The Best Simple Butter Substitutes

Butter Substitutes

Looking for an alternative to Butter? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Butter substitutes both dairy and dairy-free.

What is Butter?

According to wikipedia, Butter is a delicious dairy product made from the fat and protein components of churned cream. It also contains a small amount of the milk sugar lactose.

The Best Butter Substitutes – Dairy

1. Clarified Butter

If you melt butter and remove the yellow oily part and leave behind the white liquid you get clarified butter or butter oil. For most people intolerance to dairy comes from reactions to the protein or sugars in butter. Since clarified butter is just the butter fat component it’s often OK for people with dairy sensitivities. Clarified butter is also less likely to burn so is a good choice for cooking.

2. Ghee

Used in Indian cuisine, ghee is essentially the same as clarified butter but before the butter oil is separated from the milk proteins and liquid it is cooked for a few minutes. So the flavour takes on an extra golden toasted deliciousness. Nutritionally ghee and clarified butter are the same.

3. Cream

If you don’t have butter in the house but want to make a creamy sauce, you can use cream instead. Cream just contains a lot more water than butter so simmer the cream to thicken it. Cream won’t work where the butter is being used as a cooking fat to fry food because of the extra moisture.

Don’t use cream as a substitute for butter in baked goods because cream has a much higher water content.

4. Sour Cream

As with cream, sour cream can work well as a butter alternative for sauces or any savoury cooking but not for pastry or sweet treats.

5. Greek Yoghurt

With even less fat than cream, yoghurt won’t add the richness that butter does but can be better than no creaminess.

The Best Dairy-Free Butter Substitutes

1. Olive Oil

If I’m ever out of butter, olive oil is my go-to substitute. I generally use a light flavoured olive oil because it has a higher smoke point meaning it’s more stable for cooking and also because the mild flavour doesn’t compete with the other flavours in the dish. The only downside is you don’t get that buttery creaminess.

The other thing to be mindful of is that butter is about 20% water so it actually is slightly lower fat than using oil but in most cases this isn’t an issue.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil will add a lovely coconutty flavour which may or may not be a bad thing. And as per olive oil just be mindful that it doesn’t have the same water content as butter.

3. Avocado

So avo ain’t going to work if you’re using butter as a cooking oil. But for cases where butter is being used as a spread avocado is an excellent option. I can also be used in some sweet baking – if the colour and greeny flavour arne’t going to stand out.

4. Peanut Butter or Other Nut Butters

As per avocado, these won’t work as a cooking fat. But are great where butter is being used as a spread.

5. Hummus

Another option to replace butter as a spread. Flavoured hummus can also work well in a similar way to flavoured butters.

6. Margarine

For baked goods and sweet treats margarine is the closest dairy-free match for butter. I’ve included it here at the bottom of the list because I personally don’t use it. After working in a margarine factory and smelling the smell I decided it wasn’t ever going to be something I chose to eat.

How to Store Butter

Butter can be stored for months if not years in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen. When it’s not Summer I keep one pack of butter in the pantry in a butter dish so we don’t have to deal with the hard butter situation. Salted butter is fine for a week or so at room temperature but don’t store unsalted butter this way.

Butter Goes with…

  • Bread & Butter
  • Eggs & Butter
  • Lemon & Butter
  • Lime & Butter
  • Miso & Butter
  • Potatoes & Butter
  • Herbs & Butter

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x