Food

9 Best Butter Substitutes – Easy Substitutes For Butter

If you’re reading this, maybe you just realized you’re out of butter in the middle of baking something. And no, there’s not even a freezer-burned box of back-ups in the freezer. Or maybe you want to make a recipe vegan. Luckily, there are plenty of butter substitutions—and you probably have a few in your fridge or pantry.

Butter can play multiple roles depending on what you’re cooking or baking. It can be used to add moisture, flavor, leavening, and so much more. Consider what you’re making, refer to this list, and then make the best decision with what you have. Keep in mind, not all these replacements are the best choice for all recipes due to their flavor, texture, and smoke points.

If you’re looking for more baking substitutions, we have a guide for that, too.

Greek Yogurt

The full-fat version is best here because fat is what your dish probably needs from butter. Try this in a recipe that uses less than one cup of butter. It’ll add that moisture you need, but any more than that amount, and the dish will be too wet. Be prepared for the yogurt to add a little bit of tang to the final product, too.

Oils

Oils can be a great substitution for butter. When it comes to baking, Alisa Fleming, author of Go Dairy Free, writes that in general, she uses about 3/4 cup oil for 1 cup of solid or softened butter, although this may vary. To pick the best oil, you’ll also want to consider its smoke point and flavor profile.

Vegetable Oil

If you’re making cakes, cookies, brownies, or breads, vegetable oil is a great replacement for butter because it has a neutral flavor and high smoke point (about 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Just keep it under a cup, because again, too much moisture makes for a very dense final product.

Coconut Oil

Oil is often used in vegan desserts, like these fudgy brownies, to add that moisture we’ve been talking about. Coconut oil is best used in sweet applications, especially because it can add a bit of subtle tropical, nutty flavor.

Coconut oil can be used as either a liquid or solid, but it doesn’t maintain a good soft state like butter, according to Fleming. Coconut butter, however, can maintain a soft state, but she writes that it does have a strong coconut flavor.

Olive Oil

Use this in place of melted butter, but beware of the flavor. Olive oil has a distinct grassiness that may impact whatever you’re making. But if grassiness wouldn’t be out of place with the dish (say, you planned to use the butter with vegetables), olive oil may be a perfect substitute. You’ll also want to consider the type of olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil has a fairly low smoke point of around 350 degrees, while regular olive oil has a higher smoke point.

Vegetable Shortening

A lot of times a recipe calls for softened or cold butter. This is when you can turn to vegetable shortening, like Crisco. It doesn’t have much flavor, but will definitely help out with texture.

Avocado

This may seem weird, but consider how creamy an avocado is. Kind of like butter, right? Try using avocado in cakes and quick breads, but make sure to puree it before adding. And remember that avocado is a beautiful green hue, so it’ll probably do some weird things to the final color of whatever you’re making.

Pumpkin Puree

You might have a can of this leftover from the holidays. It’s a good replacement when the pumpkin flavor will add something to the recipe (think a spice cake). Try not to add more than one cup, though, or you’ll end up with a very dense baked good.

Mayonnaise

Again, this sub might sound weird! But mayo is really just a mixture of oil and egg yolks. Like butter, it’s added to recipes for moisture and richness. Try mayo when you would have used butter for making eggs, grilled cheese, or mashed potatoes. Not only will mayo work, it is likely to make the dish taste even better.

Vegan Butter

If you happen to be the type of person who loves butter, yet also has vegan butter around, then this will be the best replacement for any recipe.

Headshot of Felicia LaLomia

Food & Culture Editor

Felicia LaLomia is the Food & Culture Editor for Delish. When she isn’t covering food news or writing features about delicious trends in the culinary world, she’s searching for her next perfect bite.

Headshot of Allison Arnold

Associate SEO Editor

Allison Arnold is the Associate SEO Editor at Delish, where she covers anything from the best kitchen gadgets to food and culture. She grew up eating tacos and schnitzel, always has multiple cans of seltzer open at once, and knows way too much about beer.


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