11 Ingredients You Can Use Instead of Butter

small glass bowl of applesauce, apples in background

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Butter; it's a glorious thing. But for anyone trying to reduce their fat intake or looking to minimize their consumption of animal products, it may seem hard to swap because it's so specific. Some may think that the only real alternative is a buttery non-butter spread – but I am here to tell you that there are many other options. The following can be used in place of butter for cooking, baking, or garnishing – all are delicious and also work to add extra nutrients to your food.

1. Applesauce

Unsweetened applesauce is a secret godsend to use in place of butter in baked goods. It adds a nice depth of flavor and makes things extra moist. Use about half the amount of applesauce in place of butter. If you want quick proof of applesauce's success as a butter swap, try the most amazing, easiest-to-make chocolate cake in the world: The Minimalist Baker's 1-Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake.

2. Avocado

Well, obviously, on toast. Because who wants buttered toast when you can have avocado-ed toast? But avocado does so much more – it's almost a perfect butter substitute. It can be used in sweet dishes (it goes especially well with chocolate) or savory dishes.

3. Bananas, Mashed

Bananas have already proven their mettle in baked goods thanks to banana bread – but no need to stop there. Mashed bananas can be used in just about any baked dessert recipe to replace butter or oil; they add natural sweetness, nice flavor, nutrients, and texture. My favorite surprise-banana recipe is this one for hummingbird cake. It is such an easy and seriously delicious cake. To make it completely vegan, just swap the eggs with a flax-seed mix.

4. Beans

Now that hummus has taken on a role in the dessert world (like chocolate hummus), using beans in sweets is no longer quite as strange to westerners. Beans added to cakes and cookies in place of butter adds a wonderful compliment of nutrients as well as great texture. Here are two examples: Black bean brownies and white bean blondies.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is often maligned for its saturated fat, but if you're using it instead of butter (and its saturated fat) it may not be such an issue – and besides, other experts don't agree that coconut oil is bad. Use it in cooking and baking.

6. Ghee

Ok, well ghee is butter, but it's a bit different since it's clarified, rendering it lactose-free. It has a deep, nutty flavor and is great for cooking, on toast, for popcorn, on vegetables, in mashed potatoes, in baking, and more.

7. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt won't work for those on a plant-based path, of course, but for others, it is a great ingredient to add to baked goods. It will lend a moist density to baked goods, so it's great for things like loaf cakes, brownies,

8. Nut Butter

If you are trying to break-up with buttered toast, and you're tired of avocado, why not go old-school and have peanut-butter toast? (Or what ever nut butter you prefer.) There is nothing in the world like a hot piece of toast with the nut butter getting just a bit melty on top.

9. Olive Oil

It seems like it wasn't all that long ago that Americans learned what Italians have known all along – you don't need butter for your bread when you have a little plate of olive oil in which to dunk. You can also use it for cooking vegetables, making grilled cheese sandwiches, to garnish vegetables, in place of butter in baked potatoes, and about a million other ways.

10. Prune Puree

Prunes may have gotten a marketing makeover to become "dried plums," but they'll always be prunes to me. They are so cute! And versatile: Use 1/3 a cup in place of 1/2 a cup of butter in baked goods – especially darker or denser baked goods.

11. Pumpkin Puree

While the world has become obsessed with putting pumpkin spice flavor in everything from Pringles to Peeps, people have been putting actual pumpkin puree in desserts for ages. It gives such a nutritious boost when used in place of butter, and a hint of pumpkiness isn't so bad either – even if you can barely taste it. You can use 3/4 cup pumpkin puree in place of 1 cup of butter (or calculate accordingly) in recipes for cookies, cakes, brownies, etc.