At first, there was butter, the miracle food that tasted like heaven on a loaf of hot bread.
Turns out, like most things that taste good, butter isn’t that good for you, and as a matter of fact, neither is margarine.
So where does that leave the people, waiting with a hot piece of toast in hand and wanting something to spread? Well, it leaves you with this list, compiling all the best substitute spreads when your waistline and your doctor isn’t that happy with butter or good ol’ marg.
Butter doesn’t just add a whole lot of deliciousness to food, it also adds moisture to baking and creates the delicious texture of cakes. Without butter, baked goods would be flat and boring.
Olive Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For years men, women and children in the Mediterranean have been using olive oil as a substitute for butter or margarine. In fact, in many places you won’t even be able to find the dairy products, with olive oil being much more favoured by the people. As a replacement for butter and margarine olive oil has a delightful flavour, with extra virgin being a delicious and light choice. As well as using plain oils you can also buy olive oil spread in many major supermarkets now, which is another choice that is more familiar and similar to the spreadable nature of butters.
If you don’t mind a bit of a tropical flavour, coconut oil isn’t a bad choice if you don’t want butter or margarine. As the oil has become more popular in recent years, it’s more readily available in mainstream shops and at cheaper prices. If you live somewhere warm, you’ll find that your coconut oil is more liquid, but when the temps drop it will solid up into something easy to spread. Alternatively, have a look in shops for a coconut oil spread, similar to the olive oil spread, which are gaining popularity.
Just remember though, coconut oil is very high in bad fats – so although it is tasty, use it sparingly.
Technically tahini is not a nut butter. It’s made of sesame seeds instead, but many people use it as an alternative to peanut butter, and we think it makes a good spread alternative in general. Be warned though, if you’ve never tried tahini before it can have an unusual flavour. It’s best not to use too much at first, until you get that flavour down.
Any kind of nut butter is a great alternative to butter and margarine. The best kinds are the ones you can buy at supermarkets that have no added salts or sugars. These are the most natural version of those butters. Alternatively, buy the nuts yourself and make nut butter at home. It’s really simple and all you’ll need is a blender, and the nuts. By making it yourself, you can add different spices, which can make it taste sweeter without the guilt.
Nut butters can include: Cashew Butter, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter.
The latest in vegan flavours, nutritional yeast is nutty and cheesy in flavour, is fantastic for you and is dairy free. You can find it in health food stores.
Cottage cheese is a spreadable milk curd, with a very mild taste and soft consistency. It’s favoured by many parents as it’s popular with children, and can be spread on a variety of different toasts, crackers and more. It makes a great alternative for butter and margarine, as it still has a very mild flavour. You’ll also find it in a low-fat version in most shops.
Ricotta cheese is a little bit like cottage cheese, and indeed the two are often confused. However, ricotta is smoother than cottage cheese in texture, and rarely has added salt. Made from the whey of the milk, ricotta makes a perfect butter and margarine alternative, and it is particularly delicious paired with sweeter foods. Try it with fruit, honey, or even jam.
Cream cheese has quite a similar texture to butter, and a mild flavour that makes it easy to use instead of those big two spreads. Widely available, cream cheese can also replace butter in a number of baking recipes. It is available in various fat content varieties, and is delicious with both savoury and sweet toppings, or even by itself!
You can buy apple sauce near the tomato sauces in the supermarket. Not only does it make a good sugar substitute, it is also a fantastic substitute for butter! It gives a lovely flavour to cakes and muffins and is full of fibre. Perfect for a dairy-free butter option.
Greek Yogurt is also a really lovely substitute for butter. If you are going dairy-free, you can use a coconut or soy based yogurt.
Mashed Banana is a great butter substitute in breads, muffins and cakes. It also adds a whole load of sweetness so you can cut out the sugar as well as the butter. Use one cup of mashed banana for every cup of butter required.
Pumpkin or Potato Mash
Not only does pumpkin mash add great colour and fibre to dishes, both are a terrific substitute for butter or oil in cooking. Use 3/4 cup of mash for every 1 cup of butter.
Made from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a popular dip that almost all Australians will be familiar with. However, as well as being a dip hummus also makes a great spread. As it’s savoury, it’s better paired with other savoury toppings, and it particularly delicious with tomato, cucumber and even egg. It’s also available in many supermarkets now in large tubs, which is perfect for heavy users.
Avocado is a remarkable versatile fruit (you didn’t think it was a vegetable did you?). Not only is it delicious in smoothies and in dips, it’s also a wonderfully tasty butter and margarine substitute. You can mash avocado and spread it on any kind of bread and cracker, and if you have enough of them avocados can be used in many baking recipes as well!
Looking over all the spreads on offer, are you tempted to give up butter and margarine and try something else?