To Substitute or Not to Substitute – the Greek Yogurt Question

Earlier this week I shared with you a collection of my favorite free printable kitchen helpers. That post was inspired by this Chobani substitution chart  I recently discovered, which has since disappeared from Chobani’s website. I was intrigued by the thought of substituting Greek yogurt for less healthy ingredients like butter and mayo.  I’d substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream and créme fresh in dips before, but the baking substitutions, like butter and buttermilk, left me less convinced. So I decided to put the butter substitution to a test using a time-worn, well-known recipe – Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

To test the Chobani Greek yogurt substitution, I decided to bake two batches of the cookies. The first would be the recipe exactly as written, with 2 sticks of butter. The second batch would remove 1 stick of better and substitute in a quarter cup of non-fat Greek yogurt, per the substitution chart. Below are my observations and final recommendation.

From the beginning of the process, I could see a difference in the appearance of the Greek yogurt dough and the traditional dough. When the “fats” were creamed together with the white and brown sugar, the sugar creamed with the Greek yogurt had a shinier appearance and smoother texture than the straight butter and sugar mizxture.

Sugars creamed with butter and Greek yogurt

Sugars creamed with butter, only

Once the dough was finished, that smoother, shinier texture remained. The visual difference in the dough can be seen below. There was also a very slight difference in the taste of the raw cookie doughs. (I can’t actually recommend that you test your dough the same way. Generally, eating raw cookie dough is “bad,” but I won’t judge you if you nibble on it as well.)

The final and most important test was the final cookie. Fresh from the oven and without close inspection, there was not much of a difference between the two types of cookies.

However, a closer look shows slight differences between the two cookies. The all butter cookies have a slightly crispier and browner edge, while the Greek yogurt cookies are puffier and with a less defined, crunchy edge. The Greek yogurt cookies, upon tasting were chewier, but tasted exactly the same as the all butter cookie.

Additional research, using SparkRecipes’ calorie counter, revealed some interesting facts as well. Based on baking 5 dozen, or 60, perfect cookies, the Greek yogurt dough resulted in a cookie that has nearly 11 few calories than the traditional recipe and almost 2 less grams of fat.

The Final Verdict

Somewhat surprisingly, substituting Greek yorgurt for half of the butter in the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies worked well. It resulted in a different, chewier texture, but identical flavor profile. Furthermore, you save about 11 calories per cookie when using the Greek yogurt. I imagine, in a real pinch, even vanilla flavored yogurt could work, if the amount of white sugar were decreased.

I don’t think I will be adding the Greek yogurt substitution to my regular cookie rotation because I preferred the texture of the all butter cookies.  However, I am curious to try it in other recipes, such as brownies or quick breads, where the texture issue will be less prevalent, and even welcomed.

Check out other Cork and Spoon health ingredient swaps!

Greek Yogurt Substitute Experiment: “She” Crab Soup Charleston Style

Gluten Free Fun – Make Your Own Gluten Free Flour

The Facebook Challenge – Healthy Chocolate-Cinnamon Zucchini Bread (in which oil is swapped for apple sauce)

14 responses to “To Substitute or Not to Substitute – the Greek Yogurt Question

  1. Do you have the exact recipe somewhere? I’m working on a research project and need your exact recipe!

  2. My mom is a dietitian, and we love substituting Greek yogurt! We use vanilla flavored because it’s what we usually eat, and more in the place of cream cheese in things like frosting, but we use vegetable oil and applesauce in place of butter in cookies and cakes! It’s not a huge difference in taste, and can actually has less fats!

    • Thanks for the information Darci! I have used applesauce instead of oils before as well, such as in my Chocolate Cinnamon Zucchini bread.

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  7. I substitute FAT FREE Greek yogurt with abandon, and often get negligibly different or identical results. Unless you are very particular about a recipe, the results are impressive.

  8. This is fantastic. Thank you so much. Your step by step photos and comments are exactly what I was looking for. Re-posting this on Pinterest!!!

  9. This is such a useful post! Hm, I feel the same about the Chobani conversion chart – using yoghurt for cream cheese or oil? I’m so curious as to whether it would work! Glad to see that the cookies turned out so well though. I agree, you can hardly see the difference in the finished product. Thanks for this!

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