6 Healthy Non-Dairy Substitutes for Butter

Butter is one of the most widely used cow dairy product in the United States. Used in recipes from savory to sweet, butter has been used in cooking and even as a source of currency for almost one thousand years, as the Vikings and those in the ancient Orient were producing this in the twelfth century. While many people believe that butter can be part of a balanced diet, there may be reasons that you choose to substitute butter for some other source of healthy fat. This article will discuss reasons why you may want to substitute butter for another source of this list, and potential butter substitutes.

Butter Substitute

Why Should I Try To Substitute Butter?

There are many proponents of butter that will say that butter is an excellent food that should be consumed in moderation. While that may be true, there are a couple of different reasons that you may want to consider substituting one of the below alternatives. These reasons include:

1. Dairy Allergy

Different from lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy occurs when the immune system recognizes milk and other dairy products as a foreign invader. Dairy allergies can result in hives, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, which can lead to difficulty breathing and life-threatening shock. The only way to prevent bad reactions is to avoid dairy and dairy products such as cheese and butter at all costs.

2. Lactose Intolerance

Much more common and much less dangerous is lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance occurs when the digestive system does not have the necessary enzyme, called lactase, to successfully digest milk and other dairy products, which contain lactose. Lactose intolerance often presents with bloating, gas, and diarrhea, but can be managed by avoiding dairy products or by taking lactase supplements.

3. Health Concerns

Even if you are not allergic to dairy or intolerant to lactose, you may find it necessary to substitute butter with another option. For those who are trying to lose weight, butter is fairly high in calories. Butter is also fairly high in saturated fats, which can cause an increase in bad cholesterol blood levels.

4. Animal Welfare Concerns

Unlike many of the other substitutes on the list, butter is derived from an animal source. Many opponents of using butter, dairy, and other animal byproducts, often described as vegans, believe that using these products abuse animals. There are also people that refuse to consume butter and other dairy products unless they are certified to be cruelty-free, grass-fed, or both.

Best Substitutes For Butter

While there are a variety of potential substitutes for butter, below are the seven most common.

1. Avocado

Avocado, while technically a fruit, substitutes well for butter regardless if you are using it is savory or sweet dish. While still high in fats, avocado is full of vitamins and nutrients that are simply not found in butter. Additionally, avocados are lower in calories than butter, and can easily be swapped one cup of avocado for one cup of butter. It should be noted that avocados have a higher water content than butter, so baking with avocado means that you may need to cook at lower temperatures but for longer periods of time. (1)

If you are using butter on your test, try avocado toast to spice up your breakfast or lunch and to add some additional nutrients into your otherwise bland bread.

2. Apple Sauce

Apple sauce is another fantastic additive to your baking dishes instead of using butter. Apple sauce cuts down on calorie content as well as fat content. Since apple sauce does not have much fat, it is important to play around with your recipe a little bit before switching over to apple sauce completely. If you need ½ cup butter for a recipe, start off by using ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup applesauce. If the combination works well for you, increase the levels of applesauce and decrease the levels of butter accordingly. You may not be able to completely replace butter with applesauce in certain recipes. (2)

3. Olive Oil

Olive oil may be one of the most versatile substitutes for butter on this list, since in can be substituted not only in baking, but in sauteeing and drizzling over food. Olive oil is similar to butter in calorie levels, but olive oil is higher in levels of monounsaturated fats, which help to lower levels of cholesterol and prevent related problems.

Olive oil can replace butter in any recipe, with 3 parts olive oil replacing 4 parts butter. Almost any recipe can use olive oil instead of butter. (3)

4. Pumpkin Puree

Outside of Thanksgiving, you may not think about cooking with pumpkin puree all that often. However, pumpkin puree can be an excellent substitute for butter, as it is lower in fat and doesn’t compromise the taste while you are baking. However, it is important to grab pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, as this contains extra sugar and spices that will not complement most recipes that you may want to substitute butter. Like applesauce, you may not want to change out butter for pumpkin puree completely, but rather do so gradually. If you want to completely substitute butter for pumpkin puree, use three parts pumpkin puree for four parts butter. (4)

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another good option for a butter substitute, as it high in good fats. However, coconut oil is still high in fat calories and saturated fats, so the health benefits between coconut oil and butter are mostly the same. Coconut oil also adds a hint of coconut flavor, so it is important to keep in mind if you want your recipes to taste slightly coconut-y. However, like olive oil, coconut is highly versatile. You can use one part coconut oil for one part coconut oil, though you may want to keep some of the butter or use part coconut oil, part olive oil for recipes you want to avoid tasting like coconut. (5)

5. Mashed Bananas

Like applesauce and pumpkin puree, mashed bananas can easily be substituted for butter in many different baking recipes. Like applesauce and pumpkin puree, it is important to experiment with the amount of mashed bananas compared to butter in a recipe to ensure there is enough fat and moisture present. Generally, you can exchange one part mashed bananas for one part butter. (6)


Butter, when consumed as a part of a healthy diet, is not inherently unhealthy. However, many people choose to consume less butter for a variety of different reasons. Regardless of why you choose to consume less butter, these six alternatives to butter are a fantastic way to change up your diet and lower your fat intake.

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