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University of Illinois Extension

Lowering Fat for Baking

November 6, 2006

Cutting back on fat in baked foods can help us consume fewer calories. But according to Jananne Finck, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, lowering the fat and still having a tasty product can be a challenge.

One easy way to lower fat in recipes calling for milk is to use nonfat or lower-fat milk products. This reduces fat, calories and cholesterol. By using 1 cup skim milk in place of 1 cup whole milk, fat can be reduced by about 70 calories, 8 grams of fat and 28 milligrams of cholesterol.

Using evaporated skim milk in place of evaporated whole milk will also save calories, fat and cholesterol.

In some foods like gravies, sauces, puddings and cookies, the amount of fat can usually be reduced by one-third the amount called for in the original recipe. When lowering fat in cakes and quick breads, use at least 2 tablespoons fat per cup of flour for best results.

"For quick breads, unsweetened applesauce can be used in place of fats and oils," says Finck. "For best flavor and texture, substitute half the amount of fat or oil the recipe calls for with the applesauce. For example, if a recipe lists 1 cup of oil, use ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce.

Another tip for lowering fat is to use yogurt for part or all of the oil. When using a regular, not lite or microwave, brownie or cake mix, substitute ½ cup plain nonfat yogurt for the oil. When used in a cake mix, the yogurt substitution makes an especially moist cupcake.

Using two egg whites in place of one whole egg can also lower fat in baked foods. This can lower the calories from 80 (one egg) to 32 (two egg whites). Cholesterol is lowered from about 215 milligrams to less than one milligram.

When you first start to lower fat in foods, Finck says to realize the product may not be the same but the health benefits will be worth it. For best quality, it's not recommended to further alter a recipe if it has already been lowered in fat, sugar and/or salt.

Sometimes we can alter a recipe to the point that while it's a healthier option, it doesn't taste good...and taste is important!

Moderate Fat Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup sugar

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Spray a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray coating; set aside. In mixer bowl, combine margarine, applesauce, sugar, egg whites, and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis Per Brownie: 109 calories, 1 gram protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, 37 milligrams potassium, 67 milligrams sodium. Exchanges: 1 carbohydrate, 1 fat.

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