Substitutes for Yogurt in Baking

Yogurt is popularly used in baking as a substitute for heavier or richer ingredients such as dairy cream or sour cream, resulting in healthier baked goods since yogurt has fewer calories and less fat. In many cases, yogurt is used as a moistening agent for what otherwise would be a dry dough. In other cases, yogurt is used to give the dough a softer consistency while retaining the solidity of the baked item. Often, baking recipes will call for yogurt in order to add a slight tang to the flavor of the dough.

Substitutes for Yogurt in Baking

There are some good alternatives that can be used as substitutes for yogurt that have similar consistencies and thus can provide moist dough.

1. For Moisture

Some recommended alternatives to yogurt for adding moisture to the recipe are sour crème or even crème fraiche. Other foods that can be used include mashed bananas or pumpkin and applesauce. Silken tofu that is pureed in the blender until its texture is uniformly smooth can be a good substitute for yogurt. Milk, dairy creams and non-dairy milk can also be substitutes, but these are thinner liquids than yogurt. Thus, you should add the liquid in smaller amounts than what the recipe calls for in yogurt, like 1/3 cup milk as a substitute for ½ cup yogurt, and then see how the dough’s consistency is before continuing to add.

Substitutes

Sour cream, crème fraiche, applesauce, mashed bananas, cooked and mashed pumpkin, milk, dairy creams, sour cream

Example of Recipe

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bread

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Servings: 12 (1 loaf)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned or cooked and mashed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Instructions:

  1. Cream together margarine (or butter), sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  2. Add dry ingredients, then bananas, sour cream and nuts (optional).
  3. Mix together well.
  4. Pour mix into greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 1 hour at 350˚F.

2. For Tang

Recipes often call for fresh, plain yogurt because it’s great for adding a tangy flavor to the baked product. However, there are some good options for substitutes. Because of its smooth, thick consistency, sour cream is an optimal choice for achieving a tangy flavor in the baked goods. Buttermilk, while thinner in consistency, also adds a tangy flavor to the final product. To substitute for a lack of either buttermilk or sour cream, simply add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk.

Substitutes

Sour cream, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with milk

Example of Recipe

Blueberry and Buttermilk Muffins

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Servings: 6 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ounces butter or 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center.
  2. Melt butter and brown slightly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and melted butter.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients into center of dry ingredients, mixing quickly.
  5. Fold in blueberries.
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups and bake until golden brown.
  7. Bake at 400˚F for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. For Health

It is difficult to surpass yogurt in terms of health benefits, but there are a few options available that can function quite well as substitutes in any baking recipe. Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that also contains some amount of probiotics, although it is thinner in consistency than yogurt. Skim milk is of similar nutritional value to yogurt and works as a good substitute. Both of these alternatives, because they are thinner liquids, must be used more sparingly than yogurt in baking recipes to get the right consistency and moisture in the final product.

Substitutes

Buttermilk, skim milk

Example of Recipe

Milky Baked Biscuits

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Servings: 12 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, diced finely (or, use salted butter while omitting the 1/4 teaspoon salt above)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk

Instructions:

  1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder.
  2. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender; cut the butter into the flour. Continue cutting until the mixture becomes coarse and crumb-like.
  3. Stir in the milk, very gently with a fork, until a soft dough forms. Do not over-mix.
  4. Place the dough on a baking sheet (jelly roll pan). With floured hands, press it into a 9" x 9" square.
  5. Use a spatula or the dull side of a knife and cut the dough into 12 biscuits without actually cutting them apart.
  6. Bake in 400˚F oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with homemade fruit jam or other topping of choice.

Considerations of Yogurt Substitutes in Baking

Which of these alternatives should you use in your recipe to substitute for yogurt? It depends on the reason your particular recipe calls for yogurt: to add a tangy flavor to the final product, to add moisture or consistency to the dough, or simply to add health benefits such as useful probiotics and nutritional content, or lower calories and less fat.

You can determine which of these purposes yogurt has in your recipe by the following general rule: tangy flavor can be important in pastries and pies; moisture is almost always an important aspect of baked muffins and quick breads; and adding better nutrition or reducing caloric content is most likely in items such as cakes, cupcakes and sweetbreads. If your yogurt-including recipe comes from a book, you might check the introduction to the book or recipe, or the index for information about yogurt’s purpose in that particular recipe.

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