How to Modify Recipes to Reduce Fat
Recipes are chemical formulas that specify the ingredients, proportions, and methods necessary to produce a great tasting product. Any change made in the recipe will produce a slightly different product from the one that you normally enjoy. You may or may not be satisfied with the result, so experiment. Generally, reducing fat or using a fat substitute can result in: a coarser texture, less moistness, less flavor, tough crumb, “gummy” taste, less richness, less creaminess and shorter shelf life.
The following are some quick tips for a lower-fat version of your favorite recipes:
- Reduce fat by 1/3. If a recipe calls for 1 cup, use 2/3 cup.
- Do not substitute oil for margarine or shortening when making cookies. Substituting oil will make the cookies feel and taste greasy and is likely to change both texture and volume.
- Do not substitute light or diet margarines for shortening in baked recipes. These types of margarines have more water, therefore will cause the product to have less volume and a flat taste. Rather than substituting reduced fat margarine, try using less regular margarine.
- Instead of regular sour cream, cheeses, mayonnaise or yogurt, use reduced fat versions.
- Substitute skim milk for whole milk .
- Evaporated milk can be substituted for whipping cream and evaporated skim milk can be substituted for regular evaporated milk.
- Use canola or olive oil for cooking, rather than solid fats or vegetable oil blends.
- Use very small amounts of nuts or real butter in low-fat recipes to give food a flavor boost.
- Use reduced-fat spreads and cream cheese, fat-free spreads and cream cheese do not work well when heated.
- Add 1 tbsp. of cornstarch or flour to fat-free plain yogurt to keep it smooth during baking.
- Use “yogurt cheese” by draining fat-free plain yogurt overnight. Use it in recipes calling for cream cheese.
- Fat acts as a barrier, making flour less likely to absorb water, thus giving a moist tender baked product. Ingredients commonly used to replace fat partially combine with flour. A structure forms, but it’s not the same. The following are the best options:
- Applesauce – substitute for equal amounts of fat – product will be very moist, may need to reduce liquid in recipe
- Mashed bananas -- substitute for equal amounts of fat – gives distinct flavor
- Pureed prunes -- substitute for equal amounts of fat – product will be very dry, so add moisture in form of prune juice, milk or water – gives a dark color
- Pureed pumpkin -- substitute for equal amounts of fat, gives distinct flavor and color
- Grated zucchini -- substitute for equal amounts of fat – works best in quick breads
- Low-fat cottage cheese -- substitute for only 1/2 of fat – gives rubbery texture
- Pureed tofu -- substitute for only 1/2 of fat – gives beany flavor
- Non-fat yogurt -- substitute for equal amounts of fat -- product will be very moist, may need to reduce liquid in recipe
- Choose lean red meats, poultry and fish. Remove excess fat from these products.
- When using ground beef, drain, blot and rinse with hot water.
- Avoid products containing tropical oils like cocoa, palm or coconut.
- Use 2 egg whites for 1 egg to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol.
Susan Mills-Gray, Mills-GrayS@missouri.edu
Regional Specialist, Nutrition and Health Education
Cass County, Missouri
University of Missouri Extension