Baking Substitutions

Here are substitutions that I have tried and tested and tips I have learned along the way as I have navigated through my allergy/food intolerance journey with my family.

Egg Substitutions

  • Ener G Egg replacer: Works well in most recipes and doesn’t add any different flavors. Whip together 1 1/2 tsp. powder and 2 tbsp. water. Sometimes 2-3 times as much powder in the same amount of water gives better results.


  • Flax Seed Meal: This is my go to egg substitution. For one egg, use 2 tbsp. flax meal and ⅛ tsp. baking powder and mix 3 tbsp. warm water. Let is sit for 5-10 minutes until it gels together. I add baking powder to increase volume and height. If making pancakes, this may not be necessary, but I have found it helps my bread. If there isn’t additional baking powder in a recipe, I will sometimes add 1/2 tsp. of baking powder. I grind my own flax seeds in my vitamix. Flax seed meal works best for waffles, pancakes, breads, and some muffins. It gives it a slight “nutty flavor.”


*When using flax seed or other seed based gels, sometime they can make gluten free baked goods gummy in the center. If this happens, I would try adding more baking powder to the recipe. Start with ½ tsp.


  • Fruit Puree: You can use 3 tbsp. fruit puree and ¼ tsp. baking powder for each egg. It works for baking where a fruit puree compliments the flavor. It will add moisture to your recipe.  Fruit Puree works the best when there is only one egg and the recipe calls for a fair amount of baking powder. It works for baking where a fruit puree compliments the flavor.
  • Vinegar/Baking Soda:1 tsp. of baking soda along with 1 tbsp. of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar and white distilled vinegar can be used. Sounds weird I know, but it makes baked goods light and fluffy. It works the best for cakes, cupcakes, and quick breads.

Sugar Substitutions

A note about sugar. Sugar should be eaten in moderation. There are better forms of sugar than others, but just because a “non refined sugar” is substituted, does not automatically make it healthy. It doesn’t mean you can eat more of a “treat” because it uses honey or another non refined sugar. Sugar is still sugar and should still be consumed sparingly. All things in moderation.


  • Agave: I recommend using raw, organic agave. It adds moisture and can help binding baked goods, which is great if you are also substituting eggs. Agave may cause some gumminess to gluten free goods. Substitute ⅓ – ½ c. agave for ever 1 c. sugar. Liquids may need to be adjusted. I would suggest decreasing liquids by 3 tbsp. to start. The volume may also be affected. Agave can be used in smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, and baked goods. A quick side note on agave. Agave has a low glycemic index of 15; however, it is 90% fructose and isn’t as “healthy” as everyone makes it seem to be. It is vegan, so may be a good choice if avoiding honey, but  agave is controversial. Do your own research and avoid hoping on the latest health trend bandwagon.
  • Honey: adds moisture to gluten free baking. Substitute ⅓  – ½ c. honey for every 1 c. sugar. Like agave, decrease liquids by 3 tbsp. I use honey quite a bit. Most honeys have a low glycemic index of 45-54 (depending on the kind). Honey contains antioxidants, antibacterial properties, and several vitamins and minerals.
  • Maple Syrup: similar to honey and agave, Substitute ⅓ – ½ c. maple syrup for every 1 c.sugar and lessen liquid by 3 tbsp. Maple syrup compliments vanilla, pumpkin, squashes, carrots, sweet potatoes, cornmeal, berries, ect. Maple syrup is a great vegan sugar substitute. It has a glycemic index of 54.
  • Stevia: is a zero calorie sweetener so many people enjoy cooking with it. It also has a glycemic index of 0. Be careful when using it  because a little goes a long way. If too much is used, products will have a strong stevia taste. Trust me, it is not a goo taste. It is available in both powder and liquid form. I generally use stevia when there is a smaller amount of sugar in a recipe. Using stevia can also affect the volume of a recipe, especially if using the liquid form so keep that in mind.
  • Brown Rice Syrup: a vegan substitute similar to maple syrup, honey, and agave. Substitute ⅓ – ½ c. honey for every 1 c. sugar and lessen liquid by 3 tbsp. I personally don’t use brown rice syrup, but it is another option. It has a glycemic index of 60-70 (which is higher than cage and brown sugar) and doesn’t provide many nutrients.
  • Fruit: pureed bananas, applesauce, dates, jams, juice concentrates can be substituted for sugar. Adjust liquids. Medjool dates are the most popular and have a low glycemic index of 42.

Butter/fat Substitutions

  • Coconut oil: gives baked goods a light creamy texture, but a subtle taste. It can be used as a shortening, cut into flour, or it can be melted for pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and cookies. I love the taste of coconut oil and I also make popcorn with it. However, it is full of saturated fats and is not as healthy as the market leads people to believe. Recently, people have gone coconut oil crazy and believe it will cure all and it is the healthiest oil substitute. This is not the case. I do enjoy coconut oil, but be careful not to go on extremes. Do your own research before falling for the latest health trend. Everything in moderation.
  • Canola oil: is also controversial. It is actually one of the healthiest oils for your heart because it contains the fewest saturated fats and the highest polyunsaturated fats. It has a high smoking point so it is great for cooking and baking. It has a subtle taste.
  • Olive oil: is great to put in mashed potatoes, breads, muffins, dressings, and vegetables. It compliments citrus and herbs. Any other oil would work fine, the liquids just may need to be adjusted. Extra Virgin Olive oil is my favorite for salad dressings. Be aware that is does have a low smoking point and may not be the best choice for baked goods.
  • Non dairy butter: I use Earth Balance or Nucoa butter sticks. However, they do contain soy. My favorite soy free butter substitute is either an oil or Smart Balance Butter spread. It has flaxseed oil and has a good taste.

Dairy Substitutions

  • Coconut milk: is great for sauces, soups, stir frys, or whipped in potatoes and squashes.
  • Soy milk: adds a rich taste and texture, but soy does not work for everyone. I don’t use it as much since my son has a soy allergy.
  • Almond milk: is my go to choice for non dairy milk. I use it in buttermilks, smoothies, and other cooking. It doesn’t have a very rich and creamy taste like coconut milk, so I don’t use it in soups. My favorite brand is the Almond Breeze brand. People have steered away from almond milk in the past because it contained carrageenan. However, recently I have not seen carrageenan in Almond Breeze and most other brands as well.
  • Cashew milk, hemp milk, and rice milk are other great substitutes.