top of page

Holiday Baking Ingredient Substitutions

with Joni Gerken

With the holiday season comes baked holiday treats. I tend to tell people to enjoy their favorite treats, but in conservative portions.A diet consisting of healthy choices most of the time, does allow for some indulgence. Though, for some people with specific dietary needs, making some recipe substitutions can be a good way to get their treats while maintaining their health.

*Hint: Substitutions may affect baking time. So, keep a close eye on your product as it bakes.

Fat (butter and oil) Substitution

Pureed Fruit:

Applesauce or other fruit purees can be used as a substitute for fats, using the same amount of the fruit puree as you would fat. For best results, substitute only half the fat. Otherwise, the texture of your final product will be sacrificed. You can even use vegetable purees in the same manner.


Yogurt can be used to substitute all the fat in your baked goods. For best results use a thick yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, and strain off any thin liquid. If you only have thin yogurt available, reduce other liquids in the recipe. Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese can be used as a fat substitute in the same manner.


This may sound unappealing, but I have used black beans in brownies with good results. The brownies turned out super moist. Use equivalent amount of pureed beans as you would fat in a recipe.

Flax Seed:

This doesn’t reduce the amount of fat, but it substitutes the type of fat. Using flaxseed allows you to avoid the saturated fats of butter and replace it with unsaturated omega-3 fats in flaxseeds. Use 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed plus 1 tablespoon of water for each tablespoon of fat in your recipe.

Sugar Substitution

The only way to lower sugar content of your baked goods and maintain a sweet taste is to utilize an artificial sweetener or zero calorie sweetener, such as stevia or monk fruit. There are many options in the baking aisle of most grocery store. Utilize instructions on the package to know how much you need to substitute the sugar in your recipe. A heads up, when using sugar substitutes, you will see that your baked products won’t get a golden color due lack of caramelization without sugar. Using natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup, or raw sugar won’t decrease the sugar content if that was what your goal is.

Whole Grain Substitution

Substitute whole wheat flour for white flour in volume equivalents (cup for cup). You could substitute all the white flour for wheat flour, but a substitution of only 50% will have less impact on the tenderness of your final product. King Author Baking Company, in the link below has some great tips for substituting whole wheat for white flour in a variety of baking needs.

Gluten Free Substitution

The simplest way to bake gluten free is to utilize a gluten free cake or cookie mix. If you want to make your favorite recipe gluten free, the next easiest way is to use products such as King Arthur Baking Company’s Measure for Measure or Bob Red Mill’s 1 to 1. These products allow for easy substitution in recipes. You can also make your own gluten free flour blend, which often consists of a rice flour, starch, and a binder. The Food Network, in the link below has some great tips on gluten free baking as well as a recipe for gluten free flour mix.

11 views0 comments


bottom of page