What to use in your recipe when you're out of applesauce

Baking might seem like one of the most decadent things you can do in the kitchen, but it doesn't have to be — especially if you replace some of the fats in your recipe with applesauce. It's a brilliant way not just to reduce fat and calories, but to add an extra bit of moistness to your final product. It's a win all around... but what if you're out of applesauce?

Have no fear! There's no need to go back to the old way of doing things, and using those not-so-healthy fats and oils. There's actually a wide range of things you can use in the same way you use applesauce.

Not all substitutions are created equal, though. Some require a little bit more added to your recipe, some require a little bit less, and some things just might not work with the flavor profile you're going for. So, let's talk about what you can use when you're out of applesauce, how much you'll need, where it'll work, and where it won't work quite as well as you might hope.

Pumpkin puree

If there's one Thanksgiving staple that you should keep in your kitchen cupboard all year around, it's pumpkin puree. And here's an important disclaimer — we're talking about pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. They're very different things, and if you try to use the pre-seasoned pie filling, you'll probably end up with a different flavor than what you're going for.

Pick up a few cans of plain pumpkin puree, and you'll find it's a perfect one-to-one replacement for applesauce. There are a few things you should know, though, starting with the fact that it's going to take something made with pumpkin puree a little longer to bake, so you'll have to keep a close eye on the oven and plan accordingly. The Kitchn also says that you'll have to be a little particular where you use this. If it's a recipe that calls specifically for applesauce, you're golden. But if you're trying to go right from replacing butter, you'll have to adjust the other ingredients or it's just not going to work. Your best bet? Stick with replacing applesauce and not other fats, and you're good to go.

Bananas

Bananas are brilliant for breakfast or a quick snack, and every baker has their go-to banana bread recipe. But they're also pretty perfect for an applesauce substitute.

According to The Spruce Eats, using banana instead of applesauce might take a little practice, but there's a basic rule you can use: one banana is equivalent to about half a cup of applesauce.

Alternately, if you had been planning on replacing butter or oil with applesauce and you're looking for something to swap in there, the rules are a little different. If we're talking about butter, use banana in a one-to-one ratio. If you're swapping out the oil, though, it's ¾ cup of mashed banana in place of one cup of oil.

It's worth noting here, too, that this is going to change your baking time — whatever you're making will cook a little faster, so you'll have to keep an eye on the oven to make sure you don't end up with burned goodies.

Silken tofu

Tofu is definitely one of those love-or-hate things, and if you cringed at the idea... hear us out.

There are a few different kinds of tofu, and the kind you're going to want to keep on hand for baking emergencies is silken tofu. It's not as firm as the stuff you fry — and it's lower in protein, notes Shape — but the silken variety is excellent for blending into a substitute for oil, margarine, or applesauce.

According to Plant Plate, it's a pretty simple substitution: if the recipe calls for applesauce, the applesauce to silken tofu is a one-to-one ratio. If the recipe calls for oil or butter and you're using the silken tofu in lieu of your usual applesauce, the golden rule is 1/3 of a cup of blended, silken tofu for every 1/2 cup of oil or margarine.

There are a few footnotes to this one, though. The texture of silken tofu means that it's going to work better when your final product is meant to be dense and heavy. It's also complemented best by strong flavors: so, think banana bread, or a dense chocolate cake. Might this be the perfect way to get tofu-haters to open their minds a bit? Yes, yes it could!

Fruit and berry purees

If you happen to have other kinds of fruit handy, you can absolutely replace the applesauce in your recipes with other kinds of fruit and berry purees — you might just stumble across your new favorite recipe!

According to Wilton, your general rule of thumb is replacing each cup of butter in a recipe with half a cup of the fruit puree of your choice — including applesauce, or whatever other fruit puree you might happen to have on hand. The key to successfully using these particular replacements is pairing the fruit with what you're making. Say you're making brownies or a chocolate cake — how about some raspberry puree? Making a coffee cake? Try pureed pears.

Even pureed prunes can be a completely legitimate and surprisingly delicious option, especially if you're making something with a strong flavor like a spice cake. Prunes will give a whole new depth to your chocolate cake, and it can be a healthy way to make muffins a little more low-cal. Who would have thought?

Squash or sweet potato

Getting your family to eat their recommended servings of vegetables can be a challenge, so what about substituting some veggies into their favorite baked goods?

As unlikely as you might think it seems, some vegetable purees can work quite well as a substitute for applesauce — and who knows, it might make veggie consumption go so smoothly that you swap in this one even when you still have some applesauce in the fridge. 

Wilton says that you're basically going to take the amount of fat the recipe calls for, and use 3/4 of that in vegetable puree. Now, what exactly are we talking about? Specifically, squash and sweet potatoes, which work particularly well because they already have that hint of sweetness. They're particularly good when the final product is something dense, like gingerbread, muffins, and cakes, and when you're making something with a fall flavor profile — think baked goods that are spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg — it'll be extra delicious.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is another one of those love-or-hate ingredients, and if the idea of using it to replace the applesauce in your cakes just makes you cringe, hear us out.

Mayo is made with oil and eggs, so using this instead of applesauce means you can make that cake without oil, without eggs, or without both. According to Baking Kneads, it works particularly well with boxed cake mix, and here's what you do: replace 1/3 cup of oil and 2 eggs with 1/3 cup of mayo, and that's it!

The great thing about using applesauce for cake — aside from getting rid of that fat and calorie content — is that it'll make you cake super moist. Mayonnaise will do the same thing, and it'll even stay moist for longer than a cake made with oil. Plus, mayo comes with a little culinary trick: vinegar. It sounds like that's the last thing you might want in your cake, but it actually serves to enhance the flavor, particularly in chocolate cakes. The result is a cake that tastes less out-of-the-box and more scratch-made, and who knows — this is one replacement you might start making even when you still have plenty of applesauce.

Yogurt

We hear all about how good for us yogurt is, so it's good news that we can absolutely reach for the yogurt container if we're baking and we're out of applesauce. There are a few things to keep in mind, though — while LiveStrong says that you can replace your fats in the recipe with yogurt in a one-to-one ratio, you may find your dough or batter is a little too wet. You can fix this by adding a bit more flour or, alternatively, you may want to add the yogurt first and then your liquid, so you can adjust accordingly. (In some recipes, it might be closer to a 3/4 cup of yogurt for a cup of fats, so it might take a bit of experimentation to get your consistency right.)

There are a few other things to remember, too. One Yogurt Every Day says that when you're stirring in your yogurt, you want to fold it, not beat or whip it. Why? That might cause the yogurt to start to separate. They also note that yogurt can react with aluminium, so you'll want to make sure you dig out those silicon pans before you opt for reaching for the yogurt. Bonus? Adding some flavors — like strawberry or vanilla — will give a wonderful new dimension to even old favorites.

Certain varieties of baby food

If you've ever thought that applesauce is pretty much the same consistency as baby food, you'd be right — and that's part of the reason that baby food makes a brilliant substitution for it.

Well, some kids of baby food, at least — you might not want to throw some pureed peas into your chocolate cake recipe, but carrots? That could work!

According to Crafty Cooking Mama, you can use baby food in exactly the same way you use applesauce, and there are a few bonuses with this one. If your little tyke isn't a fan of certain types of baby food, it's a fun exercise — and a well-deserved treat — to come up with something to make just so you don't waste. (That's the only reason, right?)

And, if you don't have a baby, why not pick some up at the grocery store anyway? They last for a good, long time, and they're an inexpensive ingredient to keep in the pantry. Future you will thank you for thinking ahead and saving a trip to the store, along with your baking project.

Peanut and other nut butters

Using applesauce in lieu of oil or butter obviously makes your recipes a little healthier, so it might seem a bit redundant to replace your applesauce with nut butters. But according nutrition researcher Sheila Kealey, swapping in the nut butter of your choice is still a healthier option than going back to plain old 100 percent oil when you've run out of applesauce.

Nut butters come with other good stuff that you're just not going to get in oil, like protein, fiber, and minerals like iron and calcium. That's a win, right?

That's the good news, but now, here's the semi-bad news. According to Leaf TV, this is one substitution that can be a little challenging, because of the different ratios of fats and water. They give the example of swapping in peanut butter, and say that to get a final product that turns out right, you'll have to mix equal parts oil and peanut butter until combined. Then, use it in a one-to-one ratio with whatever the recipe originally called for. Still, it's much better for you in the long run, and it might just give your cookie game a serious boost!

Avocado

Seriously, who doesn't love avocados? They're one trendy food that definitely lives up to the hype, and while you can definitely use them on toast or in guacamole, they're pretty handy to have around when you run out of applesauce, too.

According to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, you can opt for using avocado instead of applesauce with one simple calculation: just take the amount of oil or butter you were using the applesauce to replace, and use that same amount of mashed avocados. That's it! Seriously, how good do cocoa and chocolate chip muffins with avocados sound? 

There are a few things to keep in mind with this one: LiveStrong says that replacing all the oil with avocado might change the texture of your finished product, and they also note that you're definitely going to be able to taste it — which, depending on what you're making, might not be a bad thing at all! They also note that very ripe avocados work best, and you're going to want to mash them until they're as smooth as you can get them. Baking times might also change with this swap, so keep an eye on your oven!