The best substitutes for yogurt in baking give your recipes the same rich texture and tangy flavor. Here are the best yogurt alternatives and how to use them, whether you're dairy-free or don't have it on hand.
The next time you're mixing up healthy banana bread or mini chocolate chip muffins and run out of yogurt, use this list to save another trip to the grocery store.
I'm sure you'll find something on this list you have in your pantry or fridge right now.
What Does Yogurt Do in Baking?
Greek-style yogurt does a couple of things in baking! Keep reading to see to understand how it will affect your favorite recipes the next time you bake!
- Moisture: yogurt adds moisture to baked goods, which helps keep them soft and tender. Using Greek-style yogurt can prevent cakes, muffins, and bread from drying out during the baking process. It also helps give it a rich flavor!
- Texture: Greek-style yogurt contributes to a smooth and creamy texture in baked goods. It helps create a moist and dense crumb, lending a rich flavor to the final product.
- Binding: Binding agents will always be a common ingredient in most of your favorite recipes as they are what holds the ingredients together when you bake. Yogurt is a great binding agent! It can replace some of a recipe's fat content while providing a similar texture and structure.
- Tangy Flavor: Greek-style yogurt has a slightly tangy taste, which can enhance the taste of your baked goods. Its tart flavor complements both sweet and savory recipes!
- Leavening: The acidity from yogurt reacts with baking soda, helping to leaven (or to rise) your batter. Using Greek-style yogurt as a leavening agent will produce a lighter but similar texture.
Important Note: swapping out yogurt for something less or not acidic can affect the end result if the recipe calls for baking soda. Baking soda needs acid to react and help the baked goods rise.
Related: learn the best substitutes for coconut sugar so you can swap it out or use it in all of your desserts.
What Baked Goods Use Yogurt?
Since Greek-style yogurt has the ability to provide moisture while keeping a similar texture, it is the perfect substitute for many of your favorite recipes. It's also a popular choice among bakers!
- Cakes: Greek-style yogurt can be added to cake batter to enhance moisture while giving a similar texture, especially when making this Healthy Banana Cake. It works well in both light and dense cakes, such as pound cakes, coffee cakes, and regular yogurt cakes.
- Muffins: Greek-style yogurt adds moisture and tenderness to muffins while keeping them light and fluffy. Blueberry muffins, banana muffins, and chocolate chip muffins commonly use it as a common ingredient.
- Quick Breads: Quick breads, like banana bread, zucchini bread, and pumpkin bread, benefit from the addition of Greek-style yogurt. It gives it a nice consistency and helps create a moist and tender loaf with a delicate crumb. We love using Greek yogurt in our Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and Healthy Pumpkin Banana Bread!
- Pancakes and Waffles: Greek-style yogurt can be incorporated into pancake and waffle batter to make them extra fluffy and moist! It gives these breakfast (or dinner!) treats a rich flavor that benefits from a tangy taste.
- Scones: Greek-style yogurt can be used in scones to make them tender and moist. It works well for both sweet and savory recipes for scones, such as blueberry scones, cheese scones, or herb scones.
- Cheesecakes: Greek-style yogurt can be a healthy substitute for cream cheese in cheesecake recipes. It adds a tangy flavor and creamy texture while reducing the fat content.
Differences between Greek-Style Yogurt & Plain Yogurt
Greek yogurt and plain yogurt are fermented dairy products and are similar to sour cream and buttermilk.
Fermented dairy products are made by converting lactose (milk's naturally occurring sugar) into lactic acid through lactic acid-producing bacteria.
Greek yogurt and plain yogurt are made with the same ingredients yet their taste and nutrients differ because of how they're made.
Regular plain yogurt is made in three steps! First by heating milk and then adding lactic acid-producing bacteria.
Finally, leave it to ferment until it reaches the appropriate pH level. Fruit is a common ingredient added to plain yogurt once it cools.
The final plain yogurt product has a creamy consistency but can vary in thickness. Most plain yogurt is often drinkable or will be eaten with a spoon.
The acidity of of plain yogurt can still give it a sour taste; however, it is still generally sweeter than Greek-style yogurt.
Greek-style yogurt is made by eliminating the whey and other liquids that regular yogurt possesses.
The straining process significantly decreases the total volume of made yogurt so Greek-style yogurt takes significantly more milk to make similar sized batches.
Greek-style yogurt has a much thicker consistency than plain yogurt and, on its own, Greek-style yogurt has a tangy taste.
Use this list for the best Greek yogurt substitutes as well. Although they differ slightly, this list can be used interchangeably.
Best Yogurt Substitutes for Baking
Here are the 9 best yogurt substitutes for baking, whether you're making a quick bread, muffins, cake, or something else. Follow these guidelines and ratios for when you don't have yogurt on hand or want a dairy-free option.
1. Sour Cream
Sour cream, especially full-fat sour cream, is a great substitute for yogurt in baking. It has a similar tangy flavor and creamy texture, making it suitable for a variety of recipes like cakes, muffins, and quick breads.
You can also use dairy-free or vegan yogurt. We like using Kite Hill plant-based sour cream and use it in several baked goods, like mini chocolate chip muffins.
For best results, replace yogurt with an equal amount of sour cream in your recipe. This means if the original recipe needs a cup of yogurt, you will use a cup of sour cream.
2. Greek Yogurt
If your recipe calls for regular yogurt, full-fat Greek yogurt is a top regular yogurt alternative. Greek-style yogurt has a slightly thicker texture and tangier flavor when compared to regular yogurt.
Substitute in equal amounts, so one cup of Greek yogurt will equal one cup of yogurt.
You could also make your own homemade yogurt and use that. A great dairy-free alternative for use in your recipes is dairy-free Greek-style yogurt! This is because it is almost identical in taste and consistency.
We use it all the time in creamy salad dressings, like this Creamy Jalapeño Ranch!
Buttermilk is another great substitute! It's essentially sour milk, which gives desserts the same tender texture as the acid in yogurt.
This is especially true in recipes that require a moist and tender texture, like pancakes, waffles, and biscuits.
The acidic nature of buttermilk helps activate baking soda which leads to better leavening. Substitute using ¼ less buttermilk than the recipe calls for. Buttermilk isn't as thick so the batter may be more looser.
To make one cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way full with your choice of milk, whether it's whole milk or almond milk for dairy-free.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is going to add moisture and provide a rich flavor to your baked goods. However, keep in mind that cottage cheese and Greek-style yogurt do not have a very similar consistency.
While they both have a tangy flavor and add acidity, their differences in consistency will impact the final recipe.
You will substitute using a 1:1 ratio, meaning one cup of yogurt equals one cup of cottage cheese.
5. Cream Cheese
That's right- cream cheese is a great substitute for Greek-style yogurt! While they have different textures and flavors, cream cheese will provide a similar moisture.
It also adds an amazing rich flavor to baked goods.
Cream cheese is more decadent than Greek-style yogurt and has a much less tangy flavor but it is still a great option!
Substitute one cup of Greek yogurt for one cup of cream cheese. For best results, make sure to smooth out your cream cheese first!
6. Heavy Cream
Even though heavy cream is a liquid, it is still a good substitute in your favorite recipes!
Heavy cream does not have a tangy flavor or similar texture of yogurt; however, when heavy cream is heated or mixed with other ingredients it creates a thick and creamy consistency, similar to yogurt.
Therefore, it's a great option in place of yogurt. If the tangy flavor is important to you, you can imitate it by adding a little lemon juice to your heavy cream.
Since heavy cream does not have a similar consistency, you will want to substitute using less than a 1:1 ratio. Start with using ¾ cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of yogurt.
Add up to a full 1:1 exchange if desired, but be aware of how this may change the overall recipe and outcome of your baked good.
Whether you are looking for dairy-free options or a vegan substitute for your favorite recipes, we've got you covered!
7. Silken Tofu
Silken tofu is made from soy milk and can be used as a dairy-free alternative or vegan substitute for yogurt in baking.
It is a great way to provide moisture and a creamy texture to recipes that is similar to yogurt.
Silken tofu works well in recipes like muffins, quick breads, and cakes. Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing a cup of yogurt with silken tofu.
8. Coconut Milk or Coconut Cream
Coconut milk or coconut cream can be used as a dairy-free alternative to yogurt. They both provide a rich flavor and moisture to baked goods.
Use the same amount of coconut milk or coconut cream as yogurt mentioned in the recipe. This means one cup of yogurt equals one cup of milk or cream.
Note: Coconut milk or coconut cream may impart a subtle coconut flavor to the recipe.
Another vegan substitute and dairy-free alternative for baking is applesauce! Applesauce is a great substitute for yogurt.
Although it may slightly alter the taste and texture of the final product, applesauce adds moisture and helps bind the ingredients together. For substitution, use an equal amount of applesauce for yogurt.
Note: Applesauce is naturally much sweeter than yogurt and may add some additional natural sweetness to the recipe.
If you use applesauce as your substitute, keep this in mind, especially when considering the other sugar-based ingredients for your recipe, as you don't want your recipe to end up too sweet!
Expert Tips for How to Substitute Yogurt in Baking
Here are some things to keep in mind when you are making a recipe and looking to substitute yogurt!
Baking Soda vs Baking Powder
Does the recipe call for baking soda or baking powder? Baking soda needs an acidic ingredient to help it rise, which Greek-style yogurt is perfect for.
If the remaining ingredients in your recipe are not acidic, it’s important to swap the Greek-style yogurt for something that is acidic like buttermilk, cream cheese, cottage cheese or dairy-free Greek yogurt. If you don't have an acidic ingredient, you could also use baking powder instead of baking soda and proceed with your chosen substitution.
Adjust for Moisture
Yogurt adds moisture to baked goods. If you're using a substitute with less moisture (as in, it's more solid), such as cream cheese or cottage cheese, you may need to adjust the recipe.
Adding a little extra liquid (e.g., milk, water, or fruit juice) helps to maintain the desired consistency of your recipe.
Give texture considerations to your recipes when making substitutions! Yogurt contributes to the texture of baked goods.
Substitutes like sour cream, buttermilk, or silken tofu can help maintain or approximate the desired texture.
However, when using an ingredient like cottage cheese or heavy cream, the texture can chance. Blending or pureeing these other ingredients will provide a smoother finish and give a similar texture to your recipes.
Yogurt has a tangy flavor that can impact the taste of baked goods. If using a substitute with a milder flavor, such as cream cheese or cottage cheese, you might want to add a small amount of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to enhance the tanginess.
Additionally, if using a substitute that is a bit sweeter, like applesauce, you may want to adjust the other sugar-based ingredients in your recipe to tone down the overall sweet flavor.
Ratios & Adjustments
When substituting, start by using an equal amount of the substitute. However, depending on the specific ingredient, like a liquid (heavy cream) vs something more solid (cream cheese), you may need to make adjustments.
Experimentation might be necessary to achieve the desired taste and texture.
Note: It is ALWAYS best to start with less of an ingredient than more! You can always add more of an ingredient to a recipe, but it can be difficult to remove it.
Using Yogurt in Cooking
I would not be doing my job if I didn't tell you ALL the recipes that Greek yogurt works in! Since Greek-style yogurt has a thick yet creamy texture, it can be used in your favorite recipes and savory dishes to add the same features (making them thicker and creamier!).
- Soups: Using Greek-style yogurt in your soups adds an amazing creamy texture. Put it on top of our Turkey Pumpkin Chili and see what we mean!
- Sauces, Dressings, & Dips: Another great way to utilize Greek-style yogurt is by adding substituting it in your favorite sauces, dressings, or dips! We love using Greek yogurt in this Creamy Tzatziki Sauce that we put on top of our Greek Chicken Meatballs. If you are looking to impress the attendees at your next potluck or family gathering, our Creamy Avocado Dip or Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip are sure to be crowd favorites!
- In place of sour cream: If you're new around here, you should know that tacos are my FAVORITE food! While I love to top my tacos with traditional sour cream, you can use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on taco recipes. Try using Greek yogurt on top of our family-favorite Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are so many ingredients that all make a great alternative to yogurt in your recipes. To find the best option for you, we recommend reviewing what kind of recipe (sweet or savory) that you are trying to make. In general, some of the best options include sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, silken tofu, and applesauce!
Yogurt lends itself beautifully to breads, biscuits, muffins, and cakes, because it provides a slightly tangy flavor and a light, fluffy texture. You can substitute yogurt for several dairy products like sour cream or cottage cheese in many recipes, or use it in a recipe that specifically uses yogurt.
Soured dairy, like yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk are frequently used over milk because of their acid levels. Their acidity reacts with baking soda in recipes and it is a great leavening agent.
You can use sour cream instead of yogurt in a cake! We recommend using a 1:1 ratio for this type of substitution.
You can use milk instead of yogurt but be very careful as yogurt is quite a bit thicker than milk. If you want to use yogurt in a recipe instead of milk, you can add water to your yogurt until it resembles the consistency of milk!
Desserts and Recipes with Yogurt
- Mini chocolate chip muffins
- Banana blueberry muffins
- Blueberry baked oatmeal
- Brown butter banana bread
- Apple banana bread
If you try one of these swaps, I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram.