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Dear Baker: What can I substitute for egg, butter or oil?

We’ve all been there. You’ve set off on a culinary adventure, from the comfort of your own kitchen, whipping up a delectable dessert that is sure to wow. But suddenly you realize that you’re missing a key ingredient. No eggs? No butter? No oil? No problem. Here are some common substitution suggestions for this trio of baking staples.


  • Flax seeds pack a one-two punch. They’re healthy and can act as a binding agent in baked goods. Use one tablespoon of the seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let thicken before adding to your batter.
  • Applesauce is a frequent understudy in many baking productions, and a quarter cup works well in lieu of an egg in most recipes. Opt for the unsweetened kind.
  • Ripe banana, surprisingly, can also fill in when you’re short an egg, and you may just love the taste even more. Mash half of the fruit and add.


  • Greek yogurt is all the rage these days — and a half-cup is a viable (and yummy) alternative to a cup of butter.
  • Olive oil is another go-to butter alternative; sub out three-quarters of a cup for a cup of butter and get a heart-healthy boost.
  • Avocado is in the heart-healthy club, too, and it can be subbed for butter in a 1:1 ratio.


If you don’t have oil but have butter, melt it and your problem is solved. If you have the aforementioned unsweetened applesauce or Greek yogurt on hand, these work too, as do sour cream or buttermilk.

As you play around with substitutions, either by necessity or perhaps by choice, you’ll likely discover some health-boosting, texture-enhancing, tastebud-loving alternatives.