Non-Hydrogenated Butter Substitute + Shortening

gourmet-butter-1In attempting to make my baked goods as wholesome and nutritious as possible, I do what I can to avoid butter. It’s not that butter isn’t all natural, but it does have quite a bit of saturated fat and cholesterol – and every little bit counts when trying to healthify a sweet treat! So instead, I try to look for or create recipes that use vegetable oil – much lower in saturated fat and no cholesterol – for the fat.  This usually works great.

But sometimes a solid fat is better for what you’re making.  In baking, solid fats – like butter – can do things liquid fats – like oil – can’t.  They hold air bubbles when beaten and set back up again after being heated and getting melty in an oven.  These properties affect the texture of your baked goods and are the reason most experts don’t recommended substituting a liquid fat for a solid fat and vice versa.

So when only a solid fat will do, I go for a non-hydrogenated butter substitute or shortening.  They’re lower in saturated fat than butter and are completely free of cholesterol.  Awesome.  But “non-hydrogenated” is the really special part. Most butter substitutes or shortenings are made with partially hydrogenated oil, which is just code for trans fat.   “Non-hydrogenated” means these guys have zero trans fat.  Whoo hoo!

I’ve had great results with Earth Balance products.  They make vegan buttery sticks and natural shortening sticks.  Both are made from a blend of soybean, palm, canola and olive oils – the buttery sticks just have additional flavorings to make them taste…buttery!  Spectrum also makes a non-hydrogenated shortening from palm oil.  That one comes in a tub.

Do you have a favorite butter substitute?

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34 Responses to “Non-Hydrogenated Butter Substitute + Shortening”


  1. 1 Mariposa December 27, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Earth Balance has saved my dairy free cooking.. I never use anything else.. even when I make goodies for other people and they are not fully dairy and gluten free.. regular margarine has hydrogenated oils in it so i really try to avoid that!

  2. 2 VeggieGirl December 27, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Yep, I too love Earth Balance.

  3. 3 Sharon December 27, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve actually never really thought about it. But thanks for sharing. I’m not much of a baker, but I will keep Earth Balance in mind.

  4. 4 HangryPants December 27, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I omit the butter a lot or I sometimes use applesauce. I’ve never used Eart Balance but i’d like to try. I love learning a out substitutes from you! I learned all about turbindao from you, so maybe you can tell me more about sucanat? Not sure if that is the correct spelling, but I’ve been reading about it and am shaky on the difference between it and turbinado.

  5. 5 Melissa S. December 27, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Earth Balance is the best. But a lot of times I’ll try to use other things like fruit purees instead of the butter/margarine/oil. always works for me!

  6. 6 Andrea [bella eats] December 28, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Yay! Thanks for the great info! I love Earth Balance spread too…but I have never bought the sticks to use in baked goods. I will definitely try that in my next cookie recipe! I find that applesauce works as a great substitute in breads, but cookies are so much harder to get the solid fat out of…

  7. 7 Bridget December 28, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Thanks for the info! I’ve used the Earth Balance spread, but never the sticks for baking. My friends and I were recently talking about butter vs. butter substitutes, so I’ll have to add this to my list of things to experiment with.

  8. 8 eatingbender December 28, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I’ve never tried Earth Balance before. When I have substituted, I’ve tried Promise and Smart Balance, both of which did a nice job. I also tried applesauce once, but it came out a little bit too moist for my liking. I will definitely check out Earth Balance next time I’m baking!

  9. 9 Lindsay December 28, 2008 at 9:23 am

    i really had no idea about the difference between all of these products – thanks for explaining it!

  10. 10 caitlin December 28, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    thanks for the info! ewwwwwwwwwwwww trans fat.

    im just a butter kind of girl.

  11. 11 sweetandnatural December 28, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Mariposa, VeggieGirl – It’s great, right?!

    Sharon, Bridget – Let us know what you think if you try it!

    HangryPants, Melissa S., Andera [bella eats] - I use applesauce instead of oil a LOT when I’m making breads or muffins. I don’t think it works as well for cookies though – it makes them too soft for me! HangryPants, I haven’t used Sucanta yet, but it’s next on my list of sweeteners to try, so I’ll do a post about it then!

    eatingbender – I like the Earth Balance stuff b/c it’s all natural!

    Lindsay, caitlin - Glad it was helpful!

  12. 12 Diann December 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Hi, Ashley! I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. I like your style of baking and eating!

    I’ve been reading recently about a sugar substitute called erythritol. Have you researched it at all or have you considered baking with it?

  13. 13 Sophia December 29, 2008 at 11:22 am

    actually, on the contrary, I heard butter has some great health benefits, and that the fat it contains aren’t necessarily that bad for you! Read the latest book by Marion Nestle; she has a section about butter!

  14. 14 Dani December 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while and have recently decided to stick with the real thing… butter. I was using earth Balance for a while but after comparing ingredients I decided to just stick to butter. Since butter is something that I only use on occasion I figure a little in moderation is the way to go!

    Thanks for another great post! Happy New Year:)

  15. 15 sweetandnatural December 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Diann – Hi! I haven’t heard of erythritol, but I’m doing some Googling right now so I can read more about it!

    Sophia, Dani – Thanks for your thoughts! Butter is obviously not the enemy – it is all natural after all! I agree that moderation is the way to go with it. But I do think the non-hydrogenated substitutes are great alternatives for those who’d like an option that’s lower in saturated fat and cholesterol free – or those who need something dairy free. To each her own!

  16. 16 Cassidy December 30, 2008 at 9:28 am

    I normally bake with butter. I like to do the applesauce swap sometimes. I used to use butter substitutes but then looked at the ingredient list . . . YUCK! I like how all mybutter says is milk :)

  17. 17 Angela December 30, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the great tips!

    I usually use Light Presedent’s Choice Margarine and I get good results. I will have to try out your suggestions too!

    Angela
    http://www.ohsheglows.com

  18. 18 sweetandnatural December 31, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Cassidy – Some butter substitutes ARE scary! That’s why I was happy to find these. The ingredient list on the shortenings are super short – just oils, nothing else! And the buttery sticks’ butteriness comes from all natural ingredients.

    Angela – Let me know what you think if you do!

  19. 19 ttfn300 January 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

    i’ve been meaning to try earth balance, i just didn’t know what tub to choose. the sticks look simpler, i’ll have to keep my eye out for those :) i used butter, or the smart balance 50.50 blend. but i haven’t looked at the label on that one… maybe i’ll go do that now!

  20. 20 sweetandnatural January 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

    ttfn300 – I’ve never actually used the Earth Balance tubs – I always assumed the sticks were more solid like butter or regular shortening, so they would act more like them in baking. The 50/50 blend is probably great b/c you meet in the middle!

  21. 21 heather January 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I whole-heartedly agree, Earth Balance is awesome to cook with! It’s also good to eat but I really like how it works in a variety of recipes.

  22. 22 ms. diddy January 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    i’m so glad i found your blog! i wanna try like ALL of your recipes. my family thinks now that i’m eating healthy it’s gonna be all boring and stuff but wow, you sure proved them wrong. anyway, i LOVE earth balance. i am trying to distance myself from dairy because i am lactose intolerant :( and i’m tired of upsetting my stonach, so i haven’t been using earth balance (the spread in the tub) for toast and bagels and stuff and i LOVE it. i even use tofutti’s cream cheese substitute (non-hydrogenated one) and it’s THE BOMB! i wonder if you can bake with it?

  23. 23 sweetandnatural January 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

    heather – It’s a good find!

    ms. diddy – Thanks for the nice comments! I’m glad you like my blog. :-) I’m glad you have success with Earth Balance too. It’s great for people who want to bake dairy-free. I’ve never tried Tofutti cream cheese though! You’ll have to let us know how it works if you do.

  24. 24 kinderspirit January 22, 2009 at 6:23 am

    does Whole Foods sell the Earth Balance? How is banana puree in cookie baking? I bake cookies and am looking for this type of substitute in my baking.

    Doctor told me I have a cholesterol reading of 258 WITH the use of statinss…..I”m using too much butter and cheese in my cooking.

    PLease give me some fruit based substitutions in case the Earth Balance is too expensive for my pocketbook. I just cannot live without my homemade sugar-free cookies…it’s not possible to survive without them…LOL Thanks again. adrienne g

  25. 25 sweetandnatural January 22, 2009 at 10:47 am

    kinderspirit - Whole Foods does sell Earth Balance – that’s where I got mine! I don’t typically use fruit puree in cookies because I find it makes them too soft and fluffy for me – I prefer chewy, gooey cookies! Fruit pure does work well in muffins or quick breads though. My favorite is applesauce. For cookies, try looking for recipes that use vegetable oil as the fat instaed of butter. That has no cholesterol!

  26. 26 nellpals April 30, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Has anyone used this stuff to make pie dough? I sure would love to find a good substitute for Crisco solid veg. shortening!

  27. 27 DylanXVX January 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve used Earth Balance in the past for cooking and baking, but I’m looking for something palm oil-free. Massive amounts of rain forest in places like Costa Rica are being cut down for Palm Orchards. Animals are also being displaced from their natural habits because they can’t sustain themselves on the palm trees alone.

    I’ve been forced to use hydrogenated oils as a result of choosing not to use palm oil and still believe that I would rather consume trans fats than support the destruction being caused for palm oil.

    Basically, what I’m asking is this; Is there a vegan, non-hydrogenated, palm-free butter substitute?

  28. 29 Hannah March 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Hi I’m new to the blog but just found this page and HAVE to bring up using avocado to replace solid fats in baking. I’ve obey used it twice so it’s still very experimentation but it is a solid, fairly bland fat so no reason why it shouldn’t work.. It does make cookies VERY gooey, which I quite like, but I’m going to experiment with cooking them for a bit longer next time. Have you ever tried it?

  29. 31 Ellen October 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    That stuff is full of soy – which means it will contribute to hypothyroidism…especially soy protein isolate. Butter is much more healthy!

    • 32 DylanXVX November 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Ellen works for the American Dairy Association, don’t listen to her. Her real name isn’t even Ellen.

  30. 33 Gigi Kornfuehrer June 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Can lard be substituted for non-hydrogenated shortening? My mother taught me to make pie crusts using lard. They are way better than most crusts I have eaten. Also, I am new to being gluten free. Can I just substitute the all-purpose gluten free flour to make my pie crust?

    • 34 Audrey December 7, 2012 at 1:42 am

      Yes, lard is awesome as long as it comes from free range healthy pigs. real lard, not the hydrogenated stuff in stores. plus its loaded with fat soluble vitamins. we eat real butter from grassfed cows in our family, but have a relative who is deathly allergic to milk proteins, So we are always searching for dairy free recipes that are also soy free as we don’ t believe in eating soy or canola as they are GMO in most cases.


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