How to substitute sugar and oil in gluten free recipes



Lately, I have been trying to kick my sugar addiction without much success.  A few months ago, I wrote about only baking once a month.  That failed utterly.   I have no control at all.

I know it’s bad for me, but I can’t seem to stay away from it. Having IBS means I can’t use any sugar substitutes.  But there are ways to cut back on the sugar and oil content in gluten-free baked goods.  You can read more about other substitutions here.

I DO NOT guarantee your outcome with any of these methods.  I do substitute butter with either grapeseed oil or Smart Balance, or Earth Balance buttery sticks in baking and cooking with no problems.

I also use coconut milk (not cream) in all of my baking and cooking with good results.  I have used applesauce in baking, as an oil substitute, not for sugar.  I have not used avocado.  I have used bananas but not as a substitute.

I am sharing these swaps for informational purposes.

I would love for you all to share your substitutions with all of us!

Unsweetened Applesauce


You can substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes, but you must reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe. Typically, reducing the liquid (milk, water, etc) by 1/4 cup will do the trick. If there is no added liquid, no need to adjust.


Unsweetened applesauce can be used to replace part or all of the non-dairy butter or oil in a recipe. It can be swapped in equal quantities, so if a recipe calls for 2 cups of oil, you could replace as much of it as you’d like with applesauce, from a small amount such as 1/4 cup to the entire amount. Using all applesauce in a cake or bread will give it a lot of moisture, but also a lot of density, so consider this when choosing how much of the oil to replace in your recipe.


Avocado for butter

You can swap equal amounts of mashed avocado for softened butter in baking recipes, and can even be used to make buttercream. Avocado will impart a flavor; it will be sweet, since adding avocado to a sweet recipe will bring out its natural sweetness, but do consider what flavors you’ll pair it with. Chocolate works beautifully with the natural sweetness of avocado.

This would be great if you are dairy free, but beware, your buttercream will be green!

Ripe Bananas

Bananas for butter

Mashed bananas replace oil measure for measure in your muffin recipe. Use overripe bananas, which are quite soft and have a high moisture content. Peel the bananas, place them in a large bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher or fork. Make the mixture as smooth as possible, unless you want chunks of banana noticeable in the cooked muffins.

Read more about how to use bananas for oil here.  Applesauce would be a better choice here.

Prune Puree

Prune puree for butter

Like applesauce, prune purée can be substituted in equal parts for butter in a recipe. Replace part or all of the butter in a recipe with the prunes. For an easy shortcut…buy the pre-pureed stuff in baby food form!

Sugar Reduction

Reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe

In general, you can cut down 1/4 cup of sugar in just about any cake or cookie recipes without huge consequences. I have found this to be true in my experience; so you can take that tip or leave it!

Another variation is to cut down on the sugar by 2 tablespoons per every cup of sugar and to add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

I have tried the 2 tablespoons reduction and I did not notice a difference.  This can be tricky, especially in gluten-free baked goods.

In conclusion, I am going to try to reduce my sugar intake.  I can’t say for sure I will cut down on the baking, but maybe by cutting down on the sugar, it won’t have as much of an impact on my health.

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