Butter-free desserts that aren't good for you
March 28, 2020 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Butter is expensive right now, but I have lots of other dessert ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, cocoa). So I'm looking for good recipes that don't use butter. A lot of butter-less recipes I'm finding don't use butter because they are trying to be healthy desserts. That is not what I want. I want desserts that omit butter or use oil or applesauce because it makes for a good dessert. Like brownies or banana bread. Any suggestions are welcome!
posted by Neely O'Hara to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
French Yogurt Cake (easy and delicious! Great with jam and whipped cream, or a sugar lemon glaze)
posted by ananci at 9:31 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's always the strangely named Wacky Cake, which also doesn't use eggs. It's very good, I made some a couple of weeks ago and we both like it a lot.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:32 AM on March 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Do you have peanut butter? Peanut butter cookies are pretty delish!
posted by ReluctantViking at 9:41 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

There are lots of chocolate cake recipes that call for oil instead of butter. Ex:

The recipe I've used for years is eluding me online but it's
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
(mix the above)
1 c. buttermilk (I use regular milk with 1 T. vinegar)
2 eggs
1 c. cooking oil
1 c. hot water
(mix the above and add to the dry stuff and mix it all--it will be thin)
Bake in a greased 9x13" pan 40-50 minutes at 350F.

I use butter or margarine for the frosting but I'll bet you could make an excellent cream cheese frosting instead. Or just sprinkle it with powdered sugar. It's a very moist cake.
posted by helpthebear at 9:46 AM on March 28, 2020

I just made these gingersnaps from Penzeys website yesterday, which use shortening instead of butter. The recipe says they are the best gingersnaps ever, and I'm inclined to agree. NB: I adjust the spices, upping both the cinnamon and ginger while cutting down the cloves a bit.
posted by DrGail at 9:48 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

These salted chocolate chip cookies are amazing. They use oil instead of butter.

Also, for some reason, if you search “olive oil” with a dessert name, the recipes seem more decadent. I’ve made a really tasty avocado chocolate cake, but you may not be swimming in avocados right now. I don’t remember my specific recipe, but they’ll turn up with google.
posted by FencingGal at 9:54 AM on March 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Chocolate crinkle cookie recipes generally use oil.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:05 AM on March 28, 2020

Fatless sponges are a thing (and not a healthy thing :)

They make a more bouncy cake that is specifically great for Swiss rolls, because you can roll it up without it disintegrating. (Personally I'd cover slices of said roll in hot custard in order to eat it, but it's also a finger cake if you want it to be.)
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:12 AM on March 28, 2020

The best peanut butter cookies (really, try them):

A cup of cheap peanut butter from a jar (don't use the fancy stuff without additives)
A cup of sugar
An egg

Stir it up, divide into about a dozen balls on a cookie sheet, squish them with a fork so they have a pretty cross hatch, bake until done (not too long).
posted by fritley at 10:14 AM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh! Maybe you have the ingredients for a Pavlova? They are wonderful.
posted by fritley at 10:17 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chocolate olive oil cake (Smitten Kitchen's version of the 'wacky cake' Marie Mon Dieu linked above calls for more cocoa, sugar)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:29 AM on March 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

If desserts that are dairy-free for the sake of being dairy-free but not for the sake of being healthy fit the bill, try adding "pareve" or "parve" as a search term. (Parve food has neither meat nor dairy, a useful attribute for anyone keeping kosher and nonetheless desiring dessert after a meaty meal.)
posted by trig at 11:04 AM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't eat dairy, including butter. Lack of fat really changes recipes; fat is luscious. If you can sub. margarine or oil, it should work pretty well. I like the taste of corn oil, but coconut oil works well in many recipes and I've used neutral oil, as well. I've tried desserts that use applesauce as a replacement and they are seldom luscious. Chocolate without fat is a very different flavor.

Angel food cake is delicious without butter, and even better with fruit. Meringues, pavlova, etc.
posted by theora55 at 11:15 AM on March 28, 2020

I find carrot cake turns out exceptionally well with oil. I do recommend substituting 1/3 of the oil called for with applesauce. (the cream cheese icing with this recipe calls for butter...but you could chose a different icing, or no icing at all!)
posted by fourpotatoes at 11:40 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Other people have mentioned olive oil cakes, but I'm gonna toss another one in:
Orange Olive Oil Cake. So good with some coffee or tea.
posted by thebots at 11:46 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Vegetable shortening in any recipe for butter. Might up flavor ingredients like vanilla extract or spices a little. In war-times, people used schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) for butter, often in spiced foods like gingerbread. Not everyone would have access to schmaltz.

I love baked custards: luscious and not at all dietetic. Any number of flavors.
posted by tmdonahue at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2020

I can't eat dairy right now and these "accidentally vegan" blueberry lemon scones are on my to-bake list.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:58 AM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jewish apple cake. It's only the best cake ever.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is just a great baking book. The recipes are ingenious, and they flavor combos are fantastic. There's also Vegan Pie in the Sky and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by the same authors. Anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, really.

I also really like a meringue cookie: with hazelnuts, or chocolate chips, or grated unsweetened chocolate and a bit of cocoa (add a pinch of clove or cayenne pepper), or macarOOns with grated coconut. (Macaroons made with horribly old coconut are as delicious as those made with recently purchased coconut. Ask me how I know!)

Also, plus one to subbing margarine if butter isn't the main flavor; that's why margarine exists. If butter is a main flavor, add extra vanilla; most people can't tell the difference between artificial vanilla and vanilla extract in a finished baked good, so don't fret about that either.

Happy baking! I'm going to make some sugar cookies from an all-in-one mix from a friend two Christmases ago.
posted by JawnBigboote at 12:15 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you want additional general terms to search for, sponge cake and chiffon cake would go down the right path.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2020

I Literally am sitting on my couch eating Jewish Apple Cake with my kids. We used this recipe . It’s a huge crowd pleaser and tastes amazing fresh out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream on top.

The only nonstandard kitchen baking ingredient is orange juice - otherwise it calls for all the normal things you would expect in an apple cake.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:15 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Made-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake, another version of Wacky Cake from the NY Times (memail me if anyone wants it and doesn't want to get it from the Times' website). They suggest a chocolate ganache frosting. Also, Banana Everything Cookies (NY Times again).
posted by gudrun at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2020

Creme Brulee! If you don't have ramekins, you can totally cook them in mason jars, bowls, or anything else that's oven safe. I've made them in diner mugs before with perfectly acceptable results.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:13 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chocolate pudding cake is delicious and butter-free.
posted by Lexica at 6:29 PM on March 28, 2020

Ok, to confirm that my peanut butter cookie recipe [above] still worked, I retested it.

This is just to say
they were delicious
so sweet
and still warm
posted by fritley at 8:15 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've made the Jewish apple cake Suffocating Kitty linked to. It was raved over at work.
posted by kathrynm at 1:55 PM on March 29, 2020

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