Posted: Mar 06, 2014 6:00 AM
Many people try to eliminate vegetable oil from their diets, but what can you replace vegetable oil with in your cooking and baking? Health and nutrition bloggers share alternatives to vegetable oil so you can get cooking in a healthier way!

Fact: Our bodies need fat to function and to absorb essential nutrients. Fiction: Vegetable oil is a good source of this kind of fat.

Vegetable oils are extracted from seeds which sounds like a good start, but they can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They have to be chemically removed, deodorized and altered making them some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets.

Poppy Marler writes the healthy lifestyle blog, Facing 40, which is devoted to fun, fit and fierce women straddling 40. Marler distills her thinking to this, "I serve my family primarily whole foods and avoid GMOs. I prefer to cook and bake with mechanically pressed oils rather than take our chances on vegetable oils processed chemically from GMOs."

Learn more about the concern with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in these articles: 5 Reasons you should care about GMOs and Learn about the Non-GMO Project.

Marler isn't alone in this mindful, healthy decision making. With a widely growing movement toward eating more whole foods — foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry — many cooks in the kitchen are ditching the vegetable oil, until they're faced with a cake to mix or breads to bake. Moving toward a healthier pantry has its stumbling blocks, but having alternatives to vegetable oil in your cooking and baking smooths the way.

According to an article on 100 Days of Real Food, oils to avoid include:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Organic vegetable oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Organic canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Margarine

And some great alternatives include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Organic cultured butter
  • Ghee
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

Below is the scoop with each of these new-to-you-and-me alternatives to vegetable oil.

vegetable oil alternatives: coconut oil

Coconut oil

Coconut oil tolerates high temperatures and can be substituted 1 for 1 in your baking. Baked goods tend to turn out light and fluffy, but do have that slightly sweet fragrance unique to coconut oil.

vegetable oil alternatives: organic cultured butter

Organic cultured butter

Butter had a bad reputation for many years, but has recently been lovingly embraced within the health community. In an article on Empowered Sustenance, it's even named a superfood! Butter can be substituted for vegetable oil in your cooking and baking 1 for 1 and besides a subtle texture change in some recipes, the only reports are that your baked goods will taste a whole lot better with butter!

vegetable oil alternatives: Ghee


Ghee is clarified butter, which means that the water and milk solids — mostly proteins — have been boiled off, leaving just the rich, golden, dairy-free butterfat. Ghee is traditionally used in Indian cooking, is flavorful, can withstand high heat and is long lasting. Ghee can be substituted 1 for 1 with vegetable oil in both pan frying and baking. You can buy or make your own ghee.

vegetable oil alternatives: olive oil

Olive oil

Olive oil is a healthy fat and is definitely on the health-approved list. It's a great 1 for 1 substitute for salad dressings, stir fries and sauces, but shouldn't be your first choice for baking. The only reason? Flavor! That rich, rustic flavor you love on your salad, might not enhance your cookies in the way you'd like it to!

vegetable oil alternatives: avocado oil

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is buttery in flavor and extremely heart, eye and antioxidant healthy. Avocado oil is best used as a 1 to 1 substitute for savory recipes including homemade sauces and dressings. Like olive oil, avocado oil is probably not your go-to substitute for baking!

More on healthy choices

A healthy must-have: Apple cider vinegar
The skinny on artificial sweeteners
4 Reasons to take up tea