There's nothing like warm pancakes on a lazy weekend morning. When served with maple syrup, pancakes can pack a hefty punch. To save some calories, or if you're simply out of oil, you can eliminate this ingredient from the recipe by substituting fruit or dairy.
You can substitute butter for oil, but it's best to clarify it first. To do this, melt the butter in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. Let the melted butter sit until the foam rises to the top and then remove it. What's left is clarified butter, or ghee, which will stay good for a long time, so it's easy to make a large batch at one time and store it in the fridge. Use a bit more ghee 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.
Milk, Yogurt or Tofu
Milk, yogurt or tofu are great substitutes too. For each of these, they can be replaced one for one with the oil called for in your pancake recipe. Yogurt will add a bit of bite, 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.
Writing fanzine-based articles since 1985, Kasandra Rose writes and edits articles for political and health blogs and TrueBloodNet.com and has an extensive technical writing background. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Arts in biology from Wayne State University.