So you’ve set out to make carrot cake, only to find you’re out of oil? Or maybe you’re trying to cut oil out of your diet for health reasons? Or perhaps you’re looking for a new twist on your recipe?
Whether you forgot to stock up on oil, want to make your dessert oil-free, or simply experimenting with textures and flavors, you’re probably wondering: can you make carrot cake without oil?
One thing you should know about baking is that almost every ingredient has a substitute. It’s part of the magic!
Today, I’m sharing 6 alternatives for oil in carrot cake and showing you how to use them effectively.
Instead of butter, a typical ingredient list for making carrot cake will call for oil. This shift is due to multiple reasons that have to do with flavor and texture.
For one, oil is a better source of moisture. It’s widely established that butter-based cakes tend to come out more dense and dry compared to oil-based cakes, which usually turn out fluffier and more moist.
Being able to retain moisture for more time helps carrot cake stay tender and fresh longer.
Additionally, oil normally has a much milder flavor than butter. This is particularly important in flavor-packed recipes such as carrot cake.
Oil allows the unique flavors of spices like cinnamon, ginger, clover, and nutmeg to shine through without masking them or overwhelming your palate.
Also, if you’re using eggs, oil might be a better option to avoid an overload of richness in your carrot cake.
Yes, you can use butter instead of oil when making carrot cake. Whereas oil also doesn’t offer much in the flavor department, butter does a far better job of affecting the cake’s taste.
The fat from the butter gives a richer flavor, and it also helps the cake rise when you beat it with sugar so it turns out more airy.
To make the switch, simply add as much melted butter as the recipe called for oil.
Alternatively, you can use a combo of oil and butter to get the best of both worlds. Mix half oil/half butter for the total amount of fat in your recipe.
Your carrot cake will come out more flavorful and stay moist for longer.
Here are the top 6 oil substitutes you can use to make delicious carrot cake and you can adapt them into your recipe:
Applesauce is a popular component in many dessert recipes. It’s quite versatile as it can substitute a variety of other ingredients, including oil in carrot cake.
Not only does it provide your recipe with plenty of moisture that bakes beautifully without compromising the overall consistency, but it also adds a fruity flavor that well complements the flavors of carrots and spices.
What’s more, applesauce offers natural sweetness that you can rely on instead of sugar. But if you’re already using sugar, opt for unsweetened applesauce to prevent a sweetness overload,
For this oil substitution to work, add an equal amount of applesauce to the batter.
If you have a stock of pumpkin puree on your hands, you can make use of it in your carrot cake recipe as a substitute for oil.
The consistency of pumpkin puree is pretty similar to that of applesauce, which means it won’t dramatically alter the texture of the cake beyond enhancing its moisture.
I also like using pumpkin puree instead of oil because its flavor goes perfectly with the cinnamon, nutmeg, clover, and other spices present in carrot cake. It gets even better if you’re using pumpkin spice!
You can buy ready-made pumpkin puree or make it at home by blending some pumpkin until it’s smooth and lump-free. Add as much of the puree as the required amount of oil in your recipe.
If you’re after a nutritious and flavor-packed substitute for oil in carrot cake, bananas are up for the task!
They’re creamy and soft, so you won’t have trouble mixing them in your batter. Their natural sweetness and moisture content also makes them ideal for baking carrot cake.
What’s more, mashed bananas are a breeze to make. You only need a couple of ripe bananas and a trusty fork. Mash until they’re thoroughly smooth and free of lumps.
From there, start with 3/4 cup of mashed bananas for every cup of oil called for in the recipe. You can add more if the batter is too dry.
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are vegetables with a sugary aspect. But did you know you can use the latter as an oil substitute when making carrot cake?
Bake the sweet potatoes to soften their texture before mashing them into a puree. They’ll come out creamy and ready for combining with the batter.
Not only are mashed potatoes a healthier fat alternative, but they also pair well with the spicy flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg.
You probably have some yogurt sitting in your fridge right now. If so, you can use it instead of oil to whip up a yummy carrot cake.
Its tangy, rich taste and wet texture provide a boost of flavor and moisture for the cake. It also has a leavening effect, which means it can make your recipe more airy.
You can use regular yogurt or opt for Greek yogurt to enjoy an extra dose of protein and a more tender texture.
Start with a little less yogurt than the required amount of oil. If the batter feels dry, you can always add more.
Similar to yogurt, sour cream does well as an alternative to oil in carrot cake recipes. It results in a softer cake texture and a deliciously smooth flavor with tangy hints.
Use sour cream in place of oil in a 1:1 ratio. While sour cream contains more fat than yogurt, it’s rich in calcium and protein.
Yes, you can use olive oil to make carrot cake. The end texture will be quite similar to vegetable oil, but the stronger taste of olive oil will probably alter the final flavor of the cake a bit.
Ratio-wise, you’ll simply add one cup of olive oil for every cup of vegetable oil.
So, can you make carrot cake without oil? The answer is a definite yes.
This guide offers 6 different oil substitutes for oil in carrot cake to help you find the right option for your preferences.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.