Butter can be a difficult ingredient to avoid, meaning you’ll need to look for a butter substitute if you don’t have any on hand or have a dairy allergy in the house.
The good news is, whether you are baking a pie or sauteing vegetables there are several suitable butter substitutes you can use to make your recipe a success.
Different Kinds of Butter
- Sweet cream butter: made from pasteurized milk
- Raw butter: made from unpasteurized milk
- Cultured butter: made from fermented milk
- European style butter: contains more fat than other butter
- Clarified butter: made from 100% milkfat
- Ghee: clarified butter that has been cooked for longer
- Spreadable or whipped butter: regular butter which has air or vegetable oil added to it to make it more spreadable.
Why Use Butter Alternatives?
Using butter alternatives can be due to a dietary restriction, such as a dairy allergy. Or you could have run out of butter in your fridge and don’t have time to go to the store.
Some people choose to use butter alternatives because they want their recipes to be healthier, as butter contains lots of fats and oils.
10 Best Butter Substitute Options
The easiest substitute to swap for butter because they are both fats is oil. Oil is a liquid, however, unlike butter, and can only be used as a substitute in recipes that call for you to melt your butter before adding it to the bowl.
2. Vegan Butter
For those needing to swap the butter content of a recipe due to dietary restrictions, vegan butter will typically do the trick. Vegan butter works well in dishes where the butter needs to be added as a solid, as well as in those where butter is added as a liquid.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an unconventional butter substitute but works well when making baked goods. You do need to be cautious though as this is only a good solution for recipes that need a small amount of butter, otherwise, your baked goods won’t rise properly.
4. No Sugar Added Applesauce
Applesauce is neutral tasting, similar to Greek yogurt, and can replace butter in baked goods recipes without changing the taste, in fact, it may even add to it. Just be cautious not to use applesauce when lots of butter is needed as it can interfere with the consistency of the final dish.
Avocado is a superfood rich in fat and creamy just like butter. It should come as no surprise that you can use it as a butter substitute. Simply puree the avocado and add it to your recipe, just know that it will probably turn your recipe green.
6. Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin is an easy butter substitute as it acts the same way, and without the famous pumpkin spice, is a neutral taste. Using Pumpkin in place of butter works best in baked goods but be careful with those that require a lot of pumpkin as it will make the result less fluffy.
7. Peanut Butter Mixed with Oil
Peanut butter can sometimes be used as a butter substitute on its own, but it can cause issues with consistency. Mix peanut butter with a little oil to make it thinner.
Then add it to your recipe in place of butter. Do note that peanut butter is a butter substitute that changes the end taste of your dish so only use it if you like peanut butter.
Margarine may seem like a no-brainer butter substitute, but a seasoned cook knows that it won’t work for baked goods. While throwing margarine in a pan with veggies is great for a non-dairy sauté, you will find the thin texture of margarine just doesn’t go well with baked goods.
Made from 100% vegetable oil, shortening is a fat that can easily emulate butter in recipes. Shortening can be used in place of butter for frying or for baked goods without issue. It just isn’t the healthiest alternative to butter if that’s the reason you are looking for a substitute.
Mayonnaise is made from eggs and oil, giving it the fat content needed to act as a butter substitute. It works well in breads and other neutral baked goods, but it’s not recommended to add mayo to your sweet recipes as it will give them a vinegar tang.
Butter Substitutes FAQ
Are Butter Substitutes Healthier than Butter?
Some butter substitutes, like applesauce and avocado, are healthier than using butter in a recipe because they are made from fruits and vegetables. But other butter substitutes, like shortening or mayonnaise, have about the same health consequences as just using butter.
What is the Healthiest Substitute for Butter?
The healthiest substitute for butter is using either avocado or pumpkin puree in your recipes as these are both vegetables and provide your body with many vitamins and minerals.
How Can You Replace Butter in a Recipe?
To replace butter in a recipe, you’ll need any ingredient that is fatty and flavor neutral like mayo, Greek yogurt, or oil. No matter which replacement you decide to use butter can be replaced on a 1:1 ratio with your new ingredient.
Finding a butter substitute in your fridge when you are in a pinch is easier than you thought. Now that you know all the available butter substitutes, you can go on to make your recipe whether it is a baked good or something made on the stove. You may even be surprised and find you like the dish better when made with a butter substitute.