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Can You Substitute Vegetable Shortening With Applesauce?

by Nannette Richford, studioD

Nearly everyone knows that reducing the amount of fat in the diet improves health and well-being, but many people are afraid that altering favorite recipes means a loss of flavor. Although any alternation to the original recipe affects its taste and texture, when you substitute a portion of the oils or fats, including vegetable shortening, with applesauce in baked goods, you can retain much of the flavor.


When substituting applesauce for fats, you retain the recipe's flavor and texture by replacing only half of the amount of vegetable shortening. For example, if your cookies call for ½ cup of shortening, use ¼ cup of applesauce and ¼ cup of oil or shortening. Cutting all fat out of a recipe may prevent the food from rising or may severely affect the taste of the finished product. The University of Illinois Extension recommends at least 2 tablespoons of fats per cup of flour in cakes and quick breads to maintain their texture and flavor.


For baked goods, like cookies, cakes and fruit breads, substituting applesauce for half of the shortening may change the flavor slightly. Food may be sweeter than produced by the original recipe because of the sugar content in the applesauce. Reducing the sugar in the recipe may be necessary, even if you use unsweetened applesauce. Applesauce is not recommended as a substitute for fats in traditional rolls and breads, because its flavor may be undesirable.


Substituting applesauce for part of the shortening in a recipe affects the texture of the finished product. Because oil or shortening works as a barrier by coating the flour and preventing it from absorbing too much water, your cakes and cookies may become moister or appear gummy when you replace some of the fat with applesauce. Adjusting the amount of liquid in the recipe typically corrects the problem, but it may require trial and error to determine how much to reduce the liquid, depending on whether the original recipe calls for solid vegetable shortening or vegetable oil.

Need for Fats

Vegetable shortening adds flavor and smoothness to baked goods, but that’s not its only purpose. In recipes with yeast, fats also prevent the carbon dioxide bubbles from escaping the batter too quickly. This helps create soft dough that bakes into a tender and tasty loaf or sweet treat.

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo Credits

  • Lucas Allen/Digital Vision/Getty Images