What can I substitute for oil in a cake?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for oil in a cake?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for oil in a cake.

What can I substitute for oil in a cake?

If while baking a cake, you have run out of oil, then no need to worry, we have prepared a long list of substitutes that you can use as a replacement for oil. You can replace oil with:

  • Avocado oil 
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Applesauce
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee
  • Yoghurt
  • sesame oil
  • A banana that can be used as mashed or ripen fully
  • Cauliflower that should be unseasoned, cooked and pureed
  • Margarine that should be melted
  • A pumpkin that should be cooked and pureed
  • Sour cream
  • Zucchini should be unseasoned, cooked and also pureed.

The oil palm tree gives the highest yield of oil per unit area of cultivated land, an estimated 58.431 million metric tons per year. In 2012, crude palm oil and palm kernel oil accounted for 32% of global fats and oils production. Palm oil has overtaken soybean oil as the most important vegetable oil in the world (1).

Why do we use oil in a cake or other baking products?

We use oil in a cake or other baking products to control the dryness of the baked products and to keep the moisture.

Substitutes for oil in a cake

Following are some of the substitutes for oil in cake:

Olive oil

Olive oil is a good substitute for oil in a cake. Olive oil is also one of the healthiest oils among all other varieties of oil. It is extracted from the fruit named olive which is found on the tree. Olive oil consists of monounsaturated fatty acids which are useful due to the reduction of cardiac diseases. 

Apart from oleic acid, olive oil contains a number of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols which are especially prominent in virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and potent scavenger of superoxide radicals and inhibits LDL oxidation. Extra virgin olive oil is regarded to be the genuine driver of the Mediterranean diet and was found to be associated with a 26% reduced risk of all-cause mortality in Spanish study (2).

It is also used for those recipes in which we have to sauté the vegetables or have to prepare a savoury recipe like salad dressing or maybe marinade. It should be used in the cake but try to make its frequent use in other baking products because it has a strong flavour and taste.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is another good substitute for oil in the cake. Avocado oil is extracted from the flesh of the avocado. Avocado oil is considered a delicious and healthy substitute for vegetable oils. Avocado oil with a high smoke, butter and nutty flavour, and creamy nature, is considered as a perfect substitute for oil in cake or other cooking products. 

Numerous scientific evidence demonstrates that regular intake of avocado oil lowers the risk of chronic diseases. This is due to the synergistic combination of compounds such as tocopherols, unsaturated fatty acids and bioactive phytochemicals (e.g. phytosterols, carotenoids and phenolics) that are responsible for the functionality and health-promoting properties of the avocado oil (3).

Avocado oil can be used in the kitchen for different recipes which include sautéing the vegetables, grilling the products, stir-frying, also in baking goods, and for making and preparing marinades or dressings of salads.


Butter is a dairy product that plays an important role in the human diet, not only because of its nutritional components (including energy, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential fatty acids) but also because of its effect on mouth-feel and hence its ability to make our food much palatable. Fat is the main composition of butter (80%), in addition to 20% of water, proteins and milk sugar. The predominant fatty acids in butter are palmitic, oleic, myristic and stearic acids (4).

If you want an easily accessible and simple ingredient, then you could go for butter as a substituted product. Butter should be used in the melted form as a perfect substitute for oil in cooking. In melted form, butter could go for baking products as an effective and good alternative. In baking products which include cookies, muffins, and cakes. 

Butter is a good substitute for recipes because it not only adds moisture but also enriches the recipes with extra taste and flavour.

Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil is another alternative product for oil in the cake, it is also called linseed oil. It is also a healthy oil that is extracted from ripened, dried seeds of the flax plant. Flaxseed is also one of the substituted oils for different products such as marinades, salad dressings, and it can also be used as drizzling over the recipes.

Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) has an exceptionally high content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) amongst the known oilseeds, usually making up greater than 50% of the fatty acid composition. ALA is the parent fatty acid of the omega-3 fatty acids family and is recognized as an essential fatty acid in the diet. However, omega-3 fatty acids are sensitive to heat, oxygen and light. Flaxseed is not a stable oil product on heating, that is why it should not be used in cooking items, also prefer it less in baking products (5).

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is another substituted product that can be used in recipes as a replacement for olive oil when oil is out of hand in baking cakes or other products. Coconut oil is extracted from the flesh of coconut by squeezing the coconut flesh. It is a suitable alternative product for oil in cakes. 

Due to its high smoke nature, it is not a good substitute for oil in cooking such as for frying. 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) (6). For coconut oil, it should be melted first because it is transformed into a solid form at room temperature. It is also a perfect substitute for cooking due to its sweet natural taste.

Greek Yoghurt

Yoghurt is also a good alternative product for oil in cake and other baking products. Yoghurt also adds a creamy nature along with a thickness and tangier taste and flavour to the baking good. Yoghurt should be used in its plain form or it can also be used in vanilla which will add sharpness to the taste of the product.

Due to the thick consistency of greek yogurt, it is possible that it could make an ample fat replacer in a baked good that would require a fat not lose the consistency that is expected, without affecting base. As opposed to normal yogurt, Greek yogurt is known for having a thicker consistency and being more concentrated regarding the fat content (7). 

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil?

Can you use canola oil in a deep fryer?

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Can you vape vegetable oil?


In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “What can I substitute for oil in a cake?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for oil in a cake and the required quantity of these substitutes.


  1. Mba, Ogan I., Marie-Josée Dumont, and Michael Ngadi. Palm oil: Processing, characterization and utilization in the food industry–A review. Food biosci, 2015, 10, 26-41.
  2. Schwingshackl, Lukas, and Georg Hoffmann. Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and health status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Lipid health dis, 2014, 13, 1-15.
  3. Tan, Chin Xuan, and Hasanah Mohd Ghazali. Avocado (Persea americana mill.) oil. Fruit Oils: Chemistry and Functionality. Springer, Cham, 2019. 353-375.
  4. El-Aidie, Safaa Abdel-Aleem Mohammad. The Healthiness of Commercial Butter in Malaysia: Evaluation of the Physicochemical and Microbial Quality. Int J Advance Life Sci Res, 2018, 1-7.
  5. Choo, W. S., E. J. Birch, and J. P. Dufour. Physicochemical and stability characteristics of flaxseed oils during pan‐heating. J Am Oil Chem Soc, 2007, 84, 735-740.
  6. Lima, Renan da Silva, and Jane Mara Block. Coconut oil: what do we really know about it so far?. Food Qual Safe, 2019. 
  7. 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 Universit.y