6 Must-Know Vegan Butter Alternatives
Whether you’re mid-recipe and ran out of your favorite vegan butter, or you can’t stand the thought of spending so much money on a plant-based butter with high markup, you’re in luck—you likely have more than one vegan butter alternative sitting around your house.
We’ll share our favorite options, whether you want to use a vegan butter replacement in a recipe or for a butter-like spread. Best of all, these butter alternatives come with nutrients that real butter often doesn’t contain.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the best vegan alternative butter choices because it has a similar texture to butter. When searching for coconut oil, keep in mind that manufacturers make it either with fresh coconut meat, called “virgin” coconut oil, or with dried coconut meat, called “copra.”
We recommend purchasing high-quality coconut oil. That’s because coconut oil doesn’t undergo regulations like olive oil. Therefore, manufacturers can get away with making a lower-quality oil while still labeling it a virgin product.
How to Prepare Coconut Oil
While most people buy coconut oil from the store, you can make vegan coconut oil at home instead. To do so, scoop coconut meat out of its shell and place it in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for ten minutes.
Then, put the coconut meat in a blender with filtered water for 1 – 2 minutes. Using a nut milk bag, take out the remaining coconut chunks and pour the coconut milk into a pan. Heat the milk at a low, consistent temperature, watching for oil to build on top.
Collect that oil, and voila, you have yourself homemade coconut oil!
How to Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is best as a vegan butter alternative in baked goods. Therefore, you should keep it at room temperature so that it’s easier to scoop out the amount you need for baking.
You can use coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio in your vegan recipes. That said, keep in mind that coconut oil can alter the flavor of baked goods, causing them to take on a coconut flavor. To reduce the strength of the coconut flavor, we recommend choosing refined coconut oil.
Coconut Oil’s Nutrition Value
Perhaps unsurprisingly, coconut oil is high in fat, with one tablespoon containing 13.5 grams. Although 11.2 grams of that amount is saturated fat, because of its medium-chain triglyceride content, the body doesn’t as easily store coconut oil’s fat.
Coconut oil also contains vitamin E and traces of vitamins and minerals that aren’t significant enough to list here.
2. Nut Butter
If you’re looking to replicate a vegan butter to spread on saltier items like toast or sandwiches, using nut butter is an excellent option. Many great kinds of nut butter exist, including:
- Cashew butter
- Coconut butter
- Walnut butter
- Pistachio butter
You can also use more commonly recognized butter substitutes like peanut butter. The butter you choose will ultimately depend on the flavor profile you’re comfortable with.
How to Prepare Nut Butter
The quickest way to prepare nut butter is to not prepare it at all, given that you can buy many varieties of it at the store. However, if you want to make nut butter at home, it’s possible, and this is an excellent choice if you’d like to blend several types of nuts.
While the method you prepare nut butter can vary according to the recipe, the general gist is that you’ll roast the nuts before sticking them in a blender for 10 – 12 minutes. The result should be a thick but smooth, buttery texture.
How to Use Nut Butter
Nut butter is an excellent option to use as a condiment on non-baked goods. It’ll add creaminess to your meal that butter would but with extra flavor. You’ll want to test out how much nut butter to use, as you don’t want its flavor to overpower your dish.
Although it’s typically best to use nut betters as a condiment on cold food, you can even consider using it on a baked potato when it comes out of the oven.
Nut Butter’s Nutrition Value:
The exact nutrition of nut butter will depend on the type of nut it contains. But generally speaking, you can expect your nut butter to have at least some of the following:
- Vitamin C
3. Non-solidifying Oils
Another excellent vegan butter alternative is choosing a non-solidifying oil, essentially any cooking oil except coconut oil. Although these oils don’t have a similar consistency as butter at room temperature, butter turns into a liquid between 82 – 97 degrees Fahrenheit. So, once your vegan baked good hits the oven, it won’t matter anyway.
Some examples of popular non-solidifying oils to use as a vegan butter replacement include olive, avocado, peanut, sunflower, and canola oil.
How to Prepare Non-solidifying Oils
You don’t have to prepare anything before using non-solidifying oils in your vegan baked goods. So, grab whatever vegan oil you have in your cupboard and continue with your recipe.
How to Use Non-solidifying Oils
You can use non-solidifying oils in the same ratio as butter that your recipe calls for, keeping in mind that one stick of butter equals ½-cup of oil.
You’ll need to research the smoke point for the oil you’re using and compare it to the oven temperature your recipe indicates. Some oils burn faster than others, with olive oil being a prime example. In contrast, you’ll likely be able to use sunflower and avocado oil in nearly any vegan recipe.
An advantage of non-solidifying oil over coconut oil is that the non-solidifying variety usually has a milder taste. So, it’s less likely to impact the flavor of your baked good.
Non-solidifying Oil’s Nutrition Value
Regardless of the non-solidifying oil you use, you can expect it to contain a high amount of fat. Fiber, protein, and carbohydrates typically aren’t present in these oils, and vitamins and minerals are often minimal.
However, when you consume it in moderation, oil plays an essential part in human health, as it’s an excellent energy source.
Applesauce is one of the healthiest vegan butter alternative options. It’s ideal for baked goods since it’ll add sweetness. Furthermore, it adds extra moisture to desserts that butter often doesn’t.
Given that applesauce has a distinct fruity flavor, you should consider what recipes you use it in to avoid altering it to an unpleasant flavor profile.
How to Prepare Applesauce
You don’t need to prepare applesauce at home, given that it’s fine to use this vegan butter replacement out of a store-bought jar.
But if you want to get crafty in the kitchen, skin and cut up some apples. Granny Smith and Honeycrisp will give your applesauce a tartier flavor, whereas Fuji or Golden Delicious will make it sweeter.
Then, pour your apples into a pot, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Finally, let them simmer for up to 20 minutes before putting them in a blender.
How to Use Applesauce
You can use applesauce as a vegan butter alternative in one of two ways—as a 1:1 ratio with butter or with a 1:1 ratio but using half applesauce and half of another ingredient on this list.
In either case, we recommend choosing an unsweetened variety if you purchase applesauce from a store.
The trick with using applesauce is that it’ll cause your baked goods to take on a denser and moister texture than the original butter recipe. For this reason, some people like mixing half applesauce and half oil or another ingredient.
Applesauce’s Nutrition Value
Applesauce has loads of nutrition, especially compared to butter. By using it in your vegan baked goods, some of the many nutrients you’ll receive include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
Hummus originates from the Middle East and, at its core, is a pasty mixture of chickpeas and sesame seeds (tahini). People often add flavoring to their hummus, including lemon, garlic, and pepper. However, to use it as a vegan butter alternative, it’s best to choose the plain variety.
It’s best to use hummus as a condiment on sandwiches and savory dishes. Its advantage is that it has a similar consistency as butter, making it easy to spread on your favorite bread or sandwich.
How to Prepare Hummus
Although you can buy hummus in the store, it often comes with many ingredients that you might not want since you’ll be using it as a butter replacement. The good news is that it’s easy to make vegan hummus at home.
To make hummus, drain and pour a can of chickpeas into a blender and add some tahini. If you don’t have tahini, you’re welcome to use extra virgin olive oil instead. Then, blend these two ingredients and assess the texture.
It’s best to start with less tahini and add it as you go. That way, you can control the thickness of your hummus. As a tip, removing the skins from the chickpeas will result in a smoother hummus that’s more akin to butter.
How to Use Hummus
Hummus is an excellent replacement for butter on savory bread. However, you won’t want to pair it with anything sweet, given that it can have a strong and saltier flavor, depending on the type you buy.
Since hummus is healthy for you, you can more liberally apply it to toast and sandwiches without the guilt you’d feel of doing the same with a stick of butter.
That said, you might want to start with a small amount of hummus and do a taste test before adding more. Even without added flavors, hummus will have a distinct flavor, and you wouldn’t want it overpowering the other ingredients in your food.
Hummus’ Nutrition Value
Hummus is an excellent source of protein and fiber, with the average serving offering 7.9 and 6.0 grams each, respectively. It also contains notable amounts of the following nutrients:
6. Vegan Yogurt
To round off our top vegan butter substitutes, we have another excellent baked good substitute for you—vegan yogurt. Plain vegan yogurt often comes with a base of soy, oat, almond, or coconut milk.
While it often doesn’t produce as similar results to butter as oil, it’s a great option if you’re in a bind or looking for a healthier alternative.
How to Prepare Vegan Yogurt
There’s no need to make vegan yogurt on your own before using it as a butter substitute. But if you’re inclined to give it a try, you can easily do so by mixing coconut milk with probiotics.
You’ll need to let your homemade yogurt activate for 24 – 48 hours in the fridge, as this will give it time to thicken. Then it’ll be ready for you to use as a butter substitute.
How to Use Vegan Yogurt
You can use vegan yogurt in a 1:1 ratio for however much butter your baked good recipe calls for. If you don’t make the yogurt at home, choose a low-sugar yogurt. That way, you won’t make your dish too sweet.
As with applesauce, you’re welcome to use half yogurt and half oil. In this case, the oil will help the baked good have more moisture.
Vegan Yogurt’s Nutrition Value
Most vegan yogurts come with added gut-healthy live active cultures. While the exact nutritional profile will depend on the brand, many vegan yogurts also contain the following nutrients:
- Vitamin D2
- Vitamin B12
People have varying needs for a vegan butter alternative, so the options above offer a wide range to choose from.
Whether you want a quick spread for your bread or you love the thought of preparing homemade vegan butter, you just might inspire your meat-eating friends to give vegan butter replacements a try.