There are numerous butter substitutes that can be used for a variety of the same purposes as butter. They are simply alternative ingredients that often take the place of butter, especially in recipes. Examples include margarine, vegetable oil, applesauce, and nut oil.
Often, the vegetable and nut oil alternatives are liquid, but there are many different vegetable oil spreads, grain oil spreads, and fruit spreads that can be used as butter substitutes on toast, muffins, biscuits, and other breads. Substituting butter in a recipe can also be accomplished with a variety of ingredients.
One of the primary reasons people seek to use substitutes for butter in recipes is to reduce the total fat calories in the finished dish. With the exception of baking, substituting butter with a low fat alternative rarely impacts the outcome of the dish as far as taste and consistency. When using substitutes such as margarine in baking, it may be necessary to pay special attention to the percentage of vegetable oil content. Some recipes require a product containing a high percentage of oil. Other recipes may specify avoiding butter substitutes; however, salted and unsalted butter are most often interchangeable.
Fruit spreads make excellent butter substitutes in certain baking recipes. They are often much lower in fat and can be used to replace butter and oil. These and other types of substitutes can be purchased in the baking isle of most grocery retailers. A chart is often included on the label that defines the required amounts for substituting in recipes.
While substitutes for butter continue to be a popular selling product, especially for those with strict dietary needs, some people prefer to use natural butter in all their cooking and baking. Conflicting information makes it difficult to discern whether butter or substitutes are better for people to eat. However, if a medical professional or dietitian has recommended using substitutes for dietary or healthy reasons, its best for cooks to stick with an alternative they like.