Vegetable oil is a common ingredient in contemporary American quick breads and sweets. It can be helpful to know of possible vegetable oil substitutes to increase the flexibility of recipes, or to suit instances when no vegetable oil is available. In addition, some people try to avoid consuming vegetable oil due to various dietary restrictions; when cooking for such individuals, it is important to make necessary substitutions. There are many vegetable oil substitutes suitable for baking and cooking, ranging from alternative oils to fruit or vegetable purees. Often, the best vegetable oil substitute for a recipe will be determined by the overall effect a cook hopes to achieve with his or her recipe.
If no vegetable oil is available, vegetable shortening can be a good vegetable oil substitute. Usually, recipes made with shortening will taste the same as those made with oil. This is because shortening is simply a hydrogenated form of oil. Any shortening is used in the place of vegetable oil will need to measured after it has been melted.
Butter is another vegetable oil substitute that will have little effect on the taste of a finished recipe. To use butter in a recipe, a cook simply has to melt enough butter to cover the exact measurement that is called for. Melted margarine typically works the same as melted butter in most recipes.
Canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are often used as a replacement for vegetable oil. An alternate oil may be chosen because it is a healthier alternative to vegetable oil. Some recipes do not turn out as well with a vegetable oil substitute, though, because cooking with other oils often flavor. For instance, coconut or olive oil tend to have strong flavors that may be noticeable in a finished recipe; they should only be used if their flavors will complement a dish. Again, alternative oils can usually replace the full amount of oil required by the recipe.
Sour cream, regular mayonnaise, and plain yogurt can be used as oil alternatives as well. Sour cream works well as a substitute for many recipes because, like vegetable oil, it has a high fat content. Regular mayonnaise will generally not affect the taste of recipes and works as a vegetable oil substitute because it is made out of oil and eggs. Yogurt can function as an alternative as long as the excess fluid that sometimes separates from the yogurt is discarded before use.
Some recipes can even work well with pureed fruit used in place of vegetable oil. This kind of alternate ingredient is usually best in breads, cakes, and baked goods, but may be used for other recipes as well as long as cooks accommodate for the various changes in taste the addition of fruit may cause. Any type of fruit can be used, but most often cooks choose applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed prunes. Cooks can choose to replace all or part of the vegetable oil called for by a recipe with fruit puree. If the puree seems too thick or sticky, milk may be added.