Butter is one of the oldest foods in the world and is still a central part of our food culture.
But for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant they may wonder, is butter dairy free?
We will look at the ingredients in butter and how it is made as well as considering some dairy free options and butter substitutes.
How Is Butter Made?
Butter is made from churning fresh fermented milk or cream.
As such it is clearly a dairy product. Initially butter was made from goat, sheep or buffalo milk but with the growing popularity of cow’s milk it was soon made from this too.
Farm made butter uses the cream from whole milk unlike commercially made butter which extracts cream from whey, the byproduct of cheese making.
The process of making butter involves churning cream or milk until the fats separate from the liquid. The fat forms grains and the remaining liquid is buttermilk.
The buttermilk is drained, and the butter grains are worked to a fat phase.
Salt is added to act as a preservative and to add flavor.
The butter is then shaped and wrapped in wax paper and stored in a cool place. Butter is solid at room temperature but will melt as the temperature increases.
So for vegans butter in the traditional form is not an option, and we need to look at alternatives. There are two, dairy free butter and butter substitutes.
Dairy Free Butter
Luckily for us there are plenty of dairy free butter options on the market. Many of them resemble butter so closely that it is difficult to tell the difference.
Earth Balance Buttery Spread is one such product. It has one of the closest tastes and textures of a dairy free option to dairy butter. This dairy free butter spreads like butter and has a great rounded flavor.
However, it does have a high water content so when used in baking you will want to eat those cookies straight away as they may not keep for long.
But with the great buttery taste from Earth Balance we don’t think you will need much persuading to do that.
Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter is another excellent dairy free butter to use in baking or just for spreading.
It is made from cultured cashew milk, and coconut oil, among other things. All of the ingredients are organic, and it is 100% vegan.
Apart from dairy free versions of butter there are other ingredients you can use as a substitute for butter depending on the intended use.
For cooking, you can substitute olive oil, coconut oil, or even applesauce. In baking, you can use dairy free yogurt, nut butter, mashed banana or mashed avocado.
It is worth noting that the water and fat content of each of these butter substitutes will vary.
This can affect the flavor, appearance and texture of your baked goods or finished dish. As such you can adjust the ingredients slightly to take account of the difference.
A new addition to the butter substitute category is ForA:Butter. This is a potentially game changing product which it is claimed can be a 1:1 replacement for butter particularly in technical laminated doughs.
ForA was formerly known as Faba Butter and is made from coconut oil, coconut cream and aquafaba which is a byproduct of cooking chickpeas.
Butter Substitutes For Cooking
For vegan substitutes for cooking you can use a variety of ingredients including olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or vegetable stock.
It will depend on the individual recipe which will be the most appropriate substitute.
Coconut oil is a great all round substitute for butter as it can be used in either liquid or solid form.
It’s also a healthy choice as it reduces the amount of saturated fats. It also doesn’t alter the flavor of the food too much.
Dairy free butters can be used for sautéing. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks are great for using this way as they have the taste of butter which imparts flavor to the food that you are cooking.
You can also use vegan butter sticks to add to a sauce or for melting on top of a piece of cooked fish or meat. Melt Organic butter sticks have the added bonus of being completely organic as well as vegan.
There are various ways of using a vegan friendly substitute for butter when cooking. The best way to find what works for you is to experiment with a few different ingredients to see which you prefer.
Butter Substitutes For Baking
When it comes to baking with dairy free butter there is a lot of choice which is great because butter has a lot of functions in baking.
Not only does it impart flavor but butter also contributes to the texture and moisture content of your baked goods. It also helps to create flaky layers such as in croissants. Finally, butter is a leavening agent and keeps your baking light and fluffy.
For dairy free baking Earth Balance is ideal as it closely resembles the taste and texture of dairy butter.
If you are making a pie crust then Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter is perfect and will deliver great results with its salted or unsalted versions.
Flora Plant butter is also a great baking ingredient for vegan recipes and will give you chewy cookies and fluffy cakes. This is also a nut free butter, so it can be safely used for those with nut allergies.
For great cookies you can also try Countrycrock’s Plant Butter which is made with almond oil. Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers but a great substitute for dairy butter.
Finding a vegan alternative to butter is no longer that difficult and there are plenty of options to choose from.
It is just a case of finding the right one that works for you and gives you the flavor and result that you want in your cooking.