Butter Substitutes 101

November 25, 2013

Holiday season is the season of decadence. Find out all about butter substitutes and if you should be using them - here...

What are Butter Substitutes and blends? Butter blends are products that include real butter or butter “flavor” plus vegetable oils to help reduce cholesterol. Butter substitutes contain no butter, are dairy free, and perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.

How to Buy: All blends are not suitable for baking, read labels. For low-fat stove-top cooking, seasoning, or spreads for breads or muffins, these work well, but again, read labels.

How to Read the Label: Look for natural ingredients like butter, olive, canola or palm oils. Water should not be the first ingredient. Some blends contain annatto, a harmless coloring agent to provide consistent color in a brand. Many have additives to preserve freshness. Liquid butters and "Butter Buds” may have only butter “flavor”.

Choices: Most blends have some real butter and all have either hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or a better choice, a 50-50 blend with olive oil. Butter blends have a texture similar to whipped butters only softer and with more water, packaged in tubs. Liquid butters, in small to large jugs, are the thickness of syrup. “Buds” are powdery and, when sprinkled on hot foods, melt and add a liquid buttery taste.

How to Use: Best for a spread on bread or toast or muffins; can be used to sauté or to cook eggs or egg substitutes; liquid butters can be used like an oil; “Buds” work as a seasoning. Most are not good for baking.

How to Store: All whipped blends may be frozen up to 6 months. Refrigerate whipped, liquid, and buds after purchase and in between uses, up to 3 months.

Health Benefits: Lower in cholesterol, they have no trans fats and may have added Omega 3 and 6 for heart health. Do read labels as not all butter substitutes have healthful ingredients.

Smarter Shopping: Use spray cooking oils like Pam® as a replacement to reduce fat and calories and for cooking, baking and frying.