What Can You Replace Butter With?

By: Bob's Red Mill | October 22 2017
Butter is a key ingredient in many baking recipes, as well as a tried and true flavor that we all know and love. We eat butter on our rice, veggies, and mashed potatoes, as well as on bread, muffins, cakes, and scones. We bake with it, we cook with it, we drink bulletproof coffee with it. It seems like there is no end to its many uses.

But What Is Butter, Exactly?

Butter is essentially a very concentrated form of milk, usually made from cream or “sweet” cream. It is created from the milk fat and protein of cow’s milk that has been separated from the other components of milk. In the past, butter has been given a bad rap. However, butter has quite a few health benefits and can be great when used in moderation to provide flavor as well as offer a fast-burning source of energy. Sometimes though, some of us suffer from health conditions that could mean we need to limit our butter intake, if only to be on the safe side.

Reasons Why Someone Would Avoid Butter

Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance Butter can contain both the protein casein and the sugar lactose. If you’re someone with a milk allergy or is sensitive to lactose, it’s best to avoid butter. Vegans and Ovo-Vegetarians Both vegans and ovo-vegetarians abstain from dairy products made by animals and choose not to eat traditional butter. Paleo and Primal Diet Adherents For the most part, people who follow a paleo or primal diet avoid most dairy products, with the exception of ghee. Dairy definitely falls into a gray area with the paleo and primal diets, but generally, it is to be avoided. The good news is that for whatever reason someone might be avoiding butter, there are plenty of great butter substitutes that will surprise you and broaden your cooking horizons!

Top Butter Substitutes Currently Available

Whatever your reasons are for seeking an alternative to butter, there are plenty of alternatives out there to choose from. Keep in mind that not all these replacements work on a 1:1 ratio of conversion, so there may be some trial and error in your process of testing them out. Also, some substitutes have a different flavor than butter, and depending on your usage, it may not be a flavor you are looking for. Remember, trial and error. Coconut Oil What Can You Replace Butter With? _ Bob’s Red Mill Coconut oil seems to receive a lot of mixed reviews these days. People who have tried it often gush over its health benefits. However, there are some recent studies that claim it's not as healthy as many think. Regardless of health assertions, coconut oil is great for cooking, especially for frying and sautéing, because of how well it holds up to the heat. You can also use it as a spread on toast or muffins and use it as a replacement for butter in baking. If you don't want the coconut flavor, make sure you get the oil that has the flavor distilled out of it. Coconut Butter Coconut butter offers many of the same benefits as coconut oil, except that it is a more solid form. This makes it much more suited to use as a spread and offers a great coconut flavor to whatever food you put it on. Ghee Ghee has been a very popular substitute for butter lately. Ghee is the liquid part of butter once all the milk solids have been removed and all the water has evaporated. It's often called clarified butter and ranks about the same as regular butter as far as health and nutrition go. However, it can be more expensive and is thought to contain higher levels of oxidized cholesterol than butter. Olive Oil Olive oil is excellent as a flavorful dip with bread, and you can use it to sauté just about everything in lieu of butter. You can also use it in baking, although the flavor is strong and may not do well with sweeter baked goods. Use it instead for baking bread or biscuits, and only use about three-quarters of a cup for every cup of butter that is called for. Mashed Avocado You can mash up the avocado as a delicious and healthy spread for toast that is full of fiber and lots of phytonutrients. It’s also great to use blended into smoothies and can be a replacement for butter while baking, using a 1:1 ratio. Cocoa Butter Cocoa butter is used in the making of chocolate and is another healthy fat loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols. Cocoa butter may help to improve your body's immune system and lower inflammation levels. You can use it when baking to replace regular butter. Shea Butter Bet you didn't know that shea butter is edible! It's very healthy in fact, filled with essential fatty acids as well as antioxidants and vitamin E. You can use it instead of cocoa butter or regular butter, you just may need to use it in slightly smaller amounts. However, shea butter can go rancid very easily, so only buy it in small portions that you plan on using quickly. Mashed Banana If you want to up your nutritional value and decrease your calories and fat, you can bake using mashed banana instead of butter (like with this amazing banana bread). When you add bananas, you will want to do it slowly to reach your desired consistency. Greek Yogurt Greek yogurt can be a good substitution for butter when baking things like cakes where you want to increase the protein. You can even use Greek yogurt in your mashed potatoes to help give your potatoes a creamy texture that everyone will love. Dairy-Free Yogurt Dairy-free yogurts include those like almond or coconut yogurt. It makes for a good butter substitute and is great for those who have a milk allergy or are lactose intolerant. However, some dairy-free yogurt brands can have a lot of added sugar, so you need to make sure you're reading your labels carefully. Applesauce Applesauce makes for an excellent butter replacement when baking. You can also use it to flavor things like oatmeal, and it can help make your baked goods nice and moist. Applesauce also happens to be full of vitamin C as well as fiber. Note it does have a bit of sweetness to it because it does contain some sugar. Typically, you will want to use about half the amount of applesauce as butter when using it as a replacement. You may need to experiment a bit with those ratios when baking different things, but the results are well worth it. Pumpkin Purée Pumpkin purée can be used as a butter replacement, and like olive oil should be used in a ratio of three-quarters of a cup for every cup of butter. Pumpkin purée is also an excellent source of fiber and is loaded with other nutrients like potassium and vitamin K. Nut Butters Nut butters can be used on toast as a spread, as well as substituted in baking goods for butter. When used with baking goods, it will lend the recipe a nutty flavor and create a dense texture. Bone Broth and Veggie or Chicken Stock If you want a whole lot of flavor while sautéing your veggies, use bone broth or chicken stock instead of butter. You can use it to sauté meat as well and keep the meat both tender and juicy. As you can see, there is a whole host of ingredients you can use as a substitute to replace butter, whether you are using it to bake with, sauté veggies, grill meat, or to spread on bread and muffins. Some of these substitutes (depending on what you're using them for) may work better than others, and obviously, they will all offer different flavors. Replacing butter with a substitute, regardless of the purpose, can be a bit of an experiment to find the best fit for your needs. All in all, it will be a fun experiment with lots of goodies to taste test!


  1. Raylene Cochrane
    Thanks for publishing this blog! I came to it seeking to learn if chicken broth is a good replacement for butter, and since it was the last thing mentioned, I ended up looking at everything else! And since I learned a few other options, I'm bookmarking this for future reference!
    Also, I have used applesauce as a sub for butter/oil in cakes & muffins and all the time in our weekly pancakes. A 1:1 ratio works just fine for us. Thanks again!
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Thank you for stopping by Raylene and we appreciate your feedback!
  2. GARY P.(not Ghee)
    GARY P.(not Ghee)
    Hi Britney.
    Thanks for your most informative blog.
    I'm currently trying Dr. Gundry's PLANT PARADOX PLAN (Px3). I am onto/into coconut oil (which as you know is solid at room temp.) Although I haven't try Ghee yet, I am wondering about its taste (vs. butter), and it can also use it as a spread on toast or muffins ?
    Please advise.
    Thanks again.
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Gary! Ghee tastes similar to butter - it's just the liquid part of butter after the milk solids have been removed. Ghee is solid at room temperature (similar to the texture of coconut oil) but when warmed to the right temp would definitely be spreadable.

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