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Plant-based Butter Substitutes for Cooking and Baking

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Ditching dairy? Awesome! Here are some handy plant-based butter substitutes for cooking and baking.

Nut Butters

Nuts are small but they pack a punch. While both butter and nuts contain fat, you get the healthier kind when opting for nuts. And unlike butter, nuts contain protein! If you want to keep it as healthy as possible, buy nut butters with short ingredients lists or make your own at home.

If you want your food to have the characteristic flavors of almond, peanuts, macadamia, etc. use this ingredient in dense treats like cookies and bars. You could also a nut butter such as peanut butter in a recipe like plant-based Pad Thai.


It's pretty easy to make the switch from butter to olive oil or avocado oil for things like sautéing veggies, baked savory goods, and dips for breads.

While butter doesn't give these foods a distinct taste, when using high-quality olive oil, you can bring a sharp, almost peppery flavor profile to these foods.

Olive oil can be used in some desserts too, just make sure the recipe calls for using melted butter or some other type of liquid fat. Olive oil wouldn't fare as well in recipes that require creaming butter with sugar.

Avocado oil has a high smoke point so it would be great for cooking something with high heat like a stir fry. It doesn't have much of a taste, but you still get the creaminess you'd get with butter. But without the saturated fats found in butter that can lead to heart disease with prolonged use.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can easily be used in place of butter for recipes that ask for melted butter. You want to make sure you use coconut oil in its liquid form for such recipes.

You might like your desserts such as cakes and cookies to have a slight hint of coconut to them, so you can use coconut oil to grease your baking dishes. Go for refined coconut oil in products you don't want to be dominated by a coconut flavor.


Instead of using butter on toast and bagels, try a mashed avocado with some salt & pepper, cayenne, and lime juice instead. Use it for salad dressings, creamy pasta sauces, and making your own plant-based mayo.

You can cut back on saturated fats if you use avocados in place of butter in baking. Make sure to reduce the temperature at which you bake by 25 degrees when opting for avocados and increase your baking time.


Tub margarines are similar in texture to softened butter. However, tub margarines can be low in saturated fat and high in water. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on what you use it in. Butter-based cookies tend to yield crispier cookies with more hefty edges.

On the flip side, margarine-based cookies give your cookies an unbelievable amount of chew and they turn out incredibly soft. If you don't wait for a while before digging in, they'll easily fall apart. Neither one is right or wrong, it all depends on someone's preference.

Stick margarines have the same texture as butter in their natural form. This makes it a better substitute for baking without much-added fuss, but stick margarines are higher in trans fats. Margarine sold in tubs come in many different versions now to serve people across all diet spectrums and most of them are free of trans fat, but not all. Read your labels.

Fruit Spreads

Fruit purees are a great way to bring more fruits into your diet if you don't like eating them in their natural form or if you just don't eat enough of them. Just puree and spread it onto toast, rice cakes, tortillas, etc. and that's it!

The best thing about this alternative is that you can make a spread out of virtually any fruit you desire and customize the spreads to your liking. If you have more seasonal fruit than you know what to do with, make spreads and store them to use throughout the year. You not only have a healthier alternative to store-bought jams and jellies, but you have a new ingredient you can add to whatever recipe you wish.

Vegan Butters

This is the alternative for those who want something as close to butter as possible without having to get too creative when using it. Luckily, vegan butters are more accessible today and they come in many different versions: low sodium, low fat, kosher, olive oil flavored, cinnamon, etc.

Earth Balance vegan butter is one of the most versatile, with customers touting its effectiveness when used for things from baking vegetables to cooking chocolatey desserts.

If you want to avoid margarine in your butter, Miyoko's Kitchen is a popular brand that makes its product from coconut oil and cashews. If you want brownies to taste like cinnamon, you can buy cinnamon flavored vegan butter and skip out on the cinnamon seasoning all together.

Some dieticians argue that vegan butters aren't necessarily healthier than regular butter so make sure to do your research and read those ingredient labels.


Its light flavor allows it to blend in effortlessly in baked goods like breads and muffins. Due to its mushy texture, avoid use for recipes that are more crispy in nature. Applesauce is also more forgiving in fat content when compared to butter. Use unsweetened applesauce to keep both sugar and calories down. Be gentle with handling batters where apple sauce is being used.

Veggie Purees

Do your kids hate eating their veggies but love munching on dessert all day long? Try this sneaky hack to get more vegetables into their tummies. Use roasted beets in chocolate cakes/brownies.

Chocolate flavored cakes can handle beets due to their existing dark color and taste, so no need to worry about your cake coming out of the oven with a weird hue to it or an unappetizing flavor. Beets just bring more sweetness and moisture to the cake.



Author: Shruti is a current intern and recent graduate from The University of North Texas holding a bachelor’s of business administration degree in marketing. She has a passion for digital marketing, with a focus on social media, and advertising. In her free time, she enjoys baking, watching movies, and going on hikes.

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