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Fruit Puree as a Sugar Substitute in Baked Goods

author image Cynthia B. Astle
Cynthia B. Astle is a longtime journalist who has written on practically every topic of human interest for newspapers such as the "United Methodist Reporter," magazines including "Response," "Arts Ministry" and the "Progressive Christian" and websites such as Darkwood Brew and United Methodist Insight. She was also a food editor and restaurant reviewer for the "Clearwater Sun."
Fruit Puree as a Sugar Substitute in Baked Goods
Pear puree in a bowl and pears Photo Credit: Dave King/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images

Fruit puree comes from processing the pulp of fruit. It can be substituted for refined sugar in baking because it contains fructose, the natural sugar occurring in fruit. Purees retain the flavor, color and aroma of the fruit from which they come and add bulk with fiber. Since they also contain water, it's important to reduce the liquid in a recipe by 1/4 cup whenever replacing sugar with puree. One cup or 8 ounces of fruit puree equals 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar, depending on how sweet you want the recipe.

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Match the Flavor

Sliced banana in a bowl
Sliced banana in a bowl Photo Credit: tycoon751/iStock/Getty Images

Fruit purees work best in recipes such as carrot cake and banana bread that have a fruit or vegetable ingredient. Matching the flavor of the fruit from which the puree comes is the best way to add the puree to a recipe. For example, with banana bread mashed ripe bananas can be substituted for refined sugar while maintaining the desired flavor. One medium ripe banana yields about 6 to 8 ounces of puree when mashed.


Homemade apple sauce sprinkled with cinnamon
Homemade apple sauce sprinkled with cinnamon Photo Credit: Ildiko Papp/iStock/Getty Images

Apples must be cooked to make puree, or applesauce. Applesauce can be used in cakes, muffins and quick breads as a sugar substitute. The best apples for puree are those with a mild flavor, such as Gala and Red Delicious. Avoid using tart apples such as Granny Smith. To make 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce, wash, peel, core and slice 2 medium apples and cook at medium heat for 25 minutes. Allow the apples to cool slightly and mash them with a potato masher. If you want the applesauce to be smoother, puree them further in a blender.


A halved papaya on a cutting board
A halved papaya on a cutting board Photo Credit: Charlotte Lake/iStock/Getty Images

Tropical fruit such as papaya make unusual puree for cakes and muffins. To make papaya puree, wash, rinse and dry a medium fruit. Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler. Slice the papaya in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Rinse each half with water to make sure all the seeds are out. Then scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender. A papaya gives 10 ounces of puree, or enough to substitute for as much as 2 tablespoons of sugar in a recipe.

Sometimes There's No Substitute

Sugar in a measuring cup
Sugar in a measuring cup Photo Credit: nalinratphi/iStock/Getty Images

In some cases fruit puree can't be substituted for sugar in a recipe because of sugar's essential role in the chemical processes of baking. Sugar stabilizes egg whites, makes golden crusts for cakes, and attracts moisture that keeps baked goods fresh. Fruit purees can't perform any of these functions. Before you substitute fruit puree with sugar, you need to understand how the sugar works in a recipe.

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