Healthy substitute for butter in recipes

Updated July 19, 2017

Many recipes, both sweet and savoury, call for the use of butter. However, using butter is not always the best choice for health reasons, because butter contains a high amount of fat. Those counting calories or watching their cholesterol should steer clear of butter. There are several substitutions for butter, though it should be noted that no matter what substitution you choose, it will not have the same taste.


There are several substitutions that you can use for baking. Many oils, such as canola, sunflower, or grapeseed can be a healthy substitute for butter. Avoid oils which have a stronger taste, such as olive oil. Using oil with a strong taste may severely change the flavours of the baked item giving an off taste. When substituting oil in baking, you would keep the same measurement as you would for the butter, but instead add the oil. In other words, one tablespoon of butter is substituted by one tablespoon of oil. Another substitution for butter in baked items such as cakes is applesauce. Sometimes fruit juice can be substituted, but adding too much could cause consistency problems within the recipe. Add a tablespoon at a time to be certain the juice or applesauce can substitute without causing any undesired effects.

Other Cooking

With substitutions for butter in general cooking, you have more flexibility. Also, most oils have a higher smoke point than butter which creates a more even browning and allowing for a higher cooking temperature without scorching the oil or butter.

There are several oils that can be a terrific substitute for butter. Olive oil, canola, sunflower oil, and grapeseed oil are among the best substitutes. These oils are healthy, if used in moderation, and will provide the same consistency for all your recipes. Again, substituting oil for butter is easy and is should be the same measurement that is called for in the recipe. Another trick for butter substitution is to use chicken stock, beef stock, or vegetable stock. It will not only add flavour to your food, but it will also provide the necessary moisture that butter usually provides in many recipes. Using stock helps keep calories and fat content down as well.

When using stock, measure in small amounts until the desired consistency is reached.

Which is Best?

Not all oils can be a healthy alternative to butter. Some, like peanut and vegetable oil, and even margarine, have an equally high fat content. Other oils, such grapeseed and olive oil are among the healthiest, providing additional health benefits such as omega-3 and 6, which helps lower the HDL (bad) cholesterol.

It is also important to remember that all fats (butter, oils) should be used in moderation for a healthy diet according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

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About the Author

Christina Barber has been writing both fiction and non-fiction for four years, and has three fiction books published with small press publishers. She has won the 2006 Dream Realm award for her fiction. Barber has worked in the food industry, and is passionate about healthy eating. She enjoys being able to tie her love for cooking and writing together.