7 Healthier Baking Fat Swaps Photo by Caitlin Covington

Whether it’s to cut calories, explore new flavors, or just make due with available ingredients, recipe substitutions are an inevitable — and fun! — part of the cooking experience. And after trying dozens and dozens of swaps over the past year or so, we’ve even come to prefer a few “replacements” to their original counterparts. When it’s time to satisfy that sweet tooth, consider these healthier substitutions for baking fats.

  • Unsweetened Applesauce
    Swap For: Oil or butter
    Fruit for fat? Yeah. For sweeter recipes like brownies and fruity muffins, this swap is a definite winner. Applesauce offers the same consistency as butter or oil, but with zero fat, a little extra natural sweetness, and fewer calories (though it will add a touch more sugar). It even works in boxed mixes! Try it in some delicious blueberry muffins for a twist on classic flavors.
  • Avocado Puree
    Swap For: Butter
    Doubting this swap? We did, too — until we whipped up some dark chocolate avocado cookies. Mashed or pureed avocado has a similar texture to butter with more heart-healthy fats and a smooth, rich taste that pairs perfectly with chocolate. We’re looking forward to trying this swap in many batches of brownies and cakes to come!
  • Mashed Bananas
    Swap For: Oil or Butter
    This one's similar to the avocado swap but a whole lot sweeter, ripe bananas add potassium and fiber to our favorite recipes. It’s a proven star in sweet stuff, too (banana bread, amiright?). And when combined with other baking fat swaps, it’s easy to make an oil and butter-free banana bread as delicious as traditional recipes.
  • Prune Puree
    Swap For: Butter
    Prunes don’t always get the best reputation when it comes to taste and versatility, but 1/3 cup of prune puree can easily replace a stick of butter in denser baked goods. It’s also great for dark and dense cookies, brownies, and even cakes.
  • Ricotta Cheese
    Swap For: Cream cheese
    Ricotta — even the whole milk variety — is a lighter option than cream cheese when it comes to calorie count. And it bakes into an excellent cheesecake with a lighter, fluffier texture.
  • Ground Flax Seed
    Swap For: Oil or Butter
    Rich in omega-3 fats and with a distinct nutty flavor, ground flax seed is one of the most surprising fat swaps out there. Mix three tablespoons of ground flax with one tablespoon of water for a paste that subs in for every tablespoon of oil or butter. Ground flax is perfect for recipes that already have a strong nutty flavor. And here’s a fun fact: One tablespoon of ground flax plus two to three tablespoons of warm water makes a "vegan egg" and can be used as an egg replacement, too.
  • Marshmallow Fluff
    Swap For: Butter and Sugar (Frosting)
    It’s legendarily sweet, but marshmallow fluff actually contains fewer calories and less sugar than conventional frosting. Bonus: having leftover fluff for some super quick s’mores.

What are your favorite baking fat swaps? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments or tweet the author at @d_tao.

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