Substituting butter is a tall order and can also be considered sacrilege. But knowing its substitutes can come in handy, especially when you open the fridge door and find an empty butter container – or when you are lactose intolerant.
What are the best tasting butter substitutes? Butter isn’t easily substituted but a lot of ingredients can come close to mimicking its rich flavor and smooth texture. The best substitutes are shortening, coconut oil, applesauce, nut butter, Greek yogurt, avocado, olive oil, and more!
Read below to discover the many dairy-free substitutes for butter, how to use them, their differences from regular butter, and more!
Why Substitute Butter?
Butter has been the cornerstone of baking for centuries. Ever since we discovered that churning cream forms butter, humans have used this miracle byproduct of dairy for all sorts of purposes!
However, there is a huge problem with butter: it’s rich in dairy, and therefore, lactose.
But there are many workarounds for this. For example, bakers can substitute butter with a whole range of ingredients to mimic the same effects.
Of course, the flavor will be different and the end product may have a few varying characteristics but at the end of the day, many might not even notice its absence – and yes, this is possible!
This is because it is much easier to get away with using a close substitute of butter in baking than, let’s say in cooking with butter.
However, unless you are a connoisseur of butter and regularly use it, you might not notice a huge difference when using its substitutes.
Also, if you are concerned about using dairy substitutes for replacing butter then don’t worry. You’ll see below how you can use not just dairy-free but also some vegan options for replacing good old butter!
11 Best Substitutes For Butter
Here are our top picks for dairy-free butter substitutes.
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of shortening for every 1 tbsp of butter.
Product Recommendation: Nutiva Organic Shortening
Shortening is by far the best go-to option for people looking for a dairy-free butter substitute.
Made from vegetable fats and oils, shortening will prove its worth in a wide variety of applications.
Whether it is typical baking tasks or regular cooking, this ingredient is the best substitute for providing more or less the same flavor of butter and a similar texture as well.
The difference between using butter and shortening is so negligible that it will take a seasoned baker to identify the two.
Also, there are numerous brands that you can choose from! Always check the back of the packaging for ingredients and allergen information before switching to shortening.
2. Coconut Oil
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of coconut oil (not melted) for every 1 tbsp of butter (not melted).
Product Recommendation: Vivanaturals Organic Coconut Oil
Rich in fats and thoroughly delicious, coconut oil is perhaps the best substitute for replacing butter, especially in recipes that call for coconut shavings or coconut-flavored baking goods.
Ditch the butter and opt for coconut oil – it will provide a better overall flavor and the same crispy texture as butter.
Just make sure to use this ingredient sparingly, especially in recipes that don’t call for a coconut flavor.
Sure, in small quantities you might get away with using it pretty easily, but if you were to cook with coconut oil, it might be difficult to separate its distinct flavor from the final dish.
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of not melted lard for every 1 tbsp of butter.
Product Recommendation: Epic Lard
Before you turn away, hear us out!
Did you know that before the 1900s lard was the default “shortening” for several baking and cooking purposes?
This is because lard is 100% fat and while it may have been phased out for healthier alternatives, there is no harm in using small quantities of it, especially in baking.
Lard makes one of the best custard tarts and can easily mimic the same qualities of butter, especially when it comes to flakiness.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should only use this ingredient sparingly, but if you are ever out of butter and don’t have any dietary restrictions, we highly recommend that you try this substitute at least once.
4. Cooking Oil
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of cooking oil for every 1 tbsp of melted butter.
Product Recommendation: BetterBody Avacado Oil
Sometimes, simple is better.
If you are in an emergency and need to bake a cake, muffin, or any other baking good then you can easily use cooking oil to substitute butter.
Cooking oil is perhaps the most readily available alternative to butter and can mimic the same crispiness that you would get from using it too.
While there are many types of cooking oils to choose from, we recommend going for healthier oils like olive oil and avocado oil for a rich flavor!
5. Cooking Spray
Usage: Spray enough to coat surfaces.
Product Recommendation: Original PAM Cooking Spray
Don’t have enough butter to cover the baking tin? Then the best way to get by is to use any cooking spray.
PAM will work well for this purpose and is an incredibly convenient way to add an insulating layer over your utensils.
Just a quick spray should be enough to coat a small-sized baking pan but you can use more as needed.
While cooking spray won’t be suitable as an ingredient for baking or cooking purposes, you can primarily use it to coat surfaces as needed and save on butter!
7. Nut Butter
Usage: Use 1 or 1/2 tbsp of nut butter for every 1 tbsp of butter.
Product Recommendation: 365 Whole Foods Almond Butter
Nut butter is an excellent vegan and dairy-free substitute for butter. Even though nut “butter” does not have any milk solids in it, it provides the same benefits as butter!
It is termed “butter” partly because of how fatty and rich it is. Nut butter can be made from many types of dry fruit.
We recommend peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, or even macadamia butter.
Please note, however, that you may have to use less nut butter when substituting regular butter, especially if the nut butter has a higher fat content.
You can check the nutritional profile of the type of nut butter you want to use and adjust the ratio accordingly and with a little guesswork, you can come up with a ratio that works for you.
Usage: Use 1/2 tbsp of applesauce for every 1 tbsp of butter.
Product Recommendation: 365 Whole Foods Applesauce
Applesauce is another great vegan and dairy-free option for substituting butter in muffins, cakes, cookies, and more.
It provides the same richness and texture as butter and can even be a healthier alternative to it, especially if you are trying to minimize your fat intake.
However, you may have to use this ingredient sparingly since it can alter the flavor and texture of the final product. But trust us, muffins made from applesauce come out delicious and extremely soft!
9. Pumpkin Puree
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of puree for every 1 tbsp of butter.
Product Recommendation: Farmer’s Market Pumpkin Puree
Just like applesauce, pumpkin puree can be used as a vegan-friendly option for butter.
Pumpkin puree will provide more or less the same texture as butter but it will understandably cause the final product to taste a bit different.
Pumpkin puree will also have a lot of sugar in it so you should adjust the overall quantity of sugar in your recipe too.
If you are already planning on making a pumpkin-based recipe and are out of butter then the stars have aligned just for you!
10. Mashed Bananas
Usage: Use 1 tbsp of mashed bananas for every 1 tbsp of butter.
It’s healthy, creamy, and a fantastic substitute for butter. Mashed bananas can be used in making all sorts of baking goods and you get bonus points for making banana-themed recipes too!
Mix in mashed bananas in small quantities or until you get the right consistency in your baking mix.
The sugars in the bananas will aid in caramelizing and will provide a crisp exterior – while also giving your food a moist and soft texture!
Dairy-free butter substitutes are easy to come by and you can use a lot of different ingredients to get the same health benefits and textural characteristics as butter!
Now that you know how to use the substitutes, here are some related questions:
Can you mix different substitutes for butter?
Yes. If you want to experiment with different flavors then you can easily use a 50:50 ratio of two substitutes or equally divided portions of even three ingredients to substitute butter.
For example, you can mix vegetable shortening and coconut butter in a coconut-based recipe!
Does using butter substitutes affect the shelf life of food?
No. There is no noticeable difference in the shelf life of food when using butter substitutes.
We recommend storing the food in optimal storage conditions to get the most out of its shelf life. Always inspect food made from any ingredient to double-check its safety and quality before consumption.
Can sunflower butter be used as a substitute for regular butter?
Yes. Sunflower butter can substitute butter in some recipes but keep in mind that most “seed butter” have an overpowering flavor that can easily dominate the ingredients in your recipe.
Always use these strong-tasting substitutes in moderation and only if necessary.