Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Brownies

Brownies are designed to be indulgent and rich with a slightly dense texture you can sink your teeth into. Well, none of this would be possible without the presence of vegetable oil. But what happens when you run out of this must-have oil? Are your brownies destined for failure?

If you’re making brownies and don’t have vegetable oil on hand, there are many viable substitutions. The simplest option is to use another type of oil. You can also use butter, ghee, etc. Yogurt, mayonnaise, and fruit can also be used in place of vegetable oil.

Hey, there! I’m Michelle, and brownies are some of my favorite things (okay, maybe I say this about everything). But there is something about a rich, ooey-gooey brownie that really drives me wild. I have had to find good subs for vegetable oil, and I’m here to share my top picks.

So what to use instead of vegetable oil in brownies?

Top 6 Substitutes for Vegetable Oil in Brownies

Vegetable oil is the recommended oil for most brownie recipes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful without it. Many viable substitutions will work like a charm. Use whichever one of these you have on hand to make delicious brownies!

1. Oil

Oil can be replaced with oil. Pretty simple, right? Until you open your pantry and see the many different types of oils hiding inside. Are they all able to substitute vegetable oil in brownies? Let’s take a closer look.

  • Canola oil. This is the best substitute because, like vegetable oil, canola oil does not have any flavor to it. So, using canola oil will produce the same exact flavor profile as vegetable oil.
  • Olive oil. Many people use olive oil for health benefits, and it can be used in brownies. However, make sure you’re using a light or extra light olive oil, so the flavor isn’t altered too severely.
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is another option that works wonders. Keep in mind that coconut oil will give your brownies a coconut-y twist. (Is that really a problem, though?)
  • Avocado oil. This is a wonderful option as it has a very light flavor that won’t make itself present in your brownies. The biggest drawback is that avocado oil tends to be expensive.

2. Butter/Ghee/Margarine

When you think of baked treats, you likely think of butter. Butter is found in a multitude of recipes, from cakes to cookies, cinnamon rolls, to pancakes. Why not brownies, too?

Whether you’re a butter fanatic, love ghee, or prefer margarine, you can use it in place of vegetable oil in brownies. When using one of these substitutions, you may need to bake your brownies for an extra minute or two to get the same results.

With butter, ghee, and/or margarine, brownies can tend to be a bit more cake-like and crumbly than dense and brownie-like. 

3. Fruit

Fruit has become a popular sub for oil in baking recipes in recent years. That’s because it is healthier and not as fat or calorie-dense, creating a more lightweight and nutritious finish. Well, when it comes to fruit replacements, you have options.

Applesauce is the most popular option for oil replacement in recipes. It’s easy to use, and there’s no prepping involved (unless you make homemade applesauce). You can also use mashed bananas or blended dates for brownies.

The goal is to use fruit with a mild flavor that won’t overpower your brownies. It should also have the right consistency. For example, a mashed-up orange will produce orange juice rather than a somewhat thick binder for brownies.

4. Yogurt

While other oils, butter, and fruit purees are the best option for brownies, you can also get by with yogurt. Ensure that the yogurt is plain flavored unless you don’t mind a little extra flavor in your brownies. For instance, strawberry brownies would work well with strawberry yogurt.

The type of yogurt doesn’t matter too much. Greek yogurt will give your brownies a boost in protein and other nutrients, but it’s not essential. Regular plain yogurt will do the trick just fine.

5. Mayonnaise

Who said that mayonnaise had to be reserved for sandwiches? Mayo has a creamy texture that’s loaded with fat. Thus, it makes an excellent swap for vegetable oil in brownies. You’ll get the same texture and flavor with mayo. You may even enjoy creamier and more delectable bites.

6. Cauliflower

In this day and age, you can make anything with cauliflower. And why wouldn’t you? Cauliflower is a powerhouse of nutrition, including fiber, choline, sulforaphane, and antioxidants. It can reduce cancer risk, encourage gut health, and boost your immune system.

Well, cauliflower can replace vegetable oil in brownies recipes, too. To use cauliflower, you will need to cook it and process it until smooth. Then, simply add it to your brownie batter in place of vegetable oil.

The flavor and texture may be altered a bit, but not necessarily in a bad way. This may be the best way to start enjoying cauliflower-based treats and goods!


Now you know the best substitutes for vegetable oil in brownies. Still not sure if you’ve learned enough? No worries. Dive into these frequently asked questions to learn more about substitutes for vegetable oil in brownies.

Can I make brownies without vegetable oil?

Technically, you can make brownies without vegetable oil (or any other kind of fat). It’s not recommended, though. Fat helps bind ingredients and create the decadent flavor and texture of brownies. Without it, it will be challenging to mix, and the result may be overly crumbly.

Can I use olive oil instead of vegetable oil for brownies?

You can use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. It’s one of the top choices due to its health benefits. However, olive oil can alter the flavor of the brownies. It’s best to choose light or extra-light olive oil to minimize the flavor change.

Can I substitute peanut butter for oil in brownies?

Yes, it’s possible, especially if you’re a peanut butter fanatic and want to give your brownies a peanut buttery finish. The brownies may turn out a bit thicker and chewier. That said, other types of butter – sunflower, cashew, and almond – can also be used in brownie recipes.

Can you use milk instead of oil in brownies?

Milk will not have the same effect as oil in brownies and, therefore, should not be used as a replacement. I will suggest substituting milk for water in brownie recipes, though, or when using a boxed brownie mix. This will produce a more decadent and indulgent flavor.

Which oil is best for brownies?

Vegetable oil, mainly because it’s a mild flavor that won’t impact the final result. For that reason, canola oil is the number one oil substitution. 

Final Words

If you don’t have vegetable oil, don’t panic. Brownies can be made with any other type of oil. Butter, ghee, and margarine can also be used. More creative options include fruit, yogurt, mayonnaise, and even cauliflower.

Have you ever used one of these vegetable oil substitutes in brownies? Which one is your favorite? Share your success (and fail) stories with us in the comment section below.

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Brenda

    I’ve used coconut oil in place of canola & love the light coconut flavor. Trying peanut butter today. ????

    • Michelle

      HI Brenda,
      Me, too! I’m a big fan of coconut flavor, so this is one of my favorite swaps as well.
      Happy baking,