Healthy Substitutes

11 Butter Substitutes for Cooking and Baking

By Evelyn

Butter is one of those ingredients that you just can’t live without. It’s in practically everything these days—from sandwiches to coffee—so it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of butter substitutes around that can help tide you over in case you run out.

Butter Substitutes

Here are 11 great substitutes for butter.

1. Margarine

Margarine is a processed food that was meant to mimic butter. It is typically used in baking and cooking but is said to be the unhealthy version of butter due to its trans-fat content.

Can I Use Margarine Instead of Butter?

Yes, margarine can be used as a butter substitute. In fact, it is considered one of the most accurate substitutes for butter in baking and cooking. In some instances, margarine may affect the overall flavor of your recipe so it’s important to try a test batch first and adjust accordingly.

Margarine that contains trans-fats have been linked to adverse health effects. This is due to the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils found in certain margarine products. However, not all margarine products contain trans-fatty acids. Margarine that contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may offer some health benefits such as lower fasting blood lipids and lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Best for: cooking, baking, biscuits, corn bread, cookies, and spreads

How to Substitute Margarine for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of margarine in your recipe.

Since the nutritional profile of margarine varies greatly, it’s important to check the label to ensure that the margarine you are using does not contain any hydrogenated oils.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine but it is also a good butter substitute. It is made from pressing whole olives and extracting the oil.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Butter?

Definitely. Olive oil is an excellent butter substitute for many of your favorite recipes. For cooking or sautéing, it is an easy swap given that olive oil has an even higher smoke point than butter. However, for baking, you may need to adjust your recipe since baking sometimes requires the saturated fat in butter, which helps add structure and moisture to baked goods.

Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat, which can help to lower cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health. Additionally, olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a helpful addition for those who suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis, or Crohn’s disease.

Best for: cooking, pancakes, salad dressing, sautéing, breads, muffins, and savory dishes

How to Substitute Olive Oil for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with ¾ tablespoon of olive oil.

Make sure to use regular olive oil for this, as extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point and burns more easily. ​​Regular olive oil is typically made up of a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, which can be used for cooking and baking at high temperatures.

3. Ghee

Ghee is a clarified butter that is made from extracting butter fat from unsalted butter. It is a fantastic butter substitute and is very similar in taste and texture.

Can I Use Ghee Instead of Butter?

Ghee has virtually no lactose or casein and is considered a superior choice for people with lactose intolerance. In baking, it has a strong butter flavor which makes it one of the best butter substitutes available. It can withstand high temperatures and may also be served warm or at room temperature for spreading on breads or muffins.

Ghee is said to be healthier than other oils and fats due to its medium-chain fatty acids content. Medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed directly by the liver as a faster supply of energy. Ghee has been found to have better digestibility and it also contains anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. In addition, ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a biologically-active compound that may potentially decrease risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Best for: baking, cooking, cookies, breads, spreads, and sautéing

How to Substitute Ghee for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of ghee.

In some instances, ghee may provide more moisture than butter so be sure to address the moisture content in your recipe as needed by reducing the liquids or adding dry ingredients.

4. Applesauce

Applesauce is a puree made entirely of apples. It can be made with unpeeled or peeled apples and may be spiced or sweetened with sugars.

Can I Use Applesauce Instead of Butter?

Applesauce is a common butter substitute in low-fat / fat-free cooking and baking. Fruit purees like applesauce are a lighter option and can reduce the overall calorie intake of your dish. However, keep in mind that these purees are often naturally sweet and may affect the overall flavor of your recipe.

Apples are an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and complex carbohydrates. Consumption of fruit has been associated with a wide range of health benefits such as reduced risk of certain types of cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Apples also contain phenolics as well as flavonoids which have been linked to positive health outcomes.

Best for: baking, sweet treats, fat-free/low-fat baking

How to Substitute Applesauce for Butter

Substitute 1 cup of butter with ½ cup of applesauce. As a butter substitute, it’s best to use plain, unsweetened applesauce.

5. Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is another fat-free option you can try that’s also lactose-free and vegan friendly. It adds plenty of moisture to baked goods while also adding a mild pumpkin flavor to your recipe.

Can I Use Pumpkin Puree Instead of Butter?

Pumpkin puree works as a butter substitute in some recipes. It may require some adjustments to your other ingredients but the results are well worth it. Pumpkin is a starchy vegetable which can help bind the ingredients in your recipe, creating a denser finished product. Since it does have a mild flavor, make sure that pumpkin will complement the overall recipe.

Pumpkin is considered beneficial to health due to its essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. It also contains well documented anti-fungal, antidiabetic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Best for: low-fat/fat-free baking, sweet treats, denser baked goods

How to Substitute Pumpkin Puree for Butter

Substitute 1 cup of butter with ¾ cup of pureed pumpkin

Make sure to use plain, unsweetened pureed pumpkin for this.

6. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a high-fat butter substitute that is slightly different from other oils. Due to its chemical composition, it is suited for both cooking and baking and may be used for sweet and savory recipes.

Can I Use Coconut Oil Instead of Butter?

Yes, you can use coconut oil as a butter substitute. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and thus may be purchased in its solid form. When using coconut oil as a butter substitute, the solid form will yield the best results especially in recipes that require a more solid fat source.

Just take note that coconut oil tends to melt faster than butter so if you are using it in a recipe, it is not recommended for baking cookies since it will cause them to spread out more and flatten.

Due to its flavor, coconut oil works well with desserts and other sweet treats, which is why it is commonly used as a healthy butter substitute. However for savory recipes, the taste of coconut may be too strong and would have a noticeable effect on the overall flavor profile of the recipe.

Coconut oil is said to be a healthier type of oil compared to others. It has been shown to have antipyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. It is also composed of around 62% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which may help with weight loss and reduced risk factors for heart disease. Coconut oil is best consumed in moderation due to its high calorie content.

Best for: cooking, baking, sweet treats, savory dishes, breads, muffins, cakes, denser baked goods

How to Substitute Coconut Oil for Butter

Substitute 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of coconut oil in its solid form, not melted.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you’ll need to measure it out in tablespoons or weig out how much you need using a kitchen scale.

7. Shortening

Shortening refers to any fat that is solid at room temperature. It is an important ingredient in baking since it is used to make crumbly and crisp textures.

Can I Use Shortening Instead of Butter?

You can definitely use shortening as a butter substitute. In many baked goods, it may be even better than butter in making a flaky pastry. Shortening is usually made with vegetable oils that have a smooth consistency. Compared to butter, shortening has a higher melting point so baked goods may turn out lighter and more airy than if they were to be made with just butter.

Even though shortening is widely used in baking and is an inexpensive option, it is not known as a particularly healthy option since it is made with soybean, cotton seed, or palm oil. These oils are fully hydrogenated so they do not contain trans-fats; however, they are still highly processed and do not offer much in terms of nutritional value. It is highly recommended to limit your consumption of shortening.

Best for: baking, pastries, cakes

How to Substitute Shortening for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter for 1 tablespoon of shortening in a 1:1 ratio.

Vegetable shortening can result in a lighter finished product so keep this in mind when adjusting the other ingredients in your recipe.

8. Nut Butter

Nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter are readily available and probably already sitting in your pantry at this moment. They’re easy to make yourself and can be highly nutritious.

Can I Use Nut Butter Instead of Butter?

Nut butters are fantastic butter substitutes because of their high fat content which helps add and retain moisture in baked goods. Some sauces and reductions can also benefit from a small amount of nut butter as a way to add richness and body with a broth.

Nut butters typically contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which lower bad cholesterol, improve levels of good cholesterol, reduce risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, and help lower chronic inflammation in the body. They are however high in calories so moderate consumption is recommended for weight management.

Best for: cakes, breads, pancakes, brownies, blondies, cookies

How to Substitute Nut Butter for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of nut butter in a 1:1 ratio.

Certain types of nut butter contain more oil than the others. Simply adjust your recipe based on the added oils in your nut butter to avoid adding too much moisture.

9. Mashed Avocado

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to butter, you may want to consider using mashed avocado. Avocado is a good source of healthy fats and can be used in place of butter in many recipes due to its high fat content.

Can I Use Mashed Avocado Instead of Butter?

Mashed avocado can be used as a butter substitute in a variety of recipes. It’s important to note, however, that avocado does have a distinct taste that can affect the overall flavor profile of your recipe. Another factor worth considering is that avocado doesn’t melt at all, so if your recipe requires melted butter, mashed avocado wouldn’t really work unless it’s just to add moisture to a recipe. For cooking, as a way to grease the pan and thicken sauces. mashed avocado would also not be suitable.

Avocado is a healthy alternative to butter for many reasons. First of all, it is packed with nutrients like vitamins K, C, and B6, as well as potassium and heart healthy fats. Additionally, avocado contains no cholesterol or saturated fat, both of which are found in butter.

Best for: cakes, breads, pancakes, brownies, blondies, cookies

How to Substitute Mashed Avocado for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of mashed avocado in a 1:1 ratio.

A ripe avocado is mild in flavor and slightly sweet, but once it is slightly overripe, it becomes bitter. Blend the avocado until smooth and use immediately.

10. Prune Butter

Prune butter is a type of fruit butter made from stewed prunes. It has a dark brown color and a rich, sweet flavor and is typically enjoyed spread on toast or muffins, or as a filling for pies and cakes.

Can I Use Prune Butter Instead of Butter?

Yes, prune butter may work in some instances, especially in baking. It has a similar spreadable consistency, so it is also good as a spread on toast or muffins, or as a filling. However, it’s important to note that prune butter doesn’t contain any fat, so it will have a different effect on the overall consistency of the recipe. Also, prune butter is much sweeter than regular butter, so it wouldn’t be the best option in savory recipes.

Prune butter is also a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. In addition, it contains no cholesterol or trans fats. However, prune butter is also quite high in sugar. As a result, it should be used in moderation.

Best for: cakes, breads, pancakes, brownies, blondies, cookies, desserts, baking

How to Substitute Prune Butter for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of prune butter in a 1:1 ratio.

When substituting prune butter for butter in recipes, you may need to make some adjustments to compensate for the difference in sweetness. Prune butter contains a lot of sugar, so you will need to reduce your sugars by ½ tablespoon for each tablespoon of prune butter.

11. Pureed Beans and Water

Beans are a healthy and delicious addition to any diet, but they can also be used in many different ways in the kitchen. One of the most versatile uses for beans is as a fat-free butter substitute.

Can I Use Pureed Beans and Water Instead of Butter?

Pureed beans and watercan be used in place of butter in both cooking and baking, and they offer a number of benefits. Beans add a rich and creamy texture to recipes such as soups and stews, while in baking, it can be used as a protein and fiber-rich addition to your recipe. Like butter, pureed beans can help add structure to baked, but it does not add much richness or moisture.

Beans are a great source of essential vitamins, and minerals, making them a

healthy addition to any diet. Studies have shown that consuming beans can help to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar levels, and help protect against heart diseases and certain types of cancer. Beans are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc.

Best for: cakes, breads, muffins, brownies, cookies, desserts, baking, stews, soups

How to Substitute Pureed Beans and Water for Butter

Substitute 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of pureed beans in a 1:1 ratio.

To prepare the beans, simply boil them in water until fork tender. Use a food processor or blender and process the boiled beans until smooth. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to the pureed beans until you reach your desired consistency.


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