How to Lower Saturated Fat in Recipes

Written by Jackie Jones, reviewed by Michelle Dudash, RD.

We all need some fat in our diets, but eating too much fat makes us more likely to become overweight. What’s more, too much of a particular kind of fat, saturated fat, can raise our cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. That’s why it’s important to cut down on fat, and choose foods that contain healthier unsaturated fat. How do you reduce fat content when cooking to make healthy recipes? Simple tricks and substitutions can help to cut the fat so that your homemade meals and baked goods are lower in fat but not in flavor.

Lower Fat Recipe Substitutions:

  1. Use nonstick cooking spray instead of butter or oil for foods such as pancakes and eggs. Use liquid oils, such as canola or olive oil, for sautéing meats and vegetables.
  2. Choose extra-lean meats and skinless chicken breasts and trim visible fat from meat.
  3. Grill, broil, bake, braise, steam, poach, slow-cook, and microwave foods instead of frying them. Sautéing is fine when using minimal amounts of oil.
  4. Replace some of the meat in your recipes with plant-based foods. Add diced mushrooms to burgers, minced celery and carrot to taco meat, and oatmeal or bulgar wheat to meatloaf.
  5. Stir chicken broth or fat-free milk into mashed potatoes, soups, gravies and stews.
  6. Try fat-free evaporated milk in creamy soups and casseroles instead of heavy cream.
  7. Choose reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt instead of full-fat versions for stews, dips, spreads, and dressings.
  8. Substitute reduced fat cheeses for traditional ones, and use 25% less than you would normally use.
  9. For cookies, replace half the butter with applesauce, egg whites, plain yogurt, or mashed avocado.
  10. Replace each 1/2 cup shortening in a recipe with 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil. This will cut down on the solid trans fat.
  11. Replace regular butter with equal amounts of tub buttery spreads made with canola oil that contains no hydrogenated oils.
  12. Substitute at least two meat dishes each week with fish or vegetarian meals. Do Meatless Mondays.
  13. Replace whole milk with 1% or 2%.


Jackie Jones is a nutritionist with a bachelors degree in dietetics.

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  1. Helen miller says:

    I have been reducing my sat fats for a year now but my cholesterol has come to a stand still. It’s been reduced from 9 to 7.8 and has stayed . what can I do to reduce it further? My sat fats per day on average is 5.4 sometimes lower. I’ve kept a diary of foods consumed daily.

    1. Hi Helen,
      Leaning towards more plant-based fats and proteins may help. Like less meat and dairy. Also more seafood. More soluble fiber. Thanks for getting in touch! Hard for me to tell without knowing everything you eat. Also exercise can help reduced cholesterol.

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