Healthy Substitutes for Butter

Everybody loves a pat of slightly softened butter on a warm piece of toast or in a delicious pasta sauce, but like many good things, butter is best consumed in moderation. The delicious dairy staple is packed with saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, weight gain and diabetes. But that does not mean we are doomed to a world of flavorless, enjoyment-free eating. Swapping butter with some healthy substitutes is a great way to preserve flavor and stay healthy.

Not All Fat Is Bad Fat

One important thing to note upfront is that not all fat is bad. In fact, there are plenty of “good fats” which bring many of the same characteristics as butter without the risk of clogged arteries. Always look for products high in unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats. Specifically, go for monounsaturated fats or MUFAs. These fats lower “bad” cholesterol, which in turn helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. The good news is that monounsaturated fats are found in plenty of delicious butter alternatives, including olive oil.

Best Substitutes for Butter

With this in mind, we are taking a look at some of the best butter substitutes that retain the dairy classic’s best characteristics.

  • Olive Oil: Best All-Around Butter Substitute — By and large, olive oil is your best bet when it comes to a good all-around replacement product for butter. It is used in various sprays and spreadable products because it has a high fat content and a mild, rich aroma. You can use it to sauté veggies and toss them before roasting, as well as to pan-fry. It is even used as the main fat in some baked goods, such as focaccia and baklava, as well as in cookies, creamy sauces and to finish off delicious roasted veggies and meats.
cooking an egg
  • Olive Oil: Best for Frying, Roasting and Sautéing — Olive oil is not just a good substitute for getting your fry pan or baking sheet prepped for veggies and meats, it is a better way to do it. Like butter, olive oil lubricates and creates a nice barrier between your foods and your cooking surfaces. Unlike butter, it does not contain the artery-clogging saturated fats that could lead to heart disease or stroke. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, you absolutely can deep fry with olive oil, but it is not always recommended because it can get expensive. Make sure you use high-quality olive oil in place of butter to enjoy the full flavor profile and get the full spectrum of antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Applesauce: Best for Soft Baking (Cakes, Muffins) — In baking, butter acts as a leavening agent, which causes them to rise and creates a light, fluffy texture. So, you need a butter substitute that will help keep your cookies and cakes from falling flat (quite literally). The problem is that many butter subs that increase fluffiness tend to decrease moisture, which is where applesauce comes into play. This fruit purée is great for replacing butter in soft baked goods, such as cakes, muffins and quick breads. Skip them in the cookies!
  • Coconut Oil: Best for Vegan Cookies — Despite its surge in popularity, coconut oil is not the healthiest oil out there. It still contains mostly saturated fat, which could increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, it has more saturated fat than butter. With that said, coconut oil is preferred by many — especially those who stick to a vegan or dairy-free diet — because it is plant-based. There is also evidence to suggest that coconut oil can boost good cholesterol levels. It is great for use in “dry” baked goods, such as cookies, but note that it could change the flavor slightly.
  • Olive Oil Butter: Best for Toast — Those looking to follow a plant-based diet should consider dipping their toast in olive oil as a vegan alternative to the standard butter spread. If you enjoy a melty pat of butter on warm toast, a biscuit, the outsides of a grilled cheese or a freshly baked muffin, use olive oil instead. Try using flavored olive oil to create a luxurious dip with a kick.

fresh pizza

The results are in and they are unanimous: olive oil is by far the best overall butter alternative, but there are a few specific scenarios where you might want to reach for another fat. If you are looking for a healthy go-to packed with good fats, buy olive oil from Brightland and enjoy the many benefits.