Brownies are a classic treat that the whole family can enjoy. However, they can also be a bit fattening, partially due to the oil content. Whether you’re trying to cut down on fat, or just don’t have what you need in your cupboard, there are substitutions when oil is called for in a brownie recipe. Some substitutions may be healthier than others, but they all work in a pinch.
Butter is a high-fat substitute for oil in baking recipes. Made with milk, butter creates a slightly creamier taste in brownies than oil. For the best results, you want to use melted butter to replace the oil. This helps make mixing the brownies together easier. You can use the same amount of melted butter as oil called for in the recipe. You may taste a little of the butter flavor in the brownies, but fortunately that butter taste goes great with chocolate.
Margarine is made with mostly vegetable fat, making it an ideal substitute when oil is called for in a brownie recipe. It has less calories than butter, but still provides a light, creamy texture. The taste of margarine is so light that it will not affect the taste of the brownies. Like butter, melted margarine is the best substitute when oil is called for in a recipe. It can also be used cup for cup as an oil replacement.
Vegetable shortening is simply solid vegetable oil. The oil goes through a hydrogenation process that turns the liquid oil into a semi-solid form. Shortening is flavorless, so it makes a perfect substitute for oil when you’re baking brownies. For the greatest ease, you want to heat the shortening before mixing it into the other brownie ingredients. The liquefied shortening will mix in easier this way. You can use the same amount of shortening as oil called for in the recipe.
Applesauce is a low-fat substitute for oil when you’re baking brownies. The sauce provides all the moisture the recipe needs for easy mixing without the unwanted fat and calories. The flavor of applesauce is light enough that it should not change the taste of the brownies. Applesauce can be substituted for oil cup for cup. However, if you use only applesauce in the brownies, the lack of fat may make the baked goods taste dry. For the best results, use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil or other oil substitute for every 1 cup of oil.
Pureed banana is another low-fat substitute for oil in baked goods. However, banana has a strong flavor and will slightly alter the taste of your brownies. Puree the banana to make it smooth enough for even mixing, as mashed banana is still too thick to mix properly. You want to use 3/4 to 1 cup banana puree for every 1 cup of oil in the recipe. You can also use 1/2 cup banana and 1/2 cup other oil substitute to keep the brownies from being too dry.
A writer since 2000, Aya Pauli has covered a variety of topics including food, fashion, beauty, health, parenting, education, decor and crafts. Her award-winning recipes have been published in food magazines such as "Taste of Home," and she is also the author of a salad cookbook. Pauli's craft projects appear in major manufacturer websites, including Dow Styrofoam. She also holds a CDA in early childhood education and works as a preschool teacher in Wyoming.