There’s nothing like warm pancakes for breakfast on a lazy weekend morning. Served with maple syrup, the pancakes can pack a hefty calorie count. To save some calories, you can eliminate the oil from the recipe by substituting fruits or dairy. Some substitutes save more calories than others do, but even the calorie-rich substitutes are good if you’re simply out of oil.


You can substitute butter for oil, but it’s best if you clarify the butter first. To clarify the butter, melt it in the microwave or in a pan on the stove top. Let the melted butter sit until the foam rises to the top and remove the foam from the top. Pour the clarified butter off the protein solids in the bottom of the container or filter it through dampened cheesecloth. The clarified butter will stay good for a long time, so it’s easy to make a large batch at one time and store it in the refrigerator. Use a bit more butter than the oil that the recipe called for.

Prunes, Bananas or Other Fruits

Make a puree of your favorite fruit and use that as a substitute for the oil in the pancakes. Cook the fruit in a pan on the stove until soft enough to mash with a fork. After the fruit cools, put it in a food processor and pulse the processor until the puree is minced finely but stop before it becomes a thin liquid. The pureed fruit won’t last in the refrigerator long, but you can fill an ice-cube tray with the puree and freeze it. Remove the cubes after they freeze and put them in a plastic bag or other freezer container. You can just remove one or two when you want an oil substitute.


Make the pancakes with applesauce instead of oil. Substitute unsweetened applesauce in the same amount as the oil in the recipe. If the recipe calls for 2 tsp. of oil use 2 tsp. of applesauce instead. Applesauce doesn’t have a strong flavor although it does have some apple flavor. If the flavor of the applesauce is distracting, make apple compote to go over the pancakes. Apple compotes are easy to make; just cook peeled apples with sugar and a touch of cinnamon. A splash of lemon juice will brighten the compote’s flavor.

SkimMilk, Yogurt or Tofu

Another substitute for oil in pancakes is milk, yogurt or tofu. If you are counting calories, use skim milk instead of whole milk. For each of these, they can be substituted one for one with the oil called for in your pancake recipe. Yogurt will add a bit of bite to the pancakes, much like buttermilk recipes. Even fruit-flavored yogurt can be used in a pinch and the pancakes will have a fruity flavor. Again, if the mild fruit flavor is distracting, add fruit compote or cinnamon to complement the fruit flavoring.