10 Substitute for Butter in Cakes and Brownies


Baked goods, including cakes and brownies, often contain butter to enhance the flavor, texture and retain the moisture. It also contributes to the increased leavening and tenderness of the products.

However, as butter is high in saturated fats and is a dairy product, people with dietary restrictions or health concerns, or milk allergies may have to avoid butter.

In such a scenario, many substitutes may be swapped in place of butter.

This article will explore different substitutes of butter that may be used in baking cakes and brownie recipes.

10 Substitute for Butter in Cakes and Brownies

This section lists some of the healthier substitutes for butter in cakes and brownies.

It needs not always be a 1:1 swap, and you may have to experiment to achieve the creamy taste and texture.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids, including lauric acid and antioxidants that have been associated with health benefits.

It is the closest to butter relative to its physical properties as it cools as a solid and turns liquid when warm.

In cakes and brownies, swap a 1:1 ratio of coconut oil in liquid form in place of melted butter. Like butter, it will tenderize and leaven the cake.

It is preferable to use refined coconut oil to achieve a neutral-tasting product.

Check this recipe for making a lemon cake using coconut oil.


Coconut oil is the popular choice as a substitute for melted butter in the cake and brownie recipe.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is nutrient-rich and has cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols that are good for the heart and immune health.

It may substitute three-quarters of the butter in most baking recipes that call for melted butter.

It is preferable to use delicate extra virgin olive oil as it has low bitterness and pungency. Also, it may not work in recipes that require the creaming of butter with sugar.

Here is the recipe for making butter-free brownies using olive oil.


Olive oil may work as a butter substitute in baking recipes that require melted butter. It offers a unique depth of flavor.


Applesauce made with apples is low in sugar, high in fiber, and phytochemicals.

It is another healthy butter alternative when baking. It reduces calories in cakes and brownies. It has pectin that may inhibit the formation of gluten and create light cakes similar to butter.

It is recommended to reduce the amount of sugar as applesauce contains sugars. As it has liquid, you may have to adjust the quantity of liquids in the applesauce.

Here is the recipe for making applesauce brownies.


Applesauce may work as a healthy butter substitute for cooking soft recipes, including cakes and brownie recipes. It may cut calories and increase the nutritional content of baked goods.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse packed with probiotics that help with digestive health and heart health,

It may be used as a 1:1 butter substitute in recipes calling for less than 1 cup of butter as yogurt tends to increase the moisture content. It may provide a tangy flavor to the cakes.

When adding yogurt, stir or fold in gently to maintain a creamy consistency. However, it is preferable to use the whole milk version.

Check this link for making brownies using yogurt.


Greek yogurt may work as a healthy butter substitute in cakes and brownies due to its high protein content.


Avocado is a medium energy-dense fruit high in good fats that may promote healthy blood lipid profiles.

It may work as a butter substitute due to its soft, creamy texture and mild taste. When swapping, a 1:1 ratio may work to lower saturated fats and increase monounsaturated fats.

It may not affect the physical properties of baked goods when used as a substitute.

Check out this recipe for making avocado brownies.


The avocado works as a high vitamin and fiber alternative to butter for cakes and brownies. It may be a natural ingredient butter replacer in baked goods.

Mashed Bananas

Bananas are nutrient-rich superfood containing vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

It adds moisture, tenderness, creaminess, and flavor to baked goods. Therefore, it is used as a substitute for butter for dense baked goods due to its high starch content.

However, it may carry forward the banana flavor to the baked products. Also, it may cause the product to bake faster, so reduce the oven temperature or check if the cake is made several minutes before.

Here is the recipe for no butter banana cake.


Mashed bananas may be used to replace some or all of the butter in baking cakes.

Nut Butter

Nut butter, including almond, cashew, and peanut butter are rich in phytochemicals and unsaturated fats that have been associated with numerous health benefits.

It may work as a dairy butter substitute due to its sweet and creamy consistencies. It may help retain moisture and decrease the amount of sugars in cakes.

Check this recipe for making vegan almond butter cake.


Nut butter may work as a butter substitute by adding moisture, structure, and some healthy fats to cakes and brownies.

Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with nutrition-dense beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

It may be swapped for butter in cakes and chocolate recipes, including pumpkin brownies. It adds a nice fall flavor and moisture to the recipe. Substitute ¾ cup of pumpkin puree for 1 cup of butter.

Here is the recipe for making pumpkin cake.


Pumpkin puree may be a nutrient-rich replacement for nutter in making cakes and brownies to enhance the flavor and nutrition.

Prune Puree

Prunes are rich in fiber, vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper, and manganese that helps to support the gut, bone health, and immune system.

It may be used as a butter replacement in cakes and brownies due to its moisture retention, fat reduction, and flavor enhancement abilities. It may be because of pectin and sorbitol content that is effective in retaining moisture.

However, prune puree may darken the light-colored cakes.

Here is the recipe for fudgy brownies with prunes.


Prune puree may work as a butter substitute in dark-colored cakes and brownies due to its moisture retention abilities.

Black Beans

Black beans are legumes that contain bioactive components with functional properties that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It may replace fat in baked products giving a cakey texture. It especially works for brownies due to their dark color.

The appearance, odor, mouthfeel, taste, and overall acceptability of brownies are comparable to brownies with butter.

Here is the recipe for making black beans brownie.


Black beans may be used to cut the fats in brownies and provide fiber, protein, and vitamins. It will give a cakey-like texture.


How does fruit puree work as fat substitutes?

Fruit purees have fibers and naturally occurring sugars that will hold the moisture into baked goods and help tenderize baked goods. This will reduce the need for fat, and therefore, fruit purees may be used as fat substitutes. However, it may cause browning, and therefore, the baking temperature needs to be reduced.

Can ghee be used to substitute butter in baking cakes?

Ghee is the clarified butter that is the preferred cooking oil in India. It may work as a butter substitute in baking, but the cake tends to be crispier as most of the water is removed while making ghee.

Bottom Line

The calorie-rich butter is added to cakes and brownies to enhance the flavor and retain moisture.

There are plenty of healthy and low-calorie foods that may replace butter in baking. You may experiment with different substitutions to see which provides the desired flavor to the recipes.



Show Some Love by Sharing!

About Nancy Miller

Nancy is a foodie by heart and loves experimenting with food. She likes to experiment not only as part of academics but also as a cook at home, sometimes she does not get the desired outcome of these experiments though! But that doesn't stop her from trying more out-of-the-box things. When Nancy entered college, it became clear to her that food was going to be an important part of her life.