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5 Substitutes for Vegetable Oil in Brownies: Healthier Choices

In the culinary marvel that is a brownie, the role of vegetable oil is often unsung. It’s a trusty ingredient that contributes to the moist, melt-in-your-mouth texture so revered in this classic treat.

But for health-conscious bakers and culinary experimenters, the thought of vegetable oil can cause some to pause. Can we achieve that perfect brownie texture without it? And can we do so without sacrificing taste or indulgence?

Here, we’ll explore the best substitutes for vegetable oil in brownies. We’re not just talking replacements; we’re offering a symphony of flavors and textures that can elevate your brownies to new delectable heights, all while keeping an eye on your health.

Whether you’re a health enthusiast, a food blogger, or just someone looking to bake a bit smarter, this is your comprehensive guide to a healthier batch of brownies without compromise.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vegetable oil plays an important role in brownies, contributing to moisture, texture, and flavor.
  • Understanding the differences between substitutes can help create a healthier and more flavorful batch of brownies.
  • Butter, margarine, canola oil, unsweetened applesauce, and yogurt are all viable replacements for vegetable oil in brownie recipes.
  • Experimentation is key; don’t be afraid to try different substitutes and adjust your recipe as needed.

🙋‍♀️ Why Substitute Vegetable Oil in Brownies?

The pursuit of a better-for-you brownie experience starts with understanding the role of vegetable oil in your baking. It isn’t just a moisture-laden filler; it’s a vessel that carries flavors while contributing to texture and mouthfeel.

Each of the substitutes we’ll discuss imparts its own nuances to brownies, from richness to lightness. It’s about understanding these differences and leveraging them to create a brownie that aligns with your health goals and culinary vision.

1 – Butter

Butter is a rich and adaptable pantry staple. When swapped for vegetable oil, it brings a deeply indulgent taste to brownies, hinting at caramelization that only butter can achieve. This exchange results in a cakey yet rich brownie, favored by those who appreciate classic flavors.

When substituting, replace vegetable oil with melted butter at a 1:1 ratio by volume. Remember to adjust the amount of salt in your recipe slightly; butter already contains salt, and a recipe calibrated for oil may become overly salty if you don’t compensate.

2 – Margarine


Margarine, like vegetable oil, is a spreadable fat but contains less water. It can be used as a direct replacement for oil, and in doing so, keeps the brownies moist while delivering a more buttery flavor than vegetable oil alone.

To achieve the best result, choose a high-fat, low-water content margarine. The unsalted variety is recommended, as it gives you more control over the final saltiness of the brownies.

3 – Canola Oil

Canola oil is a versatile and heart-healthy alternative to vegetable oil. It shares the same neutral flavor profile, which makes it an excellent substitute, allowing the main stars of the show—your spices and chocolate—to shine through.

When using canola oil, employ a ¾ cup to 1 cup conversion from 1 cup of vegetable oil. Canola oil’s lightness means slightly more may be necessary to tenderize and moisten your brownies.

4 – Unsweetened Applesauce

For those looking to significantly cut fat calories and experiment with fruitier flavors in their brownies, unsweetened applesauce is a standout. It softens the crumb and naturally sweetens, providing a brownie that’s lighter on the palate but full-flavored.

Use a 1:1 ratio for substituting applesauce for oil, but be prepared to adjust the sugar content in your recipe to account for the natural sweetness of the apples.

5 – Yogurt


Yogurt brings a radiant complexity to brownies that can’t be found elsewhere. Its tangy quality acts as an enticing foil to the chocolate, while its creaminess adds a smoothness to the texture.

When swapping, use ¾ cup of yogurt for every 1 cup of oil in your brownie recipe. This adjustment may require slight modifications to the baking time and temperature, as the added moisture from the yogurt could affect the texture of your brownies.

Exercise Caution and Curiosity

Substituting oils in baking is as much art as it is science. Each replacement has its strengths, but balanced indulgence is the key. Be mindful of the moisture content in your batter—too much or too little affects the outcome. And don’t be afraid to experiment; baking is about finding your own signature taste.

making applesauce brownie as substitute for vegetable oil in brownie

Applesauce Brownie Recipe

A healthier take on classic brownies by replacing vegetable oil with unsweetened applesauce, resulting in a lighter and fruitier taste.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9 brownies
Calories 139 kcal


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine unsweetened applesauce and sugar.
  • Add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Stir in vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until just combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool before slicing into 9 equal brownies.
  • Enjoy your healthier version of brownies! Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


  • If desired, you can add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the batter before baking for added texture and flavor.
  • You may need to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe depending on the sweetness of your applesauce. If using sweetened applesauce, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup. Overall, experiment with the ratio of sugar to find your preferred level of sweetness.
  • For an even healthier option, you can use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour.
  • Baking time may vary depending on your oven and the type of baking pan used. Keep an eye on the brownies towards the end to ensure they do not overbake.


Serving: 1brownieCalories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 3gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 92mgPotassium: 81mgFiber: 2gSugar: 24gVitamin A: 57IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Keyword applesauce brownie
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5 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Always looking for ways to make my favorite treats a bit healthier! Avocado oil in brownies sounds intriguing. Does it affect the texture at all? Would love to hear your experiences!

Andrew Gray

Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Avocado oil is fantastic in brownies! It keeps them moist and adds a subtle buttery flavor without overpowering the chocolate. It's a healthier choice that doesn't compromise on taste.