What can I use instead of butter?

This brief guide will answer the question “ What can I use instead of butter?” while briefly explaining the uses of butter and diving deeper into what can be substituted for it. 

What can I use instead of butter?

Sometimes people search for alternatives for butter for various reasons. Some of them include lactose intolerance, milk allergies or for vegans, who choose not to have dairy products. Fortunately, butter has many substitutes in both cooking and baking and most of these are healthy options that can be found in your kitchen. Some of its popular alternatives include: 

What is butter and its uses?

Butter is a staple in almost all households. It is a versatile ingredient as it is used in baking, cooking and even as is ( for example as spreads on sandwiches). Butter is made from the churning of milk or cream to separate the fat from the buttermilk. Butter is rich in vitamins d and fats but is a high-calorie food so should be eaten in moderate quantities.

Butter is used in baking to provide texture, structure and volume to the dish. Cold butter is used in the making of the delicate layers in puff pastry as well. Butter is also used often for high-heat cooking such as in sauteing and pan-frying. This not only adds a kick of flavour but also prevents the food from sticking to the utensil.

Additionally, butter is spread on sandwiches and burger buns for flavour and moisture. They are used in a variety of Indian street food as well and used as a garnish on top of curries and sides for a delicious buttery delight. 

What are some substitutes for butter in cooking?

1. Olive oil

Olive oil is a popular and healthy substitute for sauteing vegetables and meat. It contains fewer calories and is healthier as it is a monounsaturated fat unlike the saturated fat in butter. Monounsaturated fats come with a hoard of health benefits that include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, it does not carry the same flavour that cooking with butter does. 

Olive oil is used widely in Meditteranean cuisines. It should, however, be used less in amount than butter when used for cooking. Olive oil is not a good substitute for butter in baking as it does not result in the same texture and also cannot be used in instances where the fat needs to be in solid form, for example in frothing and beating with sugar and eggs. 

2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil, made from dried coconut flesh, can be used in a 1:1 ratio in cooking. It does, however, result in a different taste and can clash with the other flavours depending on the dish. It is a good substitute for sauteing and pan-frying.

Unlike olive oil, coconut oil is also an effective alternative for butter in baking, but do consider the amount of it in the recipe as it can result in a different taste. However, you can use more refined coconut oil to reduce the coconut taste. 

3. Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter that is used popularly in Indian cooking. It adds an aromatic and nutty flavour that beautifully enhances the flavour of the dish. It does, however, have a higher moisture content than butter. Despite being made from a dairy product it contains virtually no lactose.

It is an excellent substitute for butter in baking as well; especially those baked goods that are cooked at higher temperatures, such as bread and cookies. It can be substituted for butter in an equal ratio.  

What can I substitute for butter in baking?

1.  Greek yoghurt

This is a high protein substitute that is fewer in calories and therefore healthier. It is a great alternative to butter as it adds moisture and texture to the baked good. It may also add a tanginess to the dish that can be quite enjoyable depending on what it is being used for. 

It is important to use full-fat yoghurt rather than fat-free options as the full-fat yoghurt adds moisture and tenderness while the fat-free ones can result in a dry, crumbly texture. Remember that this option contains lactose.

2.  Avocado

Mashed avocados are an excellent substitute for butter in baking as it is highly nutritious and also has healthy, unsaturated fats unlike the ones in butter. It can result in a green tint in the recipe though.

One cup of mashed avocados can be replaced with one cup of butter. It can also be used as a delicious spread on bread and toast.

3.  Mashed bananas

Mashed bananas are a great, healthy alternative as they contain a variety of nutrients and no added fat and overall is much lower in calories. It does, however, have added sweetness and a strong banana flavour (depending on how much is used).

4.  Applesauce

Applesauce is pureed cooked apples. This vegan alternative also cuts calories and fat content and adds nutritional value to the recipe. Applesauce is naturally sweet, however, so must be accounted for by reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe. 

It can be replaced by butter in a 1:1 ratio. It can be used in cakes, cupcakes, muffins and quick bread.


In this article, we saw the different uses of butter and all the possible alternatives in both cooking and baking. When considering each alternative, keep in mind the sweetness and the change in flavour that it might result in.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.