You can easily make your own sweets and desserts without palm oil. When baking from scratch, be sure to AVOID USING SHORTENING which most always contains palm.
Store-bought desserts and baked sweets — everything from cookies and cupcakes to donuts and pies — use Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil and palm oil derivatives, including Mono- and Diglycerides, Glycerin, Polysorbate 80 and more.
Boxed cake and dessert mixes often contain palm oil as well.
As with everything, the less ingredients something has, the less chance there will be palm oil in it.
We avoid all store-bought desserts because my son has a palm oil allergy and intolerance.
Baking ingredients that contain palm oil
Table of Contents
When baking desserts from scratch to avoid palm oil, know these items likely contain it. Learn more about them below and further down in this article.
Whipped Cream and Whipped Toppings
These types of toppings in spray canisters most always contain palm oil derivatives in the form of Mono- & Diglycerides. Frozen whipped toppings contain palm kernel oil, Polysorbate 60, and Sorbitan Monostearate.
Shortening contains palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Use real butter instead of shortening in your favorite recipes and especially in pie crusts.
You will find palm oil ingredients in margarine and other “like butter” substitutes. Use real butter in desserts to avoid palm oil.
If you are vegan and looking for vegan butter, be sure to read labels. Many contain palm oil because of the mouthfeel and texture palm oil offers.
Sprinkles and Jimmies
Watch for palm oil and palm kernel oil. Colored sugar, such as Wilton Sugar — it’s available in Red, Pink, Dark Green, White Sparkling Sugar, and Blue — is palm oil free. (It’s available at Target.)
Baking and Cooking Spray
Be sure to read labels; you can find baking spray without palm oil. It’s also easy to use a canola, soybean or other oil and grease the pan with a paper towel.
You will see canned frosting ALWAYS contains palm oil or palm kernel oil among many other palm oil derivatives, including Monoglycerides, Mono & Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate. Make your own with the easy frosting recipe below.
Learn how to make canned frosting better without adding more palm oil.
You can use candy to decorate, etc. See our holiday candy post.
Almond Bark, Candy Melts, Baking Chips
Chocolate and vanilla-flavored almond barks and candy melts contain palm oil and palm kernel oil. Instead, melt real milk chocolate.
See more below about baking chips. We use Enjoy Life Semi-Dark Mini Chocolate Chips for baking. They include just three ingredients and no palm oil.
To the best of our knowledge, Red Star Active Dry All Natural Yeast in the 3-pack doesn’t contain palm oil. Other yeast contains Sorbitan Monostearate, often made using palm oil. More information below.
Imitation Vanilla Extract
Use pure vanilla extract; imitations contain Propylene Glycol, a palm oil derivative. This is the case for almond extract, peppermint extract, etc.
Food Coloring and Food Dyes
These contain Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glycerine, and Polysorbate 80.
Refrigerated Cookie Dough
While the mainstream brands contain palm oil ingredients, you may find a specialty brand that doesn’t include palm oil. Read labels.
Milk in desserts
Vitamin A Palmitate — a palm oil derivative — is added to most milks, including nut and plant milks. Make your own! Or you can usually find whole milk without added Vitamin A Palmitate.
Unless you use pure maple syrup, most syrups contain palm oil in the form of Mono- & Diglycerides. These include chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup and more. If you are looking for the sweetness of maple syrup without the extra sugar, use a sugar free syrup recipe.
Desserts without palm oil
While convenience is great, with a little planning, you can easily make your own confections. It’s often less expensive, healthier and fairly simple to make desserts without palm oil at home, even if baking isn’t your passion.
These recipes take 5 – 15 minutes, and that includes the cleanup.
We’ve included products we believe to be palm oil free. Please note, they are not guaranteed palm oil free unless they have earned Palm Oil Free certification. Use this as a starting point.
Two non-profit organizations which certify Palm Oil Free ingredients are the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme and Orangutan Alliance.
Avocado cacao pudding
This recipe has the bonus of containing avocado, which is a healthy fat. After you add all the ingredients, your kids won’t even know. It contains just four ingredients.
It’s super creamy and best when it’s been chilled in the refrigerator.
It’s vegan and gluten free as well. Be sure to use pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract… not imitation. You can also make easy substitutions for the sweetener as necessary.
- 3 avocados
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup (or agave syrup or honey)
- 6 tablespoons cacao powder (cocoa powder)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Slice avocados. Remove peel and seed. Mash together until smooth.
- Add pure maple syrup, cacao powder, and pure vanilla extract. Mix.
- Cover and refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours.
For an even greater nutritional impact, use a higher quality cacao, such as Navitas Organics Cacao Powder. Navitas Organic Cacao Powder is fair trade certified and contains 25% daily value of Magnesium per 2.5 tablespoons.
You can easily use Hershey’s Cocoa, 100% Cacao which is easy to find and also palm oil free. Instead of pure maple syrup, you can substitute honey or agave syrup as well.
Choose organic vanilla extract when possible.
Chocolate cake without palm oil
This chocolate cake recipe is divine and uses 11 ingredients. My family and I have made this cake several times. Here it is for my son’s birthday. We make the frosting as well. It’s so easy!
It’s fluffy, moist, and delicious. This cake doesn’t use eggs, butter or dairy.
In addition to making a double-layer cake which worked perfectly, I used the batter in my two donut makers.
It’s exceptionally difficult to find donuts without palm oil so I wanted to see if this recipe would work. It worked great in both of them.
I used a plug-in mini donut maker. My other donut maker makes regular-sized donuts. It’s the type where you pour the batter in the donut-shapes and put the pan in the oven.
This cake recipe turned out really great in both makers, and now we can enjoy cakes, cupcakes and donuts without palm oil.
(Please note, M&M’s doesn’t make claims these are palm oil free; however, Milk Chocolate and Mint with Dark Chocolate — not their Crunchy Mint and not their Crispy Mint — are fine for my son who reacts to anything with palm oil and palm oil derivatives. We love to use them for decorating homemade cupcakes and cakes.)
Watch for Mixed Tocopherols in M&M’s which may contain palm oil.
Buttercream frosting without palm oil
Canned frosting contains palm oil. This frosting takes less than five minutes to make.
- 1 cup real butter (salted or unsalted)
- 1 lb box/4 cups of confectioners sugar or powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Mix butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Add in vanilla and milk. Blend. Add additional milk as needed. Omit the cocoa powder for vanilla frosting.
It’s so delicious; you may want to make and eat it by itself! Here is the frosting recipe. We use it on the chocolate cake we love.
Chocolate covered bananas
This palm free dessert has the added bonus of starring a healthy fruit. You can make this a two-ingredient recipe, using just the banana and the chocolate.
Just be sure to find melting chocolate, chocolate bars, or chocolate chips without palm oil. In addition, you can add whatever toppings you want, just be sure they are palm oil free.
Some examples include nuts, shredded coconut, nut butter, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and Milk Chocolate M&Ms.
(Note to watch the M&Ms. The original/plain are palm oil free right now but be sure to read the label. They’ve recently changed ingredients and Peanut M&M’s now contain palm oil Some of their other flavors do as well.) This is especially fun to eat in the summer.
Banana ice cream
Bananas are really great for their texture, especially when blended from frozen. Plus, it’s another dessert without palm oil that’s on the healthier side. It’s so easy to make from scratch.
If you’ve looked in the store for palm oil free ice cream, you know how hard it is to find.
In addition to the easy-to-see-on-labels ingredients — palm oil and palm kernel oil — ice cream manufacturers use a common palm oil derivative known as mono- and diglycerides.
But if you have a food processor or blender, you will be amazed at how easy it is to enjoy this palm oil free ice cream, even if you aren’t particularly fond of bananas.
I use a Vitamix but any food processor will do. This tastes so unbelievably much like ice cream, you will be amazed. It’s so simple!
How to make banana ice cream
Slice bananas and freeze up to three or four bananas in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. Try to freeze them so they are in a single layer, rather than balled up.
Note: Several times, I sliced over a dozen bananas and put them in a gallon-sized Ziploc. I don’t recommend it. You don’t want the bananas to clump because it makes it really difficult for your food processor to whip them up.
Another tip is to cut the bananas every which way so they don’t nest together.
Not to complicate this simple recipe, but the idea is you really want it as easy as possible for your food processor to whip up the bananas. (Your food processor will thank you.)
Once the bananas are frozen — they don’t even need to be frozen solid — put them in the food processor or Vitamix.
Add vanilla extract to taste — approximately a quarter teaspoon per three bananas. Add cacao powder to taste. You can add a few tablespoons, depending on how many bananas you have. You can also make a larger batch of this banana ice cream and freeze for later.
Blend until it’s the consistency of ice cream. It’s a really tasty dairy-free and palm oil free ice cream treat that amazingly has the consistency of ice cream.
While it’s awesome with vanilla extract and the cacao, you can add anything to it. Instead of vanilla, use peppermint extract. You can blend in strawberries and/or slice them to mix in for strawberry ice cream. We use organic vanilla extract which has a much better chance of being palm oil free. You can add nuts, other fruit, etc. for more variety.
Like in the other recipes, you can use the easy-to-find Hershey’s 100% Cocoa powder. For an even richer flavor, use fair trade certified Navitas Organics Cacao or other 100% cacao powder.
Top it with strawberry compote for an amazing dessert.
You may have read my son gets sick from palm oil. Once, a friend came over for a play date. His mom looked very hard to find a “safe palm oil free dessert” my son could eat. (See this list of the foods he eats.)
Amazingly, she found one! It was a brand of vanilla biscotti. My son loved them. I looked for them at the grocery stores in the area and couldn’t find them. It turns out, the store she bought it from stopped selling them.
Since then, I had been looking for another biscotti brand at other stores. They either had way too many ingredients to worry about, or they were very expensive.
Still, months later, my son still talked about those biscotti. So I woke up one summer day and pulled up this biscotti recipe and made them with great success.
It took me a little longer than the 15 minutes prep time indicated, but it was still only 20 minutes or so. I substituted anise with the Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract we use safely.
If you use this recipe, be sure to take them out of the oven after 20 minutes, and then slice them with a pizza cutter.
Then put them in for another 7 – 10 minutes. This tip was from the first comment on the recipe, and it made it much simpler than the way the recipe instructs.
(The recipe states to bake it then let it cool, and then cut it, and then put back in the oven for 5 – 6 minutes. I imagine it would be very crumbly and also will take so much more time.)
The biscotti will harden after it comes out of the oven and cools.
These turned out and taste SO GREAT!!! They were exactly as my son remembered them. He was stunned (I’m not the world’s best baker) and so was I. I made them another two times.
Wow! Another easy, healthy dessert without palm oil. See this easy chia seed pudding recipe.
The recipes calls for unsweetened coconut, almond or cashew milk. Make your own so it is palm oil free.
I’ve usually make this recipe with homemade almond milk but the last time I combined walnuts and almonds. If you own a food processor or Vitamix, it’s fast.
Soak the nuts for an hour or two and rinse them off. (Before using them, check the label to be sure they are free from palm oil derivatives.)
Blend 20-25 almonds per cup of water in your Vitamix. The recipe calls for two cups of milk but you can make however many you want to.
It’s fast and easy. Pour the two cups of almond or other nut milk into a mason jar. Add six tablespoons of chia seeds and any other flavors you want. The recipe suggests honey or maple syrup and vanilla extract. Shake.
Set in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready to eat it, you can top it with fruit or anything you want.
The best part about this — aside from being healthy, easy, and delicious — is you can add anything you want to it. You can even add cacao powder or palm free chocolate chips.
Sometimes when I’m making the almond milk, I add banana, raspberries, blueberries and/or strawberries for a sweeter taste. You can make it your own.
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, chia seeds are good for you. They provide protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in antioxidants.
Prior to making this recipe, I’d never bought chia seeds in my life.
This makes for a tasty palm free dessert or snack as well as a great breakfast.
Chocolate mug cake
As with all of these recipes, this is a tasty dessert without palm oil. You use 100% pure cacao which is naturally free from palm oil. You can make vegan mug cake or see the non-vegan ingredient substitutions. This is one of the few mug cakes we found that didn’t include eggs. It tastes great!
Also, by using almond flour or Red Bob Mill’s 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour, you can make it gluten-free as well.
The thing to note about making this mug cake is that microwave times vary. Pay attention the first time you make it so you know the optimal time to get the consistency you like.
You will be amazed at how delicious, fast and easy it is to make! In the mug cake recipe above, I included a quick homemade frosting along with other topping ideas. Though the cake is excellent on its own.
Sugar cookie recipe
Read this to find pre-made cookies without palm oil in stores. Even the ready-made tubes of cookie dough usually contain palm oil.
Instead, bake your own! What’s nice is the recipe from ChemistryCachet.com calls for just seven ingredients, one of which is coconut oil.
Use her tip which is to separate the dough so it’s easier to roll out.
This recipe took just 15 minutes for me to get the dough in the oven and everything cleaned up. That’s a lot less time than running to the store. It’s lots healthier too.
These are easy to make as well are moist and delicious. I stored them in a sealed bag in my refrigerator, and they were good a week later.
You could freeze them even longer which is perfect to make in advance for when you need them.
Butterless cookie cake with ice cream
When we first found out my son reacted to palm oil, I panicked over what to do for his birthday cake. I always bought cupcakes or a cake from the grocery store.
Being that was no longer an option, I thought maybe I could make a cookie cake. In this way, I wouldn’t have to deal with frosting. I’ve only ever bought frosting in the can.
I’ve made this recipe five times. Instead of making it into cookies, we’ve only ever put the dough in a glass circular pan and made it into a cake.
Follow the directions, and grease the bottom of a pan. Cook it for 18 – 20 minutes. Let it cool.
Add the ice cream on top just before you are ready to serve it.
I used Milk Chocolate and Dark Mint M&Ms which don’t contain palm oil (not the Crunchy Mint) to decorate. You can use chocolate shavings as well.
The first few times I made it, I froze the cookie. Don’t do that. It becomes too hard to eat unless it’s much thinner. So if you use a larger pan so it’s thinner, that will work.
We use Breyer’s Natural Vanilla Ice Cream — only get the Natural Vanilla, not any of their other three vanilla flavors which may seem the same but they contain Mono- and Diglycerides.
See our list of ice cream without palm oil. for additional palm oil free options.
My family loves this so much my kids decided we can only make it for one of our birthdays so it remains special!
Chocolate tapioca pudding
I just made this palm oil free pudding from Allrecipes. It was my first time using tapioca flour which has the added bonus of being gluten-free. I only had Hershey Milk Chocolate bars on hand and will get better quality next time.
I kept it boiling for two minutes like the recipe instructed but I burned the bottom of it. I’m not sure if I wasn’t supposed to keep the lid on it (which I did) or if I needed to boil it for less time.
Aside from that, the majority of it tasted wonderful.
Brownies without palm oil
If you are looking to make desserts without palm oil, brownies are an easy choice.
We love these brownies made with olive oil from SimplyWhisked.com. So many recipes are created using canola oil, yet olive oil is much healthier.
Prep time for these is about 15 minutes. Once you’ve boiled the water, it’s fast to make.
It requires 10 common ingredients. However, while this recipe has more ingredients than the others listed, they are common ingredients you may already have or can easily get.
Some of them include cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sugar, eggs and baking soda. The brownies are moist, chocolately and delicious.
We love homemade from scratch brownies best but we have found very good brownie mixes without palm oil.
Some of my favorite recipes
Some treats I’ve been making a lot are:
A note about fruit pies and other flavors of pie. They will typically contain palm oil when you purchase them in stores and bakeries. This is because most places use shortening which most always contains palm oil. It’s not common for restaurants, stores and bakeries, etc. to use butter for the pie crust because it’s more expensive.
Making palm oil free pie is possible. However, for the same taste and not exactly the same texture, but close, is cobbler. See my recipe for blackberry cobbler. It takes just 10 minutes of prep time. You can use fresh or frozen berries. It’s easy and delicious!
Brownie mix without palm oil
- Pillsbury makes many palm oil free brownie mixes
- Chocolate Fudge
- Milk Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate
- Classic Fudge
- Purely Simple Chocolate Chunk
They are simple to make. Just add oil (canola, soybean, olive oil, etc.; just not palm oil), water and two eggs. Again, to the best of our knowledge, these are palm oil free, but they are not guaranteed.
Kudos to Pillsbury for having some boxed mixes without palm oil — this is rare indeed!
Avoid vanilla chips and white morsels as they typically contain palm oil and palm kernel oil. Unless it states “white chocolate,” the baking chips will mostly contain palm oil in some form.
The same is true for flavors of baking morsels and chips such as raspberry, peanut butter, and butterscotch, etc., which contain palm oil. You will have a much better chance if you buy milk chocolate, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate baking chips.
Read labels to be sure you are buying real chocolate. Chips marked “chocolate flavored,” “made with chocolate,” and “chocolately” usually contain palm oil.
- Enjoy Life Mini Chips: Semi-Sweet; Dark; Semi-Sweet Mega Chunks
We believe these chips are palm oil free because my son can enjoy them safely.
Whipped topping and frosting
Doing online searches, you can find ways to make whipped topping without palm oil by using heavy cream without Vitamin A Palmitate.
Again, avoid canned frosting which contains palm oil. You can easily make your own with confectioners sugar and real butter. It’s easy and palm oil free.
See more ideas for Thanksgiving and holiday desserts.
Yeast without palm oil
The only yeast we found that lists only “yeast” in the ingredients is Red Star Active Dry Yeast in the packet form.
- Red Star Active Dry Yeast packets
We looked at Instant Yeast, Bread Machine Yeast, and Quick Rise Yeast in jars and packets.
Yeast usually contain Sorbitan Monostearate. This is a palm oil derivative. You won’t know if it’s derived from palm oil unless you check with the companies.
Read labels before buying yeast. We only ever buy this Red Star yeast in the 3-packet form.
Palm oil free dessert ingredients
These are some of the palm free ingredients we use when baking:
- O Organics Organic Powdered Sugar
- Enjoy Life Foods Mini Chips Semi-Sweet
- Red Ape Premium Ground Cinnamon – This product is certified palm oil free.
- C&H Confectioners Sugar
- Simply Organic Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract
- Red Star Active Dry Yeast packets
From emailing companies and doing our own due diligence, we believe these are palm oil free. However, they are not guaranteed because they haven’t been certified Palm Oil Free.
Tips for baking palm oil free confections
It’s important to note, I’m not a baker! I am learning as I go. You can do it too.
One of the best things I did was to buy a container to put baking ingredients in. I bought a dishpan from Target. It’s easy to pull it out and have the flour, sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, etc. all in one place.
Palm oil free bakery
Remember, store-bought desserts and baked confections — cakes, cookies, pastries, etc. — use palm oil ingredients.
Sometimes you will see palm kernel oil and palm kernel oil on the ingredient labels. In addition, there are often palm oil derivatives, including Mono- and Diglycerides, Glycerin, Polysorbate 80 and more.
Yes, it’s hard to walk past the bakery departments in grocery stores being tempted by all the scones, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, donuts, pastries, muffins, cakes, tarts, pies and tortes.
But when you take a minute to look at the list of ingredients, you will be sure to find palm oil, palm kernel oil and other palm oil derivatives, especially if there are many ingredients in it.
Here are some of them from the cake ingredients in the image:
- Sorbitan Monostearate
- Polysorbate 60
- Mono- & Diglycerides
- Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
So make your own! By knowing exactly what’s going into your desserts, you can be sure they are palm oil free.
Once you know the ingredients to watch out for, it’s much easier to choose palm oil free products.
And if you feel like a snack, be it sugary or sweet, see our list of palm oil free snacks as well.
Please know, I don’t like to cook or bake but I am trying hard to make healthier choices for my family. But even though I am a very novice baker, I’ve made all of these recipes successfully, some multiple times. They are so easy to do.
And they all taste amazing. You will absolutely not miss the commercial bakery with artificial and chemical ingredients at your grocery store.
Palm oil wrecks havoc on our planet and also makes my son incredibly ill. By eating healthier and more “from scratch,” it’s a lot easier to avoid palm oil.
We will continue to update this post with more recipes for desserts without palm oil. Please share your favorites in the Comments. Again, thank you for supporting palm oil free desserts, baked goods, frozen novelties and treats. Please always read labels and be a proactive consumer.
By making desserts at home, you can be sure you are enjoying desserts free from palm oil and derivatives. You can also learn to make syrup and fruit preserves for baked goods. I just learned to make orange marmalade.
To the best of our knowledge, these products and recipes are free from palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Please use it as a reference point as you do your own due diligence. This is list not guaranteed.
You will only know for certain something is palm oil free if it has earned Palm Oil Free certification. Buy products with Palm Oil Free certification labeling from Orangutan Alliance or from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme.