Best Vegan Butter Substitutes

Let’s face it, butter is a staple of modern cuisine. From giving sandwiches and toasts the perfect smoothness to giving veggies the melted butter taste and making baked goods divine, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a kitchen without butter. But what if you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply trying to reduce your dairy intake?

  1. Olive Oil
  2. Avocado Oil
  3. Nut Butters
  4. Applesauce
  5. Vegan Margarine
  6. Pumpkin Puree
  7. Cashew Butter

Nature has provided us with numerous plant-based alternatives that can prove to be just as versatile and delicious as traditional butter.

From olive oil to vegan margarine and cashew butter, we’ll explore a variety of vegan substitutes that won’t make you miss the real thing.

Read on to discover the world of tasty and healthy vegan butter alternatives!

Key Takeaways

  • Vegan alternatives to traditional butter are plentiful and diverse, ranging from olive oil and avocado oil to a variety of nut butters, applesauce, vegan margarine, pumpkin puree, and cashew butter.
  • Traditional butter is high in saturated fats and calories, which may not be beneficial for heart health or weight management. Switching to plant-based alternatives can offer healthier options.
  • Avocado and olive oil are packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that promote heart health and overall well-being. However, their distinct flavors might not suit all types of cooking.
  • Nut butters and cashew butter provide essential nutrients like healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. They can enhance many dishes due to their unique flavor profiles, but be aware of added sugars and oils in commercial products.
  • Applesauce is a fantastic low-calorie, fat-free alternative that adds natural sweetness and moisture to dishes. It’s widely available and can replace butter in many recipes.
  • Vegan margarine is a handy substitute in baking and cooking due to its similar texture and melting properties to butter. However, this vegan butter substitute may contain trans fats or saturated fats and additives like colorants and emulsifiers.
  • Pumpkin puree is a nutritious alternative packed with Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. It adds a subtle sweetness and moistness to baked dishes without influencing the flavor too much.

Why Traditional Butter Isn’t the Best Choice

Spreading that rich, golden pat of butter on your warm toast every morning is a common routine for many people, but did you know it’s not the healthiest choice for your heart and waistline?

Traditional butter is high in saturated fats, which can raise your levels of bad cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease if consumed regularly.

Additionally, it’s calorie-dense; one tablespoon contains about 100 calories. If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight or lose some pounds, those extra calories can add up quickly.

The key is balance and portion control. But if you’re looking for healthier alternatives with lower saturated fat content or fewer calories, there are plenty of vegan substitutes available that replicate the creamy texture and flavor of traditional butter without compromising your health goals.

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Olive Oil

Switching to olive oil, you’ll find it’s not just a healthier choice, but its rich flavor can elevate your cooking to a whole new level.

Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fats, known for their health benefits. They help lower bad cholesterol levels, contributing to better heart health. Moreover, olive oil contains antioxidants that fight inflammation and promote overall well-being.

It brings more than just health benefits to the table; its distinct taste adds depth and complexity to your dishes.

However, while olive oil serves as an excellent butter substitute in sautéing or roasting (e.g. vegan fast food options), it may not suit all types of cooking due to its unique flavor profile.

For instance, sweet baking recipes might clash with olive oil’s savory undertone. So when using such vegan butter substitutes, consider what flavors compliment your dish best.

Also, remember that high-quality extra virgin olive oil still has a relatively low smoke point so ensure you’re mindful of your cooking temperature if you choose this route.

clear glass cruet bottle

Avocado Oil

Dipping into the world of avocado oil, you’re not just embracing a healthier alternative but also adding an exciting twist to your culinary adventures.

Avocado oil is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and packed with antioxidants, making it a perfect substitute for butter in vegan recipes. It has a high smoke point (520 °F) which makes it ideal for various cooking methods, including frying and sautéing.

Also, its creamy texture and mild flavor allow it to blend seamlessly into most dishes without overpowering other flavors.

It is believed that avocado oil offers a number of health benefits, promoting optimal absorption of nutrients and helping improve digestion. It’s also been associated with reducing risks for certain health conditions like heart disease and inflammation due to its oleic acid content – a healthy fat that your body loves!

Here’s a little table breaking down some key information about this amazing vegan butter substitute:

High Smoke PointSuitable for various cooking methods such as frying or sautéing.Great for preparing dishes like stir-fried vegetables and pan-seared tofu.
Heart-Healthy FatLoaded with monounsaturated fats beneficial for heart health.Use in place of butter on whole-grain toast
Mild Flavor & Creamy TextureDoesn’t dominate over other flavors in dishes; enhances texture.Works well for vegan baking recipes (e.g., cookies, cakes, etc.)

So why not give avocado oil a whirl? You might surprise yourself by how much you enjoy this healthier take on traditional cooking oils.

Avocado and avocado oil

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Nut Butters

You’re going to love exploring the delicious world of nut butters! These versatile spreads, made from ground nuts like almonds and peanuts, are not only delightful on toast or in a smoothie but can also serve as an excellent substitute for butter in your vegan kitchen.

They possess a similar consistency to dairy-based butter and provide a unique flavor profile that can enhance many dishes. Nut butters deliver essential nutrients, too – they’re packed with healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

The type of nut butter you choose will affect both the nutritional content and flavor of your food. For instance, almond butter has a mild taste and is rich in vitamin E and magnesium, while peanut butter provides more protein.

Keep in mind that some commercial nut butters contain added sugars and oils, which might not align with your health goals.

Always check labels for ingredients when shopping for these products, or consider making your own at home to control what goes into them!

clear glass jar with brown liquid


Ever tried using applesauce in your culinary adventures? This vegan butter alternative is a fantastic way to add natural sweetness and moisture to dishes, especially when baking. With its mild flavor and creamy texture, it can seamlessly replace butter in many recipes without altering the taste significantly.

Applesauce is low in calories and fat-free, offering a healthier alternative to traditional butter.

Here are four reasons why you should consider substituting your traditional butter with applesauce:

  • Healthier Choice: Applesauce is packed with fiber and vitamin C but has fewer calories than most other vegan alternatives. This makes it an excellent choice for those watching their caloric intake.
  • Lower Fat Content: As a fruit puree, applesauce contains no fat or cholesterol compared to regular butter or even some vegan alternatives.
  • Versatile Use: You can use applesauce as vegan butter substitute in almost any recipe that calls for it – from muffins and cakes to breads and cookies. Just remember the ratio: in many instances, half the amount of required butter can be replaced by applesauce.
  • Easily Available: Unlike some other substitutes like nut butters or avocado, applesauce is readily available at any grocery store.

However, keep in mind that while it adds moisture, applesauce doesn’t provide the same richness or flakiness that comes from fats like butter.

If your recipe relies heavily on richness and flakiness (like puff pastries), you might want to stick with other substitutes or combine them with applesauce for better results!

yellow cream in clear glass bowl

Vegan Margarine

Switching to a plant-based diet? Consider incorporating margarine, a dairy-free alternative, into your cooking repertoire. Unlike butter, most margarines are vegan butter substitutes made from vegetable oils and are free from animal products.

Many brands even fortify their products with essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, which can complement the nutrient intake from your vegan meals.

Read the ingredient list as not all margarines are vegan; some may contain traces of milk or other animal-derived ingredients.

While vegan margarine is a handy substitute in baking and cooking due to its similar texture and melting properties to butter, its nutritional profile has been under scrutiny.

Margarine is often high in trans fats or saturated fats, depending on the type of oil used – ingredients that have been linked to heart disease when consumed excessively. Also, it may contain additives like colorants and emulsifiers for better consistency and shelf life.

So while vegan margarine can be an excellent vegan butter substitute for transitioning towards a plant-based diet, moderation should be key in consumption – just like with any other processed food item.

Pumpkin Puree

If you’re looking to add a nutritional powerhouse to your plant-based meals, pumpkin puree’s got you covered. This magical ingredient not only acts as one of the best vegan butter substitutes but also enriches your dishes with its wide array of nutrients.

Pumpkin puree is one of those vegan butter substitutes that are low in calories and packed with Vitamin A, which supports vision health. The high fiber content aids digestion and gives a feeling of fullness longer, which can be beneficial for weight management. This dairy-free butter alternative is also a source of potassium that plays a crucial role in heart health.

Moreover, pumpkin puree offers a subtle sweetness and moistness to your baked dishes without influencing the flavor too much. You can use it instead of butter in recipes like cookies, cakes, or bread, where fat is required for moisture. Pumpkin puree can also serve as an excellent egg substitute.

However, because pumpkin puree isn’t as high in fat as butter, the texture might be slightly different than if you used traditional dairy butter.

For every cup of butter required by your recipe, use 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree as a starting point and adjust depending on the desired consistency and taste.

Overall, it’s worth experimenting with this nutrient-dense alternative to conventional butter for added health benefits in your vegan culinary endeavors.

pumpkin puree

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Cashew Butter

While we discussed nut butters above, cashew butter is so good that it requires a separate mention. This creamy delight not only adds a rich and distinct flavor to your dishes but also packs a punch of nutrition.

Cashew butter is a great source of unsaturated fats, which, unlike saturated fats found in dairy butter, can contribute positively to your heart health. It’s also loaded with protein and essential minerals like magnesium and copper.

When used as a replacement for butter in cooking or baking, cashew butter imparts a subtly sweet and nutty flavor that can enhance the taste of many food items.

However, keep in mind that it’s heavier than traditional dairy butter, so you may need to adjust the amount you use in recipes accordingly.

Bear in mind that cashew butter is highly caloric, so make sure to use it in moderation. Also, make sure that those who are meant to consume your dish do not have a cashew allergy!

nut butter

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Final Thoughts

Adopting a vegan lifestyle or simply reducing your dairy intake doesn’t mean sacrificing the rich, creamy flavor butter brings to your meals. From the heart-healthy benefits found in olive and avocado oils to the natural sweetness of applesauce and pumpkin puree, there is an abundance of vegan butter substitutes that offer a unique taste profile and nutritional benefits.

Nut butters and cashew butter bring their own distinct flavors to the table, making them a delightful addition to any dish. And who could forget vegan margarine, a convenient alternative when baking and cooking? Again, make sure that folks don’t have allergies to these nuts.

Remember, it’s all about finding the perfect balance that suits your dietary needs and palate. Experimenting with the mentioned alternatives and many others out there (e.g. refined coconut oil or canola oil) can lead to surprising culinary delights and healthier eating habits.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).