In cooking, the best ghee substitutes are butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.
But, depending on what you’re making, there are others you can try, such as sesame oil, sunflower oil, and vegetable oil.
Ghee boasts many health benefits and a nutty aroma. But don’t let that stop you from experimenting with other alternatives.
In many cases, you’re simply looking for something to add fat to a recipe. So really, most oils will do the trick.
So, let’s delve into the world of ghee substitutes and see just how delicious and adventurous things can get!
What Is Ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter and has origins in Indian cuisine.
It’s made by simmering butter and removing the milk solids, leaving behind the golden, pure fat.
The process of clarifying the butter removes impurities, water, and milk solids. This results in rich and flavorful cooking fat.
A few reasons to use ghee include:
- Ghee has a high smoke point. It’s suitable for high-heat cooking methods like sautéing, frying, and roasting.
- It has a nutty and buttery flavor. This plays well with most recipes.
- It’s very smooth and creamy. It’s soft at room temperature, so it’s very spreadable.
- Ghee has a longer shelf life than regular butter. This is thanks to the removal of moisture and milk solids.
It’s commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Uses for Ghee
If you’ve never cooked with or used ghee before, you might still be wondering why you wouldn’t just use butter.
It’s readily available and admittedly cheaper, after all.
But when you see how well ghee fries and cooks food, I think you’ll soon convert!
Here are a few of my favorite ways to use ghee:
- Cooking and Frying: Ghee is excellent for cooking and frying due to its high smoke point. Use it as a flavorful alternative to oil or butter in various recipes.
- Baking: Incorporate ghee into your baking recipes for added richness and flavor. It can be used in cakes, cookies, bread, and pastries, lending a unique taste and moisture.
- Sautéing and Stir-Frying: Ghee’s rich and nutty flavor enhances the taste of sautéed vegetables and stir-fried dishes. It adds depth to the overall flavor profile and helps in achieving a delicious caramelization.
- Seasoning and Finishing: Drizzle melted ghee over cooked vegetables, roasted meats, or steamed rice. It gives a final touch of richness and flavor.
- Spreads and Condiments: Spread ghee on toast, bagels, or pancakes for a delightful twist. It can also be used as a topping for popcorn or mixed with spices to create tasty dips and sauces.
- Ayurvedic Practices: Ghee is highly regarded in Ayurvedic medicine for its potential health benefits. It’s used in practices like oil pulling, massage, and as a carrier for herbal remedies.
The Best Ghee Substitute
1. Butter + Olive Oil
I have to start with the obvious – butter is a great substitute for ghee since it comes from the same source.
They both come from cow’s milk. So essentially, there’s no major difference between them.
That said, butter doesn’t have the same nutty flavor as ghee. Plus, the smoke point of butter is much higher, so it’s not the best for frying.
That’s why I recommend mixing it with olive oil. You’ll get added flavor and the benefit of a higher smoke point – so your food won’t burn.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil + 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.
Note: You can swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 1 tablespoon of butter in most recipes.
2. Olive Oil
If you’d rather keep things simple, just use plain old olive oil instead of ghee.
It offers its own distinct flavor and health benefits. So while it’s not as buttery, you’ll still get a fruity and slightly peppery flavor profile.
Both ingredients can withstand high cooking temperatures, so you can use them for sautéing, roasting, and frying.
You can even use it in baking. Though in light recipes, you will taste it. And it can make certain bakes heavy.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is here to save the day when ghee is nowhere to be found.
With its rich and creamy texture, it adds a luscious touch to your dishes, just like ghee.
The subtle, tropical aroma infuses a delightful twist, and it even has nutty undertones.
Better yet, the texture is closer to ghee’s, so you can use it in sauces, stews, cakes, and more.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
4. Sesame Oil
While ghee has a rich and nutty taste, sesame oil offers its own unique flavor.
I find it similarly nutty, with a more toasty finish. It’s super pleasant in most recipes, even baking.
Both ingredients have a high smoke point, making them suitable for high-heat cooking.
And while sesame oil is especially popular in Asian cuisine, it lends a rich aroma and depth of flavor to plenty of dishes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
5. Sunflower Oil
When it comes to substituting ghee, sunflower oil steps into the culinary ring with its own shining qualities.
Just like ghee, sunflower oil can handle high heat, making it suitable for a range of cooking methods.
But unlike sesame oil, its mild flavor won’t overshadow the other ingredients.
Sunflower oil also boasts a lighter texture, ensuring your dishes don’t feel weighed down.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of sunflower oil.
6. Vegetable Oil
With its neutral flavor and versatility, vegetable oil seamlessly steps into ghee’s shoes.
Whether you’re frying, sautéing, or baking, it allows the other ingredients to shine.
It’s the chameleon of oils, adapting effortlessly to any recipe.
Just like ghee, it keeps things smooth and prevents sticking, ensuring your dishes turn out as delightful as ever. What more could you ask for?
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
7. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil stands tall as a commendable substitute for ghee.
It adds its own culinary prowess to the table. Not to mention its light texture ensures a delightful mouthfeel in dishes.
It has heart-healthy properties and a rich nutritional profile. So soybean oil seamlessly aligns with health-conscious cooking.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of soybean oil.
8. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a very healthy ghee substitute.
It’s packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. And it has a high smoke point.
So you can cook at higher temperatures without the risk of burning.
Avocado oil is versatile, too, making it a go-to choice for any dish, from sautéing vegetables to baking desserts.
So when you’re in a bind, reach for the avocado oil.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of ghee with 2 1/2 teaspoons of avocado oil.
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