The Best Substitutes for Butter

Find yourself in need of a butter substitute when baking? Whatever your reason for needing a replacement, discover the best Substitutes for Butter that taste great while bringing all the benefits of butter to your baked goods!

items on a counter that you can use in place of butter in baking

Baking with Butter Substitutes

Butter brings all kinds of goodness to the taste and texture of baked goods. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular ingredients in baking! Butter has a rich, creamy flavor and necessary fatty oils that play a big role in how many recipes turn out.

For this reason, if you’re unable to consume butter, or if you don’t have any on hand, it can be super disappointing to find butter on an ingredient list. Luckily, there are so many alternatives to butter these days that bakers no longer need to despair over substituting it in recipes!

Below I’ve put together a handy guide on different butter substitutes, and how to best use them in all your favorite baking!

butter in a dish with a butter knife

What is the Role of Butter in Baking?

Depending on the recipe, butter can serve several roles in baking. Some recipes depend on the rich, creamy flavor, while in others butter contributes to the overall texture and moisture of the finished goods.

In cakes and muffins, for example, butter lends leavening and moisture to the crumb, resulting in the light and fluffy texture we all love.

In pie crusts and pastries, butter is what results in the flaky layers and distinctly buttery flavor.

Without butter, many baked goods would fall flat in both texture and taste! However, there are also many worthy butter substitutes that you can use in recipes, which we’ll go over in this post.

What Kinds of Butter Are There?

  • Sweet Cream Butter: The most popular type of butter in the US. Pasteurized sweet cream butter is found in most grocery stores and can be salted or unsalted. 
  • Cultured Butter: Made from milk that’s fermented and then churned, with a tangy flavor. This was the only kind of butter available back in the days before pasteurization and fridges! European-style butter is a type of high fat, naturally cultured butter you may have seen in stores. 
  • Raw Butter: Similar to sweet cream butter, only unpasteurized. For this reason raw butter has a very short shelf life and falls under pretty strict food and safety regulations. 
  • Spreadable/Whipped Butter: This type of butter is made with the addition of vegetable oils or air, that keeps soft and fluffy even when chilled! Especially handy to spread over soft bread, unlike regular chilled butter that tends to crumble and stick.
  • Clarified Butter: Pure butterfat, made by skimming away the milk solids and evaporating the water while butter simmers. Clarified butter is liquid and can be stored at room temperature, and is used in cooking similar to oil. Ghee is also a variation of clarified butter, often used in Indian cuisine, with a nuttier taste.

Why Would I Need a Replacement for Butter?

There are many reasons why someone might need to omit butter from their baking. Maybe it’s an allergy or intolerance towards dairy, maybe it’s a dietary or lifestyle decision. Or maybe you just ran out of butter sticks with your heart set on baking up something delicious! 

Whatever your reason for not consuming butter, one thing is for certain – butter in baking must be replaced with something. Leaving butter out altogether, without substituting the loss of fatty oils, is rarely an option. The substitutes in the next section are here to help!

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