Substituting Avocado for Butter in Cookies and Cakes

Some recipes suggest substituting mashed avocado for butter in cookies. Does it work?

An Internet search of “substitute avocado for butter” returned more than 50,000 results—some for cookies, others for cakes. We did some calculations and found that one mashed avocado weighs about the same as a stick of butter but has about one-quarter of the calories and fat—about 95 percent less saturated fat and no cholesterol versus 234 milligrams of cholesterol for a stick of butter. So if the substitution worked, the payoff would be huge.

We made chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, replacing all the butter with ripe avocado. When creaming the avocado and sugar, the mixture never became fluffy, as it would have with butter, and the avocado color intensified. In the oven, the cookies made with butter spread as the butter melted, but those made with avocado never did. Beneath their dry, pale green surface, these cookies were dense and damp. We tried again using half butter and half avocado, but the results weren’t any more appetizing. So the answer to the cookie question is an emphatic no.

But what about cakes? Yellow cake was a nonstarter—we didn’t like the green color or the vegetal flavor. But could chocolate cover up those things? We made three chocolate cakes, one with butter, one with half butter and half avocado, and the third with all avocado. They looked slightly different, but we all liked the half-avocado version, and two-thirds of us liked the all-avocado cake, too; the rest of us found it “wetter” or “gummier” than the original.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Don’t use avocado in place of butter in cookies—it demeans both the avocado and the cookie. But it’s fine to use it to replace at least half of the butter in chocolate cake.

OATMEAL COOKIE:  Tastes as bad as it looks.

"YELLOW" CAKE:  Not even for St. Patty's.

CHOCOLATE CAKE:  Surprisingly OK.

This is a members' feature.