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Substitutes That Help Cut Calories and Fat in Your Baking

What are your favorite foods to bake? Did you know that the ingredients in your foods are what make a big difference in the healthfulness of your baked goods?

We have some baking substitutes that can reduce calories and the fat in your baking making it healthier for your whole family.

We’ll list some common ingredients and then show healthful options you can try.


A substitute for 7/8 cup of regular flour:

  • 1 cup of whole-wheat flour — works in any baking, cookies, brownies and breads. Whole-wheat flour adds fiber and retains all the nutrients found in wheat naturally, unlike enriched or refined flours.

A substitute for 1 cup of regular flour:

  • 1 cup of black beans (pureed) — is a good option for brownies. It adds protein and is gluten free.
  • ¼ cup of nut flour and ¾ cup of wheat flour
    OR 1 cup and ½ teaspoon of a rising agent — works for cookies, sweet breads and cakes. It adds protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and is gluten free. Nut flours (like almond, walnut and hazelnut flours) are heavier than other flours, so when substituting, add ¼ cup at a time, or add extra rising agent (baking powder or soda).


A substitute for 1 cup of sugar:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce — works for many recipes and is especially good for oatmeal cookies. It reduces calories in your recipe. 1 cup of sugar contains 760 calories while 1 cup of applesauce has 100 calories. Make sure to reduce water in the recipe by ¼ cup for every 1 cup of applesauce to maintain the proper consistency.

A substitute for 1 cup of sugar:

  • ½ cup of Stevia — works for cookies, cakes, sweet breads and brownies. It’s lower in calories than sugar. ½ cup of Stevia has only 190 calories.


A substitute for 1 cup of oil or butter:

  • ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce and ½ cup coconut oil or butter — works for sweet breads or muffins. Use it with pre-boxed mixes.

A substitute for 1 cup of butter:

  • ¾ cup of prunes and ¼ cup boiling water (blended) — works for brownies, chocolate cookies and cakes (dark baked goods). It adds fiber and is low fat.

A substitute for 1 cup of butter:

  • ½ cup of avocado (pureed) and ½ cup of butter — works for brownies and chocolate cookies. It cuts the calories and adds heart healthy monounsaturated fats, which help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

A substitute for 1 cup of oil or butter:

  • Start by adding ½ cup of banana (mashed) and mixing the batter. If the batter is too dry, continue to add small amounts of mashed banana until the consistency is right — this substitution works for brownies or cookies. It adds fiber and potassium, and is low fat.


A substitute for 1 egg:

  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water (left to sit for 15 minutes) — works for a variety of foods, including muffins, cakes and cookies. This vegan choice adds protein, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. It’s also gluten-free.
  • 1 tablespoon or flax meal and 3 tablespoons of water (let sit for 5 – 10 minutes) — works for muffins, cakes and cookies. It adds fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also gluten-free.

Whole milk

  • 1 cup of fat-free or low-fat milk and 1 tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil — works for a variety of foods. Reduces fats.

Heavy cream

A substitute for 1 cup of heavy cream

  • 1 cup of evaporated skip milk — works for whipped cream (or use whipped coconut cream), cakes, scones and biscuits. It’s low fat and cuts calories.

If you enjoy baking, plan to experiment with these and other substitutions. You may be surprised at how good they can taste!

Thanks to and for substitution tips.

Meet the Author

Krysta Butkus, MS RD CD is a Clinical Dietitian at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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