What is Dairy Free Butter?


Are you wondering what dairy free butter is? Do you want the benefits of butter without consuming dairy?

Dairy free butter is meant to be used like real butter and almost always contains no casein. However, the FDA actually does allow casein in dairy-free products. The FDA has no regulatory definition for the term: dairy-free.

Selecting an alternative to typical butter is especially important for vegans and lactose intolerant people. Three of the most commonly used dairy-free butter products are dairy free buttery spreads, butter sticks, and dairy-free shortening.

It is critical to understand which part of butter is causing you issues when choosing your replacement. Also, there are many great substitutes for butter such as coconut oil and applesauce.

Below, I will go through multiple dairy-free substitutes for real butter. Plus, I will answer some of the major questions regarding the dairy-free substitutions for butter.

What are the Main Ingredients of Non-Dairy Butter?

Non-dairy butter will typically include olive oil and vegetable oils. Margarine is a common non-dairy butter ingredient that is made from vegetable oils and occasionally some animal fats.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is used in many butter substitutes as you will read in the paragraphs below. In fact, as olive oil gets colder, it will have the consistency of most kinds of butter.

When olive oil is completely frozen, it becomes a much harder butter. Oil is simply liquid fat whereas butter is a solid fat.

Here are great ways to replace butter with olive oil:

  • Exchange one-half cup of butter for a quarter cup and add two teaspoons of olive oil.
  • Substitute two-thirds of a cup of butter with half a cup of olive oil.
  • Exchange one cup of butter with three-fourths of a cup of olive oil.
  • Substitute three-fourths of a cup of butter with half a cup plus one teaspoon of olive oil.

Use these conversions for baking, sautéing or frying.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is also used in many butter substitutes. It is typically cheaper than olive oil and comes in many varieties.

Here is a list of vegetable oils:

  • Canola Oil: This is created by extracting the seeds of the canola plant. Canola oil is cheap and generally used in commercial frying and processed foods.
  • Avocado Oil: This buttery, tasty oil comes directly from avocados. It is an exceptional source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Peanut Oil: Peanut kernels are crushed to create this exceptionally tasty oil. It is typically the choice for frying because it does not take too much away from other food’s flavor as well.
  • Coconut Oil: The kernels of older coconuts are removed to make this trendy oil. Coconut butter is becoming popular mainly because of its great taste.
  • Sunflower Oil: Sunflower seeds are pressed to make this healthy, tasty oil.
  • Sesame Oil: This tasty oil is produced in refined, unrefined, and toasted versions. Unrefined and refined versions have a lighter color while the toasted, darker variety is produced from seeds that are toasted.
  • Grapeseed Oil: The seeds that are collected after producing wine are compressed to make this mild-tasting, light oil.
  • Palm Oil: This oil is made by compressing the fruit of oil palm trees. It has a reddish tint in some varieties.

Vegetable oils are often marketed as heart-healthy. It is commonly recommended as an alternative to lard, butter, and tallow which are high in saturated fat.

The main reason vegetable oils are said to be heart-healthy is that scientific studies consistently link polyunsaturated fat, which is abundant in vegetable oils, to a reduced risk of heart problems.

Many scientists are concerned about how much of these vegetable oils people are consuming despite their potential health benefits.

Best Dairy-Free Buttery Spreads

A heated up a piece of toast that includes a spread of soft butter is a favorite amongst many Americans who enjoy a traditional American breakfast. Is it possible to get the same results with a non-dairy spread?

Fortunately, there are many different brands that have solved the problem of not having that smooth texture and buttery taste that actual butter has.

Earth Balance has created six buttery spreads. This includes omega-3, original, olive oil, organic whipped, soy-free, and organic coconut spreads. All of the previously listed options can be used for sauteing, spreading, frying, and baking.

Smart Balance also offers many different varieties, from original, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, organic, omega-3, and a low sodium option.

Best Dairy-Free Butter Sticks

If you are adding to a sauce, sauteing, or melting something on the top of a cooked piece of fish or meat, then a pad of butter is a vital ingredient in many recipes. However, there are non-dairy alternatives that you could try besides margarine.

Margarine is mainly made from soybean oil. However, many brands will combine soybean and other oils which may include small amounts of dairy. Make sure that you thoroughly read labels when deciding to replace butter for margarine.

Alternative stick-butter substitutes are made by brands such as Melt Organic Vegan Butter Sticks and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. They both include plant-based ingredients and are designed to taste like actual butter.

Blue Bonnet Lactose-Free sticks include vegetable oil and are gluten-free, dairy-free, and are claimed to have the same taste as Blue Bonnet’s actual butter.

Best Dairy-Free Shortening

Shortening is an extra fat type of butter. Normal butter contains around fifteen percent water and eighty-five percent fat. Shortening is one hundred percent fat. People who can not tolerate lactose should consider a few dairy-free versions of this ultra-rich spread.

This includes Spectrum’s Organic All-Vegetable Shortening, Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening, and Nutiva Organic Vegan Shortening.

What Butter Does in Baking

Butter has specific functions in baking besides making everything delicious. Recipes such as butter cookies have to include butter for a flavor. However, butter is used to add texture and moisture in many recipes. It also can help create flaky layers.

Butter can make the final product fluffy and light since it is a leavening agent. Baked foods would be flat, dry, and without flavor, if there was a lack of butter. However, with some smart culinary exchanges, it is easy to get the results you want without having to add all the unhealthy fat from butter.

Best Butter Replacements for Baking

If butter is not being used mainly for its flavor, then you can usually exchange it with something that has a comparable fat-to-water ratio. If you are attempting to lose weight by cutting calories and saturated fats, then these substitutes are decent starts.

Baking without butter can be a fun way to ensure your foods are a little healthier.

There are a couple of foods that are nearly equivalent to butter in baking recipes. Keep in mind that the majority of these have a much higher water content. This means that decreasing the number of liquids that you drink or increasing the amount of flour will balance that out. One common replacement is applesauce.

The sweetness of applesauce will make you want to add a smaller amount of sugar than what the recipe calls for. Smashed bananas and avocados can work in place of butter too. Both will add nutrients to the dish, but the avocado may leave a green tint to the completed product.

Greek yogurt will add a creamy texture and a little tang to your baked food. Nut butter will add a small amount of nuttiness. However, they can make the baked good a little denser.

Best Substitute For Butter

If you desire to keep just one ingredient to substitute for butter, then it should be coconut oil.

Coconut oil is an awesome oil to use for stove-top cooking, baking, and spreading on toast. It’s healthy, rich, and tastes delicious.

It cuts down on saturated fats and will not change the flavor of food too much. It is also a healthier choice compared to canola oil. Some great brands to look for are Crisco Organic Coconut Oil (refined and unrefined), Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, and Carrington Farms Coconut Oil.

Final Words

The origins of butter go back about 10,000 years to the time when humanity first began to domesticate animals. Today, butter in and its many different forms are the world’s most consumed fat.

Butter is one of the most commonly used dairy product in classic cooking and baking recipes, but it is not ideal for everyone’s health, whether due to a dairy allergy or the need or urge to decrease their saturated fat intake.

People who have milk allergies will need to get rid of butter because the protein in milk called casein. Casein can be allergenic for some and is commonly found in butter in small amounts.

For those with lactose intolerance, butter may lead to a negative reaction since it contains lactose. And those attempting to lose weight or improve heart health may prefer not to eat butter.

This is because butter is high in fat, and the saturated fat may increase cholesterol levels which can lead to blocked arteries.

No matter what reason you have for removing butter out of your diet, finding a decent replacement that cooks just as well and tastes alike can be challenging if you do not know what to look for.

Fortunately, many of the best dairy-free butter alternatives that are used for cooking, spreading, and baking can be spotted at health food stores and large grocery chains as well.

Related Questions

Can vegans have butter?

Yes. Vegans only eat butter that is free from animal products and made completely from plants. Remember that a vegan is different than a vegetarian. Vegetarians only avoid animal meats, but will typically consume dairy and egg products.

Is margarine vegan?

Margarine typically includes a small amount of dairy is therefore typically not vegan. In order to be sure that the margarine you are using is completely vegan, select a margarine product that is expressly promoted as a non-dairy, vegan spread such as the Earth Balance brand.

(Last Updated: July 24, 2020)

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