Most non-dairy margarines work well in baking, cooking, and/or as spreads. Several non-hydrogenated brands are listed within our product lists, such as Earth Balance / Smart Balance.
While margarine can substitute butter in a one for one ratio, it is most often noted that you may reduce the amount of vegetable shortening by up to 1/4 cup for every 1 cup of butter that a recipe calls for. However, I have successfully used as little as 1/2 the amount called for on many occassions.
Oil is the most used butter replacement in my household. This can take some experimentation, but oil can be utilized for butter, even in baking. Obviously oil will work great anywhere butter is called for in sautéing or roasting. However, in baking much less oil is typically required, as it will yield a somewhat “oily” product if you use a 1:1 ratio. As a fat equivalent, they say that 7/8 cup vegetable oil equals 1 cup of butter. I don’t typically agree with this. I use 3/4 the amount or less.
My popular butter-free chocolate chip cookies use 1/2 cup of extra light olive oil rather than the 1 cup of butter called for in equivalent recipes. The results are gobbled up quickly and with many smiles. If a recipe specifically calls for melted butter, then you can replace it with the equivalent amount of oil.
Blend up that apple pulp or a handful of prunes and you have an excellent, healthy way to substitute butter when baking sweets and quick breads. In fact, pureed bananas, pineapple, and pears also give an excellent “fat” consistency to recipes with an added jolt of health and flavor. We have a few tips to help maximize your results:
Here are some recipes for making your own quick fruit puree for baking:
Hold that butter! Loaded with B vitamins, many people love the taste of nutritional yeast on popcorn. Use a touch of olive oil on the popcorn for maximum “sticking” results. Nutritional Yeast is quickly growing in popularity. To find it, check the baking goods aisle and the bulk food section of mainstream and natural grocers. If you can’t find it in store, it is readily available online.
Yes, those crazy coconuts are incredibly versatile! Coconut butter is the meat of the coconut ground into a paste, and shouldn’t be confused with coconut oil, which will melt more readily at room temperature.
You can easily purchase coconut butter online, but to make your own, toast unsweetened grated or shredded coconut over low heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, then whirl it (while still hot) in a blender until it has the consistency of a smooth paste.
Although straight coconut butter isn’t great for spreading, it can work well in cooking and baking.
Though not all of the following are true “butter substitutes,” these buttery recipes are sure to inspire and delight:
Below are the products we’ve had a chance to taste-test and review here on Go Dairy Free. For a more extensive list of dairy-free butter substitute options available, get one of our No Dairy Product Lists; they include thousands of dairy-free foods.
For more buttery recipes and dairy alternative tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.
Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread - Photo by Me