How to Substitute Applesauce for Butter in Oatmeal Cookies


Oatmeal cookies are a delicious dessert packed with fiber-rich oats and an endless variety of additional ingredients that are customizable to match individual tastes. Butter or oil is the fat component in the majority of cookie and baked good recipes, which is great for adding rich flavor and crisp texture but also contributes extra calories. For a healthier alternative, substitute applesauce for all or some of the butter or oil in your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe to cut some of the fat without completely changing the flavor.

The Method

  • To replace butter for applesauce in oatmeal cookies, follow these simple substitution steps:

    • Cream the eggs and sugar and other wet ingredients such as extract flavoring.

    • Mix in the applesauce and stir well.

    • Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

    If you’re doing a straight swap of applesauce for butter and not changing anything else in the recipe, use unsweetened applesauce. Alternatively, use a sweetened variety of applesauce and then reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Cinnamon-flavored applesauce is a great addition to oatmeal raisin cookies.

Find the Best Ratio

  • Substitute applesauce into most cookie recipes that call for butter using a 1-to-1 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, substitute 1 cup of applesauce. This complete substitution will produce a sweeter and fluffier cookie. If this isn’t to your liking, next time experiment with the ratio of applesauce to butter to find the best combination for your taste buds. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, you could try ½ cup of applesauce with ½ cup of butter or ⅔ cup of applesauce with ⅓ cup of butter.

Cooking Time and Results

  • Cooking times do not need to be adjusted from the original recipe, as low-fat cookies can become dry when overcooked. While butter provides flavor and moisture, it also of causes the cookies to spread flat and brown when baked. Applesauce provides the necessary moisture but fluffs the cookie dough during baking. Therefore, applesauce is best suited for creating soft, cake-like cookies, whereas butter produces a more crisp and chewy result.

Other Considerations

  • It’s more difficult to reduce the fat in cookies -- compared to cakes and muffins -- without altering the flavor and texture. Cookies that work well with an applesauce-for-butter substitution include chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter, as long as you don’t mind the cake-like texture. Applesauce would not work well in cookies that depend on butter for both flavor and crispiness, such as butter cookies or shortbread.


  • Photo Credit tacar/iStock/Getty Images
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