While they love the flavor of dairy-based butter in baked goods, there are a few vegan options they think make good alternatives.

By Nashia Baker
July 15, 2021
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Credit: Emily Kate Roemer

It's an essential ingredient in pretty much all of our favorite baked goods. From pies and cakes to cookies and brownies, our food editors rely on butter to give these desserts their signature flavor and texture. In the event that you need a vegan replacement for butter, there are several options on the market that are worth a try. Ahead, our food editors share their favorite vegan butter substitutes for baking.

Organic Vegetable Shortening

As a butter alternative when baking pie dough or biscuits, senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell is fond of organic vegetable shortening. This substitute is often made from vegetable oils, like soybean or palm oils. She says it provides a flaky texture and a neutral flavor to baked goods.

Plant Butters

Lauryn also recommends plant butters, which are non-dairy combinations of water and plant-based oils (think: olive, avocado, and coconut). "I found that while they imparted a slight flavor that I didn't love, they were very user friendly because they come in stick form (which a lot of other vegan alternatives do not)," she explains. "I think they would work for things like brownies or chocolate chip cookies."

Olive Oil

"If you don't want to go and buy specialty products, go with oil," Lauryn says. "I will often swap butter for olive oil in things like muffins or banana bread because I find it creates a nice tender crumb." Another perk? It makes waffles extra crispy. Olive oil is also lower in saturated fats than butter and rich in antioxidants, so it's a heart-healthy choice for baking.

But remember that you will need to adjust measurements when using olive oil in baking recipes: "Keep in mind that while most American butters contain around 20 percent water, oil is 100 percent fat," she explains. "So, if you're swapping butter for oil, you should reduce the total amount in your recipe by about 20 percent." Greg Lofts, deputy food editor, says he finds olive oil is a great option for making a quick bread or a cake that's made ahead of time and needs to be refrigerated. While butter-based bakes become heavy and dense in the refrigerator, he notes that oil-based cakes keep better and remain light and tender.

Coconut Oil

Not only will coconut oil impart more flavor than butter, but it's also a great plant-based dairy substitute. Greg explains that it also behaves more like butter than other oils. It solidifies in a cool temperature, but melts when it's room temperature. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, reaches for coconut oil to swap for melted butter in cake, and she recommends using refined varieties since they are flavorless. Unrefined coconut oil will feature a distinct floral, coconut bite that can overpower the others flavors in the baked good.

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