Can You Substitute Butter For Oil?


Last updated on September 28th, 2022 at 01:37 pm

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If you are in the kitchen baking up some delicious recipe you might at one point find yourself short of an ingredient. If you need oil for one of your baked goods but don’t have any can you substitute butter for it? 

You can use butter in the place of oil in most recipes. Butter is a kind of saturated fat, and while oil is unsaturated, you can still substitute butter for it. 

Many seasoned chefs swear that butter is the premium ingredient. If you find that you have run out of oil or don’t have other fats, you don’t have to worry as long as you have butter around. 

Almost all types of cooking require you to use fat in some way, shape, or form. Butter is one of the yummiest and most satisfying fats, and you can place it in a recipe in place of oil.

Sometimes you’ll be cooking, and then you’ll realize that you don’t have all of the ingredients you want for cooking that recipe. Calm down, that’s fine! 

At times, we think that the canola oil we have is just enough, but then it isn’t. At those times when you’ve run out of olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, etc. you can check if you have any butter in your fridge to substitute it. 

If you do, you can substitute the butter for oil. However, the swap is not a simple one. In the article below, we’ll talk about how and why you can substitute butter for oil.

How Can You Substitute Butter for Oil?

Butter and oil may seem like a simple swap when you’re cooking. However, cooking occurs using a variety of methods. 

So you have to be careful depending on the kind of cooking you’re conducting. Though swapping butter for oil isn’t simple, it’s also not entirely complex. 

Butter is mostly fat, but it also has milk and dairy. These components aren’t present in the oil, and they can interfere with your cooking which is why you must be careful of the changes they can make in your meal and food. 

Below I have listed how butter changes in some of the more common cooking techniques.

1. Stovetop Sautéing

The ratio that you would swap butter and oil for is 1:1 when you are sautéing. You can let the butter melt, bubble, and settle down before placing the ingredients for a sauté. 

This method allows the water and milk in the butter to evaporate, leaving only the good fattiness of the butter. Your butter can also heat appropriately before you add vegetables and shrimp.

2. Roasting

You can start with cold butter and then place small dollops of it all around the ingredient you want to roast. You can roast vegetables or even a steak this way. 

For high-temperature roasting, you can use ghee or clarified butter.

3. Stir-Frying

Stir-Frying doesn’t take a lot of heat or oil. Stir-frying is all about letting some of the moisture out of the vegetable. 

Butter has a lower smoke point than oils, so you should use ghee or clarified butter here instead.

4. Pan Frying

You can substitute butter for oil in almost all recipes where you have to pan-fry something. You have to understand that butter has an overall more rich taste. 

Thus, the way that something fried in butter feels on your tongue is vastly different than something you fry in oil.

Additionally, if you’re running out of oil, you can combine oil and butter, so you have enough fat but some of the high-heat nuances of oil.

5. Baking

If you’re making a cake that requires adding oil, you can always use butter instead. Using butter adds moisture to the cake as it has water and milk, so it helps your cake have the moisture it needs. 

Some people talk about adding softened or melted butter in a recipe that calls for oil so that you can use a 1:1 ratio in the recipe instead. However, replacing butter can be questionable for people trying to avoid dairy altogether. 

Vegan butter doesn’t act entirely as regular butter does.

While using butter in baking, you should also ensure that the butter is unsalted. Using salted butter will change the taste of your cake, and you’ll have to change the ratios of sugar for that.

If you’re using butter in a cake mix, you should use the same ratios as the box mentions for oil. However, you must make sure that you melt the butter down before adding it, so you don’t add more or less of the butter.

Important Factors to Note About Butter and Oil Substitutions

We have talked about how easy it is to substitute two different fats like butter and oil. However, it’s necessary to note the nuances of this substitution. 

Below I will mention some of the most important points that you must note for substitution

1. You can use melted butter in a 1:1 substitution, but only up to a certain point. The reason behind this exception is that butter has a moisture percentage of about 15%. 

If you’re making more than one recipe, the 15% adds up and makes a ton of difference. For these reasons, when you’re doubling up a recipe, you may want to decrease the number of tablespoons of butter or fat that you add to the overall recipe.

2. Remember that while you can substitute butter for oil, it’s difficult for you to swap it the other way around. This fact means that if a recipe calls for you to add butter in between pastry layers, then you can’t get away with just using oil instead. 

The reason behind this is that butter creates air pockets in pastries. Butter adds texture to recipes in ways that oil cannot.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we know now that you can substitute butter for oil since it’s a form of saturated fat. It’s also necessary to note the differences between butter and oil. 

You can’t think of butter as a complete substitute for oil and vice versa. The flavor profiles for the two can be different. 

Furthermore, butter is not a good option for people opting for a vegan lifestyle, as it contains dairy.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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