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Vegan Butter Substitutes - Everything You Wanted to Know

In 2019, it feels like we are living in a vegan paradise. Vegan is becoming a word most of the population has at least heard of. Celebrities are gushing over how great they feel since becoming vegan. And vegan products are popping up everywhere and becoming far easier to find. It feels like you can walk into almost any grocery store chain and find vegan products, whether it’s at Walmart, Wegman’s, Costco, Whole Foods, or even CVS. Remarkably, we not only have access to a wide variety of vegan products, but they actually taste incredible! 

It’s a glorious time to be vegan! And vegan butter is mainstream enough that it’s become a regularly stocked item at most large retailers. With so many vegan options available, it can be hard to choose what vegan butter to buy, not being certain if it tastes good or works well with both cooking and baking. 

We’ve tried a variety of vegan butters and share with you the best ones available. In this post, we'll also share several recipes that are unique and delicious if you’d prefer to make your own butter at home. We also touch on how important it is to source out vegan butter, just in case you need a refresher or want to share this information with your family. Vegan butter tastes amazing, but sometimes it helps persuade people to try something new if they have all the facts. Most people would want to live a cruelty-free lifestyle if they knew the truth. So it’s always great to have information to give them when they’re curious.

Why Vegan Butter?

The dairy industry is often thought to be rather harmless, simply using a product that is otherwise going to go to waste. Many people believe that female cows are always producing milk and therefore milking them helps alleviate suffering and then using the milk is preventing it from going to waste. This myth has perpetuated for far too long and it’s time that the truth be sung from the mountaintops. 

Female Cows Don’t Just Produce Milk Forever.

They must first be artificially impregnated, which can be a stressful process. Cows carry their calves for nine months. They birth them, and almost always have them taken from them within hours of birth. The mother cow and calf both get extremely distressed by this process, as most mammals do since they bond with their young. The female calves are taken to eventually become dairy cows. While the males are either sold to be killed for veal or raised for breeding and beef. The mother calf now has milk. And this is continually pumped despite the pain it causes to create milk, cheese and butter. The cow is impregnated again and again. It continues through this cycle to produce more calves and more importantly more milk, until the cow gets too old. Typically at this point, the animal is sent to slaughter for beef

So, not only are these animals’ lives never their own, they are exploited from the moment they are born. Their bodies are forced to live in uncomfortable and painful states. And their young are cruelly taken away just for the sake of making money by producing milk, butter, and cheese. This process is in no way harmless and helpful. But rather, it is a tragic one that exploits a living creature for profit.

Milk is for Baby Cows to Grow.

It’s also important to remember that milk is made for baby cows to grow. Despite the dairy industry’s best efforts to convince you otherwise, it is absolutely not a necessary food for humans, nor even a healthy one. One study suggested that high milk consumption did not decrease fractures and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. As the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine points out, dairy is linked to more incidences of specific cancers in certain individuals, more bone fractures with higher consumption, and is high in saturated fat and cholesterol which contribute to heart disease, diabetes and other issues. It should be clear that milk is not a health food. Plant-based sources of fat are far healthier options for people to consume.

The Best Vegan Butters to Buy

Buying vegan products can be overwhelming, especially when they’re alternative products meant to replicate taste and work the same way in recipes. We’ve tried quite a few vegan butters. There may be many available. Nonetheless, we are confident that the ones we share below are absolutely delicious and relatively easy to find.

vegan butter substitutes

Ingredients

A mix of vegetable oils such as palm fruit, canola, safflower, flax and olive as well as water, salt, natural flavors, pea protein, sunflower lecithin and lactic acid and annatto extract.

Why We Love It

This was one of the first vegan butter spreads available on the market in the form of the original butter spread. It’s got an incredible buttery flavor and texture that even those who eat dairy will love. We love that this one is soy free. It is perfect for smearing on toast or baking into our favorite vegan cookies. It’s readily available at most stores, extremely affordable and delicious, so it’s always a good choice in our opinion.

Our Favorite Way to Enjoy It

While this spread is extremely versatile and can be used in everything, we really love toasting up a piece of bread, rubbing a clove of garlic on it, adding a hearty smear of butter and topping it with sea salt and parsley for a quick and delicious garlic bread. 

vegan butter substitutes

Ingredients

A mix of organic oils such as canola, coconut, palm and extra virgin coconut, water, salt, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid and natural flavors.

Why We Love It

This organic spread is oh so creamy and soy free making it a great option for anyone with allergies. It tastes noticeably richer and different than the traditional Earth Balance Spreads. And it's is a great option to use in all baking as well as cooking. It’s a bit harder to find in stores and a slightly higher price point than the traditional Earth Balance spreads. But it's worth seeking out and trying.

Our Favorite Way to Enjoy It

This spread is so decadent and rich and goes perfectly on top of both regular and sweet potato mashed potatoes.

Product: Miyoko’s Creamery Vegan Butter

vegan butter

Ingredients

A combination of organic coconut oil, water, sunflower oil, cashews, sunflower lecithin, sea salt and cultures. 

Why We Love It

This organic butter is so decadent and so close to the real thing it’s incredible. It’s all organic, soy free and palm oil free so it feels like a truly ethical way to spend one’s money. It works as a one to one butter replacement in everything from cooking to baking. Miyoko’s Creamery Butter imparts a rich, authentic buttery taste. It’s a slightly higher price point than some other alternatives, but not outrageous. It’s slowly becoming more available, especially in smaller natural food stores.

Our Favorite Way to Enjoy It

This butter is so good we love spreading it directly onto something so we can enjoy its rich and salty taste. Whether it’s on a crusty baguette or a slice of warm banana bread, it will be an amazing experience.

vegan butter substitutes

Ingredients

Organic refined coconut oil, organic vegan buttery flavor, organic unrefined red palm fruit oil, and organic annatto extract.

Why We Love It

This spread has all organic, super simple ingredients that are free of major allergens making it a great option to serve to anyone, including those who are more particular about their ingredients. We love just how delicious and buttery this spread is. However, it has a unique flavor that is unlike traditional buttery spreads or butter. It is reminiscent of butter flavor, used atop movie theater popcorn. The taste doesn’t limit it to just popcorn, but does impart a unique flavor that makes it more of a specialty item and not something you would use in all cooking and baking.

Our Favorite Way to Enjoy It

We know we said you can use this on a variety of things. But it tastes so similar to movie theater butter that we just can’t help ourselves. We smother freshly popped popcorn with this and salt and dig in.

The Best Vegan Butter Recipes

It is truly amazing that we live in a time when we can readily and easily go out and purchase delicious and healthy vegan butter alternatives. While we love convenience, we also can’t deny just how much we enjoy a good homemade butter. Controlling just what goes into your food and the quality of the ingredients is a privilege and joy that we enjoy partaking in. Here are three unique vegan butter recipes to inspire you and add to your recipe box.

Homemade Vegan Butter

This vegan butter recipe is so simple to make and uses only a handful of easy to find, cost-effective ingredients. The ingredients used include refined coconut oil, canola oil, almond or soy milk, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, turmeric and salt. The recipe comes together easily and quickly and the longest part is simply waiting for it to set. As the author shares, this butter is great for everything BUT frostings, as its coconut oil base means it melts too quickly when left to sit out. So enjoy while baking and cooking and slather it on some delicious bread.

Vegan Butter

This vegan butter recipe was designed by a plant based nutritionist and chef, and it shows. The creator breaks down exactly the reason she chose the ingredients she did, why she used the process she did and it’s apparent in the final product just how well she understands the creative process of food. The ingredients used include almond flour, cashew milk, nutritional yeast, salt, coconut vinegar, olive oil, and refined coconut oil. This butter tastes great in all recipes. So go ahead and cook and bake your heart out using this delicious vegan butter.

Vegan Cultured Butter

This vegan butter is phenomenal and tastes so unique and buttery thanks to the creator's daring decision to ferment the cashew milk since butter is traditionally a cultured product. The ingredients include cashews, water, acidophilus, refined coconut oil, grapeseed oil, liquid sunflower lecithin, carrot juice and salt. These ingredients are all easy to find. While the process is a little more involved and takes longer than some other recipes, it is well worth it for the slight tang that is imparted in the butter, reminiscent of the traditional dairy variety.

Other Vegan Butter Options

Perhaps the easiest and most overlooked vegan butter substitutes are oils themselves. Plant oils can work remarkably well to replace butter, however, not all oils work as a one-to-one substitute. And they will, of course, taste far different than butter. Using plant oils by themselves as butter substitutes can work well for those who prefer minimally processed food or simply want something quick and easy without investing in one more item that they won’t use often. It’s best to experiment and go in with an open mind when using oil in place of butter in any recipe. Typically, olive oil and coconut oil are used in place of butter with excellent results as long as you know a few things about how they work.

Olive Oil

vegan butter substitutes

Typically olive oil works well in place of butter on vegetables, mashed potatoes, and bread, and even in some baking recipes. Livestrong has a fantastic butter to olive oil conversion on their page. This will make it easier to experiment with when cooking or baking.

Coconut Oil

The oil that gets all the attention deserves a little more as a butter replacement. Coconut oil works well because it is rich and is high in saturated fat just like butter. It works great in almost all baking and cooking. The main thing to consider is that it may impart a coconut oil flavor depending on the brand and whether or not it is refined. Refined coconut oil tends to have less of a coconut flavor and is generally more neutral. Most chefs and at home cooks agree that coconut oil can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for butter. Keep in mind, it does tend to liquify at room temperature. So it may not work as well in recipes that rely on it to stay firm, such as fudge or frosting.

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