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Best Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Brownies

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Brownies are a delicious sweet treat, and baking them is just as fun as eating them!

Sometimes, though, you have to deviate from the recipe. Changing the ingredients of a brownie recipe can often affect their taste. If you’re looking for a substitute for vegetable oil in brownies, there are fortunately numerous options.


Vegetable Oil Substitutes For Brownies

Vegetable oil isn’t the only fat you can use to bake brownies and keep them moist and delicious. Whether you’re out of vegetable oil or want a healthier alternative, there are a variety of ingredients you can switch out for oil.

1. Can You Use Olive Oil in Brownies?

A bowl of olive oil

Olive oil is an ingredient in vegetable oil, so it makes sense to use it as a vegetable oil replacement in brownies. However, pay attention to the type of olive oil you use; a more potent olive oil will affect the brownies’ taste. It won’t change the brownies’ texture, but the distinct olive oil flavor will be noticeable.

Avoid a significant change in taste by opting for lighter olive oil. It’s an ideal choice if you don’t have anything else to substitute the vegetable oil, as olive oil is a common item in every kitchen. Olive oil will also lighten the brownies and make them fluffier.

Olive oil also has various health benefits over vegetable oil (and most oils, for that matter). If you’re looking for a healthier option, here’s what olive oil does for your health:

  • Rich in Monounsaturated Fats (The Good Kind!)
  • Contains Antioxidants
  • Anti-Inflammatory (Protects Against Diabetes, Arthritis, Obesity, Etc.)
  • Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Use the 1-to-1 ratio to use olive oil in brownies. If the recipe calls for half a cup of vegetable oil, then you’ll use a half-cup of olive oil.  

2. Can You Use Canola Oil for Brownies?

Canola Oil

Another liquid fat you can easily replace vegetable oil within brownies is canola oil. It’s a low-cholesterol and a low-saturated fat oil found in most kitchens. So, if you’re in a pinch or want to take your brownies’ fat content down a notch, canola oil will do just fine. However, canola oil doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, so it’s not the healthiest option.

Canola oil is relatively neutral in flavor and shouldn’t affect your brownies’ taste too much. To use canola oil in your recipe, switch it out in the same ratio. If you need a cup of vegetable oil, you can replace it with a cup of canola oil.

3. Can You Use Coconut Oil for Brownies?

Coconut Oil

If you want a unique flavor added to your brownies, consider using coconut oil. It’s not only one of the healthier oils available but adds a yummy coconut flavor (if you like that, of course).

There’s still some controversy in the science universe as to whether coconut oil is healthy. However, you will reap these benefits from using it:

  • Shiny Hair
  • Healthy Skin
  • Protect Your Liver
  • Improve Dental Health

Coconut oil comes in solid form, so you first must melt it before mixing it into your recipe. Like other oils, use a 1-to-1 ratio when substituting – replace a cup of vegetable oil with a cup of coconut oil.

If you want less coconut flavor, try adding a teaspoon of vanilla to balance it out.

4. Can You Use Butter Instead of Oil for Brownies?


No brownie recipe is the same. Some call for vegetable oil; others call for butter. Some want you to add both. But did you know that you can substitute butter or margarine for vegetable oil (even if your recipe already calls for butter)?

While butter isn’t a healthier option, it’s most likely available if you don’t have any oil. Also, using unsalted butter instead of oil makes the brownies fudgy. You can measure it out in the same amount (one cup of oil = one cup of butter). Melt the butter and let it cool before mixing it into your recipe.

You can also go the other way around and substitute oil for butter if you want a different taste, texture, or healthier brownie. However, if you need to cream the butter with sugar, it’s best to stick with butter. “Creaming” oil with sugar doesn’t work out very well.

5. Can You Use Avocado Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil?

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is one of the healthiest oils on the market. While it may be hard to find and more expensive than vegetable or olive oil, you reap tremendous benefits from using it in your cooking and baking. These are just some of the health benefits avocado oil offers:

  • Rich in Oleic Acid (Healthy Fat)
  • Reduces Cholesterol and Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Improves Heart Health
  • Helps Absorb Nutrients From Other Foods
  • Helps Wounds Heal Faster
  • High in Antioxidants

Avocado oil doesn’t have a strong taste but will make your brownies taste creamy and buttery. You can easily substitute vegetable oil with it in equal amounts.

6. Can You Use Yogurt for Brownies?

A bowl of yogurt

Lower your brownies’ fat content by using yogurt instead of vegetable oil. Nonfat yogurt will keep your brownies moist and fudgy. Stick with plain, nonfat yogurt to avoid any unwanted flavors.

You can substitute a part of the oil or all of it in equal amounts. If you’re using a box recipe, replace every half cup of oil and two eggs for a half cup of yogurt.

7. Can You Use Applesauce for Brownies?

A bowl of applesauce

Most moms and grandmothers know the old trick of adding applesauce if a mixture is too dry. But can you eliminate oil and use applesauce instead? The short answer is no. Applesauce doesn’t contain the liquid fat needed to keep brownies moist. If you use only applesauce, your brownies will be very dry. (If you like dry brownies, then go for it!)

However, you can replace the majority of the vegetable oil with applesauce and still retain the moist texture. To use applesauce in your baking, replace half of the oil you use with applesauce. For example, if you need a cup of vegetable oil, add a half-cup. Then add a half-cup of applesauce.

Applesauce will sweeten the brownies, so you can reduce the amount of sugar and still retain a tasty treat for your tastebuds. Your brownies will have fewer calories and healthier ingredients!

Why do Recipes Call for Oil?

Vegetable oil comes from plants and can include olive oil, sunflower oil, etc. However, most grocery stores sell oil specifically labeled “vegetable oil,” which is likely what your brownie recipe is calling for. This vegetable oil is a combination of all of the above oils, including canola and soybean oil.
Vegetable oil

So why do baked goods recipes need a seemingly random ingredient?

When the baking powder and soda in a mix cooks, they release gas that forms gluten. This process can dry out the end product. Vegetable oil is a type of fat. Fats attach to the dry ingredients before going in the oven in a way that slows down their gluten-forming properties, keeping the mixture moist and light.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous substitutes for vegetable oils in brownies if you’re out of the ingredient or want to make your brownies healthier. Canola, olive, avocado, and coconut oil can all be used interchangeably.

Use butter for creamier, fudgier brownies, yogurt for lower fat content, and applesauce for healthier moist brownies.

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About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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