What Is a Substitute for Butter in Baking?

Medically Reviewed on 10/27/2021
what is a substitute for butter in baking
Using butter substitutes in baking comes with numerous health benefits. Pure fats or oils are great alternatives

Many people prefer to avoid butter for various reasons:

  • Butter is high in saturated fat and calories
  • Intolerance to lactose or casein can cause discomfort
  • Dietary choices such as veganism may mean avoiding dairy products

While using butter in baking helps make baked goods rich and fluffy, a good butter substitute can help you tweak recipes with another fat or fruit.

Pure fats or oils can be wonderful butter alternatives in baking. They make up for their lack of flavor with moisture. If you want to simply cut down on the amount of butter in a recipe, you can use a 50:50 mixture of butter and oil to achieve the flavor of butter and the moisture of oil.

25 substitutes for butter in baking

  1. Olive oil
  2. Canola or vegetable oil
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Grapeseed oil
  5. Dairy-free margarine
  6. Aquafaba mayonnaise
  7. Vegetable shortening
  8. Tallow
  9. Pumpkin puree
  10. Mashed bananas
  11. Greek yogurt
  12. Coconut cream
  13. Avocado
  14. Apple sauce
  15. Buttermilk
  16. Cocoa butter
  17. Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  18. Vegan butter
  19. Shea butter
  20. Tahini
  21. Cottage cheese
  22. Ricotta cheese
  23. Cream cheese
  24. Mashed beans
  25. Pureed beans

What are the benefits of using butter substitutes?

Butter is high in saturated fat, making it a poor choice for heart health. One tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fat, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. 

Furthermore, studies have shown that switching to a more plant-based diet and using a butter spread made from unsaturated, plant-based fats can help improve cholesterol levels

Advantages of switching to butter substitutes may include:

  • Fewer calories: Because butter is high in fat, using butter substitutes may save you calories and aid in weight loss.
  • Free of lactose and dairy: If you are allergic to the protein in cow's milk or are lactose intolerant, you may need to avoid butter.
  • Contains extra nutrients: When you use ingredients such as nut butter and avocado, you get the added nutrients from those foods as well. Protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are all additional gains when using some butter substitutes.

When looking for butter substitutes, you should always avoid highly processed foods. Margarine and vegetable oil should be avoided. Neither adds much flavor or texture to your recipes, and they often contain dangerous trans fats.


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Why is butter used in baking?

Butter made from churned cream or milk introduces air into baked goods, resulting in a flaky texture. Because butter emits moisture during the baking process, it is often critical to the overall structure of the recipe. 

Butter also has a distinct flavor that enhances the richness of foods. Various types of butter include:

  • Traditional butter: The concentrated fat from cow's milk is used to make traditional butter, with 80% made up of is milk fat, with the remaining 20% made up of water and nonfat milk solids. Before butter is packaged, it is sometimes seasoned with salt.
  • Whipped butter: To add volume, regular butter may be whipped with nitrogen gas. Whipped butter is ideal for spreading and should not be used in cooking. Because the density varies, recipes will not turn out the same with whipped butter.
  • Reduced-fat butter: This type of butter contains approximately 40% less milk fat. Water and gelatin are used to replace the fat found in cow's milk. Because this type of butter contains more water, it should not be used to replace regular butter in baked goods or for pan fried foods.
  • Clarified butter: At home, you can clarify butter by separating melted butter from milk solids and water. When melting butter in a pan, skim off the frothy white part that forms on top. Then, drain the clear butter. Discard the milk solids left at the bottom.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/27/2021
Image Source: Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Marshall C. Substitute for Butter. The Kitchen Community. https://thekitchencommunity.org/substitute-for-butter/

Davis B. Can you substitute butter in baking? MVOrganizing. https://www.mvorganizing.org/can-you-substitute-butter-in-baking/

Webexhibits. Baking with butter. http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/baking.html