Have you ever wondered where butter comes from or how it is made? In short, it is a dairy product made from milk, also known as milk fat. It is composed of about 80 percent fat, which is the part that has been separated from the carbohydrates and protein of the milk.
Butter is a popular spread and baking ingredient. It is widely used as a spread for bread, crackers, and other food items. It also functions as a leavening agent in baked goods. Due to its high concentration of fat, butter has a rich flavor and creamy texture. It works especially well for high-heat cooking like sautéing and pan-frying to help prevent sticking while adding flavor.
Despite its various uses, there are a few reasons why you might want to substitute butter.
Why You May Need to Substitute Butter
- Milk Allergy: While butter is very low in protein, it still contains a small amount of the milk protein casein, which can be allergenic.
- Lactose Intolerance: People with lactose intolerance tend to tolerate the small amounts of lactose in butter without adverse reaction. However, some are more sensitive to lactose than others and may have to avoid butter for this reason.
- Health Reasons: Some individuals avoid butter because it’s high in saturated fat. High intake of saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Veganism: Some people have made a dietary choice to avoid all animal products including dairy, so they avoid butter.
For whatever reason you may choose to avoid butter, here are a few alternatives that you might want to try.
Butter Substitutes for Pan Cooking
- Ghee (Clarified Butter): Having a high smoke point, it is a great alternative commonly used. Some other benefits are an aromatic & nutty taste. It has no casein or lactose, so it is safe for people with milk allergy. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory properties and contributes to a healthy digestive system.
- Olive Oil: is better than any other refined oils. Being monounsaturated fat & high in antioxidants, it is good for the skin, heart health & for lowering cholesterol.
- Coconut Oil: In south India, coconut oil is a part of many recipes. Its delicious to cook with & rich in healthy fats that actually boost fat burning in your body. It also provides quick, sustainable energy to your brain and helps you focus.
Substitutes for Baking Purposes
Butter functions as a leavening agent in baked goods and provides texture and flavor. It can be replaced by ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil & olive oil in baked goods. However, the ratio of these while substituting butter have to be kept in mind.
There are some more foods that work best as butter replacements in cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and quick breads. However replacing butter with foods is often a matter of trial and error.
- Applesauce: significantly reduces the calorie and fat content of baked goods. Yet, it does add sweetness, so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in recipes.
- Avocados: These add nutrients and healthy fats to your recipes. Use dark ingredients like chocolate to cover up the green tint that may result from using avocados.
- Mashed Bananas: Using mashed bananas provides extra nutrients and decreases the calorie and fat content. Add bananas slowly to the batter until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Hung Curd: If dairy is not an issue, using Greek yogurt/hung curd adds protein to your recipes and replaces sweetness with a tangy flavor. Full-fat curd is best for keeping baked goods creamy and tender.
- Nut Butters: Nut butters infuse baked goods with a nutty taste and tend to make them more dense and heavy. Still, keep in mind that they’re high in fat and calories.
- Pumpkin Purée: This is a nutrient-rich butter replacement. Use 3/4 the amount of pumpkin purée when substituting for butter.
Substitutes in Spread
Butter is widely used as a spread for bread, crackers, and other food items. The following foods have consistencies that are ideal for spreads, in addition to being tasty and nutritious.
- Nut Butter: Peanut and almond butter can easily be spread onto toast or crackers. They are delicious as well!
- Cheese or Hung Curd: Try cottage cheese, cream cheese, or hung curd if you can tolerate dairy. You can also add some herbs & finely chopped veggies to enhance flavor.
- Avocado: Lightly spread a tablespoon or two of ripe avocado over toast & sprinkle some salt, pepper & dry herbs mix.
- Hummus: also works great for spreading and dipping.
We hope this article helped you in your quest to substitute butter. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below! For more on nutrition, check out Healthy Reads or ask an expert by subscribing for GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here.