These are the top 9 dairy free butter substitutes that you can use when cooking or baking. Learn about the various vegan alternatives, then give them a try in my favorite recipes!
This post is for you if you have food allergies, are lactose intolerant, don't have butter on hand, are adopting a plant-based diet, or simply cutting back on butter.
In recent years, grocery stores have really expanded the dairy free alternative sections. Now when we need to find a butter alternative, we have so many great options to choose from!
There's oil, vegan butter, shortening, margarine, and more. After years of experimenting, due to my own food allergies and lactose intolerance, I've found that some options work better than others.
Is butter dairy?
Yes! Butter is made from cow's milk or cream then churned until the butterfat separates from the buttermilk and creates a semi-solid product that we know as butter.
In baking, butter creates moisture that results in soft and tender baked goods. When cooking with butter, it gives a dish creamy and rich flavor.
Best dairy free butter substitutes
The best vegan butter substitutes will depend on what recipe you're making. In general, when a recipe calls for butter, substitute an equal amount of these alternatives in its place.
Olive oil is a kitchen staple for me. It's by far my most used butter substitute when cooking savory meals like my dairy free mac and cheese and olive oil mashed mashed potatoes, or when sauteing vegetables.
Depending on the type of olive oil you have, it can change the taste of your dish, giving it a slightly nutty flavor. I actually love baking with olive oil. It works great in my olive oil cake!
Coconut oil is an increasingly popular cooking oil. Refined coconut oil does not have a coconutty taste or aroma. It also makes baked goods extra soft and fluffy!
I'll grab for vegetable oil or canola oil when I don't have plant-based butter on hand and don't want the sometimes strong flavor of olive oil. It's what I use in my vegan vanilla cupcakes, madeleines, and pancakes! You can also use it in any recipe that calls for melted butter.
Avocado oil is also rising in popularity due to its health benefits including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It has a mild flavor and is great for roasting veggies!
There are a handful of other oils we could go through but I don't have as much experience cooking with them. However, those include: Sunflower oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil (used in my stir fry sauce), almond oil, and flaxseed oil.
Vegan buttery sticks
Vegan butter sticks are available at most grocery stores as an easy dairy free alternative to traditional butter. Their buttery flavor is perfect for baking, spreading, or sauteing.
I most commonly use sticks of non-dairy butter when I'm cooking a creamy sauce like my lemon pasta or baking one of my favorite dairy free desserts like my vegan oatmeal cookies, banana bread, or homemade cake frosting.
Vegan buttery spread
Plant butter has a smooth, soft texture and that unbeatable buttery taste. Perfect for spreading on your morning toast or dairy free dinner rolls!
Shortening is an even fattier form of butter. Regular dairy butter is made with about 85% fat and 15% water, whereas shortening is 100% fat.
Vegetable shortening is odorless, has a neutral flavor, and is stored at room temperature. It's often used in place of butter when creaming ingredients together for cake and cookies, when making vegan buttercream, or homemade pie crust.
Dairy free margarine
Another great alternative to butter is vegan margarine. It has a similar creamy texture and is made with plant-based ingredients. Use it as you would real butter!
Dairy free cooking spray
Last but not least, cooking oil sprays are great fat free, vegan options. You can use them to grease baking pans, coat pans and skillets, or spray foods before cooking like I do in my air fryer corn on the cob recipe.
Tips for using dairy free butter substitutes
Cooking and baking without butter may seem like a challenge when you're first getting started, but I promise it becomes second nature with time. Here are some of my top tips I've learned along the way:
- When adapting recipes with butter alternatives, make sure to measure accurately, as you would with regular butter.
- You'll prefer some dairy-free alternatives to others, experiment until you find what works for specific recipes.
- Remember to always read the label carefully to ensure the ingredients fit your dietary needs.
I hope this guide over the best substitute for replacing butter was helpful! Be sure to let me know what your favorite alternative to dairy-free butter is.