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The How-To Guide: Substitute for Buttermilk

The How-To Guide: Substitute for Buttermilk

My grandparents swear buttermilk lasts at least three months after the expiration date. "Nothing wrong with it!" my grandfather proclaims. This begs the question: If buttermilk smells (and tastes) sour when it's fresh, how do you tell when it's actually gone bad?

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I stick pretty tight to the expiration date on my buttermilk containers. I'll give it a few days--after all, I've had expired buttermilk at my grandparents' house and I'm still here to tell about it. Still, I often find myself needing a half cup here or a few tablespoons there for a recipe. And instead of going out to buy a quart of buttermilk, I've taken to making my own after I realized how you can "sour" regular milk.

The substitute process works much the same way commercially-produced buttermilk does: Dairy companies add lactic acid to regular milk to produce buttermilk. (This is the same bacteria that makes yogurt and cheese.) You can mimic the process with lemon juice or vinegar.

A Simple Substitute for Buttermilk

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes for the milk to "sour."

It works like a charm. As a matter of fact, I used the buttermilk substitute this weekend in our Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes. You can't tell the difference.

Have you ever used this trick as a substitute for buttermilk? Tell us about your experience in the comments.


How to substitute for buttermilk

You cast your eyes over the list of ingredients in this new recipe you’re trying and lo and behold, there’s that darned buttermilk. You don’t have any buttermilk in fact, you never buy buttermilk because there are very few baking recipes that use it and who wants an almost-full quart of buttermilk sitting in the back of the fridge making you feel guilty for contributing to food waste? So you sigh and turn to another recipe: one without buttermilk. But is there an easy substitute for buttermilk — something you already have in your kitchen?

First, let’s clarify what buttermilk is, exactly. Traditional buttermilk is the thin, watery liquid left over after cream is churned into butter. It’s not commonly available in grocery stores — and hasn't been since the 1920s, when it was supplanted by our present-day cultured buttermilk, low-fat or skim milk that’s been inoculated with milk-friendly bacteria to thicken it and make it sour.

Many of the recipes you see calling for buttermilk are classics: pancakes, biscuits, cake. Buttermilk was a readily available ingredient (and one not to be wasted) back when butter-making was a common household task. Prized for its leavening ability when paired with baking soda, it was the basis of many a light and fluffy pancake and cloud-like biscuit.

Today, buttermilk isn’t a pantry staple for most of us, but rather something you purchase for one particular recipe. Which brings us back to where we started: If you don’t want to buy a quart of buttermilk, what can you substitute?

Milk mixed with vinegar

Here are the most common suggestions:

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed into 1 cup of milk. Let the milk stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until it thickens very slightly and curdles.
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar mixed with 1 cup of milk. Shake until the cream of tartar dissolves.
  • Sour cream thinned with milk or water to the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Plain unsweetened kefir.
  • Yogurtthinned with milk or water to the consistency of heavy cream.

My pancake test starts with dry ingredients topped with beaten egg/vegetable oil. I'll add five different types of liquid, as labeled (that's plain milk and vinegar + milk on the bottom row).

Best substitute for buttermilk: The tests

I decided to try several of these options in pancakes, biscuits, and a favorite buttermilk cake.

First off, I eliminate kefir (not a pantry staple) and sour cream (similar enough to Greek yogurt).

I also cross standard yogurt off the list, because how easy is it to find “un-Greek” yogurt these days? Scanning the shelves in my local supermarket I find one small section of plain yogurt — in quart-sized containers. Heck, I might as well buy a quart of buttermilk as plain yogurt.

But thick Greek yogurt — it’s ubiquitous. And many of you probably keep a container or two in your fridge most of the time for snacking, mixing with granola, or whipping up a smoothie.

From previous pancake experiments in our test kitchen, I know that Greek yogurt mixed 1:2 with 1% or skim milk (one part yogurt, two parts milk) yields the best results. It's also an easy ratio: mix one small container (5.3 ounces) of Greek yogurt with 1 1/3 cups of milk to yield 2 cups of buttermilk substitute.

So I test milk with vinegar, milk with cream of tartar, and thinned Greek yogurt against the control: buttermilk. While I'm at it, I take a step back and decide to test the easiest substitution of all: plain 1% milk in place of buttermilk.

What to substitute for buttermilk in biscuits

My first test, Baking Powder Biscuits, turns out to be a harbinger of things to come: all of the biscuits rise nicely and brown well. On sampling, their texture is the same — but the flavor of the buttermilk biscuits is best, a slight tang mixed with a hint of sweetness (is it the milk solids?). The yogurt biscuits taste almost as good. The vinegar and cream of tartar biscuits seem to lack depth of flavor, while the plain milk biscuit simply tastes flat.

Winner: Buttermilk
Runner-up: Greek yogurt mixed with milk

What to substitute for buttermilk in pancakes

Substituting anything for buttermilk in Buttermilk Pancakes certainly belies the recipe's name. But aside from that, I notice results very similar to the biscuit experiment. The texture and browning of each of the pancake batches are similar — with the exception of the plain milk pancake, which rises less. But when it comes to flavor, the buttermilk and yogurt pancakes are neck and neck, with the others lagging slightly behind.

Winner: Buttermilk and Greek yogurt mixed with milk (tie)

What to substitute for buttermilk in cake

This Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake recipe is an old favorite of mine. The photo above doesn't do it justice I was out of pecans so substituted walnuts, and then didn't chop them finely enough (rush, rush!). But this tender, golden cake, topped with its buttery, nut-laden syrup, is a true crowd-pleaser.

Compared to biscuits and pancakes, with their simple ingredients, this cake is complex: brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and nuts all contribute to the flavor profile. And because of that, the subtle, layered flavor of buttermilk in the cake is lost you'll do just as well using any of the substitutes.

Cake made with 1% milk on the left, and with buttermilk on the right.

That is, with the exception of plain 1% milk. This old-fashioned cake is leavened with baking soda. Using plain milk, which lacks buttermilk's acidity, results in a darker-colored, denser cake.

Winner: All suggested options except plain milk

How to substitute for buttermilk: Your takeaways

  • The shorter a recipe's ingredient list, the less successful a buttermilk substitute will be. Buttermilk's flavor is tangy but not strong, and its rich under notes are subtle. When paired with just a few simple ingredients (e.g. flour, perhaps an egg, fat), buttermilk's flavor is starkly apparent. When set against other competing flavors, though, buttermilk tends to disappear. So in cakes or quick breads, with their sugar and spice, buttermilk substitutes work well — though don't opt for substituting plain milk in recipes using baking soda.
  • Building on that fact, the less buttermilk in a recipe, the easier it is to use a substitute. If your chocolate cake recipe calls for 1/4 cup buttermilk, don't sweat it even using plain milk will probably be OK.
  • In simple recipes where buttermilk's flavor may be front and center, your top substitute will be Greek yogurt mixed with milk. With its similar fermented, nuanced flavor, thinned yogurt steps in nicely for buttermilk.
  • In recipes where buttermilk is the main ingredient (e.g., homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, cold buttermilk soup), it's best to spring for cultured buttermilk.

One last note about liquid buttermilk: If you buy a quart and don't use it up, you can always freeze it in 1/2-cup (or your preferred size) portions. It'll probably separate when you thaw it, but no worries it's fine to use.

Now, what about dried buttermilk powder? I didn't include it in my testing results as, again, it's not an ingredient you'd likely stock in your pantry on a regular basis (unless you're an inveterate buttermilk baker). But it works as well as the "soured milk" options (milk + vinegar or cream of tartar). While lacking real buttermilk's rich flavor, it does react well with leaveners and help provide a good rise.

Speaking of biscuits, my fellow blogger Kye did a comprehensive test of different fat/liquid combinations in biscuits. (Spoiler alert: Her favorite biscuits include butter and buttermilk). For Kye's complete results, see Fats and liquids in biscuits: choosing your favorite texture.


5 Buttermilk Substitutes

If you don’t have a carton of buttermilk in your fridge when you’re looking for it, these quick substitutes will save you.

1. Milk + Lemon Juice

This is the buttermilk substitute I use the most because I always have milk and lemons on hand. Souring milk with an acid results in a quick and reliable hack for buttermilk!

To make, squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and pour in enough whole or low-fat milk until it measures 1 cup. Stir to combine and let the mixture rest at room temperature for a few minutes until it has thickened and curdled. This blend can be used interchangeably for 1 cup of buttermilk in any recipe.

2. Milk + White Vinegar

If you don’t have lemons in your kitchen, you can use white vinegar as the acid with which to sour milk with.

Follow the same method as above. Pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until it measures 1 cup. Stir to combine and let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes until it has thickened and curdled.

3. Yogurt + Milk

Yogurt has the same subtle tang as buttermilk the only difference is that it’s thicker than buttermilk, but that’s easy to fix! Simply thin plain yogurt with a bit of milk and use the mixture as an equal 1-to-1 substitute. You can do this with either regular or Greek yogurt, whole milk or low-fat.

Like buttermilk, kefir is another fermented milk product, which means it has a very similar taste and consistency to buttermilk. This makes it an excellent 1-to-1 buttermilk substitute in cooking and baking. You can use either whole milk or low-fat kefir, just be sure it’s not flavored or sweetened.

5. Soy or Almond Milk + Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Not all non-dairy milk will thicken and curdle when you add lemon juice or white vinegar to it, but some will. Unsweetened soy milk and almond milk are your best options. (Stay away from coconut milk.)

Combine 1 tablespoon of the acid of your choice with 1 scant cup of non-dairy milk and let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature until curdled.


Buttermilk Substitutes

If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can get by with yogurt, another fermented dairy product that's high in lactic acid. Yogurt may be substituted for buttermilk, volume for volume, meaning 1 cup of yogurt may be substituted for 1 cup of buttermilk. In the reverse, you can usually substitute buttermilk for yogurt or sour milk on a one-to-one basis.

Another option is "clabbered milk," a blend of milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Or, if the lemon flavor (or vinegar flavor) is undesirable, cream of tartar added to milk will raise lactic acid as well.


How to Make Buttermilk

Real talk: Buttermilk is an annoying ingredient. You hardly ever need it, it's only sold in a huge carton, and the recipe never calls for that much. Luckily, you can make your own in a few different ways.

Our Three Favorite Substitutes:

  1. Milk + lemon juice (or vinegar)
  2. Yogurt + water (or milk)
  3. Sour cream + water (or milk)

How To Use It:

Use your substitution concoction just as you would actual buttermilk, cup for cup! Some of our favorite buttermilk recipes: fluffy pancakes, homemade biscuits, red velvet cake, and blueberry scones. It's also great for brining chicken before deep-frying.

Have you tried any of these buttermilk substitutes? Let us know how it went in the comment below.


How to Substitute Cultured Dairy Products in Baking Recipes

Find out what to use if you don't have buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt you need.

Whether you&aposre baking for fun or as a way to help you get through challenging times, any amount of time spent in the kitchen can be a great distraction. And while baking relies on science, it doesn&apost have to be complicated or stressful. With just a few pantry staples there are many things you can bake. In addition to flour, sugar, salt, butter, baking powder, and baking soda, many recipes for baked goods include cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt. Cookbook author and baking expert Alice Medrich explains, "They are used to make baked goods tender and can also add lovely flavor."

Typically used in things like biscuits and pancakes, commercially available cultured buttermilk is thicker than milk and is made from milk combined with lactic acid. Sour cream, often used in coffee cakes and muffins, is also made with lactic acid and has a similar acidity level to buttermilk, but is much richer in fat with a thicker creamier texture. Yogurt is another cultured milk product that is similar to buttermilk and sour cream. Yogurt is milk fermented with a variety of different bacteria and has a more acidic flavor than sour cream and a firmer texture. Greek yogurt is yogurt with whey drained out, so it is thicker than regular yogurt. It is used in a wide variety of baked goods, and it can also be a good substitute for other dairy products you might not have on hand.

Baked goods that contain cultured dairy products often also include baking soda. The reaction of the baking soda and acidity of the dairy products creates leavening and lift, but if you don&apost happen to have buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt on hand, there are easy ways to substitute these common dairy ingredients. Medrich says it&aposs easiest to replace them in simple cakes, quick breads, and recipes such as biscuits, scones, muffins, waffles, and pancakes. When substituting, keep the texture in mind, thinning out thicker dairy products to approximate the same texture of thinner dairy products. Avoid non-fat dairy product which may have stabilizers or other ingredients that may affect the finished baked good.


How To Make Buttermilk -Buttermilk Substitutions

As you may have noticed already…..I love buttermilk. I use it a lot here on Divas Can Cook.

I swear it makes for the best cakes, pancakes, biscuits, breads, salad dressing, chicken brines….you name it!! One day I’ll get around to posting a 100% homemade buttermilk recipe but today let’s talk about great buttermilk substitutions!

Many of us don’t keep buttermilk in stock. For me it’s usually an item that I only buy when I know I’m making something that needs buttermilk, which you would think is often right?

A lot of the time when a recipe calls for buttermilk I use a substitution.

There are several ways to turn whole milk or yogurt into a buttermilk substitute but my favorite two methods uses lemon juice/white distilled vinegar or cream of tartar.

Now remember these are only great substitutes. Nothing beats using the real deal in your recipes so if you can get your hands on real buttermilk, get it for the best results.

OK so let’s say you don’t have any buttermilk on hand and there is no way in the world you are about to go to the store at 7:25 in morning just because your kids want homemade pancakes!

Let me show you what to do! First let’s do the most common method which is using lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.

Buttermilk Using Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Measure out 1 cup of whole milk. (I’ve even used almond milk before)

Remove a tablespoon of the milk.

Now add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.

Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Your buttermilk substitute is now ready to use. It will have a few curds in it which is perfect!

Buttermilk Using Cream of Tartar

Now let’s move on to the cream of tartar method. Some folks claim to be able to taste the lemon or vinegar in certain recipes when using the above method. Using cream of tartar can fix that problem.

To use cream of tartar to make buttermilk….

Measure out 1 cup of warm milk. ( I just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it warm.)

Next stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Stir vigorously to prevent clumping.

Let sit for 15 minutes and now it’s ready to use!! If you let it sit longer it will become really thick like buttermilk.

What can you use your buttermilk substitutions for? It works great for baking but I’m not a fan of it in homemade salad dressings, brines or butter syrups. I use only real buttermilk for those!

Wanna be naughty?

Give your new buttermilk a test spin! Try these delicious recipes that work great with buttermilk substitutions!


How to Make Buttermilk

Let’s start with a traditional buttermilk recipe. This is no substitute—it’s the real deal! (You do need a kitchen thermometer.) And as a bonus, you’ll end up with 1 pint of buttermilk and 8 ounces of fresh butter!

Traditional Buttermilk Method

Ingredients

  • 4 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt with live cultures
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Heat 4 cups of cream in a large saucepan over low heat until the cream reaches 70℉.
  2. Scoop 1 cup of plain yogurt into a bowl and pour the just warmed cream over the top. Stir until smooth.
  3. Cover the mixture tightly and let rest on the kitchen counter for 24 hours. The buttermilk base will thicken overnight.
  4. When you are ready to make your buttermilk (and butter), pour the buttermilk base into your food processor bowl outfitted with the metal blade.
  5. Secure the lid and process on high for 6 to 9 minutes, or until little bits of butter start to form.
  6. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or saucepan. Let the butter solids rest and continue to drain for at least 10 minutes. Press the mixture gently with the back of a clean spoon to extract more buttermilk.
  7. Pour the drained buttermilk into a glass jar, seal with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate.
  8. Now, while the butter is still in the sieve, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. Pull together the bits of butter into a ball or lump and set aside.
  9. Add 1 cup of ice cubes and 3 cups of water to a large bowl. Submerge the ball of butter in the ice water bath and knead it to release the last traces of buttermilk.
  10. When the ice water gets cloudy, toss the water and start with fresh water and ice cubes again. You may have to change the ice water bath two or three times until the water remains clear.

Congratulations! You now have butter. If you prefer unsalted butter, wrap the butter in plastic wrap and stash it in the refrigerator.

If you prefer salted butter, place the butter on a cutting board and sprinkle it with a 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and then knead it together. Take a taste of the butter, and if you feel it needs more salt, add a touch more.

Wrap the salted butter in plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

The Internet is filled with buttermilk substitutes that mix milk with either vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk—but that’s not true buttermilk. However, these types of buttermilk substitutes can be used in a pinch for baked goods like cornbread. These quick-and-easy buttermilk substitutes are not ideal for buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, and definitely not buttermilk pie.

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute in a Flash

This will produce soured milk that is acidic in nature and will help with the leavening process in baked goods. But this buttermilk substitute will not be as thick and creamy as true buttermilk and will have a different flavor profile overall.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a jar, pour in 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
  2. Secure the lid and shake well.
  3. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before using.

Tips to Substitute Condensed Milk in its Various Forms

Buttermilk Subs

Most quick cooks know that buttermilk can be whipped up in a jiffy by “souring” regular milk. Likewise, milk alternatives can be “soured” to produce a buttermilk alternative that can be substituted for the real thing using a 1:1 ratio. Simply add roughly 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider, white, etc.) to 1 cup of non-dairy milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes before adding it to your recipe.

It may or may not “curdle” like dairy milk, but homemade dairy-free buttermilk alternative still serves it’s purpose in recipes. Buttermilk is often used when acidic ingredient is needed to activate baking soda, when a certain flavor profile is desired, or when a slightly thicker milk alternative suits the recipe. By “souring” the milk with citrus or vinegar, the same or similar end result is produced.

At this time, there aren’t any store-bought buttermilk substitutes available, but I have included a couple of homemade variations here as well as in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook

Evaporated Milk Subs

Evaporated milk, also referred to as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed. It can be “re-hydrated” with water to make a dairy milk equivalent. Though dairy-free or vegan evaporated milk isn’t something you will easily find in stores, it is relatively easy to make, and your homemade version won’t require the processing of the canned versions! Here are some handy ways to substitute condensed milk in recipes …

Thinned Coconut Milk: Allow a can of full fat coconut milk to settle (about 1/2 hour). The coconut cream will rise to the top and can easily be skimmed off. The thinner liquid can be substituted using a 1:1 ratio for evaporated milk. Reserve the thick cream to use as a cream substutite. This is a bit higher in fat than the other alternatives, but should yield excellent results. Coconut milk does have a distinct flavor that is best for desserts, baked goods, or savory dishes that work well with a coconut vibe. However, the watery part of the coconut milk is much less intense than the cream, allowing it to slip in undetected when your recipe has a bold flavor profile.

Milk Alternative-Based: Evaporated Milk can be simulated fairly well by using either a liquid or powder milk alternative. The quickest option is a higher ratio of “milk” powder to water, but minimal labor is involved in evaporating rice or soymilk to substitute condensed milk. Try one of the recipes below for an easy evaporated milk substitute right from your pantry! …

Sweetened Condensed Milk Subs

Sweetened Condensed Milk is another reduced and canned version of milk, but unlike evaporated milk, it has sugar cooked in, making it a delight for dessert recipes. Sweetened Condensed Soy Milk seems to periodically become available (it’s produced in Brazil), but has never really taken off in the U.S. market. But have no fear, there are some other sweet options to substitute condensed milk, both store-bought and homemade …

Cream of Coconut: Cream of Coconut works well as a sweetened condensed milk alternative, and can offer a wonderful tropical flavor to your desserts. Substitute it for sweetened condensed milk using a 1:1 ratio. Do not confuse this with Coconut Cream, Cream of Coconut is much sweeter, and sold in separate cans. Look for brands such as Coco Lopez, Roland, Coco Real, or Goya.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Alternative: My favorite way to make sweetened condensed “milk” is using coconut milk. It makes an amazing substitute. The recipe for that one can be found in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, but I’ve included some other great homemade option in the recipe tab below.

Powdered Milk

Non-dairy milk powders do exist, but they can be harder to find in stores. Fortunately, they are widely available online, where I recommend purchasing them for the most options and the best price. I’ve included links below to help you easily find the powdered non-dairy milk that will work best for you, and my favorite homemade option in a pinch. For more tips on how to substitute milk powder in recipes, see the dairy substitutes section in Go Dairy Free.

Soy Milk Powder: This is the most common and readily available dairy-free powdered milk. It can be found at some mainstream grocers, and at times in bulk. But, if all else fails, you can easily purchase soy milk powder online. The following brands are quite popular: Better Than Milk, Fearn, and Now Foods.

Use equal parts soy milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Rice Milk Powder: While not as common as soymilk powder, rice milk powder can be found in some stores, or fairly easily online. The two most common brands are Better Than Milk and Growing Naturals. Since it is free of dairy, lactose, soy, and gluten, rice milk may be an excellent option for many food allergies and intolerances.

Use equal parts rice milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Potato Milk Powder: Potato milk powder can be an excellent option for those who are soy intolerant, or who are just seeking another milk alternative options, but it isn’t as readily available as soy or rice milk powders. The primary brand on the market is Vance’s DariFree Potato Milk Powder in both chocolate and original.

Use equal parts potato milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Coconut Milk Powder: Coconut milk powder would be an amazing substitute for dairy milk powder if it weren’t for one little added ingredient, caseinate (milk protein). Most brands of coconut milk powder have a very small amount of casein added for texture, and it can be near impossible to find one that is 100% dairy-free. I’ve heard rumors of one or two brands that happen to be vegan in Asian markets – if you find one, be sure to email the brand, so that I can share it!

If you can find a dairy-free one, use equal parts coconut milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Cashew Powder: In a pinch, I grind cashews to use in place of milk powder in recipes. Unlike some nuts, cashews powder easily, rather than turning immediately into nut butter. Once powdered, cashews blend nicely into recipes without any residual grit (though you may want to sift out any nut chunks!). This isn’t a good option for those who have nut alleriges, and keep in mind that the cashews will add a little more fat to the recipe than other milk powders, which could slightly effect the outcome.


What Is the Best Butter Substitute?

No butter? No problem. Here are the best ingredients to replace butter in nearly any recipe.

Butter stick - stock

Photo by: Creativ Studio Heinemann / Getty Images

Creativ Studio Heinemann / Getty Images

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By Regan Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

Whether you're baking a batch of treats or simply cooking dinner, butter is one of the most common recipe ingredients — and it's easy to understand why. It's creamy, rich and delicious. Just a small pat of butter makes just about anything taste better.

But if you need to find a suitable substitute in your recipes and baked goods — whether for dietary reasons or because you're all out of it at home — there are some great replacements. Choosing an alternate ingredient for butter really depends on what you're making. Here are our guidelines for selecting the best butter swap.

What Does Butter Do in Recipes?

Really, what doesn't butter do? It's a cooking medium, flavor enhancer, leavener and moisture-adding ingredient all rolled into one delicious yellow stick. Butter can be melted and used to saute veggies or as a base for flour-thickened sauces. In baked goods, its high fat content helps add and retain moisture. It also lends flakiness and lift to pastries and pie crusts, and lightness to cookies and cakes. And of course, we all know how good it tastes.

The Best Substitute for Butter as a Cooking Medium

For sauteing foods like chicken cutlets or vegetables, you can simply use an oil. Butter has one of the lowest smoke points of all cooking fats, so nearly any other oil works well. Because butter also adds flavor to these dishes, try a more flavorful oil like avocado or olive. For high-heat cooking like frying, however, always use an oil with a high smoke point like canola or peanut. In flour-thickened sauces such as gravy and bechamel, oil also makes a fine substitute. Swap the butter for oil using a 1:1 ratio.

The Best Substitute for Butter in Finishing Sauces and Custards

Some recipes are finished with butter — like pan sauces, reductions and cooked custards. In these recipes, the small amount of butter whisked in at the end adds body, flavor and a bit of thickening. You may be able to leave it out, or substitute a little heavy cream, creme fraiche or sour cream.

The Best Substitute for Butter in Baked Goods

Butter adds moisture to baked goods. If your recipe calls for melted butter, which is common in many quick breads, pancakes, brownies, blondies and some cakes, you can substitute an equal amount of neutral oil like safflower, canola or vegetable. If you want to experiment with flavors, try virgin coconut or olive oil. (You might even prefer it, like in these olive oil brownies.) Keep in mind that substituting oil in baked goods that require creaming softened butter and sugar together, like many cakes and cookies, yields a finished product that is flatter and denser than usual. This is because oil cannot hold the whipped-in air.

For a lighter option, fruit purees like applesauce or mashed banana can be substituted for some or all of the butter in many recipes. This is nice if you are looking to reduce your fat and calorie intake. But keep in mind that these purees are often quite sweet and might add a new flavor to your dish. You can experiment with which purees work best. In addition to applesauce and bananas, try pureed pumpkin, avocado or prunes.

What About Margarine or Vegan Butter Substitutes?

Margarine is a butter substitute made primarily from vegetable oils, salt and sometimes milk. Vegan "butters" are dairy-free butter substitutes made from plant-based oils and emulsifiers. They are created to mimic butter in both flavor and texture, and can both be substituted successfully in many cases. If you are making a recipe that requires creaming butter and sugar together or a recipe that is flaky and light, such as pie crust or biscuits, you are actually best off with one of these substitutes. Either will bake up into a lighter finished product than a dish made with liquid oil.

The Best Substitute for Butter as a Topping

Missing that pat of butter on your potato or toast? Choose another topping that's tasty and rich. For baked potatoes or other veggies, we love a drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and some flaky salt — or just a dab of sour cream, plain yogurt or a sprinkle of cheese can do the trick. On toast, olive oil, coconut butter or other nut butters are delicious and satisfying.

Should You Use Salted or Unsalted Butter?

Generally, we prefer to use unsalted butter in most recipes because it allows control over the amount of salt in finished dishes. In a pinch, however, they are generally interchangeable. If using salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted, simply omit any additional salt called for in that recipe. In most baked items, you won't notice a difference. The exception is buttercream, which can taste a bit too salty when made with salted butter.


Flour is a key ingredient in baked goodsਊnd all-purpose flour is the mainstay for home cooks. But਎very once in a while a recipe calls for a specialty flour such as self-rising, pastry, or bread flour. Skip the shopping trip and put all-purpose flour to work.

  • Cake flour: 1 cup = 1 cup - 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pastry flour: 1 cup = 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + ਁ/2 cup cake flour.
  • Self rising flour: 1 cup = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder +ਁ/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • Bread flour: Substitute bread flour one to one with all-purpose flour. Keep in mind that due to differences in protein levels, baked goods made with bread flour will have more structure and chewiness than those with all-purpose flour.
  • Gluten free flour: A test kitchen favorite for gluten-free baked goods is to substitute 1 cup Cup4Cup gluten-free flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

Once you&aposve got the substitutions down, learn how to measure flour like the test kitchen team does-because not all flour measuring is equal.