What Can You Substitute For Butter?

This brief article answers the question, “What Can You Substitute For Butter?” with an in-depth analysis of butter, the adequate substitutes for butter, how to use them, and important points to keep in mind while using them.

A Little about Butter

Butter is a dairy item that can be made from agitating milk or cream. For those who do not like the taste or texture, there are numerous other options. When the milk or cream is churned it isolates the milk fat from the liquid. The leftover fat is turned into butter.

Germany is the largest producer of butter in the European Union (this country produces almost 23% of EU butter production and belongs to the world’s big 3. The largest producer is the United States – 16% of global butter production, the second one is New Zealand (9% of global butter production) and the third position occupies Germany, which covers 8% of butter production in the world (1).

Why Do People Avoid Butter?

In any case, certain individuals decide to stay away from butter for reasons including:  

·         It contains a high level of saturated fat. Dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods high in saturated fat (2).

·         Those who are allergic to casein protein found in butter avoid butter, although studies indicate that allergy to milk protein does not mean allergy to butter and most of the children allergic to milk can safely consume butter (3).

·         Vegans restrict butter in their diet, thus they don’t consume milk or dairy products (4).

·         Individuals intolerant to a certain sugar called lactose, which is found in all dairy products including butter. Butter is low in lactose, because during its production, most of the water-soluble components in milk, including lactose, are removed, thereby reducing the lactose content to < 0.1% (5).

In this article, you will find out what alternatives can be used instead of butter for use in baking, cooking, and spreading.

Why Is Butter Used In Baking?

Butter is utilized in baking as a leavening agent. A leavening agent is a substance which brings air into baked items and makes them light and soft. When beating butter and sugar together, the mixture formed cream with water in oil emulsions and trapped the air cells. Crystals that are able to trap air cells must have small crystals about 1-2 micrometers in diameter and are in the form of  dispersal around the air cell (6).

Fat is an important ingredient in baking products in providing their texture properties. The functions of fat in cake making are to envelope the air cells while mixing the ingredients, to enrich protein particles and starches to disperse well in the batter, resulting in a soft texture and moist cake crumb (6).

Furthermore, it is responsible for the flaky, damp surface of prepared products as well as their rich and delicious taste. Without these properties contributed by butter, baked products would be flat, dry, and flavorless.

All things considered, a lot of butter substitutes can fill similar needs in baking and cooking.

What Can You Substitute For Butter?

Following substances have similar properties to butter and therefore can serve the same purpose in cooking.


Ghee is a sort of clarified butter with a fragrant and nutty taste. It contains practically no casein or lactose and is in this way a more safe choice for individuals with milk hypersensitivity or lactose intolerance. Ghee is a product exclusively obtained from milk, cream or butter from various animal species by means of processes which result in the almost total removal of moisture and solids-not-fat and which gives the product a particular physical structure. A major portion of ghee is utilized for culinary purposes, e.g., as a dressing for various foods and for cooking and frying of different foods (10).

In the baking of items for which a solid, buttery-rich texture is required, it can replace butter at a 1:1 proportion. Replacing butter with ghee works best with things that are prepared at high temperatures and served warm, like bread and treats.

It should be kept in mind that ghee adds more moisture to baked goods as compared to butter so the amounts of fluids and flours should be adjusted accordingly.

Olive oil

Individuals utilize olive oil in numerous Mediterranean dishes. For any plans that require cooking on the burner, an individual can frequently trade butter for olive oil while sautéing vegetables and meat.

It is ideal to utilize somewhat less olive oil compared to butter for this reason. Olive oil isn’t generally a decent substitute for baking as many baked items require the fat to stay solid or return to solid form as they cool. 

In a study, olive oil was used in the place of margarine for cake baking. The substitution of margarine by extra virgin olive oil increased batter density of cakes suggesting that less air was incorporated into the batter. This increase in density with extra virgin olive oil addition could be attributed to inferior ability of the extra virgin olive oil containing batter to entrap air in comparison to margarine containing batter. In addition , cakes prepared with extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil/margarine mixture showed higher hardness (8).


The primary sort of fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which might have some medical advantages that the saturated fat in margarine doesn’t have. Regular intake of olive oil can diminish the danger of cardiovascular diseases and mortality in people with a history of hypertension or CVDs.

Different advantages of monounsaturated fat include bringing down cholesterol and further developing glucose control. In any case, similar to spread, olive oil is a calorie-dense food. So it should be consumed in controlled amounts.

In addition, olive oil contains vitamin E, and numerous phenolic compounds, which act as flavorings, colorants, and antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects (9).

Coconut Oil

Coconut ghee, or creamed coconut, a spread made of coconut kernel, is an alternative to both butter and margarine. It is known as “vegetarian butter”, thus it is produced from the unsweetened dehydrated fresh pulp of a mature coconut, ground to a semi-solid white creamy paste. Coconut oil has many health benefits due to its lower cholesterol content and rapid digestibility due to being made up of mainly medium chain fatty acids (7).

Coconut oil can substitute butter in baking at a 1:1 proportion. However, it might somewhat change the taste, for certain kinds of coconut oil influence the flavor more than others.

Unrefined forms of coconut oil will in general taste more like coconut than refined forms. It turns out incredible for dishes that require tropical or rich chocolate flavors.

In case coconut isn’t the taste you’re searching for, you can utilize a more refined brand of coconut oil or an alternative.

Other substitutes 

The greater part of the food sources listed underneath can work as butter at a 1:1 proportion. Be that as it may, many have a higher water content than butter, which might be the moisture content of baked products.

To get the same texture and flavor you might need to decrease the measures of different fluids in the recipes. Adding additional flour can likewise help. 

Substituting butter with other products is a matter of experimentation. It might function admirably in certain recipes yet not others. 

As a rule, the following food sources work best as butter substitutes in cakes, biscuits, treats, brownies. 

Fruit purée. 

Fruit purée essentially decreases the calorie and fat content of baked products. However, it adds sweetness, so you might need to decrease the measure of sugar in plans.  A study showed that applesauce can be a successful substitute of fat in chocolate chip cookies. Replacing butter with applesauce improves the nutritional value of chocolate chip cookies (12).


Avocados add essential nutrients and fats to your baking. Utilize commodities like chocolate to conceal the green color that is associated with avocados. Studies have shown the feasibility of avocado puree as a fat replacer in oatmeal cookies and butter cake at up to 50% avocado substitution for butter (11).

Crushed bananas

Utilizing crushed bananas gives additional nutrients and diminishes the caloric and fat content. Add mashed banana gradually, until the ideal consistency is reached. Banana has been used for replacing fat in baked food products for its high starch content (13).

Other FAQs about Butter that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute butter for margarine in a cookie recipe?

Can you use butter in place of vegetable oil?

Can you use butter instead of cooking spray?


This brief article answered the question, “What Can You Substitute For Butter?” with an in-depth analysis of butter, the adequate substitutes for butter, how to use them, and important points to keep in mind while using them.


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