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36 Ways to Substitute for Butter (Vegan/Healthy Options!)

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!

Large, thick slices of butter on a white plate with mint garnish on top.

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.

1. Ghee

Ghee in glass jar on top of burlap over wooden table with wooden spoon.

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

Glass jar of coconut oil next to whole and cut coconut shells over palm leaf.

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 next to crusty rustic bread with whole green and purple olives.

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.

4. Margarine

Margarine is spread on toasted slice of bread with a silver butter knife.

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

White vegetable shortening substitute for butter in white bowl on white surface.

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

Fresh and dried prunes on white plate over burlap cloth on wooden table.

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

Brown beans in gray bowl next to green garnish on cream tablecloth.

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

Canola oil next to bundle of flowers from canola plant tied with twine.

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.

9. Applesauce

Applesauce in jar secured with burlap and twine next to fresh apple slices.

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.

10. Avocados

Whole and cut avocados on wooden cutting board next to knife, surrounded by garnish.

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 banana butter substitute in glass jar next to fresh bananas and spoon.

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 in white heart-shaped bowl next to wooden spoon and kitchen towel.

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

Lots of cookies with brown nut butter spread on white serving platter.

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

Pumpkin puree butter substitute in white bowl next to chunk of fresh pumpkin an seeds.

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.

15. Buttermilk

Buttermilk in large clear glass pitcher on burlap cloth on wooden table.

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

Several white kitchen prep bowls filled with various oils of different colors.

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:

Large mound of lard in clear glass kitchen prep bowl on what surface.
  • Lard
  • Duck Fat
  • Beef Tallow

And, here’s an option you might overlook:

Mayonnaise is squirted into small white ramekin next to bowl of eggs.


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

Vegan butter with herbs on wooden cutting board next to jar of oil and green garnish.

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.

Try These:

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!

Raspberry Pastry Braid with Sugar Glaze

Pieces of raspberry pastry on white plate decorated with fresh raspberries.

The Perfect Lemon Basil Pasta

Gray square plate with pile of lemon basil pasta and gold fork, lemon slices in background.

Best Ever Butterscotch Overnight Sticky Buns

Butterscotch rolls with pecans on white plate with gold edge next to metal pie server.

Easy and Delicious German Oven Pancakes

German pancakes in a baking dish next to wooden cutting board and kitchen towel.

Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar Baked Salmon Recipe

Brown sugar glazed salmon on a rectangular white serving platter with kitchen towel.

Soft and Fluffy Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Large stack of orange pumpkin dinner rolls on a wooden cutting board.

Smooth and Delicious Marshmallow Fudge

Pieces of fudge made with marshmallows cut into squares on kitchen parchment.

4-Ingredient Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies on a white plate, cooling rack and metal baking pan.

Delicious Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Crockpot sweet potatoes and apples in small white bowl with gold fork, tan napkin, and white pumpkin nearby.