Butter is an extremely popular and tasty spread and a baking ingredient, which is used widely all over the world. It is used as a spread on bread or toast for breakfast. It is used in various culinary recipes to provide taste as well as that smooth consistency to any dish. However, some people may not be able to use butter such as those with lactose intolerance or with health conditions, as butter is high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Still, one can enjoy plenty of foods in different ways without needing the butter as there are great alternatives to butter
In this article, we will decode the butter alternatives and give you some finest options to use in place of that in your kitchen.
Why Some People Need Butter Alternatives?
Given below are some reasons why better is avoided by some people and why it is a great idea to go for a substitute instead.
Lactose Intolerance: Individuals suffering from lactose intolerance can only be able to withstand small amounts of lactose in butter without suffering from any serious reactions.(1) However, there are some people who are extra sensitive to lactose and need to avoid butter at all cost and use its alternatives instead.
Milk Allergy: There is less protein in butter; however, it has small amounts of milk proteins that can cause allergy in certain people.(2) Individuals suffering from milk allergy need to avoid butter, more so in case of severe allergy.(3)
Health Reasons: As butter is high in saturated fat, excessive consumption can cause increased risk of heart disease, even though there are mixed reports about it.(4,5,6)
Other than this, as the butter has high fat content, it goes without saying that it has lot of calories. For people trying to lose weight, butter is a big no-no for them and they can look for healthier substitutes to butter.
The Role of Butter in Baking
Butter is used as a leavening agent in baking, where it produces air into the baked food to make it light and fluffy. Butter also contributes to the moist flaky texture of the baked goods, as well as giving it a rich and tasty flavor. Without these properties of the butter, any baked foods will turn out dry, flat and flavorless.
However, there are many tasty butter alternatives, which can have the same function as butter when it comes to baking and other things.
Replace Butter with Healthy Oils and Fats in Baking
Given below are some oils and fats, which contain properties similar to butter, thus, making them great alternatives.
Coconut Oil can replace butter in baking at a ratio or 1:1, with a slightly altered taste, as coconut oil can affect taste more than anything else. Coconut oil, which is not refined, can taste more like coconut when compared to the refined one. It is great for recipes which need rich or tropical coconut flavors. If you do not want coconut flavor, then a more refined coconut oil brand can be used or a different alternative altogether for the butter.
Ghee: This is a form of clarified butter with oils and aromatic taste. It has very less amount of lactose or casein and is safer and a better choice for individuals suffering from lactose intolerance or milk allergy.(7)
In baking where the requirement is a strong and buttery flavor, it can be replaced with ghee in 1:1 ratio. This works best with food items, which are baked at high temperatures and are served warm, such as cookies and bread. However, ghee has more moisture when compared to butter, so according to what you are baking, one needs to adjust the quantity of flour and liquid in the recipe.
Olive Oil can be a great alternative to butter in many recipes at a ratio of 3:4 by volume. As the olive oil is a liquid, so it cannot be a proper substitute to butter in recipes which need the fat content to remain creamy or solid, such as angel food cake and frosting. The strong flavor profile of olive oil is great for recipes, which need a nutty or fruity or savory taste, such as muffins or pumpkin bread.
Note: These above three contain properties which are similar to butter and hence are apt substitute for butter in many recipes.
Finding the correct balance….
The given below foods can easily replace butter can in baking at a 1:1 ratio. However, most of them have higher water content when compared to butter, so it can lead to more moistness in baked foods.
So, one needs to cut down on other liquids in the recipe to maintain the mouth-feel and texture of the original recipe. Addition of extra flour is also helpful.
Replacing butter with other foods and in different quantities is a matter of experience and a matter of trial and error. The alternative can work great in certain recipes, but not so much in others. This is more so when it comes to taste, as many of the butter alternatives have their own unique flavor, which may or may not work for you if you are looking for a particular flavor.
So, given below are some foods which can act as a butter replacement in muffins, cakes, brownies, cookies and quick breads:
Avocados are high in healthy fats and nutrients, which can be a great addition to the recipes. If you don’t like the green hue it gives to the baked food, then you can use food coloring or dark ingredients, such as chocolate to camouflage the green tint which comes from using avocados.
Applesauce when used in baking helps in cutting down the calorie and fat content of baked food item. However, it also adds sweetness, so the sugar quantity in the recipe needs to be reduced.
Mashed bananas are also a great alternative to butter and it also provides extra nutrients and cuts down on the fat and calorie content. One needs to slowly add the mashed banana to the batter till the desired consistency is achieved.
Nut butters are more heavy and dense and add a nutty taste to any baked food. However, it should be born in mind that nut butters are also high in fat and calories.
Greek yogurt can be used instead of butter if the use of dairy is not a problem. Greek yogurt is rich in protein and also replaces the sweetness of any baked food with a tangy flavor. Using full-fat yogurt is best to maintain the creamy texture and softness of the baked goods.
Pumpkin purée is a great nutrient-rich butter alternative. Use it in about 3/4 the quantity when substituting for butter.
Butter Alternatives to Be Used As a Spread
Butter is without a doubt the most popular spread for crackers, bread etc. However, if one wants to avoid butter for various reasons then given below are some alternatives, which have similar consistency to butter and also are tasty and can be used as a spread as per your need.
Avocado which is ripened and mashed can be used as healthy spread.
Olive oil mixed with pepper and basil makes for a zesty spread to be used on bread, toast etc.
Cheese such as cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta can also be used instead of butter to be used as a spread.
Nut butter, such as peanut and almond butter are great alternatives to regular butter to be used as spread on crackers, toast or bread.
Hummus is great for not only as a spread, but also as a dip.
As you can see there are many great butter alternatives to be found in your kitchen which can be used in baking or as a spread.
In case of baking, one needs to try different ratios before getting the right one, which gives you the desired flavor and consistency in the recipe. For people who want to avoid butter for health issues, there is an array of healthy and tasty butter substitutes as a spread as well as in baking. So, you can still enjoy your meals without having to sacrifice the taste or consistency of the food which you love.