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12 Acceptable Alternatives to Butter

Toast bread with spread on a wooden board.

Butter plays a starring role in many of our favorite recipes from toasts to pasta to cakes. It’s made from cow’s milk and has high saturated fat content which led to previous studies linking it to heart disease. Other people, on the other hand, have milk allergies or lactose intolerance.

No wonder there are plenty of healthy ingredients to butter that has sprung up as healthy alternatives to butter as a spread or in baking.

Related: Thanksgiving Turkey Alternatives | Broccoli Alternatives | Ice Cream Alternatives | Healthy Alternatives to Pizza | Alternatives to Pasta

1. Applesauce

A serving of applesauce surrounded by apples.

People have been substituting applesauce for butter for a very long time, and if you’ve never tried it you may want to rethink your decision. Applesauce is inexpensive and filled with fiber and numerous vitamins, so it is a lot healthier than regular butter. It also comes in several types, so if you want to use a flavored type of applesauce for more tastiness, it is easy to do.


  • It is high in Vitamin C and fiber
  • It is inexpensive and easy to find


  • Some brands are high in sugar
  • You have to experiment with the amount used in your recipe

If your recipe calls for a one-half cup of butter, you can’t always substitute with a one-half cup of applesauce. You may need to play around with the ratios and find the one that works best for you.

2. Avocado

A bowl of avocado spread applied to a couple of toasts.

Most people know that the avocado is filled with healthy fats, so it should be no surprise that many people also use it on toast instead of real butter. You can mash it up and use it on toast or muffins, and you can even cook with it, instead of using butter. You can add it to your smoothie for an extra-rich drink, and you can even bake a cake with it!


  • Rich in fiber, Vitamin K, and potassium
  • Reduces inflammation in the body


  • Some people do not like the taste of avocado
  • People who are allergic to bananas or latex may be allergic to avocados

In reality, there are few, if any, disadvantages to eating an avocado, so the next time you’re at the grocery store, put more than one of them in your cart.

3. Chicken Stock

A serving of chicken stock with a toast on the side.

Chicken or vegetable stock is great if you’re sautéing foods, so much so that you won’t even miss the butter! It has also been shown to help with arthritis, your immune system, and even digestive problems, and it is cheap to boot! You may have to adjust the amount that you use when baking or cooking to find the ratio that works best for you, but chicken stock is a healthy, inexpensive alternative to butter.


  • It is easy to find and very inexpensive
  • It adds flavor to anything you’re cooking or baking


  • Some brands are very high in sodium
  • Some brands have extra ingredients that are unnecessary and unhealthy

4. Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter on a wooden chopping board over a wood plank table.

Cocoa butter is considered a healthy fat, and it is the main ingredient in chocolate. In fact, some studies have suggested that the properties in cocoa butter can actually lower your risk of getting heart disease. To use cocoa butter, simply use it just as you would regular butter; it’s that simple. Also, make sure you get the pure, unrefined type for the healthiest results.


  • High in antioxidants
  • Is good for both your immune system and inflammation


  • It is relatively high in calories
  • It has a lot of caffeine in it

Like other butter alternatives, it is best if you do your due diligence before choosing to use cocoa butter, but overall it appears to be a very good choice when you’re trying to avoid regular butter.

5. Coconut Oil/Butter

A couple of toasts with cocoa butter spread in a plate.

If used in moderation, coconut oil can be quite healthy. Although there have been studies giving the product a bad rap in recent years, the key is simply not to overdo it or eat it all the time. If you’re cooking with coconut oil or butter, it lends a toasty coconut flavor to the food and a touch of sweetness to satisfy that sweet tooth, and you can even use it on toast, biscuits, and muffins.


  • It increases the healthy type of cholesterol or HDL
  • It tastes great


If you’re looking for something to take the place of butter, either for spreading or cooking, coconut oil or butter is definitely worth considering, especially if it is only an occasional choice.

6. Dairy-Free/Greek Yogurt

Bowls of Greek yogurt with a coconut on the side.

If you use yogurts such as almond or coconut yogurt, you can add a little cinnamon to it and spread it on your toast for a yummy, healthy treat. The main thing you’ll want to do if using yogurt as a substitute for butter is to read your labels. A lot of dairy-free foods still have high amounts of sugar and other ingredients that aren’t healthy, and this is something you’ll want to look out for.


  • It is inexpensive and easy to find
  • It has a lot of vitamins and nutrients in it


  • Some yogurt is filled with sugar – read your labels!
  • The plain version is healthier but doesn’t always taste good

If you’re cooking or baking with yogurt, the plain variety will work well, but if you’re spreading it on your muffins you may want to try the varieties that are already flavored or flavor them yourself.

7. Hummus

A bowl of hummus surrounded by lettuce, breads, and choco rolls.

There are many advantages to eating hummus. It is extremely nutritious, being made with chickpeas and tahini, and it can be eaten with almost anything. If you use it in place of butter, it adds nutritional value to whatever you’re cooking or baking, and it is incredibly easy to make if you want a fresher alternative to butter.


  • Hummus is high in fiber, Vitamin B6, and protein
  • It can be made from lentils or black beans for people who don’t like chickpeas


  • It is high in calories
  • The packaged hummus may contain hidden unhealthy ingredients

If you make your own hummus – which is extremely easy – you’ll know exactly what you’re consuming, and hummus also will not add any unpleasant taste to whatever you’re making in your kitchen.

8. Nut Butter

Toasts with nut butter spread.

There are many different types of nut butter, including those made with peanuts, cashews, and even almonds. The uses associated with these butter are limitless because you can add nut butter to toast, celery sticks or even a vegetable sauté for some dishes, particularly Thai dishes. If you get the sugar-free butter, you get a pure product, and they taste just as good as the sugar-filled versions, if not better.


  • It is high in iron, Vitamin E, and magnesium
  • A little bit will go a long way


  • Some versions contain a lot of sugar and even oils
  • Some nut butter is quite expensive

If you like a fresh, nutty taste on your foods, a good nut butter is a great choice. It is much healthier than regular butter, and it is easy to use and versatile.

9. Nutritional Yeast

Unwrapped block of yeast and a bowl of yeast powder on a wooden table.

If you prefer a cheesy flavor, you may want to use nutritional yeast as a seasoning. It has a lot of nutritional value, and it’s perfect even for vegans.


  • It is high in protein, Vitamins B6 and B12, and is great for the immune system
  • It has a yummy taste


  • Some people are allergic to all types of yeast
  • The types vary greatly, so reading labels is important

The best nutritional yeast should be purchased from a health-food store because this is the best way to make sure it is the most nutritionally sound.

10. Olive Oil

Toasts in a glass plate filled with olive oil.

Olive oil is healthy for numerous reasons, and it also makes a great alternative to butter when you’re cooking or baking. It has been known to help with everything from heart disease to depression, and it can even help with inflammation. For best results, use the extra-virgin olive oil, and make sure it is 100% pure and sold in a dark bottle.


  • It raises the “good” cholesterol and lowers the “bad” type
  • It has a light, pleasant taste


  • Like other fats, it should be consumed in moderation
  • There are many blends on the market, and they are not as healthy as the real thing

If you’re following a Mediterranean diet, you’re likely eating a lot of extra-virgin olive oil, and using this instead of butter is just another way to get the nutrition your body needs.

11. Pumpkin Puree

A bowl of pumpkin puree

This is a butter alternative most people don’t think about, but it is easy to use it in your baked goods. Simply use a three-fourths cup of pumpkin puree – which you can find in most grocery stores – for every cup of butter in the recipe you’re using. It is great for a variety of foods, including cakes, muffins, and bread, and it adds a lot of nutritional value to whatever you’re creating.


  • It is high in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin K
  • It is very inexpensive and easy to find


  • Some people may not like the taste that results
  • Some products may contain less actual pumpkin than you think – again, read your labels

If you’ve never tried pumpkin puree as an alternative to butter, you might be surprised by the results. It makes your baked goods very moist, and it is much healthier as well.

12. Shea Butter

Shea butter on a wooden serving spoon.

Contrary to what many people believe, shea butter is for more than just achieving smooth skin. Shea butter is not only tasty, but it contains important nutrients such as Vitamin E, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. If you choose this type of butter, make sure you purchase the type that is unrefined and pure and only purchase small amounts because it goes bad quickly.


  • It is a natural product
  • It has a very nice smell and taste


  • There are mixed reviews regarding its nutritional value
  • It can be difficult to find

If you’re looking for an alternative to butter, shea butter might be your answer, and there is plenty of information online that can help you make the right decision.