Add Moisture and Tang to Your Dishes
It's entirely possible to switch out the oil in many of your favorite recipes with yogurt, but you need to consider which type of yogurt and the type of recipe. In baked goods, salad dressings and many other dishes, yogurt gives you extra protein and extra tanginess with fewer calories than any kind of oil. In some cases, yogurt actually improves the texture of your dish, while at other times, the texture may suffer.
Types of Yogurt
For the most part, plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt works best for substitutions, unless you want a specific flavor profile, such as blueberry yogurt for blueberry muffins. Choose thick and creamy Greek yogurt over regular yogurt for baking because Greek yogurt keeps the texture closer to the original version of the recipe; regular yogurt typically adds too much extra liquid to baked goods. For uses beyond baking, either Greek or regular yogurt work equally as well.
In Baked Goods
Substituting yogurt for oil in baking adds moisture to your quick breads, brownies and cakes. Brownies come out with soft, almost gooey insides; cakes, cupcakes and quick breads are more moist overall. Just a few tablespoons of yogurt give low-fat cookies extra moisture that actually improves their texture. For cake and brownie mixes, use 1/2 cup of yogurt for the oil called for on the box, and in homemade recipes, substitute equal amounts of yogurt for the oil called for in the recipe.
In Salad Dressings
Any salad dressing recipe calling for oil transforms itself into a creamy dressing when you substitute yogurt for the oil on a 1-to-1 basis. Use Greek yogurt if you make a dressing with additional liquid, such as vinegar, lemon juice or orange juice. And use regular yogurt for dressings without any added liquid, such as a creamy ranch, green goddess or cucumber tzatziki dressing. Yogurt adds extra flavor and brightness to any of these dressings.
In Meat and Poultry Marinades
Swap out all the oil for yogurt in marinade recipes to flavor, add moisture and tenderize meat and chicken. The high levels of calcium in yogurt break down the enzymes in meat protein the same way as buttermilk or vinegar. Use regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt for marinades so you have a more fluid sauce, or use Greek yogurt and add a little extra liquid, such as citrus juice or vinegar, to the marinade. Yogurt marinades work to tenderize chicken for fried chicken recipes, for lamb kebabs or leg of lamb, for beef and for pork.
- Greek yogurt is thicker than regular plain yogurt. It is also higher in protein and has a tangier taste than plain yogurt.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.