We’ve all had that guilty feeling after eating that piece of cake…“Why did I just eat that? Looks like an extra hour at the gym tomorrow.” But baked goods don’t necessarily have to be diet-ruiners. Making simple switches while baking can significantly decrease the calories as well as increase health benefits. Whether you ran out of eggs or you’d just like to make healthier baked goods, here are some great alternatives. This chart gives a basic overview, and below you’ll find helpful tips and added benefits for the substitutions.

baking subtitutes infographic updated
Recipe Calls for Butter (1 cup)
Healthier Alternatives:
– 1 Cup Margarine
  1 Cup Canola Oil: tons of Omega-6’s
 – 1 Cup Canned Pumpkins (best in spiced breads, cakes, muffins, breads and pancakes)
– 1 Cup Prune Puree (best in chocolate baked goods, gingerbread and spice cakes): adds a rich flavor
 – 1 Cup Applesauce (also works for oil substitute): reduces fat and calorie content and makes cakes fluffier and moister
 – ½ Cup Bananas (good in breads, cakes, and pancakes): adds fiber and moisture
1 Cup Mashed Avocado (great with chocolate): still provides fat for baking, but it’s the unsaturated heart-healthy kind

Recipe Calls for 1 Egg
Healthier Alternatives:
– 2 Egg Whiteseliminates the fat and cholesterol an egg yolk contains
1 tsp Baking Soda + 1 tbsp Vinegar (apple cider vinegar works best): save 70 calories and 5 g fat per egg
1 tbsp Flaxseed + 3 tbsp Water: tons of omega-3 fatty acids plus add fiber

Recipe Calls for Mayonnaise
Healthier Alternative:
– Low Fat Plain Yogurt: slashes fat and calories with no change in taste. 

Recipe Calls for Frosting
Healthier Alternative:
– Sprinkle Powdered Sugar

Recipe Calls for All Purpose Flour (1 Cup)
Healthier Alternative:
– ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour: increases fiber content and can’t taste the difference! Use less because it makes the food heavier. Spelt, kamut, rye, buckwheat can also be used for those who are allergic or sensitive to wheat.

Recipe Calls for Baking Chocolate (1 ounce)
Healthier Alternative:
– 3 tbsp Cocoa Powder + 1 tbsp Olive or Vegetable oil

Recipe Calls for 1 Cup Sugar (775 calories per cup!)
Healthier Alternative:
 – ½ cup Agave Nectar or Stevia: MUCH sweeter than sugar, so use half of what the recipe calls for. 

Try these healthy baking alternatives to make this Sour Cream Pound Cake. Originally there are 250 calories per serving, but with the healthy switches you can slice that calorie count in half!

For more healthy cooking substitutions, see this great list from the Mayo Clinic.

 Do you have any tips or tricks for healthy baking? Share them here!

Image courtesy of matt_gibson on Flickr (CC BY 3.0)

[Updated May 2013] 



Hadley Green has spent half of her college career studying and traveling in Europe. She is a college senior with a major in International Studies. She has an avid interest in health and fitness in her everyday life!