Best Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Cake Mix [9 Ideas]

Best Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Cake Mix

Sometimes you crave cake but are not ready to make one from scratch. So, that is why you can always find a cake mix box in your pantry. Still, work is involved as you need to add a couple of ingredients to your mix. One of them is very likely to be vegetable oil. And what if you don’t have vegetable oil? Is it possible to use another ingredient in its place? What are then the best substitutes for vegetable oil in a cake mix?

Butter, olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, Greek yogurt, buttermilk, mashed bananas, and applesauce are the nine best vegetable oil substitutes when baking a cake mix.

There are so many ingredient options, then why do cake mixes normally ask for vegetable oil instead of another ingredient? Because vegetable oil is used not only to bind the dry ingredients together but also to give moisture to your cake. Vegetable oil is the ultimate ingredient if you are looking for a moist and tender cake (it is a vegetable oil that allows for that melt-in-your-mouth texture you get in some baked goods). Also, using vegetable oil will result in lighter cakes as it will slow down the gluten formation process.

Butter

Melted butter is the most common substitute for vegetable oil when the topic is baking. It is perfect if you are using your cake mix boxes to prepare a lawyered cake, as butter will give you a denser cake, easier to stack. 

When using butter to substitute vegetable oil, go for a ¾:1 ratio. As butter is known for its richness, you should use it on your chocolate, carrot, or pumpkin cake mixes. You won’t regret it!

Olive Oil

Olive oil will give your cake mix the right texture working perfectly as a vegetable oil substitute. Known as a healthier version when compared to vegetable oil, this olive alternative will add a heavy flavor to your cake. Take that into consideration when choosing the olive oil you are going to use as a substitute. [1]

Proportions for this substitution are simple: use one tablespoon of olive oil for every tablespoon of vegetable oil in your cake mix recipe instructions. I prefer to use olive oil when I’m craving cinnamon cake mix. The result is gorgeous.

Coconut Oil

After trying this substitute for the first time, you will never return to vegetable oil. Besides being the best option if you are vegan or are on a plant-based diet, coconut oil is full of nutrients and flavor and will elevate your cake to the next level. [2] The result? A smooth and soft cake with a delicious coconut hint flavor that you won’t be able to stop eating.

I’m a fan of using this coconut substitute when preparing my carrot or pineapple cake mixes. If I’m feeling fancy, I even prepare a coconut, brown sugar, and butter topping to add to my cake for the last 10 minutes of baking time. 

The only drawback of coconut oil, when compared to vegetable oil, is that it is slightly more expensive, but, remember, you will also end up with a fluffier and more delicious cake. Go for a 1:1 ratio when using coconut oil as a substitute for vegetable oil on your cake mix. Easy peasy. 

Canola Oil

With the same fat content and consistency, canola oil is the most similar ingredient you can find to substitute vegetable oil on your cake mix recipe. The final result will be pretty much the same both in terms of texture and flavor. 

For that exact reason, I prefer to use this in the white cake mixes as I’ll be sure the taste won’t be affected. The ratio, without much surprise, for this replacement is 1:1. 

Avocado Oil 

As avocado is a high-fat fruit, its oil is the perfect substitute for vegetable oil. The results will be very similar to the original ones, especially texture and moistness-wise.

An incredible source of Omega-3 acids and fibers, avocado oil, will give your cake nutrients on top of flavor. [3] The substitution ratio is simple, one tablespoon of avocado oil for every tablespoon of vegetable oil. 

Avocado oil can be expensive, so it probably won’t be your first choice as a vegetable oil substitute but if you have some around and want to bake a cake, give it a try. You will fall in love with the final result.

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Greek Yogurt

Perfect for any cake mix flavor, Greek yogurt as a substitute will result in a creamier and thicker cake that you’ll love. As it contains protein, it will make your cake more filling than when you use the original vegetable oil. [4]

Use 3/4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt for every tablespoon of vegetable oil asked for in your cake mix recipe. Try this replacement next time you are baking an apple, lemon, or pumpkin cake mix. I assure you it will change your life.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is also a perfect substitute for vegetable oil when making a cake box. The only thing about buttermilk is its sourness which will affect your cake’s taste. 

Because of that, I usually use the buttermilk replacement when baking a funfetti, caramel, or red velvet cake mix, as I think they are too sweet. If you want to use buttermilk as a substitute in other cake mixes, add one tablespoon of sugar to your mix to make sure you cut the sourness. 

To replace vegetable oil, it’s advisable to use a 1:1 ratio for a smoother cake. If you don’t have buttermilk but want to try it as a substitute for vegetable oil on your cake mix, don’t panic. Add a few drops of lemon juice to regular milk, rest for 10 minutes, and there you have your ready-to-use buttermilk.

Best Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Cake Mix

Banana

Mashed bananas are a vegetable oil substitute when preparing your cake mix. Using bananas as your substitute will produce more tenderness, moisture, and flavor. In terms of moistness, there is no match for mashed bananas. If you are looking for a thick and soggy cake, you found the perfect replacement in bananas.

As banana is denser and a little bit more intense than vegetable oil, go for a ½:1 ratio when using it as a replacement for the vegetable oil asked for on your cake mix recipe. Remember, when using bananas, the flavor will surely be affected, so it is better to use it with cake mix flavors that go well with bananas, like brownies or chocolate cake, and my favorite red velvet cake mix. 

Applesauce

Applesauce is another great, non-dairy substitute for vegetable oil. The result won’t be the same in terms of texture (less soft), but the amazing added apple flavor 100% compensates. Also, applesauce has fewer calories than vegetable oil and no fat, making it a much healthier alternative to the original ingredient. [5]

Great for chocolate and vanilla cake mixes, applesauce will give your cake a distinctive fruit flavor that you’ll love. Do not forget to use unsweetened applesauce so that your cake doesn’t end up being sweeter than expected. The replacement ratio is ¾ tablespoon of applesauce to any tablespoon of vegetable oil.

A friend’s tip: if you want your cake to be airy and soft but want to use the applesauce alternative because of the lower calorie count, then mix it with another oil (like coconut, avocado, or canola). I do this for my brownies, and I love it!

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!