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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.

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The method you choose largely depends on what you’re baking and your dietary needs. 

Bowl of Tasty Butter Curls

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

Butter works as a leavening agent to make your bake will rise. It also adds rich flavor, softens the texture, and adds moisture.

It contributes to those gorgeous, flaky layers that make pastries so darn good.

Now, I can’t promise any of these substitutes will make a great croissant.

But I can promise a tasty bake that everyone will love! That’s because these substitutes have many similar qualities to butter. 

And that means you get a delicious, soft, and moist bake that’s only slightly different. Here are 10 fantastic butter substitutions for baking.  

Bowl of Margarine Butter

1. Margarine 

Let’s begin with one of the most butter-like substitutes. 

Margarine was created in 1869 as a cheap and stable butter substitute.

Initially, it was not plant-based, but it has evolved a lot since the 1800s. Today, it’s made from vegetable oils.

While its health properties are widely contested, margarine works in most bakes. 

Just don’t expect your bake to be exactly the same as if you used butter.

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The flavor won’t be quite as rich and the texture will be slightly different. It’ll still be delicious, though! 

Margarine is a great option for cookies, cakes, and simple frostings! 

Substitution Measurements– Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of margarine. 1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine. 

Clear Coconut Oil in a Glass Bowl

2. 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 typically impart some flavor, though 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. I like using coconut oil to make a chocolate ganache. 

Substitution Measurements–  Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of coconut oil. 1 cup butter = 1 cup coconut oil. 

  • As a butter replacement, coconut oil should be room 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. 
Vegetable Oil in a Glass Bowl

3. Olive or Vegetable Oil

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

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

Choosing your oil depends on what you’re making. 

If you want to make something sweet, vegetable oil is your best bet.

It has a much more neutral flavor. But it’ll work in anything sweet or savory. 

Olive oil is your friend with bread and biscuits! It does have a distinct flavor that tends to fight with the flavors of desserts.

However, olive oil does work with dark chocolate.

I’ve made many chocolate cakes with olive oil with no problem. You can’t taste it whatsoever.  

Substitution Measurements– 1 cup of butter can be replaced with ¾ cup of oil.

Bowl of Apple Sauce

4. Applesauce

Applesauce is a great 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 very dense.

But it will be super moist and delicious. 

Since applesauce is sweet, you might want to cut the sugar in the recipe. Applesauce is great for most bakes, but I really like it in pancakes. 

Substitution Measurements– 1 cup of butter can be replaced with ½ cup of applesauce. 

  • NOTE: It can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio (1 cup butter = 1 cup applesauce). However, it’s best to start with ½ cup and add more until you reach your desired consistency. 
Mashed Banana in Green Ramekin

5. Mashed Bananas

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

If you couldn’t tell, I love using bananas as a butter substitute. 

Bananas add a lot of moisture and flavor to your bake. All of that moisture means it will be denser but still amazing. 

Also, bananas are sweet. So you might need to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe. Bananas are best in cakes, quick bread, pancakes, and cookies. 

Substitution Measurements– Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of mashed banana. 1 cup butter = 1 cup mashed banana.   

  • NOTE: Similarly to applesauce, it may be better to start with a smaller amount of bananas. Then, add more as needed until the 1:1 ratio is reached. 
Pumpkin Puree

6. Pumpkin Puree

If you want your bake to be more nutrient-dense, consider using pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin puree is loaded with antioxidants and immunity-boosting vitamins.

I think this is a really great option! Pumpkin puree will impart some sweet pumpkin flavor.

So it’s great for baked goods where you want that flavor profile.

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

Substitution Measurements– 1 cup of butter can be replaced with ¾ cup of pumpkin puree.  

Homemade Ghee Clarified Butter

7. Ghee

For those who don’t know, ghee is simply clarified butter.

That means that you’ve cooked off the milk solids and everything that goes with it. So, there’s no lactose or casein. 

This is a great option for those who can’t have dairy for health reasons. And it tastes amazing! It has a slightly nutty flavor, kind of like brown butter. 

Ghee will, however, affect the texture and moisture of the bake. The milk fats are cooked off, so you can expect a slightly drier, crumblier bake.

I recommend using ghee for cookies, pancakes, biscuits, and bread. 

Substitution Measurements– Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of ghee. 1 cup butter = 1 cup ghee.

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. In fact, it works really well in banana bread!

Substitution Measurements– Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of Greek yogurt. 1 cup butter = 1 cup Greek yogurt.

Kefir Buttermilk in Glasses

9. Buttermilk

Buttermilk can do it all when it comes to substituting butter in baking! Each bake will be incredibly tender and very flavorful. 

Buttermilk works in everything from bread to cakes to pancakes to cookies. The only thing it doesn’t work for is as a butter substitute for pastry.  

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

Simply mix milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon of acid per 1 cup of milk. 

Substitution Measurements– 1 cup of butter can be replaced with 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree.

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 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!

Substitution Measurements– Butter can be replaced with an equal amount of pureed avocado. 1 cup butter = 1 cup pureed avocado.

10 Best Butter Substitutes for Baking

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


  • Margarine

  • Coconut Oil

  • Olive or Vegetable Oil

  • Applesauce

  • Mashed Bananas

  • Pumpkin Puree

  • Ghee

  • Greek Yogurt

  • Buttermilk

  • Avocado


  • Choose your favorite butter substitute.
  • Use in all your favorite baking recipes (from cookies and cakes to breads!)
Butter Substitutes for Baking

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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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