How To Substitute Butter Or Oil With Avocado

Baking has a reputation as somewhat of an exact science, but good bakers will tell you there's plenty of room for reinvention and getting creative in the kitchen. Whether you're plant-based or just trying to reduce your oil consumption, one such baking workaround is replacing oil or butter with mashed avocado. It's a substitution that bucks traditional baking norms, but still results in delicious, moist, and indulgent baked goods. 

Whether you're making pancakes, brownies, cake, or cookies, butter and oil act as important fat sources that lend richness, density, flavor, and moisture. But so long as you replace them with the right equivalent, they're not a requirement in and of themselves. Enter, avocado. Every millennial's favorite toast topping and the thing we'll all obviously shell out extra for at Chipotle, but also a great substitution when whipping up cake batter or a late-night batch of healthy avocado brownies

The rich butteriness of avocado adds the same moisture and decadence but with far less fat than oil or butter. The golden rule to remember is simply 1:1. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of canola oil or butter, replace it with 1 cup of smooth, mashed avocado (and make sure your avocado is ripe, this won't work unless they're soft). When baking using this substitution, you may want to decrease your oven temperature by 25 degrees to allow your goodies to brown up properly.

Avocados provide health benefits and contain less overall fat

You might have seen plant-based or health-conscious recipes calling for other butter substitutes like mashed banana, applesauce, or yogurt. As with any substitution, or even when using butter versus oil in a recipe, you can expect some differences in crumbliness, flavor, and moistness. One attribute that makes avocado a particularly viable candidate for a replacement, though, is its mild flavor. 

Once baked in, it's essentially undetectable in most dishes, compared to, say, banana's obvious flavor. This tip isn't strictly for baked goods, by the way. Reach for avocado in place of mayo when preparing dishes like tuna or egg salad or oil or mayo-based salad dressings. Looking to up the richness of boxed or homemade mac and cheese? Instead of a slab of butter or additional dairy, fold in some avocado for added flavor and creaminess. Or, sink a fork into a lightened-up but still luxe alfredo sauce, made with creamy avocado instead of butter or cream.

A major benefit of subbing avocado for oil or butter is the nutrition you gain while cutting calories and fat. Compared to a cup of vegetable oil, which has 224 grams of fat, a cup of mashed avocado only contains around 34 grams of fat — an impressive decrease. Avocados are also full of monounsaturated fats and other health-promoting components like vitamins, fiber, and carotenoids. And importantly, they provide the heart-healthy source of rich decadence you and your baked goods need.