil in your recipe with these lower calorie substitutes!

Before we start the first thing you need to come to terms with is that your healthier version is not gonna be identical. When substituting butter or oil you’re gonna get some slight taste and texture changes but if you master the ratio each time you’ll be able to turn slight into almost non-existent (seriously).

Today we’re gonna talk about 3 of the more common and more accessible ingredients you can use.  I’m gonna give you guys the ratio I start with and the kind of desserts I use them in!

#1 is unsweetened applesauce which I find works best in breads, cupcakes, muffins, and cakes. Now depending on how you like the texture of your cookies, you might consider it to work good in those too (example: The Best Protein Cookies). Applesauce tends to give you a softer, less dense end result.

The ratio I suggest to start with but almost never use myself is 1:1. This means if the original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter or 1/2 cup of oil you would use 1 tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce and 1 tablespoon of butter or 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce and 1/4 cup of oil. The reason I say that I almost never use this ratio is because I don’t mind the compromise in texture for something that has a ton less calories and fat. I usually start by replacing all of the oil or butter at an even trade (if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter you would completely eliminate it and use 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce) and if the result I’m looking for isn’t there then I’ll add 1/4 of what the original recipe called for in oil or butter back in.

#2 is avocado which like unsweetened applesauce also works great in breads, cupcakes, muffins, and cakes. Personally I find that avocado works best in chocolate desserts, they just seem to mask the taste of avocado much better. Using avocado will significantly lower the calories and fat as 1/2 cup of butter or oil has around 8-900 calories whereas 1/2 cup of avocado has around ~120! Your end result with avocado will almost always be super moist AND soft.

The safe bet ratio is the same as unsweetened applesauce which is 1:1 so 1/2 cup of butter or oil would be 1/4 cup of avocado and 1/4 cup of butter or oil. The ratio I prefer to use and have never had one issue with in a chocolate flavored dessert is to completely replace the butter or oil with equal parts avocado. The majority of the time that I use avocado I almost always like the end result better than the original recipe, the moistness you get from avocado is key! As a tip here I will say to make sure that you mash up or completely process your avocado into your recipe.

#3 is Greek yogurt which I have found to work great in everything. the great thing about using Greek yogurt is that although plain fat free Greek yogurt works great, you also have the option of using flavored Greek yogurt to change up the flavor in your recipe really easy. I don’t suggest completely eliminating butter or oil when using Greek yogurt like I do with the previous two ingredients but the standard 1:1 ratio works great in everything I have tried.

The most important factor here is that trial and error is your best friend. You’ll mess up and sometimes you’ll hit the lottery but once you hit the lottery you’ll have that with you for life. Don’t be scared to experiment and try different substitutes with each recipe you try. If a recipes batter looks too dry add in some more liquids to the recipe and if the batter looks too wet then add in some more dry ingredients to the recipe until you think you’ve hit the sweet spot.

  • #1 Unsweetened Applesauce: Safe bet = 1:1 (if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil use 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce) My bet = completely replace butter or oil with equal parts unsweetened applesauce
  • #2 Avocado: Safe bet = 1:1 (if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil use 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of avocado) My bet = completely replace butter or oil with equal parts avocado
  • #3 Greek Yogurt: Safe bet AND my bet  = 1:1 (if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil use 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt)

About the author

Derek Howes

Derek Howes is a personal trainer and chef with over a decade of experience in the gym and kitchen. Derek, who is also known as The Protein Chef on his blog and YouTube channel shows his viewers every week that food doesn’t need to be boring or repetitive, it’s all about balance, moderation, and having the knowledge to change things up. His recipes which have been featured in the news, magazines, and on TV are cheap, quick, AND delicious! His motto in life is “everything in moderation” and is without question the most important habit he follows.

2 Comments

  • I have found replacing butter is easy in baked goods, but do you have suggestions when cooking? For example, if a meal done on the skillet calls for butter (as a flavor ingredient versus a non-stick purpose), what do you do? I try to avoid butters and oils in both cooking and baking…

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