The 10 Best Butter Extract Substitutes For Your Recipes

Butter extract is essentially a great way of adding that butter richness and flavor without actually having to use butter. It is a great alternative since it has fewer calories, so it is often used in low-calorie recipes. 

In addition, butter extract is lactose-free, which makes it quite versatile and suitable for different diets. This low-calorie, flavorful ingredient can elevate any dessert and enhance both its texture and taste.

However, if you’re unable to find a good butter extract brand, or you simply need a quick solution, you can definitely use a butter extract substitute and still make a delicious dish. Keep on reading to discover the best options!

The best substitutes for butter extract

Whether you’re on a weight loss journey, or you’re just trying to improve your diet in general, we’re sure you’re always on the lookout for leaner, healthier replacements for your favorite foods and ingredients.

When it comes to butter, there’s hardly anything that can match its creaminess and rich flavor, that has fewer calories and a more diet-friendly list of ingredients. However, butter extract seems to be just the answer we were looking for.

Butter extract is a baking ingredient that many people often confuse with vanilla extract, as some varieties do have a vanilla flavor. It is used to improve both the flavor and the texture of the dish, usually a dessert, making it creamier and adding more complexity. 

It is essentially an ingredient that adds the fluffiness and creaminess you would get from butter, but without the extra calories, high-fat percentage, and lactose. This is precisely the reason many people opt for butter extract in place of butter in their desserts.

In addition to filling, butter extract can also be used in frosting, or pretty much any other dish that calls for melted butter. It is extremely easy to use, as it doesn’t require any melting or heating up. 

While many people have the impression that butter extract would be vegan, that is actually not the case with the original formulation. Most butter extract varieties come from the butter itself, being that they’re actually moisture extracted from butter.

Also, it is important to make a clear distinction between butter extract and butter flavoring. Butter extract, on one hand, is made from butter itself, while butter flavoring is artificial and made from isolated elements found in butter, including diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, and acetoin.

Butter flavoring is rarely ever used in households, but it is a common ingredient in the food industry – especially in snack and fast food. It is mostly added to snacks such as popcorn, but you can also find it in some pastries and margarine. 

In case you haven’t been able to get your hands on a good butter extract and you need an adequate substitute for butter extract, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go through the list of the best alternatives you can find!

1. Butter

We know that it can be a bit counter-intuitive to go with the real butter instead of butter extract, especially if you’re trying to cut down on calories and fat in your diet. 

However, if you’d like to make an exception or you simply don’t care about these things, butter is certainly the best choice for your dishes – especially desserts. There is nothing that will make your desserts creamier and richer than the actual butter.

In case you’re making a cake or favorite cookies, we recommend getting the unsalted variety, as this will give you more control over the flavor profile of the dessert. Salted butter, on the other hand, is a great choice when you don’t have much time to develop flavors.

2. Homemade Butter Extract

Is it possible to make butter extract at home? Absolutely! If you have butter at home, but you don’t want to use it in your dish (whether you’re lactose intolerant or simply saving up your calories for something else), you can make your own extract.

For a cup of unsalted butter, you will need a cup of water. Combine these ingredients in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. It is important to make sure the butter doesn’t burn since it would completely ruin the flavors.

Allow the mixture to cool a bit before the extracting process. Once it has cooled down, you will need a spatula to press down the butter and separate it from the water, which is essentially the butter extract. 

Strain the water from the mixture and add it to a jar. You should use up your homemade butter extract within 6 weeks

3. Vanilla Extract

As we’ve mentioned before, many people tend to confuse butter extract with vanilla extract, as butter extract is often vanilla-flavored. If you’re looking for this kind of aroma in your desserts, you can definitely obtain it from vanilla extract.

However, since vanilla extract is made from a mixture of vanilla beans, water, and alcohol, it does have a remarkably stronger vanilla flavor and aroma than the butter extract, which is basically their main difference.

Keep in mind that a little bit of vanilla extract goes a long way, as it can be rather potent and dominant. Therefore, start with only a drop and continue developing the flavors from there. 

4. Almond Extract

If you’re looking for a butter extract alternative that can replicate its flavor and aroma, almond extract may be the answer. 

While it is not as close of an alternative as vanilla extract, you’ll find that the flavor profiles are quite similar, with the addition of nuttiness that almond provides. While almonds are often bitter, this is not the case with almond extract which is primarily sweet and mild.

Almond extract can elevate any dessert, but you shouldn’t stop there. This substitution for butter extract can also be used in other dishes, such as salads, sauces, dips, or any other dish that requires that sweet yet nutty flavor.

5. Canola Oil

Canola oil is not the best choice to replace butter flavoring for baking if you’re focused purely on the flavors and the aroma. However, in case you intend on developing the flavors from other elements, canola oil is an ideal structural component for any dessert.

This oil is a great option for those of you who are looking into healthier alternatives, as it doesn’t contain much saturated fat, but it is still a reliable ingredient in baking. It is used in fillings, glazes, frostings, as well as dough, so it is extremely versatile.

Canola oil, being neutral in flavor, is a great choice for desserts where you want to enhance other flavors, but still achieve that creamy, fluffy texture. 

6. Olive Oil

Just like canola oil, olive oil will not steal the show and outshine other ingredients as far as flavors are concerned. However, when it comes to the structure and creaminess of a dessert, it is definitely one of the most common choices.

However, what you should keep in mind when choosing olive oil is that you’re going with extra virgin olive oil. Not only is this a matter of food quality, but processed, low-quality olive oil tends to have a very strong, unpleasant aroma.

Needless to say, olive oil offers a number of health benefits, in addition to great versatility in cooking. You can use it for all your cakes, pastries, cookies, as well as savory dishes, salad dressings, dips, and sauces.

7. Ghee

In case you’re not familiar with ghee, let’s start by briefly defining it. Ghee is essentially a highly-clarified butter, meaning that it comes from butter itself, but it has different properties. 

While butter flavor extract is the water extracted from the butter, ghee, on the other hand, is the butter that remains after the moisture has been extracted. You may think that this makes them polar opposites, while in reality, they have many similar uses.

Ghee has a high smoke point, which means it is suitable for all cooking methods. The process of making ghee and extracting the moisture gives it a slightly nutty, almost caramelized, deep flavor and aroma that can enrich any dessert or dish.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a butter flavoring replacement that has similar structural properties as butter, but can still deliver a deep, complex, unique flavor that is more dominant than the butter itself – you’ve found your new go-to ingredient.

8. Greek Yogurt

If you’re looking for something to replace the taste of the butter flavored extract, Greek yogurt is not the best option for this task. However, if you choose to get the flavors from other components, such as vanilla extract, Greek yogurt can provide the desired structure. 

Greek yogurt, especially when used in dough, can prevent the dessert from getting dry as it retains and locks in moisture. As for the filling, Greek yogurt can make it creamy and rich, just like butter extract would.

While some people may perceive the neutral taste of Greek yogurt as a flaw, we find it an advantage, since it offers great versatility and can be added to both sweet and savory dishes.

9. Almond butter

If you’re a fan of almonds and you love incorporating them into your desserts, almond butter is a great way to achieve a complex, full flavor without having to try too hard. 

Since almond butter already has developed flavors and unique nuttiness, you won’t need any other ingredients to enhance the flavors. What’s more, it is creamy and rich, so you can either implement it in your desserts or use it as a filling on its own.

When it comes to adding almond butter to the dough, it can provide a nutty, sweet aroma while retaining the moisture in the dough. 

10. Sunflower Oil

Finally, sunflower oil is a convenient, extremely versatile option that is often used in baking due to its neutral flavor. It is a great choice if you want no added aromas or flavors and you want the focus to be on other ingredients.

Just like with olive oil, we do recommend you choose high-quality, organic sunflower oil since it is much healthier than the refined variety. 

How to choose a butter extract substitute

When choosing a butter extract substitute, knowing exactly what your expectations are will make the selection much easier.

If you want the ingredient to offer both a creamy texture and a rich flavor, the best options are butter, homemade butter extract, ghee, and almond butter. 

In case you want to emphasize other ingredients and the focus is on the structural properties rather than the aroma and the flavor, you can go wrong with canola oil, olive oil, Greek yogurt, or sunflower oil.

Finally, you will get all the flavors you need in your dessert if you add just a few drops of vanilla extract or almond extract, but these ingredients won’t necessarily enhance the creaminess and fluffiness of a dish.

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