Can you substitute vegetable oil for butter in cookies?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute vegetable oil for butter in cookies?”, and how to make no butter cookies?

Can you substitute vegetable oil for butter in cookies?

Yes, you can substitute vegetable oil for butter in cookies. But the cookies made with vegetable oil will not have the richness and the buttery goodness. 

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) in the human diet mostly originate from industrial food sources (about 80%), including partially hydrogenated oils with various TFAs proportions (up to 60%). This is considerably higher than the amount of naturally occurring TFAs in beef and dairy products (~2-5%). Shortenings, margarines, cakes and cookies are the most significant sources of TFAs in a regular diet; as 40% of TFAs intake is related to cookie, cake and cracker consumption (1).

Vegetable oil makes for a great substitute for butter because it has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. A high smoke point means that the oil will not produce toxic compounds when exposed to high baking temperatures.

The smoke point, which is the temperature at which a fat or oil produces a continuous wisp of smoke when heated, must meet the standard requirement for frying oils which should have a smoke point above 200°C (392°F) (2).

How much: Replace every cup of butter called for in the recipe with ¾ cup vegetable oil.

Substitutes of butter in baking 

The top substitutes of butter in baking include applesauce, vegetable oil, buttermilk, avocado, greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, prune puree, olive oil, and a mixture of applesauce and buttermilk.

Which butter substitute should I use?

To find out which butter substitute works out best in your recipe, you will have to test bake using different ratios of butter and butter substitute. Start by replacing only half the butter in the recipe, then three quarters, and finally, completely replace the butter.

The following butter substitutes work best when replaced with only half the amount of butter called for in a recipe. Plus these are all very healthy alternatives to butter in baking. 


Applesauce works great in sugar cookies, cakes, and different kinds of bread like banana or zucchini bread. You can use both sweetened and unsweetened applesauce. Opt for the latter if you are calorie and health-conscious. 

In a study, applesauce was used as a fat replacer to produce cookies. The results  showed that applesauce can be a successful substitute of fat in chocolate chip cookies. Replacing butter with applesauce improves the nutritional value of chocolate chip cookies. Maintaining a proper balance between applesauce and fat is important for an acceptable cookie texture, because cookies tend to become softer in texture with an increase in applesauce (3).

How much: Replace every cup of butter called for in the recipe with ½ cup applesauce.


Buttermilk works in all baking recipes except pie crusts. Pie crust made with buttermilk turns out crumbly instead of flaky. If you do not have buttermilk at hand, you can make the DIY buttermilk by stirring 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar in a cup of milk.

Natural buttermilk is a leftover liquid by-product made during the churning of butter. Churning of cream results in the separation of butter and an aqueous phase called sweet cream buttermilk. Buttermilk is often used in baking because of its special properties (for instance, sourness, enzymes, and microflora present in this by-product). It can enhance the flavor of various preparations, that is, dips and cakes (4).

How much: replace every cup of butter called for in the recipe with ½ cup of buttermilk. 


Avocado is a great substitute for butter in terms of both the finished results and nutrition. This is the only viable substitute for butter with a higher fiber and vitamin K/C/B-5/B-6/E content. 

Avocados’ are a medium energy dense fruit because about 80% of the avocado edible fruit consists of water (72%) and dietary fiber (6.8%). Studies suggest that avocado consumers have higher HDL-cholesterol, lower risk of metabolic syndrome, and lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference than nonconsumers. One avocado fruit (136 g) has nutrient and phytochemical profiles similar to 1.5 ounces (42.5 g) of tree nuts (almonds, pistachios, or walnuts), which have qualified heart health claims (5).

How much: Estimate a 1:1 ratio when substituting avocado for butter in baking.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a high protein substitute for butter. Therefore, opt for greek yogurt if are aiming for an increased protein intake. Greek yogurt, due to its velvety texture, works particularly great in cakes. 

However, it can be a substitute for butter in most recipes without any significant difference in the quality of the finished product. 

As opposed to normal yogurt , Greek yogurt is known for having a thicker consistency and being more concentrated regarding the fat content. The process of producing Greek yogurt is done by straining normal yogurt, which pulls the moisture out of the yogurt making the milk fat content higher. One of the main health benefits of Greek yogurt is that it is higher in its protein content than other yogurts.  Proteins are used to help with many processes in the body such as being enzymes and transporters, while promoting satiety within the individual (6).

How much: Replace every cup of butter with ½ cup of greek yogurt.

Pumpkin puree

As a substitute for butter in baking, you can use any squash puree such as butternut squash, hubbard squash, etc. Pumpkin puree works great as a butter substitute in most recipes. 

Different researchers have been working on drying pumpkin fruit and using it in the food systems. In some recent research, powder of pumpkin flesh was incorporated into cake formulations as an additive or wheat flour substitute. These changes in formulations gave rise to the cake batter viscosity and made changes in some physical attributes of resultant cake, such as increasing in the volume of the cake (7).

How much: If the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 3/4 cup pumpkin puree.

Coconut oil 

Coconut oil works great in cakes, cookies, and muffins. It does not perform great in savory bread or recipes that require a large amount of butter. This is because coconut oil adds sweetness to the finished product along with a mild coconut flavor.

Despite its saturated nature, the use of CO as a cooking oil should not be encouraged, once it exhibits a low smoking point (171°C) and its use in continuous deep-frying leads to the production of carcinogenic substances, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and aromatic amines. Oils with higher smoking points are preferred for deep frying, such as canola oil (238°C), corn oil (232°C), and soybean oil (238°C) (8).

How much: If the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 1 cup coconut oil.

No butter chocolate chip cookies recipe


  • ¾ Cup Vegetable Oil (neutral-flavored oil)
  • 2 Eggs (large)
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
  • ¾ Cup Granulated White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ¼ Cups Flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt (optional – use only 1/2 teaspoon if you are trying to reduce the sodium in your diet)
  • 1 ½ Cups Chocolate Chips (semi sweet morsels)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  2. Beat the eggs until homogeneous. Then whisk in the vegetable oil, granulated white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients including baking soda, flour, and salt.
  4. Use an electric mixer to mix everything until a soft cookie dough forms.
  5. When the dough is ready, stir in the chocolate chips using a spoon or spatula.
  6. Scoop out the cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Maintain a distance of 2-3 inches between the dough balls. Because the cookie dough will spread during baking.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown.
  8. Remove the baking tray from the oven and let the cookies sit for about 2-3 minutes before pulling them out of the tray.
  9. Use a spatula to remove the cookies from the tray and transfer them to a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before you devour them. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute vegetable oil for butter in cookies?”, and how to make no butter cookies?


  1. Saghafi, Zahra, et al. Is trans fatty acid still an issue for policy makers in Iran? A Technical Report. Nutr Food Sci Res, 2018, 5, 47-51.
  2. Otunola, G. A., G. B. Adebayo, and O. G. Olufemi. Evaluation of some physicochemical parameters of selected brands of vegetable oils sold in Ilorin metropolis. Int J Phys Sci, 2009, 4, 327-329.
  3. Hayek, Saeed A., and Salam A. Ibrahim. Consumer acceptability of chocolate chip cookies using applesauce as a fat (butter) substitute. Emir J Food Agri, 2013, 159-168.
  4. KUMAR, RAVINDER et al. Natural and cultured buttermilk. Fermented milk and dairy products, 2015. 
  5. Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2013, 53, 738-750.
  6. Johnson, Caprisse. The Sensory and Textural Evaluation of a St. Louis Style Butter Cake made with Greek Yogurt as a Fat Replacer. 2018. Murray State University.
  7. Dadkhah, Aida, Amir Hossein Elhami Rad, and Reza Azizinezhad. Effect of pumpkin powder as a fat replacer on rheological properties, specific volume and moisture content of cake. Banat’s j biotechnol, 2017, 8, 116-126.
  8. Lima, Renan da Silva, and Jane Mara Block. Coconut oil: what do we really know about it so far?. Food Qual Safe, 2019.