When looking for a butter substitute, either for flavor or health reasons, there are plenty of great options to use without ruining your recipe!
What is Butter?
Butter is a spreadable dairy product made by separating the butterfat from the buttermilk in fresh cream or milk. When milk is churned, these two components will separate. Butter is primarily composed of water, milk proteins, and water. Butter can be composed of up to 80% fat, and may also contain salt, in some varieties. Butter also contains roughly 100 calories per tablespoon, making it dangerous for those trying to maintain their weight and caloric intake.
The need for a butter substitute may arise because of the following conditions
- Milk allergy: It occurs when your body is actually allergic to the proteins found in milk
- Lactose intolerance: It means that your body lacks the necessary enzyme, lactase, to break down lactose within the body
- Other health issues such as high cholesterol levels.
The best types of butter substitute include the following:
- Olive oil
- Mashed bananas
- Nut butter
- Greek yogurt
- Pumpkin puree
- Coconut oil
Let us discuss them in detail below.
Using ghee as a butter substitute can change the texture of the final product, usually helping it to “stick together” better, but in terms of its function and nutritional profile, it is quite similar.
A logical replacement for butter is olive oil, and it is certainly better for frying or sautéing, but when including it in a recipe, try to use this substitute for savory dishes. The flavor of olive oil can be overwhelming for sweet dishes.
One of the most versatile and effective substitutes for butter is avocado, as it can be spread much like regular butter, and also delivers a subtle flavor once it is baked. Furthermore, avocado delivers a higher concentration of good fats, additional fiber, and good levels of vitamin K and certain B vitamins.
With a similar consistency to butter and a much higher level of protein, hummus is a popular replacement for butter, particularly in Middle Eastern countries and cuisine.
The sweetness of applesauce makes it a great substitute for butter, particularly in desserts and baked goods, for which it can be difficult to find an alternative. However, only use half the amount of applesauce as is called for in the recipe, especially if you want to boost the fiber content and lower the amount of fat in your preparation.
This substitute is definitely best for baked goods and desserts, but you can replace mashed banana in equal measurement for butter, and still maintain a similar consistency!
This form of yogurt is very low in calories and fat, but it has a similar consistency to butter and works extremely well as a replacement, whether you are baking a cake or frying mushrooms in a pan! This form of yogurt also provides a smooth and creamy texture to baked goods. Only use half the amount of Greek yogurt that the recipe recommends for butter.
A very popular butter substitute is nut butter, such as almond butter or peanut butter. While the flavor of this nut butter can be quite powerful, the sweet nature also makes them a nice complement to many different desserts and baked goods.
A rather uncommon replacement for butter is pumpkin puree, which is very high in antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins, but also gives a great consistency to recipes. The taste of pumpkin diminishes slightly when cooked, but some of that recognizable flavor will remain. Use about 3/4 of the amount of butter required by a recipe.
Many people have coconut oil lying around the house, and it works as a great replacement for butter, particularly for frying foods. Coconut oil is also quite high in saturated fat, like butter, but the majority of those fatty acids are medium-chain fatty acids, primarily lauric acid, which is known to be beneficial for heart health. Even so, coconut oil should be used in moderation, as it is also high in calories.
The main precautions when replacing butter in a recipe involve taste and health impacts, among others.
- Taste: Butter has a very recognizable flavor, as do many of the substitutes listed above. For certain recipes, particularly baked goods and desserts, the change in flavor can be quite noticeable and should be considered before switching between recipes.
- Health Impact: Avoiding the saturated fat in butter is a common reason to look for a butter substitute. However, some of the suggestions are also rich in certain fats, high in calories, or dense with natural sugars. All of these alternate health effects should also be considered before choosing a particular substitute.