Healthy Substitutes For Butter

Healthy Substitutes For Butter


Butter is an important and well-known baking ingredient. It is also used as a spread. However, for a number of reasons, many people avoid it.

That notwithstanding, most foods can be savored with or without butter. This article will highlight a number of ingredients that can serve as healthy substitutes for butter.

Healthy substitutes for butter
Photo Credit: Healthline


There are a number of reasons why you may need to replace your butter with some other ingredient. Here are some reasons:

You are allergic to milk

Butter has a low protein content. However, it also has some amount of casein in it. Casein is a milk protein, and it may be allergenic to some people (1).

If you have a milk allergy, then you should be careful with your butter intake. If your allergy level is severe, then you will have to avoid it completely.

You are intolerant to lactose

People who are lactose intolerant usually tolerate the minute amount of lactose that is present in butter (2).

However, people that have a high sensitivity to lactose may have to avoid butter.

Health effects

Butter is rich in saturated fat, and for this reason, some people may want to avoid it. High consumption of saturated fat increases the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease. However, this fact has mixed evidence (3, 4, 5).

Research has shown that the saturated fat present in butter may increase blood cholesterol more than the saturated fats in other dairy products such as cream (6).

Also, because of the high-fat content in butter, it is equally rich in calories. If you aim to reduce your intake of calories, then you may want to reduce your intake of butter.

Some people may want to reduce their intake of butter due to its very little nutritive benefits when compared to its high-calorie content per serving (7).


Butter serves as a very good leavening agent. This means that butter introduces air into baked products, thus giving them that fluffy and light structure/feeling.

Also, butter contributes to the flaky, moist nature of baked goods. It also adds to its tasty and rich flavor.

In the absence of these properties, what you will have will be dry, flavorless, and flat, baked products.

These good effects notwithstanding, there are other healthy substitutes for butter that can serve the same purpose in baking.


The fats and oils listed below serve as healthy substitutes for butter. They are comparable to butter and serve similar purposes.


Ghee is a unique form of butter with a nutty and aromatic and taste. It contains almost zero casein and lactose Ghee is a type of clarified butter with an aromatic and nutty taste. It contains virtually no casein or lactose and is thus a safer choice for people with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

Ghee can replace butter on a 1:1 ratio due to its strong, buttery flavor.

Ghee works as a very good substitute for butter for products that are baked at high temperatures. They are also good for products that are served warm, like cookies and bread.

However, because ghee has more moisture content than butter, you may need to watch the amount of flour and liquid in your recipes.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of the very important healthy substitutes for butter. Just like ghee, it can replace butter at a 1:1 ratio. However, it may cause a slight change in the flavor. Some types of coconut oil has a greater effect on the taste of your foods compared to others.

Raw coconut oil has a coconut-like taste compared to the refined varieties. It is very important for recipes that require rich or tropical chocolate flavors.

If you are not interested in the coconut flavor, then you may opt for a more refined brand or substitute.

Olive oil

Olive oil also serves as one of the major healthy substitutes for butter. You can substitute olive oil for butter at a 3:4 ratio by volume.

If your recipe needs a cup of butter (225 grams) for instance, then you may use ¾ cups of olive oil in its place. ¾ cups of olive oil is roughly 180ml.

Because olive oil is liquid, it may not really be the proper substitute for butter in recipes that demand solid fat or recipes that need a lot of creaming, like angel food cake or frosting.

The characteristic strong flavor of olive oil works best in recipes with a savory, nutty, or fruity quality, such as muffins or pumpkin bread.


You can use the following foods as a butter substitute in a 1:1 ratio.

You should note that most of these foods may have a higher water content compared to butter, and this may increase the moist nature of your baked foods.

To maintain the mouthfeel or texture of the original recipe, minimize the quantities of other liquids that you add to the recipe. You can also increase the amount of flour used.

Substituting butter may be a trial and error kind of situation. It works wonderfully well in some recipes and does not in other recipes.

This fact is very true when it comes to taste. Most butter substitutes have very good flavors which may work well or may not work well depending on what you need.

Generally, the following foods serve as useful substitutes in cookies, muffins, quick breads, cakes, and brownies:

  • Applesauce. Applesauce drastically reduces the amounts of fats and calories in your baked foods. Also, it sweetens the food, meaning that you may need to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipes.
  • Avocados. Avocados are rich in nutrients and healthy fats. You can shield the green tint with dark ingredients such as chocolate.
  • Mashed bananas. Mashed bananas increase the nutrient content of your food. It also reduces the amounts of fats and calories. Take your time while adding the banana batter. In fact, add it slowly, until you achieve the desired consistency.
  • Greek yogurt. If you have no problems with dairy, then you may increase the protein content of your recipe with Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt also replaces the sweetness of the recipe with some kind of tangy flavor. You are better off with full-fat yogurt if you intend keeping your baked foods tender and creamy.
  • Nut butter. With but butter, your baked foods will have a heavy and dense nature, and will also have some nutty taste. Always have it at the back of your mind that nut butter are rich in calories and fat.
  • Pumpkin purée. Pumpkin puree is one of the important healthy substitutes for butter. The optimum amount to be used when substituting for butter is ¾ the amount of pumpkin puree.


Butter is popular spread for crackers, breads and a host of food items.

If you are not a fan of butter, you can still spread your foods with other ingredients.

The following foods serve as healthy substitutes for butter spreads. Also, they are very nutritious and tasty:

  • Olive oil. Olive oil mixed with pepper and basil is a very delicious spread.
  • Nut butter. Almond and peanut butter can be used on crackers and toast.
  • Cheese. If you are diary tolerant, then you may use cream cheese, ricotta, and cottage cheese.
  • Avocado. One or two tablespoons of avocado can be spread lightly over toast.
  • Hummus. This is great for dipping and spreading.


Margarine is not a good substitute for butter.

Margarine is heavily processed and also contains some trans fats that have inflammatory properties (8, 9, 10).

You should note that baked goods are not entirely healthy, and as such, it is important to be mindful of the quality of ingredients that you use.

Also, margarine doesn’t have as much texture and flavor to begin with.


There are many delicious ingredients that can serve as healthy substitutes for butter, both as a spread and for baking. When baking, try out various alternatives to see which would give you the desired flavor and consistency for your recipes.

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