How to substitute oil for butter when making bread

When it comes to cooking or baking, many cooks customise their recipes by omitting ingredients they don't like and adding those they prefer. Recipes can also be altered to reduce fat content and to add healthier ingredients. For example, when making bread dough, you can reduce the fat content by substituting olive oil for butter. While the exchange itself is quite simple there are a few procedures you should follow to ensure your bread turns out right.

Read through your recipe to determine how much butter is called for. Make a note of whether the recipe calls for the butter to be at room temperature, cold, or melted. Ignoring this bit of information may prevent your bread from rising properly.

Calculate how much olive oil you need to replace the butter in your recipe. For each 15 ml (1 tbsp) of butter your recipe calls for you will need to substitute 12 ml (2 1/4 tsp) of olive oil.

Measure out the appropriate amount of olive oil into a small dish or bowl.

Heat or chill the oil according to the instructions in the recipe. If the recipe calls for the butter to be at room temperature, let the oil sit out for an hour or so. If you store your olive oil at room temperature, not in a cold cupboard, it may be ready to use. If the recipe calls for melted butter you will need to heat the oil to a temperature between 27 and 38 degrees C (80 to 100F). To heat the oil, put it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.

Follow the recipe according to the instructions and when you come to the appropriate time to add the butter, simply substitute the oil you have prepared.


Dough made with more liquid ingredients will be soft and may rise more quickly than stiffer dough. Monitor your dough as it rises to be sure it does not rise too much. Consider slightly reducing the amount of water you add to the dough to compensate for the extra moisture added with the olive oil.

Things You'll Need

  • Bread dough recipe
  • Olive oil
  • Small dish or bowl
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About the Author

Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.