In this post I’ll be explaining my top 10 best dairy free butter substitutes that I use when baking. But first of all, I think it's important to know why butter is so popular in baking and how opting for healthier options can be a lot better for you.
Qualities of butter:
Butter is the most common baking ingredient and is recommended in nearly all food staples. It helps produce rich, flaky or creamy confections.
However, all of these properties come with a cost. Indulging in confections with a high butter content can lead to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or heart disease.
One of the main causes of this is because butter is high in saturated fat. Which may also cause a rise in cholesterol. As supported by a study by the NLM.
So, what are the alternatives?
Some of my favourite healthy butter alternatives are:
Mashed bananas are an excellent butter substitute. Its probably the one I use the most. Its packed with loads of important nutrients such as, vitamins B6 & C, potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese.
It has a very similar texture to butter and provides a sweet and rich flavour. When substituting do so in a 1:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for 100g of butter that would be 100g of mashed bananas. Same goes for cups.
I’ve found bananas make your confection soft and moist. It also leaves a slight banana flavour - which I personally don’t mind. However, if that’s not your forte I’d recommend trying the other substitutes below.
Greek yogurt is thick and creamy and contains less water than regular yoghurts as it is strained out. And works perfectly in baking. Although, it does produce a slight tangy flavour but could work perfectly for making a pastry crust for a lemon tart or a crumble top for a fruit tart!
When substituting, do so again in a 1:1 ratio. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing so in amounts larger than 1 cup.
Greek yogurt contains probiotic cultures and is an excellent source of calcium, which can help improve bone health. And is lower in lactose and has twice the protein content of regular yogurts.
A very uncommon butter substitute is pumpkin puree. Many people don’t know that it’s actually very nutritious.
Its packed with vitamins and antioxidants, such as, potassium, vitamin A and iron. You can find out more about the impressive health benefits of pumpkins here.
When substituting, every 1 cup of butter will be ¾ cup of pumpkin puree. The flavour will slightly change compared to when using butter.
But this substitute might just be perfect if you were baking a pastry dough for a tart or sweet pie. The adding flavour of the pumpkin, could add a layer of depth and richness to the dessert!
You probably already know that avocados are healthy. Which they most definitely are, they are a great source of vitamins C, E, K and B, and have a high fibre content and low in carbs.
You can find more about their properties at Medical News Today
Substitute butter with avocadoes in a 1:1 ratio.
When it comes to baking with avocados you’d expect it to leave an avocado after test. However, surprisingly that’s not the case. You can easily substitute avocados for butter when making things like cookies.
Although, it is all dependent on the recipe you’re following if a recipe requires a large amount of butter substituting that for avocado, will probably produce that avocado after taste you weren’t looking for.
It can also make your bakes green! Which might not look very appetising. That’s why I love to pair it with cocoa powder.
I’ve found avocado and cocoa produce a lovely rich and smooth chocolate flavour. And then cocoa masks the green. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
You can substitute butter for apple sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
Try using it in a cake or brownies. It can help produce a moist, fudgy texture. With a sweet and fresh mouthfeel.
Like fresh apples, applesauce also contains polyphenols, which may help to reduce blood pressure. Lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels can help to reduce your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. According to WebMD.
However, there are a few downsides to apple sauce. Many manufactures tend to add sugars and additives to their apple sauce making it less healthy. So, when substituting be mindful which one you pick up at the groceries.
In addition, applesauce provides a limited number of vitamins and minerals in comparison to whole apples. As they lose most of their minerals when blended.Therefore, consuming a variety of other fruits and vegetables in combination with applesauce will help ensure a nutritionally balanced diet.
Almond contains high quantities of monosaturated fats, healthy nutrients and vitamins. Furthermore, according to webmd.
These monosaturated fats can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good cholesterol (HDL).
Furthermore, almond butter is a perfect vegan substitute. Due to its high fat and protein content almond butter is excellent for baking. It helps provide structure and flavour to baked confections.
Substitute it for butter in a 1:1 ratio.
Another surprising fact is that peanut butter contains large quantities of resveratrol, an antioxidant that's been shown to have anti-cancer effects and may lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
You can find out more regarding this here.
When substituting peanut butter for butter. You need to be careful when choosing which one.
Most peanut butter contain added sugars and oils. Making them unhealthier than butter.
I’d recommend using the meridian peanut butter, it contains no added sugar or oils. Just 100% peanuts and it tastes amazing. It adds such a beautiful rich peanut flavour to my confections.
Cashew butter is brilliant in baking. It doesn’t produce any strong flavours but rather it helps bring out the flavours of your dessert.
Like peanut and almond butter, cashew butter is a great source of monounsaturated fats, reducing the risk of developing harmful cholesterol or heart disease.
Substitute butter for cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio.
But remember with all nut butter alternatives, ensure you look at the ingredients. Pick the one with no added sugars, oils or other additives it should only be the nut listed.
For example, if you were to look at the ingredients list at the back of a cashew butter jar. Cashews should only be listed.
There’s a lot of controversy regarding coconut oil and whether it is healthy or not.
Although, like ghee its high in saturated fat. And yet there are many health benefits - when eaten in moderation, not in large quantities.
A few properties include, its ability to reduce inflammation, boosts heart health and may help to protect your skin, hair and teeth. According to a post written by the Healthline.
Additionally, Despite the many health claims surrounding coconut oil, it’s still probably not the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease and manage weight.
But is a good substitute when required in small amounts. And can help produce flaky and rich pastry. However, it does tend to leave a coconut flavour.
Which could work well with your confection, depending on what you’re making. In my opinion a lemon sponge using coconut oil. Will produce a rich, decadent lemon and coconut cake which can be topped with coconut shavings. A perfect treat for an afternoon tea!
When substituting butter for coconut oil, do so in a 1:1 ratio.
A substitute you don’t hear much of is ghee. Although its not dairy free, it is suitable for those that are lactose intolerant as it has extremely low levels of lactose.
Ghee is also rich in fat and contains large quantities of omega 3’s.
Which is incredibly important at supporting a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
I can understand the irony. I food high in fat being used to support your heart! But in actual fact there is truth to it. Yes, ghee is very high in fat, almost 50% is saturated fat!
So yes, if eaten in high quantities this ingredient can be harmful to your heart health. However, that is the key point- only if its ‘eaten in high quantities’.
On the other hand, if you eat ghee in moderation, and incorporate it into your balanced diet, it can help reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels.
You can substitute butter for ghee in a 1:1 ratio.
Due to its high fat content, it works as the perfect fat substitute in all confections. However, if a recipe calls for large quantities it may not be the best healthy alterative.
There are many healthy, vegan butter alternatives. However, you need to be mindful that some may change the flavour and texture.
But read their properties above to choose which substitutes will work best in the dessert you plan to make.
In addition, when a recipe calls for large quantities of butter. You can try and limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet. And opt for unsaturated fats such as, rapeseed oils, avocados, bananas and nut butters.
Check out my recent post where I substituted butter for mashed bananas! See here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of your butter substitutes. Leave a comment below to let me know x