How to Cook Using Unrefined Shea Butter

Written by chris ciolli
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How to Cook Using Unrefined Shea Butter
Shea butter is an appropriate vegan substitute for dairy butter. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Unrefined shea butter is derived from the seed of the shea tree. Also known as galam butter or karite butter, it's used in cosmetic products, chocolate production and as a cooking oil. At room temperature shea butter should be a creamy solid that easily spreads like dairy butter on bread. Shea butter has a characteristic smoky, nutty smell and should be between cream, beige and yellow in appearance. Unrefined shea butter is an all-natural, vegan-friendly butter and lard substitute that can be used in baked goods -- or just spread on toast.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Spread shea butter on tea sandwiches, toast or pancakes instead of dairy butter or margarine for a healthy, vegan substitute.

  2. 2

    Substitute shea butter for lard, margarine, dairy butter or cocoa butter in cookie and cake recipes in the quantities called for by the recipe. If you're unsure about liking the smoky taste of shea butter, substitute it a little at a time in recipes. For instance, use a half cup each of shea and dairy butter in a recipe that calls for a cup of dairy butter.

  3. 3

    Liquefy shea butter at medium heat in a skillet to pan-fry sweet and savoury dishes or sauté fresh vegetables and meat.

  4. 4

    Use shea butter instead of dairy butter or olive oil as a basis for sauce to pour over pasta, rice, meat or vegetables. Shea butter, garlic and spring onions make a simple but tasty sauce that dresses up many dishes.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't purchase shea butter that smells unusual or is discoloured; discard if it doesn't spread easily at room temperature.

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