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Thread: Best tasting butter substitute?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Central FL

    Best tasting butter substitute?

    DH's doctor just phoned with lab results. Not good at all! We use way too much butter and I'd like to find a substitute that tastes good without all the fat and cholesterol. So, what do you like?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Medford, MA
    I'd go without before using a substitute in most cases. What sorts of things do you use it in the most? That will probably help people offer suggestions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    North Texas
    I use the crocks of soft margarines, whichever has the least cholesterol and sat fats, and no transfats and is on sale. I pretty much use it for everything but I do buy real butter for my popcorn. I just bought some I can't believe it's not butter spray and have been using that for garlic toast and on my veggies and I really like it. You will have a period of getting used to it though, so be prepared!
    Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. . .

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Southeastern CT
    For savory dishes, I use olive oil for almost everything that calls for butter. Things like omelettes, sauteed chicken, etc. For sweets, I try to use less butter generally, and sometimes sub drained applesauce for half the butter.
    <)>>< Candace ><<)>

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Un-American NY
    Do you use salted or unsalted mostly? Do you primarily cook with it or is it for bread/toast? I ask because I've been running trials on a lot of brands out there lately, from Land O'Lakes canola "light" version to some of the soy substitutes. They all seem to pose similar problems, primary of which is high water content, which makes for really lousy soggy toast. Secondly, they all seem incredibly salty, but that may be because I'm used to sweet butter and salted tastes rancid to me.

    Taste being subjective, I think you have to do trial-and-error, though. If I come up with something that strikes me as a winner, I'll be back to post it.


  6. #6
    I only buy margarine 3 or 4 times a year (holidays) and I choose the non-hydrogenated stuff - either Smart Balance or Earth Balance depending on the store. Still I only buy it rarely because we eat so much of it for some reason. I'm not sure how the fat numbers compare to butter but it is high in sodium unfortunately.

    Instead we put fruit-sweetened jam on toast and make pancakes with just maple syrup and maybe some fruit. I put hummus or Neufchatel cheese on bread and use extra virgin olive oil for most vegetables and garlic bread. For baked potatoes I use nonfat plain yogurt and some salt-free herb mixes.
    For baking I use canola oil although it can't be subbed straight for butter. Instead I collect baking recipes that don't use butter in the first place.

    I do agree it is a bit of a change to go butter-free but give yourself a month or two.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ossining, NY
    we have Smart Balance in the house because DF is lactose intolerant. i'm not, but i think it tastes pretty good when i need a spreadable butter. i've never tried subbing it in a recipe though.

    ETA: Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread from Earth Balance is the one i was thinking of (thanks, zwieback). that one is much tastier than the smart balance, and does melt way better. we have both brands in our fridge because we wanted to try them both out, but we both like the soy garden better. i'm gonna have to look in my fridge when i get home to make sure i'm not backwards!
    Last edited by SheRa; 11-29-2006 at 12:07 PM.

  8. #8
    I really like Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread from Earth Balance. I've seen it at Trader Joe's and Wild Oats Markets. It has salt, but I think it tastes the best of all of the substitutes I've tried. It's made from soy beans, it is non-hydrogenated and has no trans fats. It melts better than the others I've used and doesn't separate when it melts (others I've tried get very watery when melted).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Central FL
    We use butter on mostly on veggies. DH has recently gotten on a kick wanting mashed, au graten and scalloped potatoes...of course he wants butter for them. I tried the no fat "sprays" but he ended up pouring directly from the bottle and it was gone after one use!

    *Incredible* info you're all offering. Thanks!!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Austin, Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Homemadechef graten
    That cheese is pretty much equal to butter in the saturated fat department. Try olive oil, lemon juice, and/or herbs on your veggies. Make your mashed potatoes with chicken broth or buttermilk and top with fat-free gravy... It is never easy to make big changes like this (especially since butter is so GOOD!), but hopefully the health implications will make it somewhat easier. and tastebuds CAN be retrained. My recommendation would be to just not buy the stuff that is going to get overconsumed (like cheese or spray-on butter substitute). One of the non-transfat spreads may work for the things that you really want it for.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    NashVegas, baby!
    I don't have experience with some of the newer varieties out there, but I agree that:

    • Cutting down on total fat consumption is helpful. I would use less of EVERYTHING rather than trying to find one-to-one subs. Unless you've already been cutting back, you'll be surprised at how little you really need to use in many cases.
    • I prefer to use a little "regular" margarine/butter to using "light" versions. As mentioned, they are lower calorie because they are half water. For things like spread on bread, vegetables, etc. I use the Fleishmann's tub margarine made from olive oil. It's salty, but I like that. If I'm going to prepare baked goods, though, I still use the full amount of real butter called for in the recipe.
    • As also mentioned, I almost always use olive oil for things like sauteeing vegetables. A little dribble, just enough to barely coat the bottom of the pan, is plenty. I also use the olive oil sprays a lot.
    • If I'm going to steam some vegetables in the microwave and want a little "buttery" flavor, I'll spritz with one of the margarine sprays.
    • If you cut down on the amount of starch you eat (potatoes, rice, bread, etc.) you'll by default cut down on the amount of added fat, if you are in the habit of using butter with them. You can also try eating them without the butter and go in another direction. Prepare mashed potatoes with buttermilk and/or chicken stock, put cottage cheese on baked potato, cook rice in chicken stock, etc.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Santa Barbara
    Aside from the logistics and techniques to cut down on butter/ margarine use, all of which I use, I also buy spread to use on baked potatoes, some veggies, occasionally breads, etc. I was raised on nothing but real butter and Brummel & Brown's spread made with yogurt is the only margarine that has close to the taste of real butter, IMHO. I believe the label says not for baking, but I use it anyway for simple cakes, bars, etc. (not for lighter layer cakes), but almost always cut the quantity in half and sub applesauce or pureed dried fruit.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    I am in the use less butter, but use the real stuff camp. For cooking, 99.9% of the time, I use olive oil. I even have really nice flavorful olive oil that I drizzle on vegetables before roasting. I figure if you season your food well before it gets to the table, you don't need a lot of butter.

    I love steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (I can eat a whole bagful for dinner.) For my heart problem, my doctor says salt is ok. I season my broccoli with powdered chicken bouillion. Then I don't need much salt or butter when I eat.

    I only use butter on potatoes and bread. I learned years ago, that most potatoes and bread end up directly on my hips (thighs actually ) so I only partake when these items are extraordinarily good. I also love the Italian tradition of dipping fresh bread in herbs and olive oil.

    For seasoning, my favorite is Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Ounce for ounce, it adds a lot more flavor when salting because it also contains herbs. It's delicious on meat. I also use a lot of fresh cracked black pepper.

    Before my gallbladder was removed, I had high cholesterol. It was a good time for me to make some better eating habits. I don't eat meat as much as I used to, perhaps 3-4 times a week instead of daily. I also eat a lot more salads with oil and vinegar instead of fatty dressings. My cravings now go towards vegetable dishes.
    If loving me is wrong, you don't want to be right.

    Don't touch the hair!

  14. #14
    For mashed potatoes you might try omitting the butter completely (I mash them with a bit of nonfat plain yogurt and/or olive oil) and just making a low-fat gravy instead. I know this sounds weird but I recently made the bean gravy from Real Simple posted on the board and it was really good. Even DH the skeptic liked it. I've also made scalloped potatoes with oil instead of butter. I did read once that if you melt butter or marg. beforehand you'll use less of it on your mashed potatoes than if you put a pat of butter on them. I tried this a while back and it seemed to work.

    I've also reduced the number of potatoes I make over the years. I have to reduce sodium because of borderline hypertension and I have a family history of heart disease and unfortunately most potato dishes are not easy to do without lots of fat and salt. I'm trying to use sweet potatoes instead but getting DH to eat low-fat, low-salt sweet potatoes is NOT an easy task. LOL

    I do try to make most recipes healthier but sometimes it really is just easier to eat something else.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    I agree, Brummel & Brown is great. I've been using it for years.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by mizqueen
    Brummel & Brown's spread made with yogurt is the only margarine that has close to the taste of real butter, IMHO.
    I agree. I use real butter only during the holdiays for baking and special meals, and B&B for the rest of the year on bread, potaotes, and other things that I want a buttery taste to. For cooking, almost always olive oil, and some canola,

    Can't you just eat what I put in front of you? Do you have to know what it is?
    Ria Parkinson, Butterflies (BBC, 1978-83)

  17. #17
    Olive oil has no chloesterol. Remember, many restaurants serve herb-flavored olive oil for dipping crusty bread chunks or slices.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Dadeville, AL
    For my money and tastebuds, Brummel & Brown is the best on toast, veggies, etc. For baking, though, I use unsalted butter or a panopoly of margarines, depending on how much fat I want in the recipe... I also sub applesauce or prune puree for some of it during the year, just not at Christmas!
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    long winded....

    The butter thing is a matter of personal taste and you'll probably need to try a few to find your favorite. I prefer to use real butter in very limited quantities. I've not found any butter substitute that even came close to making me want it instead of the real thing.
    It might be easier for you all to transition to a healthy diet if you can keep some butter in the mix at first. I can be almost sure the butter is really not the only dietary change that will be needed. Reduce meat consumption, add fiber & veggies, gradutally weaning away the butter & adding other seasonings. Just my 2c.
    Speaking from some experience, my father had a 6 way bypass almost 3 years ago & has nearly sworn off food. We're talking from farmer diet (eggs, bacon, butter, 2 lbs of roast beef for dinner), to being willing to survive on some sort of cardboard vitamin wafer if that's what it took. He got just scared enough, and knows he's on life 8 1/2 of 9 and only 60 years old. He made changes that seemed significant after his heart attack in 7/03 but by 12/03 he was on the table having surgery.
    My mom uses Smart Balance which I think is astringent & horrible (but she likes it), and Canola Harvest which is okay but a little too salty & off to me. IMO The B&B tastes better but she won't use it because it has hydrogenated fat in it (a statistically insignificant amount, but not REALLY trans fat free). I'm not the expert on the I said I'm a butter girl. She uses olive oil in cooking, and my dad now eats most of his food plain. No salt, no butter, no margarine spreads, no ketchup, no processed meat, no snack foods, usually not even salad dressing (mom adds some chopped tomatoes for moisture and tosses). All that and he actually HUGGED the cardiologist at his last checkup.

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