Applesauce is a deliciously sweet ingredient that is commonly used in baking muffins, cakes, or quick breads. But if you are out and are in need of something similar to help with your baked good, these top 10 substitutes will come in handy!
What is applesauce?
Applesauce is primarily made up of a variety of apples- like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Red Delicious. The apples are often peeled and cored and cooked down with water. Then a sweetener can be added such as granulated white sugar or brown sugar. A common spice that tastes delicious in applesauce is ground cinnamon. It enhances the apple’s sweetness and gives it a warm and comforting flavor with an enticing aroma.
Homemade applesauce is very simple and easy to make. My favorite version is Slow Cooker Applesauce. This is by far the easiest way to make it and the taste is 10 times better than the store-bought version. Just peel, core, and chop the apples and all them all to a slow cooker. Then pour in water and sprinkle in the sugar and cinnamon and that is it! In a few hours, the apples will cook down and become so tender that all you will need is a spoon to stir and apples will fall apart and puree all on their own. If used in baking, I recommend omitting the sugar in the recipe since there will typically be added sugars in the baked item.
Another way to make homemade applesauce is on the stovetop. You will want to peel, core, and chop the apples and place them in a large saucepan with water and sugar. Boil until apples are very tender. Blend with a blender or immersion blender and add cinnamon if desired.
Replacing applesauce for oil in baking
Banana bread, muffins, and cakes often include vegetable oil as a main ingredient in the recipe. The reason for this is that oil helps keep moisture and gives the recipes a fluffy texture (Bob’s Red Mill). There’s nothing better than taking a bite of cake and it is moist and fluffy.
Applesauce will act similar to oil by giving it that fluffy texture without the added fats and calories. The extra water from the apples will also help retain the moisture in the baked item. Plus, apples are naturally sweet so this can help reduce the amount of added sugar needed in the recipe as well. The best part is that it is a 1:1 ratio to substitute applesauce for oil with one cup of applesauce for every one cup of oil so there is no need to do any additional calculations. All of this makes applesauce a delicious and healthy alternative that is quite often used in baked goods.
The best applesauce alternative is stewed apples because this essentially is applesauce. When apples are cooked down with water, they become applesauce. Plus the homemade version can be made with any variety of apples needed to tailor specifically to the item that is being baked. Adjust the amount of water and sugar for each recipe by adding more or less to reach the desired consistency and taste.
Most pureed fruits will be the easiest substitutes and are similar to apples with the same 1:1 ratio when baking. Other than apple puree, the best substitute is pears since they are close in taste and texture to apples with equal water content. It’s important to note that each fruit variety will give a slightly unique taste and may alter the overall taste. A berry puree would have a different taste than a melon puree or ripe bananas. Imagine how good it would taste to add raspberries in a chocolate brownie recipe or apricots in a carrot cake. Delicious!
Pumpkin puree is so versatile and delicious that everyone needs this as a staple in their pantry. It not only tastes so good but is a great substitute for oil and butter in baking as well as cooking. This also has a 1:1 ratio for substituting applesauce so it’s easy to use. Pumpkin is dense and moist so you will want to make sure that the recipe is not underbaked and is baked completely through.
Keep in mind that pumpkin pie filling is not the same as pumpkin puree. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugar and spices such as cinnamon and cloves which will drastically alter the overall taste of the original recipe.
Who knew that secretly adding vegetables to cakes and muffins could taste so delicious? Mashed cooked sweet potatoes make a good alternative since they have a hint of sweetness that compliments baked items. Try using them in recipes with cinnamon-like gingerbread muffins or cinnamon swirl bread. They are a bit denser, causing the ratio to be 3/4 cup of sweet potatoes mixed with 1/4 cup of water for every 1 cup of applesauce needed to reach a similar consistency.
A popular vegan option for a substitute is coconut oil. Once melted, coconut oil has the same consistency as vegetable or canola oil which is a popular ingredient in most baked recipes. It is really easy to use since it has a 1:1 ratio for substitution. This does add a few extra calories and fats back into the baked item that is eliminated with applesauce. It will also add a slight hint of coconut flavor.
This may seem like a strange option but mayonnaise is actually a good substitute in baking since it is primarily eggs and oil. Because of this, mayo gives a really good texture to baked goods like chocolate cake. Also, the vinegar surprisingly will enhance the flavors and make the recipe stand out. This Easy Banana Bread Recipe includes mayo in the recipe and is extremely moist with a rich and delicious flavor. And you’ll never know there is mayonnaise in it! Mayo has a 1:1 ratio when replacing applesauce and can also be used in place of eggs.
Mashed avocado is also a really great option with a 1:1 ratio, adding healthy fats to your recipe. Avocados add a subtlety mild flavor which is almost undetectable once it’s mixed with other ingredients and baked. Plus, it has a super creamy texture and will be a healthier alternative to oil.
One dairy substitute option in place of applesauce is plain yogurt with a 3/4 cup to 1 cup ratio. Plain or Greek yogurt is popular for its added nutritional value, and rightly so. It has a mild flavor and can be easily incorporated into a variety of flavors. Be sure to fold in the yogurt when mixing with the dry ingredients since dairy products could separate when mixed together too quickly.
Many different vegetable purees will act similarly to applesauce and will have a 1:1 ratio depending on the level of starch and sugar. They are an excellent substitute since they not only bring added health benefits but can bring a variety of different flavors to the recipe. Carrots are a great choice for many baked goods since they are naturally sweet and have a pleasant orange color. One thing to note, some vegetables have a very distinct color and will change the final look of your recipes, like beets or kale.
Another vegetarian or vegan option is silken tofu. This is a product that is very common and readily available. Drain the tofu well, mash it, and then use 1/3 cup of tofu for every 1/2 cup of applesauce. Tofu is quite heavy so this will not work well in every baking recipe. Try it in something like a dense rich cake or a quick bread.
Recipes to replace oil using applesauce
- Glazed Cranberry Orange Quick Bread– moist and sweet with bursting cranberries and oranges in every bite and topped with a sweet orange glaze.
- Easy Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies– deliciously chewy, moist, and filled with creamy white chocolate chips.
- Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars– super moist and fluffy with a cake-like texture that is sure to make your tastebuds explode.
- Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling– full of pumpkin flavor with chunks of apple, topped with a cinnamon sugar crumble and sweet glaze, and have a surprise cream cheese filling.