Here are 36 ways to substitute for butter whether you’re vegan, lactose free, need a healthy alternative or simply forgot some at the store!
Butter is a staple ingredient in pantries across the world. It’s used in baking, as a spread, for sautéing and for frying. It’s a versatile product that’s been around for a very long time.
However, there are several reasons why you may need to replace butter in your cooking.
Whether you’re newly vegan, have a milk allergy, or need a healthier alternative (or simply ran out), there are several easy ways to substitute for butter for all your cooking needs.
Keep scrolling for all the best butter substitutes out there!
- 1. Ghee
- 2. Coconut Oil
- 3. Olive Oil
- 4. Margarine
- 5. Vegetable Shortening
- 6. Prune Butter
- 7. Pureed Beans
- 8. Unsaturated Oils like Vegetable or Canola Oil
- 9. Applesauce
- 10. Avocados
- 11. Mashed Bananas
- 12. Greek Yogurt
- 13. Nut Butters
- 14. Pumpkin Puree
- 15. Buttermilk
Common Butter Substitutes
Here are some common butter alternatives to use in baking and cooking when you’re in a pinch, plus some healthy stand ins for those watching their diet. Several of these butter substitutes can actually increase the nutritional value of a recipe, for an added bonus!
How to Substitute for Butter in Baking
Butter is used in baking as a leavening agent and makes recipes airy, light and flaky. It also provides a rich flavor that’s tough to beat.
Here are some butter replacements that can help achieve a similar quality and texture in your favorite baked dishes.
NOTE: Keep in mind, most butter substitutes won’t work well for dishes that rely heavily on butter as a main ingredient like pie crusts, shortbread cookies, and puff pastries, though there are a few good replacement options like coconut oil and shortening.
Ghee is form of clarified butter that has nearly all lactose and casein removed. It’s a safer option for those who are allergic to dairy and works well in breads and cookies.
It does have a very butter forward taste, so be sure that works with the recipe you are making.
It can be used as a 1:1 substitute for butter, but you may need to increase your dry ingredients a bit to compensate for it’s increased moisture content.
2. Coconut Oil
You can also use coconut oil as a 1:1 substitute for butter. This alternative works best in cakes, breads, and muffins. Your recipe will have a coconutty taste, so make sure this flavor profile makes sense with your other ingredients.
You can also use firm coconut oil for pie crusts and dough.
3. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a healthy fat with several health benefits. This pantry staple can be used in baking recipes that call for melted butter. Use 3/4 the amount of butter your recipe calls for in all your baking needs.
Margarine is somewhat of a controversial butter alternative, but it does a great job at mimicking the taste, texture and look of butter. This product is highly processed, however, and may include inflammatory trans fats. Consult with your doctor if you have health concerns before using this stand in.
When used for baking, be sure to use margarine sticks and not the margarine spread that comes in tubs.
5. Vegetable Shortening
Vegetable shortening makes a great substitute for butter in recipes that call for cold or room temperature butter. It can be used 1:1 and has virtually no taste, making it adaptable to any flavor profile.
6. Prune Butter
Prune Butter is a great, DIY butter alternative for baked goods. It’s best used in rich or spiced recipes or recipes with a chocolate flavor profile. Use as a 1:1 substitute for recipes that call for melted butter.
You can make prune butter by blending 1/2 cup prunes (pitted) with 1/4 cup hot water until smooth.
7. Pureed Beans
Pureed beans might seem like an odd butter replacement, but they work well in lots of sweets like brownies and cakes. Swap the puree in for half the amount of melted butter in recipes that call for it.
Keep in mind, this blend will make your baked goods denser and won’t brown as much, and be sure to use white beans for white cakes or black beans for darker cakes and breads.
The following ingredients all work well as a butter substitute in cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and quick breads and can also be used to substitute for eggs.
8. Unsaturated Oils like Vegetable or Canola Oil
Unsaturated oils can be used as a 1:1 substitute for non-pastry recipes. These oils are usually flavorless and can stand in for butter without altering the taste of your recipe.
Here are a few tips on how to properly store and extend the shelf life of your vegetable oil.
Applesauce is a healthy butter alternative you can use in a pinch, just make sure it’s unsweetened. Because applesauce is not a fat, it won’t work exactly the same way butter would in your dish, but will still produce good results in cakes and breads.
Consider adding oil or yogurt to up the fat content and note that your recipes may turn out more dense.
Pureed avocado is another healthy fat that works well to substitute for butter. This stand in makes recipes softer and chewier and will turn your baked goods green.
Use as a 1:1 substitute and consider reducing the cooking temperature by about 25 percent and increasing the time to prevent browning.
11. Mashed Bananas
Mashed bananas are a healthy way to replace butter in baked goods. Use mashed bananas as a 1:1 substitute for recipes that can handle a slight banana taste.
12. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is another great healthy way to substitute for butter. Use half the amount of Greek yogurt as you would butter up to 1 cup. This substitute works especially well in cakes and provides a velvety texture.
You can also add Greek yogurt to mashed potatoes for a healthy twist.
13. Nut Butters
Nut butters are a great butter replacement for cookies, cakes, bars, muffins, brownies and quick breads. Substitute in baking by combing your nut butter with equal parts oil (melted coconut oil, olive oil, etc.). Once combined, use as a 1:1 substitute.
14. Pumpkin Puree
You can use pumpkin puree for recipes with strong flavors like chocolate cake, spice cake and recipes with cinnamon and nutmeg. You can substitute pumpkin puree for butter 1:1, but keep in mind it may make your recipe more dense.
Buttermilk works well in most baking recipes with the exception of pie crusts. Use half the amount of butter called for in the recipe. And if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by adding a tablespoon of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) per 1 cup regular milk.
Ways to Substitute for Butter for Cooking
The best way to substitute for butter in cooking is to simply use an oil. Butter has one of the lowest smoke points, so virtually any other type of oil makes a great stand in.
Use any of the oils listed above and other options like:
- Avocado oil
- Safflower Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Walnut Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Sunflower Seed oil
- Palm Oil
You can also use fats such as:
- Duck Fat
- Beef Tallow
And, here’s an option you might overlook:
Mayo is a great cooking substitute for butter that can be used to fry foods and grease grilled cheese sandwiches. You can even use it in your mashed potatoes and on garlic bread. Use as a 1:1 substitute where you would butter for cooking.
Non-Dairy and Vegan Products
Butter is made from the protein and fat of cow’s milk (or other mammals like goats and sheep). So, if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, it’s important to find an alternative to traditional butter.
In recent years, lots of new dairy-free companies have popped up to address these needs.
Several of the ingredients listed above are considered vegan and non-dairy, but here are some commercial vegan and non-diary alternatives you can pick up off the shelf.
- Country Crock Plant Butters
- Earth Balance Baking Sticks and Spreads
- Bure Blends Avocado Oil Plant Based Butter
- Nutiva Butter Flavored Coconut Oil
- Melt Organic Butters
- Miyoko’s Vegan Butters
Recipes with Butter
Here are some easy and delicious recipes to test your favorite substitute for butter or your preferred vegan option from the store!