Fat has many functions in cooking and baking but, for some, it may be necessary for some to reduce fat in a recipe. Through diligent experimentation of dieters around the world, many options for substituting fat have been discovered.
Although the end product is never exactly the same once fat has been replaced, many fat substitutes produce delicious and moist end products. In addition to lower fat content, many of the ingredients used to replace fat also add more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Use these fat-free or low-fat ingredients as replacements for the fat in your next recipe!
Pureed Fruit or Vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables contain pectin, which acts similarly to fat to “shorten” or tenderize baked goods. Unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas, pureed prunes, or canned pumpkin puree work best as a fat replacement. For best results, replace half of the fat in a recipe with an equal volume of pureed fruit or vegetable. You can substitute up to 100 percent of the fat, although this may cause greater changes in the texture and flavor.
Yogurt: Low-fat or non-fat yogurts can add and maintain moisture to baked goods similar to the way fat can. Strained or Greek yogurt works best because of its low moisture content. If only conventional yogurt is available, reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients to compensate for the added moisture in the yogurt. Be sure to use plain, unsweetened yogurt when substituting it for fat. Substitute equal volumes of yogurt for the fat called for in a recipe.
Ricotta or Cottage Cheese: Low or non-fat ricotta and cottage cheese can be used as a fat replacement in the same way as yogurt. Replace the fat in a recipe with an equal volume of ricotta or cottage cheese. Low-fat cheeses tend to work better than their non-fat counterparts.
Ground Flax Seed: The soluble fiber in ground (or “milled”) flax seed absorbs moisture and forms a gel, retaining moisture and keeping baked goods soft and moist. To use ground flax seed as a fat substitute, add 3 Tbsp of ground flax seed plus 1 Tbsp of water for every 1 Tbsp of fat or oil called for in a recipe.
Note: Never substitute low-fat margarine spreads for butter or lard in a recipe. These spreads contain a high amount of water, which will seep out as it melts, resulting in a soggy and dense end product.