You'll often find yogurt listed as an ingredient in healthier baked goods. After all, the ingredient is low in calories, high in protein and lends desserts great moisture and flavor. But if you're out of yogurt — or you're avoiding dairy — there are many ingredients you can substitute in place of it.
Here are some of the best options to choose, whether you're looking to replicate yogurt's tangy flavor, ensure your baked goods turn out moist or are seeking a dairy-free alternative.
1. Sour Cream
One reason yogurt is used in baking is to add moisture and texture to batter or dough. Unlike a liquid such as milk, another common baking ingredient, yogurt is thick and creamy rather than watery. Plus, yogurt's distinctive, tart flavor adds complexity to baked goods. To preserve that flavor profile, you'll want to choose a substitution with an acidic tang.
For a simple one-to-one swap, go for sour cream or crème fraîche, which may be higher in fat. Sour cream, for instance, has 455 calories and 44.5 grams of fat per cup. You may want to use slightly less shortening in the recipe to adjust for the fat difference. Or, opt for low-fat sour cream, which boasts 337 calories and 26.3 grams of fat per cup.
If you don't have sour cream on hand, you can easily DIY it. Just add 2 to 4 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar per cup of milk or cream. Allow it to stand undisturbed for a few minutes so it can thicken before use.
Read more: 4 Good Things Sour Cream Does for You
2. Cottage Cheese
Another smart substitution is cottage cheese. However, keep in mind that draining it can make it dry, so you'll want to use it right out of the carton to lend your baked goods some moisture.
To get a good consistency with cottage cheese, mix it in a blender until it's smooth and clump-free before adding it to your other ingredients. Or, add some milk or lemon juice when you blend the cottage cheese, suggests Amy Shapiro, RD and founder of Real Nutrition. That way, you'll get a texture that's an even better match to yogurt.
3. Silken Tofu
For a non-dairy, vegan substitution, try soft or silken tofu, which will also add that moisture you're looking for. "Tofu is also a great choice for those with food or dairy allergies," says Shapiro.
Tofu also boasts nutritional advantages: It's high in protein, low in fat and has no cholesterol — a 3.5-ounce serving of silken tofu has 4.8 grams of protein, 2.7 grams of fat and 55 calories. Although the consistency of tofu types may differ across brands, you can combine soft and silken to achieve a creamy, smooth yogurt-like texture that blends with other ingredients as yogurt does.
Read more: How to Cook Silken Tofu
Both cottage cheese and tofu add a lot of protein to your baked goods — but only minimal carbohydrates or sugar, Shapiro notes.
4. Cultured Buttermilk
Like sour cream, another acidic replacement for yogurt is cultured buttermilk, which contains 151 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup. And low-fat buttermilk cuts those totals even more, to under 100 calories and 2.6 grams of fat per cup. Like yogurt, buttermilk contains probiotics, live bacteria that help you digest food and help your gut prevent inflammation, the Cleveland Clinic notes.
Since sour milk and buttermilk have a different consistency than yogurt, decrease their amounts by about one-third to avoid adding too much liquid to your baked goods. If the dough seems too dry, slowly add more buttermilk or sour milk.
Try This Trick for a Good Rise
If lofty breads or biscuits are your goal, choose an acidic substitute, such as buttermilk or sour milk. Ensure the best rise by adding a half teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients if the recipe doesn't already call for it. The acidic yogurt substitute reacts with the baking soda and creates bubbles that make your baked goods fluffy and light.