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The 9 Best Substitutes for Butter Flavoring in a Recipe

Getting that coveted butter flavoring in a recipe without using actual butter is a common question. However, the function of butter is so much more than just flavor. It helps make the texture of foods the texture, softness, and moistness that everyone loves. Luckily, several replacements can mimic what butter adds to a recipe.

1. Margarine

Tub of Margarine

When thinking of butter substitutes, margarine is one of the first things that pops into most bakers’ minds because of their resemblance. They are readily available in almost every grocery store, but how well will they work in a recipe?

Margarine is a suitable substitute for butter at a 1:1 proportion. Margarine cookies may be less crisp and cakes less tender, but you’ll still get the buttery texture desired. Store-bought ones come in many variants, some not even suitable for baking. So be sure to check its packaging thoroughly.

Margarine contains many more ingredients than butter but is lower in saturated fats, which makes it perfect for calorie-conscious people. Besides, butter flavoring’s high-fat content promotes cholesterol levels in the blood, which doesn’t favor heart health.

2. Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils come from plants. Types include:

  • Olive oil. 
  • Soybean oil. 
  • Palm oil. 

They are popular in many home pantries, so considering them as a butter alternative isn’t unusual.

You can replace butter flavoring with vegetable oils. The amount for substitution depends on the kind of oil, with multiple available. Coconut oil, for instance, can alternate well in a 1:1 ratio, while olive oil works best at 3:4. However, use your discretion whenever in doubt.

Olive oil substitutes butter well in muffins and cakes with nutty or savory flavors. Coconut oil, preferably unrefined, tastes excellent for chocolate-based recipes. And you can better enjoy your baked food’s flavor with mild canola oil.

The food will be moister than butter-baked because oil remains liquid at room temperature.

Health-wise, vegetable oils contain more fat than butter flavoring, so beware if you are calorie-conscious.

3. Banana or Avocado Puree

2 small bowls of avocado and banana puree

Banana or avocado puree is another suitable substitute for butter flavoring for its smooth & squishy texture. Both fruits can be easily blended into a smooth and creamy texture that can often mimic that of butter.

Banana or avocado puree can substitute nicely for butter in a recipe. One cup of the puree can replace a cup of butter, but most chefs prefer using half a cup to one. Mashed bananas have a strong taste that can impact cakes and biscuits, so you should control their quantity if you don’t like them.

Using banana or avocado puree is a simple method that doesn’t only cut out excess fat but replaces it with healthy, nutritious fruits. Bananas boost digestion and heart health, while avocados contain multiple beneficial vitamins like C, E, K, and B6.

4. Ghee

Partially Melted Ghee on a Spoon

Although ghee is from melted butter, it differs in content and texture. It is lactose-free and therefore perfect for people with such intolerance.

Ghee works well as a butter substitute at a 1:1 ratio. When baking, you’ll get your typical buttery solid flavor with hints of nuttiness. Like vegetable oils, they’ll provide more moisture than butter, which may or may not be desirable. You can also use it when scrambling eggs and making popcorn.

However, ghee’s preparation method means it is more fat-concentrated than butter. A tablespoon of ghee has nearly 120 calories (502 kJ), unlike butter, which has102 calories (428.6 kJ).

5. Lard

Jar of Lard

Many baking pros aren’t strangers to lard, which is a white semi-solid ingredient derived from animal fat. Some regard it as an alternative to butter despite skepticism about its source, so should you?

Lard is another great substitute for butter flavoring to consider in an equal ratio. Depending on your recipe, lard can provide a buttery texture with a pork-like or neutral flavor. It also gives foods a crumbly, flaky texture due to its high-fat content and is a better tenderizer than butter.

Compared to butter, lard has excellent monounsaturated fat.

However, lard usually comes from pork fat, which is responsible for its negative reputation among many health enthusiasts. There are a few misconceptions about its indigestible and unhealthy nature, but that shouldn’t deter you if you’re looking for a butter substitute.

6. Applesauce


Applesauce is a puree from apples famous in many homes. They come in numerous varieties, from sweetened to spiced, sour to savory, with even an “apple butter” existing. So is substituting it for butter a good idea?

Applesauce can replace butter in many recipes, including muffins, pancakes, and bread. However, you’ll need to add some baking powder, starch, or semolina, so the food doesn’t become too compact. Moreover, most applesauce is much sweeter than butter, so you won’t need to add as much sugar as usual.

You can swap equal quantities easily, being the ideal substitute to extensively cut down butter’s fats and calories.

Moreover, since apple sauce is essentially just apples, you’ll enjoy all its extra health benefits like improving heart, brain, and gut health. They are also rich in fiber and antioxidants.

7. Nut Butter

Homemade almond nut butter in a jar and small bowl with almonds on wooden board

Since soy, pea, and almond nut butter are readily available, you’ve probably tested them in various recipes. They have a characteristic flavor and exclusive health benefits, so why not substitute them for butter?

Nut butter can fill in for butter in many baking recipes. A 1:1 ratio with butter is okay, but you’re free to explore different ratios and find what you like. On store shelves, go for the simple ones with just the nuts and salt as ingredients as opposed to sugar-loaded nut butters. They will complement your bread, cakes, cookies, and brownies well.

Unlike regular butter, nut butter will improve cholesterol levels and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. Even the fats contained are monounsaturated ones, which are healthy.

8. Strained Yogurt

Bowl of Greek Yogurt

Strained or Greek yogurt isn’t the most widespread dairy product, but it’s worth a shot if you want to try something new. Usually, it serves as breakfast, improves soups, and is an excellent bread and cracker spread.

You can also substitute Greek yogurt for butter because of its thick and dense nature. Half of the butter will blend well with the yogurt, but it can be equal in ratio. To prevent too much moisture on the food, add some flour, baking powder, or semolina, considering its size with your best judgment.

There are many healthy reasons to replace butter with strained yogurts, such as promoting bone and mental health. It also lowers blood pressure and the risk of diabetes, all while providing a buttery texture to your food.

9. Shortening

Crisco all-vegetable shortening container

Shortening is any hydrogenated vegetable oil that is solid fat at room temperature. It looks slightly like butter but isn’t actually butter.

Shortening is a nice substitute for butter flavoring. It is from vegetable oils, which aren’t as flavorful as butter but can improve baked foods’ size. You can hardly tell the difference between foods baked with either ingredient, but those with shortening will maintain their structure better.

Shortening still contains fats like butter but with essential antioxidants and vital vitamins.

Can You Make Butter Flavoring?

Butter flavoring is mostly store-bought, but chefs with DIY spirits love to explore the manufacturing process. Does homemade butter flavoring even exist?

You can make butter flavoring from butter and water by straining out 3/4 cup (180 ml) of water from a half pound (230 g) of unsalted butter. Boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, allow it to cool, and press the liquid into a container with a large spoon. 

The yellow extract from the squeezing is your butter flavoring. Ensure you refrigerate it as it can last for one to two months.


 The 9 best substitutes for butter flavoring in a recipe:

  1. Margarine
  2. Vegetable oils
  3. Banana or avocado puree
  4. Ghee
  5. Lard
  6. Applesauce
  7. Nut butter
  8. Greek yogurt
  9. Shortening

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss The 7 Best Substitutes for Butter Flavored Crisco.