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10 Best Butter Substitutes for Baking

Have you run out of butter, or you simply can’t have it? Then, you’d butter check out these fantastic butter substitutes for baking. 

There are many ways to substitute butter in a baking recipe. But it largely depends on what you’re baking (and your dietary needs). 

10 Best Butter Substitutes for Baking

First, you have to know what butter actually does in a bake.

Is it in there for richness or to tenderize the batter/dough? Or is it in little beads to create air pockets like in pastry?

Once you know that, you can apply the perfect butter substitute!

Top 10 Butter Substitutes for Baking

I can’t promise any of these substitutes will make a great croissant. In fact, I can tell you without a doubt that they won’t.

It’s butter or nothing, in that case.

But if you’re making a batch of brownies and need melted butter, you can easily swap in oil.

Or, if you’re frying something and need a rich and creamy finish, you can grab a jar of ghee.

You see, you need to match not only the taste and purpose but the state of the butter in order to find a good alternative.

So remember, if the butter is solid in the recipe, you’ll need something solid to replace it with. And the same goes for melted butter!

Homemade Ghee Clarified Butter

1. Ghee

Ghee is cooked butter where the milk solids are removed so it’s clear-ish (clarified).

That means there’s no lactose or casein. So this is a great option for those who can’t have dairy for health reasons.

You can use it as a solid or melt it, and it tastes amazing! It has a slightly nutty flavor, kind of like brown butter. 

Of course, without the milk fats, you may find some of your bakes are a little drier.

I always add an extra egg yolk to cake batter or brownies to account for this.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of ghee.

Note: Ghee has a low melting point. So if you use it to make biscuits or cookies, be sure to properly chill the dough before baking.

Bowl of Margarine Butter

2. Margarine 

Hear me out here – margarine is low-cost, readily available, and was literally made to be a butter substitute.

Plus, it’s almost always dairy-free, so it’s ideal for vegan baking!

Yes, it’s much softer than butter. So it’s not the best choice for recipes that call specifically for cold butter – pastry, biscuits, certain cookies.

But it will work really well in most cakes and bakes. It creams well with sugar, blends nicely with eggs and flour, and can even be added as a liquid.

The flavor won’t be quite as rich, but the texture will be more or less the same.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of margarine.

Note: Don’t use it for frosting. I find it makes it almost greasy and kind of unpleasant.

Vegetable Oil in a Glass Bowl

3. Olive or Vegetable Oil

Oils are a great butter substitute because they’re fatty. That means that they add moisture and softness to your bakes.

It’s why oil is already in many baking recipes, like cakes and brownies.

Vegetable oil is your best bet since it’s got a very neutral flavor, which you won’t notice in the final product.

But if you like that distinct olive oil taste, I highly recommend it in bread and citrus bakes.

It’s so good in lemon cakes. And it’s even tasty in chocolate cakes.

It is, however, expensive. So stick to vegetable oil if you want to cut costs.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 3/4 cup of oil.

Note: This won’t work well for recipes that call for solid butter. If you try to swap solid butter for oil in cookies, the dough will be too soft.

Clear Coconut Oil in a Glass Bowl

4. Coconut Oil

I love using coconut oil as a butter replacement. It’s fatty and nutritious. Plus, it has a lovely coconut flavor. 

Coconut oil will almost always give off a nutty taste, but the type you buy matters.

Refined coconut oil is the most neutral tasting. But if you like coconut, go for virgin coconut oil! 

Either way, your bake will be tender and moist! 

Coconut oil is best used in sweet bakes like cakes, cupcakes, and brownies.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of coconut oil.

Note:

  • As a butter replacement, coconut oil is best at temperature, so it’s soft but not melted. 
  • Coconut oil will immediately start to solidify if it comes into contact with cold ingredients like milk.
  • If you do need to melt it, make sure everything else is at room temperature – you’ll need to mix it well. 
Bowl of Apple Sauce

5. Applesauce

Applesauce is a wonderful vegan option for butter. It’s sweet and moist and very low-fat.

So, it’s nice to use it even if you’re not vegan. 

Plus, most people have a jar of applesauce somewhere in their pantry. 

Now, applesauce will change the texture of your bake. Since applesauce doesn’t have much fat, the bake will be quite dense.

But it will be super moist and delicious. With that in mind, I think it’s best for thin bakes, like pancakes, or typically dense bakes, like muffins.

And since applesauce is sweet, you might want to cut the sugar in the recipe.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1/2 cup of applesauce.

Mashed Banana in Green Ramekin

6. Mashed Bananas

Bananas are more nutritious, less fatty, and have a strong fruity flavor. What could be better?

They add a lot of moisture and flavor to your cakes and cookies. And like applesauce, they will probably also be quite dense.

But they’ll still taste amazing. 

Also, bananas are naturally sweet, so you might need to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Bananas are best in cakes, quick bread, pancakes, and cookies. 

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1/2 cup of mashed bananas.

Pumpkin Puree

7. Pumpkin Puree

If you want something more nutrient-dense, consider pumpkin puree.

It’s loaded with antioxidants and immunity-boosting vitamins. And that color is so fun!

Depending on the type of puree (homemade or store-bought), this stuff can be kind of watery. So keep that in mind before adding it to a recipe.

If it is overly watery, try pouring it into a paper towel-lined strainer. Leave it to drip, then use it in your recipe.

Pumpkin puree can be used for most things. But I think it’s best in muffins, pancakes, cakes, and quick bread. 

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree.

Greek Yogurt in Glass Jars

8. Greek Yogurt

If you like your cakes super moist and absolutely delicious, consider using Greek yogurt.

Of course, it’s good for more than just cakes! No matter the bake, it will be moist and tasty. 

And you want to know what’s even better? Greek yogurt adds protein to your bake, so, cake for breakfast, anyone? 

You can expect your bake to be denser than you’re used to. But that’s okay because it comes from all of that lovely moisture. 

Greek yogurt is amazing in cakes, breakfast batters (like waffles), and quick bread. It also works really well in banana bread.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of Greek yogurt.

Note: It’s not the best choice for cookies as the added moisture will make the dough soft.

Kefir Buttermilk in Glasses

9. Buttermilk

In case you didn’t know, buttermilk really can do it all!

It adds moisture, activates the leaveners to make the bake airy, and brings a ton of moisture so everything is tender.

And you can use it in everything from bread and cakes to pancakes.

The only thing it doesn’t work for is as a butter substitute for pastry. And I don’t like it in cookie dough for the same reasons as mentioned above.

You can make buttermilk very easily if you don’t want to buy a whole carton.

Simply mix 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1/2 cup of buttermilk.

Avocado Puree

10. Avocado

This might seem like a weird substitute, but your bakes will be seriously moist. Plus, it adds some great nutrition like vitamins K, C, and E. 

Like the other fruit/veggie options on this list, your bake will be denser. But it will also be wonderfully moist.

Avocados work in most bakes, but they will tint the batter/dough greenish. So, they’re best with chocolate!

How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of avocado.

The Best Butter Substitute for Baking

Cuisine: American
Servings

1

serving
Prep time

2

minutes
Total time

2

minutes

If you don’t have any butter on hand, here are 10 perfect butter substitutes for baking. Find out what they are, and get tips on how to use them!

Ingredients

  • Option 1 – (Best Overall) Ghee
  • 1 cup ghee

  • Option 2 – (Best for Availability) Margarine
  • 1 cup margarine

  • Option 3 – (Best for Cake Batter) Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  • (Best Overall) Ghee
  • Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of ghee.
  • (Best for Availability) Margarine
  • Swap 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of margarine.
  • (Best for Cake Batter) Vegetable Oil
  • Swap 1 cup of butter with 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Butter Substitutes for Baking

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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