9 Substitutes for Healthier Baking

Healthier Baking

I’m always trying to find ways to cut back on sugar and fat when I bake.  Not only will it be better for me, but for my free-range diabetic DH.  I can’t keep an eye on him all the time, so I can relax knowing that the cookie or brownie he thinks he’s sneaking is made with stevia, greek yogurt and black beans!

Hope these are helpful to you, too, and I would love to learn about your swaps.


Black Beans

How it works? Using black bean puree in place of flour in recipes is a great way to reduce calories and add fiber to any yummy treat.  If your recipe calls for a cup of flour, try swapping it with a cup of black bean puree!

Works best with: Brownies, cookies


Unsweetened Apple Sauce

How it works? For cakes and bakes, you can reduce the sugar content by up to half when you use apple sauce.  All you need to do is cut the sugar in half, then add the same amount of apple sauce plus about 1/3 more. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1/2 a cup of sugar and about 3/4 a cup of apple sauce (1/2 a cup, plus about 1/3 more).  For this substitution, you will need to cut down a bit on the recipe’s liquids.  Reduce the recipe’s main liquid by about 1/4 for every cup of apple sauce added.

Works best withcakes, bakes and fruit dishes


Mashed Avocado

How it works? Avocados are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are a great source of healthy fats.  Swapping avocado for butter will significantly reduce the calories and fat in any recipe.  To make this switch, replace with a one to one ratio.  For example, if your recipe calls for one cup of butter you can swap it with one cup of mashed avocado.  Just remember, naturally this will tint your batter or dough green, so keep that in mind!

Works best with: Cakes and cookies. With cakes, reduce your oven temperature by 25% and increase your baking time. This will help to prevent your cake from rising up in the middle or, alternatively, caving in. It’ll also prevent the cake from browning too quickly.


Evaporated Milk

How it works: Replacing heavy creams with evaporated milks is another great way to cut out fat and calories.  Use a one for one substitution on most baked dishes.

Works best with: Whipped cream, dessert beverages



How it works? Replacing butter in a recipe with banana results in a nice rich, dense texture which can be great for all kinds of sweets.  Substitute an equal amount of mashed banana for the butter in the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup softened butter, for example, pack a 1/2 cup with mashed banana.

Works best with: Cakes, muffins, cookies, breads. Using banana for butter may reduce cooking time by up to 25%, so keep an eye on your sweets!


Vanilla Extract

How it works?  For most baked goods, you can cut the sugar in half and add a teaspoon of vanilla as a replacement.  This will add just as much flavor without all the added calories!  Assuming a recipe originally calls for one cup of sugar, that’s a reduction of almost 400 calories!

Works best with: Cakes, muffins, cookies, breads


Cacao Nibs

How it works? Cacao is essentially chocolate in the raw.  It’s often referred to as a “super food” because of it’s wide array of benefits (unlike it’s processed counterpart).  Cacao nibs contain no sugar, and very little fat so they make a fabulous substitution for chocolate chips in just about any recipe!  Use cacao nibs one for one in place of chocolate chips.

Works best with: Any recipe where chocolate chips are used.



How it works? Stevia is an all-natural plant based sweetener with zero calories!  Stevia is usually sold in packets under different brands (Truvia etc.) in a granulated form.  This makes it the ultimate, natural sugar replacement.  One tablespoon of sugar is equal to approx. 1 1/2 packets of Stevia.  For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of sugar, you should replace that with approx. 20-24 packets of Stevia, this will eliminate almost 800 calories!  Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so sample recipes before adding too much!

Works best with: Cookies, cakes, muffins, dessert bars, breads


Greek Yogurt

How it works?  Using Greek yogurt in a recipe in place of oil is one of the best ways to cut the fat right out!  The Greek yogurt replacement is barely detectable and makes recipes super moist.  To make the substitution, cut the recipe’s amount of oil by half. Add ¾ cup of yogurt for every cup of oil that you remove from the recipe.

Works best with:  Cakes, breads, cookies


What are your best tips for making healthy substitutions?  I’m always challenged by eggs and simply use egg whites rather than whole eggs. What if I need a vegan/vegetarian option?   Any ideas?

Source:  Jordan at Picklee. Please visit her for fresh, innovative ideas for creating beautiful things & saving money.