There is quite the range of vegan butter alternatives available in British supermarkets these days. Some of them are produced by brands that also make dairy-based butter, some are supermarket own-brand, and some are made by completely vegan companies like Danish brand Naturli’. A lot of them avoid using the word “butter”, though, so when shopping for some, you’ll need to look for phrases such as “vegan block” or “vegan spread” too.
BEST VEGAN BUTTER ALTERNATIVE
The question of which vegan butter is the best depends, of course, on your personal preferences, but also what you’re using the butter for. The texture of different butters, what they are made from, their fat content, and whether they contain salt all play a role in making them better suited to different tastes and tasks.
VEGAN BUTTER REPLACEMENT FOR BAKING
Getting your cakes nice and fluffy depends in part on whisking the butter and sugar together to creamy perfection. This is easier if the butter is soft and whippable. A couple of vegan butter alternatives are made specifically for this purpose, including Tesco Soft Baking Spread, and Stork Original Baking Spread. But other brands work well, too, as long as you let the butter reach room temperature first.
SUBSTITUTE FOR VEGAN BUTTER IN FROSTING
The key to good frosting is a higher fat content in the butter to make it thicker and help it stick to the cake. In vegan butter, the fat content comes from plant oils. At 80 percent fat, Naturli’ Organic Vegan Block is a good choice for a thick, sticky frosting.
VEGAN BUTTER SUBSTITUTE FOR MASHED POTATOES
Most vegan butter should work well in making creamy mashed potatoes. Some might prefer to use a salted butter like Flora Salted Plant B+tter. Whichever one you choose, there are plenty of vegan mashed potato recipes out there to help you, like this one by a food blogger who swears by creaming vegan butter together with white miso and roasted garlic for a “serious umami bomb”.
VEGAN SUBSTITUTE FOR BUTTER IN COOKIES
Baking cookies, like cakes, involves creaming together butter and sugar, so it’s important to use room temperature butter or one with a softer texture. Bakers tend to recommend unsalted butter too, so that you can properly control the taste of the cookies. A brand like Flora Unsalted Plant B+tter would be a good choice here.
VEGAN BUTTER SUBSTITUTE FOR TOAST
At no time does the flavour of butter matter more than when you spread it on toast, so this one is going to be particularly dependent on personal preference. Pure makes several butter alternatives using different kinds of plant oil such as sunflower or olive. If you want to avoid palm oil, then Naturli’ Vegan Spreadable is a good choice. For something a little more indulgent, try Vegan Gold made by London-based artisan vegan cheesemaker Mouse’s Favourite, using cultured coconut oil, cashew nuts, and rapeseed oil.
WHAT IS VEGAN BUTTER MADE FROM?
Vegan butters are made mostly from various plant oils such as sunflower, rapeseed, or coconut, blended with other ingredients such as water, salt, flavours, and emulsifiers to give them a similar taste and texture to dairy butter.
WHAT IS BUTTER MADE OF?
Dairy butter is made using milk or cream, usually from cows. The dairy is churned, forming globules of fat that then stick together and eventually become a solid mass. Some butter brands also contain water and salt.
WHAT DOES BUTTER DO IN BAKING?
Butter adds flavour to baked goods and makes them moist and soft. It also helps baked goods to rise when the water content evaporates and creates steam during baking, and it stops baked goods from going stale so quickly.
CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE VEGAN BUTTER FOR REGULAR BUTTER?
Yes, you can. Whether you use dairy or vegan butter in your baking doesn’t make a huge difference to the end result, as proven by the existence of delicious vegan cakes, cookies, and croissants. There may be some small variations in texture, colour, and flavour between baked goods made with vegan versus dairy butter. But the biggest difference is that one depends on exploiting and ultimately killing cows and the other does not.
IS VEGAN BUTTER THE SAME AS MARGARINE?
Margarine was originally made using beef tallow (rendered fat) churned with milk as a cheaper alternative to butter, but nowadays it may be made with plant oils, water, and salt, in the same way as vegan butters. Some margarines are vegan; some still contain animal products, such as whey, lactose, buttermilk, or casein (all from cows’ milk), or animal fat known as suet. Some also contain oil and vitamin D3 derived from fish, so it’s always worth checking whether your margarine is vegan.
WHERE TO FIND VEGAN BUTTER
Most supermarkets now stock a range of vegan butters and you will usually find them alongside the dairy-based butters in the refrigerator section. It’s even possible to make your own vegan butter using ingredients such as coconut oil and nutritional yeast, as in this recipe from Loving it Vegan.
DOESN’T VEGAN BUTTER TASTE BAD?
It tastes almost exactly the same as dairy-based butter! People who participated in a taste test of vegan versus non-vegan foods conducted by Huffington Post in the US in 2015 mostly couldn’t tell which of two butters was vegan. And since vegan butters can be made using different kinds of plant oils and each has a slightly different flavour, if you don’t like the taste of one it’s easy to find another that is more to your liking.