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The 10 Best Canola Oil Substitutes in Baking

I’ve been cooking for 50+ years now and have used just about every kind of oil and shortening that is on the market, and canola oil just can’t be beaten. But what happens if the canola oil bottle is empty? Not to worry, there are quite a few options that make excellent substitutes for canola oil in baking.

A surprisingly great substitute for canola oil is applesauce, like this unsweetened organic type which can even be purchased on Amazon. It will reduce the fat in your recipes and add flavor and moisture as well. This is a great way to reduce calories in a recipe.

This article will provide you with information about how the substitutes compare with canola oil and any instances where they shouldn’t be used in certain kinds of baking.

1. Applesauce

Fresh homemade applesauce next to apples isolated on white background

Applesauce is an excellent substitute for canola oil in quick breads like banana bread, muffins, and brownies. Even boxed cake mixes are good with this substitution.

While it obviously wouldn’t be a good substitute for canola oil in making salad dressings or for frying any type of meat, applesauce serves the same purpose as oil in baking. It keeps the proteins in the flour from mixing completely with the wet ingredients, which would form a rubbery, dense texture. Applesauce, like oil, will form a lighter texture in your breads and cakes. 

Plus, if you are looking to reduce the amount of fat in your baking, this is a good way to do it.  Not only does applesauce reduce fat and calories in your baking, but it also adds flavor and moisture.

Applesauce is substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis. For example, if the recipe calls for half a cup of oil, replace it with half a cup of applesauce. Just keep in mind that using applesauce as an oil replacement in baking will make a slight change in the taste and texture of your baking.

2. Butter

A Stick of Butter on the Counter With a Butterknife in Front

Anytime oil is called for as an ingredient in the recipe you are baking, the ultimate substitute is butter. Butter produces the best texture and taste in anything baked, and once you try it, you may never go back to using oil.

When butter is used in made-from-scratch cakes, the butter and sugar are beaten together until creamy, and the other ingredients are added slowly while being beaten, creating tiny air pockets that fill with gasses during baking and make the cake rise higher and have a much lighter texture. 

Cakes made from oil do not get that benefit and do not rise as high, creating a denser texture. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to using butter in your baking:

  1. Butter is higher in calories and fat than oils.
  2. When using butter in cookies, the cookies tend to flatten when baking and are crispier instead of chewy.
  3. Butter as a substitute for oil is not Vegan friendly.

To substitute butter for oil in baking, melt the butter and measure the amount needed. It should be substituted on a 1:1 basis. Just be sure to cool the butter before adding it to your other ingredients because adding hot butter could affect the action of the leavening agent and prevent the cake from rising as it should. 

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil on a Wooden Table

Coconut oil is a good substitute for canola oil, and because it is a solid, it creates tender and flaky baked goods. One of the advantages of using coconut oil is that coconut oil is Vegan friendly. But there are a couple of disadvantages as well:

  1. Coconut oil has a strong taste that is unappealing to some. However, by getting refined coconut oil, the taste is not as strong as the unrefined version, and this disadvantage is eliminated.
  2. Coconut oil contains primarily saturated fats, while canola oil contains unsaturated fats.

Coconut oil can be substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis, but like butter, the coconut oil, which is a solid, will need to be melted before measuring and then cooled before adding to the other ingredients. Coconut oil is good for making cakes, muffins, and brownies and will result in a similar texture as when using canola oil, but the taste will be noticeably different.

4. Crisco Shortening

Crisco all-vegetable shortening container

Crisco shortening is another superb substitute for canola oil and ranks closely with butter for baking. Crisco has been around since 1911 and was the first all-vegetable shortening to be marketed. My mother used Crisco shortening when I was growing up, and her baked desserts and breads were second to none. 

The great thing is that shortening has no odor or flavor and makes biscuits, cakes, and muffins that are light, tender and flaky, and brownies and cookies that bake perfectly.

Crisco shortening can be substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis, and like butter and coconut oil, Crisco shortening is a solid which should be melted before measuring and then cooled before being added to the other ingredients. 

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil, or any other type of olive oil, can be used as a substitute for canola oil in baking. However, some types of olive oil have a much stronger odor and flavor than extra virgin, and create baked goods with that stronger odor and flavor. So the type of olive oil you use will be according to personal preference.

Extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis, and because they are both liquid oils that serve the same purposes in baking, they will create baked goods with comparable textures. 

As an added bonus when using extra virgin olive oil in your baking, olive oil contains more monounsaturated fats than butter and all the other oils, making it one of the healthier oils to cook with. As a result, foods made with olive oil are healthier than those made with butter, shortening, and other types of oil.

6. Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil on white wooden table

Grapeseed oil and canola oil are both considered heart-healthy oils with unsaturated fat, but canola oil is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega fatty acids, making it the healthier choice of the two. However, if you happen to be out of canola oil and have grapeseed oil on hand, it can definitely be substituted for canola on a 1:1 basis.

Since grapeseed oil is one of the neutral oils and does not have a strong odor or flavor, it can be used in all of your baking with the exception of those recipes that call specifically for butter, and it is especially good in pancakes, waffles, and quick breads.

7. Peanut Oil

I keep peanut oil on hand at all times but use it primarily for frying because of its high smoke point.

Peanut oil is considered one of the neutral oils and is a good substitute for canola, and even though it is higher in saturated fats, it is still considered one of the healthy oils. It works especially well in baking cakes, cookies, brownies, and bread.

Peanut oil can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio for canola oil in your baking, but keep in mind that it does have a slightly stronger odor and taste than canola.

8. Pure Vegetable Oil

Pure vegetable oil makes a good substitute for canola oil in baking. It adds moisture to baked goods and makes the texture more tender than some types of fat. Vegetable oil is light and has a neutral odor and taste, although it has a slightly higher saturated fat content than canola. Canola oil has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat, making it more heart-healthy than most other oils, thus making the things you bake a little healthier for you.

Pure vegetable oil can be substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis, and because the two oils are so similar, you will not be able to tell the difference in your baked goods.

9. Safflower Oil

Safflower oil, which is obtained from the safflower flower seed that belongs to the sunflower family, is another excellent substitute for canola oil in baking. If substituting safflower oil for canola, you will not notice any differences between those things baked with canola oil and those baked with safflower oil. The two greatest differences between the two types of oil are:

  1. Canola oil is lower in saturated fat than safflower oil.
  2. Canola oil is less expensive than safflower oil because of the different processes used to produce the oils. 

The two oils can be substituted for each other on a 1:1 basis because there are many similarities between the two:

  1. They are both high in monounsaturated fats,
  2. They are both neutral in color, odor, and flavor,
  3. They are both sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are known as heart-healthy.

10. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a good substitute for canola oil in baking. Like canola oil, sunflower oil has a mild odor and taste and doesn’t mask, alter, or replace the taste of the food it is being used to cook. Sunflower oil is considered one of the healthier oils for cooking because, like canola and some of the other oils mentioned here, sunflower oil is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, making it one of the heart-healthy options for fat in baking, as well as frying, sauteing, and stir-frying.

Sunflower oil can be substituted for canola oil on a 1:1 basis in all your baking recipes.

Final Thoughts

Canola oil is hard to beat. It has a high smoke point of up to 450℉, a mild taste that doesn’t overpower the taste of the food you are cooking and is low in saturated fats. I use it for just about everything from baking to seasoning cast iron, and it works perfectly for all occasions. The only other types of fat that I use are butter for making cakes from scratch and peanut oil for frying fish because it has a higher smoke point.

Over the years, I have used all of the options mentioned here and find that they are all more or less interchangeable, at least for baking. Some, like applesauce, create a different and heavier texture than the others, but if you primarily use canola oil, as I do, each of these options will get you through your current baking project and keep you going until you can replace that empty canola oil container.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss The 9 Best Margarine Substitutes for Baking.

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