Bake to better Health: Fat Substitutes

You can cut out a third to half of the fat in many baked treats by using simple and flavourful fat replacements.


Many baking enthusiasts will attest there is no stand-in for good old-fashioned butter and oil. Or is there?

Trying to find substitutes for the fats in baked goods has been a challenge for decades. Home cooks, looking for ways to cut down on their total and saturated fat intake, have tested their way through recipes made with margarine and other butter- and oil-like products.
We took the concept one step further, testing every fat substitute we could think of on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. We discovered that the best fat substitutes were not just stand-ins for the original—they were even better! Each fat substitute that passed our rigorous testing in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen turned the basic cookie into a brand-new treat, picking up subtle fruit flavours from banana or pumpkin substitutes, pleasant nuttiness from flaxseed, crispness from applesauce, or softness from silken tofu. Here are the fat substitutes that passed our taste tests, each cutting out 1-2 grams of fat per cookie.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies
SERVINGS: 36 (1 cookie each)
CARB. PER SERVING: 15 g, 16 g, 14 g, or 12 g
PREP: 30 minutes  BAKE: 7 minutes per batch    


1⁄3 cup canola oil*
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar**
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar**
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks


1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease cookie sheets; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat oil and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; beat until well mixed, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg whites and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and chocolate chunks.
3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets; flatten slightly. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or just until edges are set and bottoms are lightly browned (centres will be soft but will firm up as they cool). Let cookies stand on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely. Store cookies as soon as they are cool since low-fat cookies can dry out quickly.


To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.


*FAT SUBSTITUTES: Substitute 1⁄3 cup canned pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, mashed ripe banana, pureed silken tofu, or flaxseed meal (if using flaxseed meal, decrease flour to 2 cups and increase eggs to 3 whites) for the canola oil. Store cookies with fat substitutes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
**SUGAR SUBSTITUTES: Choose Splenda Sugar Blend to substitute for granulated sugar. Choose Splenda Brown Sugar Blend to substitute for the brown sugar. Follow package directions to use product amount equivalent to 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar or 1⁄2 cup brown sugar.


PER COOKIE: 102 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 3 mg chol., 62 mg sodium, 15 g carb. (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 1 g pro.

Exchanges: 1 carb., 1 fat.


PER COOKIE WITH PUMPKIN, APPLE SAUCE, BANANA, OR TOFU: Same as basic recipe, except 85 cal., 2 g total fat, 16 g carb. Exchanges: 0.5 fat.
PER COOKIE WITH FLAXSEED MEAL: Same as basic recipe, except 83 cal., 3 g total fat, 64 mg sodium, 14 g carb., 2 g pro. Exchanges: 0.5 fat.
PER COOKIE WITH SUGAR SUBSTITUTES: Same as basic recipe, except 93 cal., 12 g carb., 61 mg sodium.


Test Kitchen-Approved: Try one of these fat substitutes in the Chocolate Chunk Cookies recipe (above). We found that pumpkin and applesauce also work well as a fat replacement in cake and quick bread recipes. Whenever using flaxseed meal as a fat substitute, decrease the total flour by 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup and increase the liquid in the original recipe.
1. Pureed silken tofu
2. Canned pumpkin
3. Flaxseed meal
4. Mashed banana
5. Unsweetened applesauce


Recipes by Laura Marzen, R.D., L.D.

Associate Editor
Easy reading is damn hard writing.