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Top 20 Healthy Recipe Substitutions

1.  1 Large whole egg (1/4 cup) — WARNING: When baking, substitute half of the whole eggs

      with egg whites or the product may be tough.

Healthy Substitute:  2 large egg whites, 1/4 cup egg whites or egg substitute


2.  2% or whole milk

Healthy Substitute:  Skim, 1/2 % or 1% milk


3.  Heavy Cream

Healthy Substitute:  Soups/casseroles — evaporated skim milk

   Baking — light cream or half & half


4.  Coffee cream or half & half

Healthy Substitute:  Whole milk or evaporated skim milk


5.  Buttermilk

Healthy Substitute:  2% buttermilk or 15 Tbsp skim milk + 2 Tbsp lemon juice


6.  Evaporated whole milk

Healthy Substitute:  Evaporated skim milk


7.  Sweetened condensed whole milk

Healthy Substitute:  Low-fat or nonfat sweetened condensed milk


8.  Sour cream & yogurt — WARNING: If recipe requires cooking, use nonfat only in sweet


Healthy Substitute:  Low-fat or nonfat


9.  Cream cheese — WARNING: Nonfat produces dips and cakes frosting that are very runny.

Healthy Substitute:  Light cream cheese


10.  Cottage cheese & ricotta cheese

Healthy Substitute:  Low-fat or dry curds


11.  Butter — WARNING: Light/low-fat margarines contain more water and may cause a

        baked product to be tough, so try decreasing regular margarine 1 to 2 Tbsp first.

Healthy Substitute:  Margarine


12.  Regular cheese (block or shredded) — WARNING: Do not use nonfat in cooked foods

        because it does not melt.

Healthy Substitute:  Low-fat or nonfat


13.  1 cup cheddar cheese & 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Healthy Substitute:  3/4 cup very sharp or sharp cheddar cheese & 3/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese



14.  1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate


Healthy Substitute:  3 Tbsp dry cocoa + 2 tsp sugar + 1 Tbsp oil



15.  1 cup chocolate chips


Healthy Substitute:  1/2 cup mini chocolate chips



16.  1 cup oil in quick breads (muffins, breads)


Healthy Substitute:  1/2 cup baby fruit or vegetable + 1/2 cup oil or 1% buttermilk



17.  Regular peanut butter


Healthy Substitute:  Reduced fat



18.  1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Healthy Substitute:  1/2 cup nuts toasted to bring out the flavor



19.  1 cup shredded coconut


Healthy Substitute:  1/2 cup toasted coconut + 1/2 tsp coconut extract



20.  Mayonnaise & salad dressing —WARNING: Do not cook with nonfat versions, because

       they turn sweet with heat.


Healthy Substitute: Light or nonfat

Download Printable Factsheet

Healthy Choices

Use this guide to see how you can make simple ingredient substitutions that will give your recipes a healthy boost.


List compiled by Cheryl H. Armstrong, MBA, RD, CD, for the Nutrition and Food Safety Workshop for Quantity Food Providers, April 27, 1999.