Unsalted Butter Substitutes

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Many baked good recipes call for unsalted butter, but if you don't have any on hand, you can use salted butter in its place, with only slight modifications to the recipe.

If you're trying to tweak a recipe to make it dairy-free, vegan or lower in fat, there are additional unsalted butter substitutes you can try. Here's how to make a successful substitution:


  • Salted butter
  • Or butter alternatives (see below)


How to Replace Unsalted Butter with Salted Butter in Recipes

Replace the unsalted butter called for with an equal amount of salted butter. Then, reduce the salt called for in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon for every stick (1/2 cup) of butter used.

One caveat is that different brands of butter contain different amounts of salt. A single stick of butter could have anywhere from an eighth of a teaspoon to one half of a teaspoon of salt.

But don't sweat the difference. Just taste your recipe, and tweak it, if necessary. In most cases, having a little more or less salt in a dish won't make a bit of difference. Because when you get right down to it, an extra eighth of a teaspoon of salt isn't much when you divide it between all of the servings in a recipe.

Why Do Recipes Call for Unsalted Butter Instead of Salted Butter?

Since the amount of salt varies from one brand of butter to the next, many bakers develop their recipes with unsalted butter, so they can add the salt as a separate, measured ingredient. This gives the baker precise control over how much salt is being added, so the recipe delivers reliable results that are easy for others to replicate.

In general, recipes don't call for unsalted butter out of regard for decreasing the amount of sodium in your diet, but this can be another reason for unsalted butter to be specified in a recipe.

How to Replace Unsalted Butter with Butter Alternatives

If you're looking for an unsalted butter substitute because you want to make a recipe dairy-free or vegan, here are some other options to consider. Keep in mind, that these substitutes will introduce new flavors to the recipe, and may also change the texture of the recipe.

  • Vegetable shortening- Replace measure for measure. For baking, this would be preferred, as it's likely to best preserve the consistency of the finished product.
  • Vegetable oil- Use 7/8 cup for each cup of unsalted butter called for. This is not a good choice for baking; since it will change the consistency of the baked goods.
  • Lard (animal product): Use 7/8 cup for each cup of unsalted butter. This substitute is suitable for both baked and cooked dishes.

Half Replacements

If you're trying to reduce the fat (or saturated fat) in baked good recipe, you can also replace half of the unsalted butter called for with one of the following. Just know that your baked goods are likely to come out denser and moister than intended.

  • Avocado
  • Applesauce
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt

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