Butter Substitutes

Butter is one of the most frequently used baking ingredients, and there are countless ways to replace butter in recipes. Try one of our many substitutes for both salted and unsalted butter, plus healthy butter substitutes that reduce calories and fat in your favorite recipes.

Sticks of butter

Salted Butter Substitutes:

For 1 cup salted butter, substitute 1 cup margarine; 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt; 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt; or 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Unsalted Butter Substitutes:

For 1 cup unsalted butter, substitute 1 cup shortening, 7/8 cup vegetable oil, or 7/8 cup lard.

More Butter Substitutes:

For half of the called-for butter, substitute applesauce, shortening, oil, or butter spreads and shortenings specially formulated for baking that don't have trans fats.

For half of the called-for butter, substitute tofu or pureed white beans (cannellini, black beans, lentils).

For one-quarter of the called-for butter, substitute flaxseed meal.

Baking with Butter Substitutes:

To avoid dense, soggy, or flat baked goods, do not substitute oil for butter or shortening. Also, do not substitute diet, whipped, or tub-style margarine for regular margarine.

More ingredient substitutions

Butter in bowl

Healthy Butter Substitutes:

For half of the called-for butter, substitute baby food prunes.

  • Cup for cup, prunes have about 85 percent less calories than butter. Using prunes to replace half the butter cuts cholesterol, sodium, fat, and saturated fat. One cup of prunes has about 6 grams of fiber, whereas butter has no fiber. Prunes add natural sugars and carbohydrates.

For half of the called-for butter, substitute mashed tofu.

  • Ounce per ounce, tofu has about 90 percent less calories and 88 percent less fat than butter. Using tofu to replace half the butter reduces calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium by about half.

For half of the called-for butter, substitute pureed white beans (cannellini, black beans, lentils).

  • 1 cup of rinsed and drained canned beans is equal to 3/4 cup mashed beans.
  • Cup for cup, beans have 84 percent less calories, 98 percent less fat, and 70 percent less sodium than salted butter. Replacing half the butter with beans reduces calories, fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat. One cup of beans has about 12 grams of fiber plus folate and iron, whereas butter has none.

For 1 tablespoon butter, substitute a 1/3-second spray of cooking spray for coating baking pans and sauteing.

  • Using cooking spray omits virtually all added fat for cooking. Adding more than one serving (a 1/3-second spray) will start adding fat. For example, three servings (a 1-second spray) have about 1 gram of fat.

For one-quarter of the called-for butter, substitute flaxseed meal.

  • Flaxseed reduces calories added by salted butter by 90 percent and fat by 93 percent. It also omits cholesterol and virtually all saturated fat and sodium.
  • Flaxseed meal has nearly twice the amount of calcium than butter plus 8 grams of fiber.
  • However, flaxseed meal will increase carbohydrates.

For half of the called-for butter, substitute unsweetened applesauce.

  • Unsweetened applesauce has about 94 percent less calories and 99 percent less fat than butter. It has 0 grams cholesterol and saturated fat, plus 98 percent less sodium than salted butter.
  • Applesauce has 3 grams fiber per cup.
  • Using applesauce to replace half the butter reduces calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • However, applesauce will increase carbohydrates.

Healthy ingredient substitutions

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