Dairy & Oil-Free Baking Guide with Recipes (2024)

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I hear the concerns all the time. People who want to regain their health and find freedom from chronic disease by switching over to a whole food plant-based diet are often concerned that they will never be able to bake and enjoy treats again. Let us help dispel that myth with this Dairy-Free & Oil-Free Baking Guide with recipes.

How to Substitute Dairy & Oil in Baking

Thankfully, that just doesn’t have to be the case, as this healthy baking guide will demonstrate with some great plant-based tips that include substitutes for vegetable oil and dairy-free baking.

While I don’t recommend feasting on sweets every day, there is definitely a place for them in a healthy plant-based lifestyle. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite vegan baking recipes with you!

Whether it’s for a birthday partyor a family gathering, baking is an opportunity to show friends and family just how delicious healthy plant-based food can be. Desserts like Glaze Carrot Cake and Chocolate Cake can indeed still be enjoyed.

The trick is to learn how to bake your favorite recipes in a whole new and tasty way.

It’s the butter, oil, milk, eggs and white flour in everyday baking recipes that we need to get rid of, so what can they be replaced with?

These are some great baking substitution tips to help adapt your old recipes to a new healthier whole-food plant-based version.

Dairy & Oil-Free Baking Guide with Recipes (3)

Replacing vegetable oil and butter

Many times, people new to a plant-based lifestyle try to replace butter and oil with some of the processed vegan butter on the market. The problem is that, while technically vegan, these products are NOT a healthy option.

They are 100% fat and much of it is artery-clogging saturated fat. But don’t despair, because there are healthy baking substitutions that you might already have on hand.

Applesauce can be used as an oil substitute in most cake and muffin recipes. The rule of thumb is to substitute 1/3 of a cup of applesauce forevery 1/2 cup of oil or margarine.

For those readers in countries that don’t have pre-made applesauce, Genius Kitchen has a recipe to guide you through making your own.

Nut butters like almond, cashew, or peanut can also be used, especially with cookies. Just remember to look for varieties that don’t have added sugar or oil. They should have only one ingredient–nuts.

The rule of thumb here is to use an equal amount of nut butter to replace the margarine or oil in a recipe. If it needs to be thinned out a bit, add a little plant milk and whisk to desired consistency.


Aquafaba is a fairly new optionwhich is the liquid from canned or freshly cooked chickpeas. While the flavor is neutral, the consistency is similar to oil, though lighter.Use an equal amount of aqua-faba to replace the oil in a recipe.

Replacing White Flours

White flour is vegan, but it is highly processed and not healthy since it’s been stripped of its nutritional value. The better option is to go with whole grain flours like wheat, spelt, oat, and others.

Definition of Whole Grains and Flours

The Whole Grains Council defines whole grains to be foods that contain all the essential nutritional parts of the whole grain kernel. That means the food must include the bran, germ and endosperm in the process of grinding, crushing, cracking or extruding the kernels.

By definition the word ‘whole’ in ‘whole wheat flour’ means that the entire kernel has been ground into flour. The addition of the word ‘grain’ does not change the meaning of whole wheat flour.–LiveStrong

For those with gluten sensitivities, try using buckwheat, brown rice, millet or chickpea flours instead. This gluten-free baking guide may help.

You can even make your own self-rising flour from whole wheat, unprocessed flour. Just mix one cup of flour with 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Without salt and baking powder, baked goods will not rise.

White whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flours aren’t bleached or stripped. They are best used for cookies, cakes, muffins, and delicate pastries.

Dairy-free baking- Replacing Milk

Replacing milk is the easiest of all.Simply substitute regular dairy milk with equal amounts of almond, soy, rice, or other plant milk to make dairy-free desserts. Soy and cashew milk tend to have a rich creamier texture. Coconut milk is vegan but the saturated fat content is very high, so it’s best avoided.

To replace buttermilk, mix one cup of plant milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or brown rice vinegar and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Replacing Eggs

Replacing eggs can be a little trickier, and it really depends on the function of the egg in the recipe. Here are some options for replacing one egg in a recipe to make some great eggless desserts.

  • Combine 1 tbsp offlaxseed with 3 tbsp. of water and blend in a food processor or blender until gelatinous.
  • For the binding, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and mix well.
  • Use 2-3 tbsp. of mashed banana in baked goods like muffins.
  • Substitute 3 tbsp. of aqua-faba for each egg in a recipe.
  • Powdered egg replacers can also be purchased at many health food stores.

Preparing Baking Pans

To keep baking completely oil-free, you will want to use parchment paper, non-stick pans, or silicone baking pans.

Yes, I know that can of cooking spray in your cabinet says fat-free, but let’s think about it for just a minute.

What is in that can of spray? It’s oil!And how much fat is in all oils? It’s 100% fat!

So how do the manufacturers get away with saying it is fat-free? They make serving sizes completely unrealistic.

Dairy & Oil-Free Baking Guide with Recipes (7)

Turn the can around and look at what they call a serving size. Most cans of cooking spray say a serving size is 1/3 to 1/4 of a second. I am serious, just go look at your can.

Current regulations say that if there are only traces of fat in a serving size, manufacturers can round that down to zero. One-fourth of a second of cooking spray is not a realistic serving size and saying it is is downright deceiving.

So, to avoid using that 100% fat cooking spray, there are a couple of different substitutes for vegetable oil. Try lining baking pans with parchment paper. I do this all the time with great success.

Dairy & Oil-Free Baking Guide with Recipes (8)

Another option would be to use non-stick pans or silicone baking sheets that enable cakes, muffins, and casseroles to slide right out of the pan without sticking.

I often use a silicone baking pan when baking muffins and cakes to keep my desserts completely oil-free. No cooking sprays are required at all.

Tips to Get Started

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some recipes will take some tweaking to find out what works best.It takes time to figure out the right balance for each recipe because no two are exactly alike. In time, you will discover that healthy dairy-free baking can be a lot of fun with these baking tips!
  • Be adventurous and don’t give up. You will have wonderfully sweet healthy baked goods with a little practice. Healthy oil-free baking can be so much fun!
  • Brandi with The Vegan 8 has some great oil-free cookie recipes, all with only eight ingredients or less.
  • Dana with Minimalist Baker has a recipe forWhole Wheat oil-free bread as well.
  • This Gluten-Free Baking Guidefrom No Meat Athlete might be helpful for those who are searching for gluten-free options.

About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy. I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

Dairy & Oil-Free Baking Guide with Recipes (2024)


What can I replace oil with in baking? ›

  1. Melted Butter.
  2. Avocado.
  3. Unsweetened Applesauce.
  4. Greek Yogurt.
  5. Shortening.
  6. Coconut Oil.
  7. Bacon Grease.
  8. Nut Butters.
Nov 3, 2023

How do you cook without oil and butter? ›

There are so many things you can substitute for oil when sauteing. Water works for a start, but you can also try vegetable broth, cooking wine, vinegar or soy sauce. Not only are you eliminating harmful oils with these options, you're also infusing your food with additional flavor!

Can you skip oil in baking? ›

The most common way to replace oil in baked goods is by using applesauce or mashed banana. Other fruit purees work too, but most of them add more flavor – apple and banana are neutral enough to not overpower other flavors.

What happens if you bake vegetables without oil? ›

When vegetables are roasted without oil the finished product is a bit drier than it would be otherwise. However, finishing the roasted vegetables and adding flavor post-cooking, such as by tossing them in a small amount of high flavor liquid will boost flavor and add complementary flavor notes to the dish.

How to cook without oil recipes? ›

No Oil: Perhaps the easiest of all the categories! Simply sauté your ingredients in water or broth (for soups and stews), or coconut milk (for curries) before adding your other ingredients. This works because you'll be adding additional liquid to cook your ingredients later anyway, namely water, broth, or coconut milk.

What is a substitute for 1 cup of oil in baking? ›

Vegetable oil can be replaced with a 1:1 swap of Greek yogurt or sour cream — just keep in mind that the tartness of these products might alter the flavor profile of the baked goods. If you want to try buttermilk, use ¾ cup buttermilk with ¼ cup of oil or melted butter to equal one cup of oil.

How to make cake without oil? ›

Applesauce: Unsweetened applesauce can be used to replace oil in baking. It adds moisture and sweetness, resulting in a softer texture. Use an equal amount of applesauce as the amount of oil called for in the recipe.

What is a substitute for 1 2 cup of oil in baking? ›

Applesauce: As a general rule, use half applesauce and half fat to substitute applesauce for oil. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup oil, use ½ cup applesauce and ½ cup oil. Bananas: As a substitute for oil (vegetable or other) called for in a baking recipe, swap in mashed bananas for half the oil called for.

Why are people going oil free? ›

Oil is High in Calories and Void of Nutrition

One of the main reasons why someone would avoid oil is that oil is very high in calories. There are, on average, 120 calories per tablespoon of oil. This is a high number of calories for a small volume of food, but calories aren't “bad”.

Can you bake chicken with no oil? ›

Baking: Baking is a fantastic way to cook chicken without any added fats. Simply season your chicken with your favorite herbs and spices, place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake it in a preheated oven. This method creates tender and juicy chicken with a crispy exterior.

What happens if you substitute butter for oil in baking? ›

Butter substitute for baking

Most cake mixes call for oil, but butter will bring in amazing flavor. To substitute butter for oil in baking just melt the butter, measure it, let it cool, and add it as you would the oil. Compared to oil, butter will create a cake with a firmer, cakeier texture.

What is a good substitute for vegetable oil in baking a cake? ›

Best Vegetable Oil Substitute for Baked Goods

You can swap the vegetable oil for an equal measure of safflower or canola oil with zero difference in flavor. But baked items don't require fats with a high smoke point, so feel free to try a more flavorful oil like olive or coconut.

What can I use in brownies instead of oil? ›

Applesauce (unsweetened!) is a popular oil substitute in baking. It's usually used in cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and brownies meant to be moist and slightly denser (i.e., not crisp cookies). It's super moist, low calorie, and will add subtle sweetness without tasting of apple.

What is a good substitute for oil in muffins? ›

Here are some alternatives to oil:
  1. Applesauce: Unsweetened applesauce is a popular oil substitute in baking. ...
  2. Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is rich and creamy, making it a great oil substitute that adds moisture and a tangy flavor. ...
  3. Mashed Banana: Mashed ripe banana can work as a natural sweetener and moisture enhancer.
Aug 29, 2023

Can I bake with butter instead of oil? ›

It couldn't be easier to substitute butter for oil using a 1:1 ratio. This should work with olive, canola, vegetable, and coconut oils. Simply melt and cool the butter to room temperature, then continue with your recipe. (If the recipe calls for ½ cup oil, use ½ cup melted and cooled butter.)

Can peanut butter replace oil in baking? ›

Natural seed and nut butter, like peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and sunflower seed butter, are all healthier, less processed forms of fat (especially if you use or make versions that only contain the nuts and sometimes a little salt) that make for a great vegetable oil substitute for baking.

Is oil needed in baking? ›

Fats and oils in quick breads, cakes, and cookies are necessary to achieve the delicious texture of your baked goods, so it's important to substitute them properly.

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