11 Butter Substitutes to Use When Baking and the Butter Dish is Empty

Butter- there's nothing like it. Creamy and rich, that classic saying 'butter makes everything better' sure is a true statement. When you're baking a batch of cookies or putting together a cake, most of the time the recipe calls for butter, usually unsalted butter. I know I'm not the only one who has been in the middle of a recipe when all of a sudden there's a missing ingredient.

And when you're missing an ingredient like butter, it seems like the only thing to do is to put everything on hold a run out to the store. Well, it turns out that there are many different butter alternatives that are just as tasty and easy to use in baking, some are even healthy. Check them out below.

1. Unsweetened Applesauce

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Unsweetened applesauce is the perfect butter replacement for baking recipes like quick breads and cakes. You have a few options with unsweetened applesauce: replace half of the butter with unsweetened applesauce. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup butter, use half a cup butter and half a cup of applesauce.

If you really want to cut down on the fat content or you eat dairy-free, you can absolutely replace all of the butter with applesauce.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is known for its many health benefits like being rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamin K, and vitamin E. You can use it as a butter substitute and for every cup of butter, use 3/4 cup of olive oil. Keep in mind that olive oil has a strong flavor, especially extra virgin olive oil, so use this butter replacement for savory baked goods like biscuits and bread.

Canola or vegetable oil also works if you're looking to avoid the flavor of olive oil.

3. Greek Yogurt

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There are many types of yogurt, but Greek yogurt in particular makes a great butter alternative. Greek yogurt has a creamy texture, is packed with protein, and low in calories, so using it in different recipes is a pretty good idea! It'll also gives a beautiful velvet texture to your baked goods.

Here are some ways to safely use Greek yogurt as a butter substitute:

  • Stick with a 1:1 ratio. So, if a recipe calls for half a cup of butter you can replace it with half a cup of yogurt. However, if you feel like the batter is too wet, increase the amount of flour (start with a quarter cup at a time).
  • Use half butter and half yogurt. If you don't want to completely part with butter, you can always use both. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of butter, try using half a cup of butter and half a cup of yogurt.

4. Avocado

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If you're stocked up on avocados from the latest avocado toast trend, save some to mash up for your next recipe. Just substitute equal parts mashed or puréed avocado for butter.

Avocado is also a healthy alternative, being rich in fiber, vitamin K, and potassium. However, avocado is high in fat, but healthy fats, so just keep that in mind.

Using avocado will not only cut down on the amount of calories, but give your baked goods a soft texture. It's also good for folks who are lactose intolerant.

5. Coconut Oil

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For recipes on the sweeter side like muffins, coffee cakes, and cookies, try using coconut oil as a butter substitute. Similar to avocado, use equal parts coconut oil for butter. It doesn't give a strong coconut flavor to the finished product, but you might notice a slight difference in taste like being a little sweeter.

Coconut oil is good for improving digestion, high in healthy saturated fats and known to be beneficial for hair and skin.

6. Buttermilk

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One of my favorite ingredients in baking is buttermilk. It's tangy and makes baked goods super tender. For every cup of butter, try substituting with half a cup of buttermilk. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, no need to worry. You can make it yourself by adding in a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to every cup of milk.

7. Pumpkin Purée

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Pumpkin purée, or any other type of squash purée is a great butter substitute, especially if you have a milk allergy. Use 3/4 cups of pumpkin purée for every cup of butter the recipe calls for. It's a delicious alternative for quick breads and coffee cakes that contain spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

8. Nut Butters

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Nut butters like cashew and almond butter have a high fat content, which makes them a great butter substitute in baking, especially vegan baking. Most pantries are already stocked with nut butters since midnight cravings happen all too often, so it'll save you a trip to the grocery store!

9. Black Beans

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I know this sounds plain weird, but puréed black beans can completely replace butter in most baked goods. It's also a healthy alternative to butter, if you do want to cut back. Just make sure to blend them well.

10. Mashed Banana


For simple recipes like cookies, cakes, muffins, and quick breads, try using mashed bananas instead of butter. Follow a 1:1 ratio, and if you feel like the batter is too dense, you can always add in more mashed banana.

11. Prune Purée

We all know what prunes are good for, but they also make a great butter substitute. Replace all of the butter with store-bought baby food prune purée or if you have the time, purée them yourself.

Watch: The Health Benefits of Wine