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Getting buttery taste without butter?

Butter has to be one of the *best* flavors in the world. Its cost is hi fat and calories. Sometimes I'd like to be able to make food taste buttery without butter. I tried butter flavoring (no-name brand) and butter buds and wasn't impressed. Any suggestions? Thx!

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  1. Butter is god's gift to cooking, there is NO substitute,let us know if you find a perfect sub and I will eat a pound of butter buds straight ( a fate worse than death.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: missclaudy

      ITA, nothing replaces butter for taste and mouthfeel. Moreoever, as time goes by, we're finding out that many of the so-called butter subs are actually worse for you than butter. Transfat laden, hydrogenated margarines, etc. I say if you want get the best butter bang, use it where you will really taste it, such as in sauces, on good bread, etc.

    2. My only suggestion is to make something really bland. A small quantity of butter stands out when added to something like pureed cauliflower or grits.

      1. For dishes where oil is a reasonable substitute, and butter isn't a primary flavour, I've found that corn oil has a buttery like taste to it.

        Other then that, the only real solution the nutritional dilemma is to eat less of other stuff if you want the butter. Or eat less of the butter.

        2 Replies
        1. re: AnnaEA

          But oil has 20% more calories than butter on a unit volume basis.

          1. re: Karl S

            True enough -- but the oil switch saves the cholesterol concerns, and somehow oil seems to go farther then butter does -- probably because it's liquid to begin with. I usually will sub 1 tbs corn oil per 2 tbs of butter, and it works out okay.

        2. cutting way back on butter for awhile sort of recalibrates your fat tastebuds. a little goes a long way afterwards.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Agreed, no substitute, but you can get some of that effect by cooking with a strong stock, like a lowfat chicken stock. Also, small amounts of well-flavored parmesan or romano cheese. Sometimes I simmer the ends of parmesan cheese in a stock before skimming. You still have fat, just not quite so much as long as you skim.

          2. Try cutting back drastically and/or substituting with broth, water, olive oil, etc. Then, top off with a very small amout of very good quality butter, that you see and taste. The Jane Brody Good Food Gourmet and Good Food cookbooks do this with butter and sugar.

            1. In desserts, adding a significant amount of vanilla (a tablespoon or more) can replace some of the rich flavor of butter. The taste isn't the same, obviously, but the flavor is in a similar category.

              1. Agree with everyone above. Nothing tastes like butter. Some of the substututes aren't bad, but they don't stand up in cooking. Sometimes you need the fat in order to get the right consistency. I tried using subs for a while, but am now back to the real thing.

                How about every time you have real butter, you walk a mile the next day?

                1. I'm on the "butter--there is no substitute" bus. That said, there are a few ways to enjoy buttery goodness with less butter. For instance, I make my mashed potatoes with plenty of low fat buttermilk and salt, then "finish" them by dishing up a portion and putting a little pat of butter on the hot mashed potatoes and letting the butter melt like gravy over the potatoes.

                  I also temper butter so it is soft, which makes it easier to spread on bread. The easier it spreads, the thinner you can spread it, but you still get the taste. Plus, you can taste butter better when it is tempered.

                    1. re: Mawrter

                      There are some butter flavorings available. Are there any that are good?

                    2. Butter has the feel and the taste and you can't get that feel w/ butter buds or any of that artificial stuff. A small amount goes a long way. I'd rather have a piece of toast w/ butter than two pieces with butter buds. When you come down to it, a pat of butter is about 30-40 calories and well worth it.

                      1. For steamed veggies, or something where you'd add at the end, an option instead of that "I can't Believe..." spray is to melt your own, put in a mini spray bottle of your own and serve at the table to shpritz at your discretion.

                        1. It depends on the function.

                          For baking, you can reduce the fat and make up the difference with Greek yogurt or fruit purées (the ones from dried fruit taste richer than the ones from fresh).

                          For sauces, your best best is to gradually reduce the amount of butter. You can also add stronger flavours like dried mushrooms, reduce the sauce longer or use fat-free evaporated milk.

                          Things like mashed potatoes can be easily altered - use buttermilk or stock to add flavour and lightness.

                          Mashed avocado works in some circumstances, like in sandwiches.

                          As a condiment, though, your only option is to reduce the amount or give up on butter altogether. You might grow to like baked potatoes with yogurt/salsa, asparagus with lemon juice, corn-on-the-cob with lime juice and chili powder.

                          Just make sure you pick your battles. Don't even try to change buttercream frosting - it's a lost cause.

                          1. Many good replies here - but what are you really looking for at any given time? The whole "package" of flavors that come with butter? (Yeah, for me, sometimes) - or in some cases, the unctuous fat level, or the underlying creamy note, or even just the touch of salt?

                            Thinking along those lines opens up a range of approaches to substituting. For instance, with a little adjustment in expectations, I like fresh corn on the cob with just a shake of salt (no butter). Our grandfolks ate bread with a smear of schmaltz (chicken fat) or (in other cultures) a bit of bacon fat. I've seen "buttered pasta" devotees react with delight to "spaghetti aglio e olio" (olive oil and garlic).

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: wayne keyser

                              I pop popcorn in oil and then, instead of buttering it, I sprinkle it generously with nutritional yeast and some salt to taste. This is not something I would have tried or assumed I'd like at all till I couldn't stop eating it at one of my friends' parties and asked her what it was. It's delicious and tastes kind of like parmesan or slightly cheddary cheese... just so savory. And no butter!

                              I've also had good luck subbing Earth Balance spread for butter on my toast, which is just as satisfying and tastes buttery. It bakes well, too if you use the regular buttery spread, not the whipped version.

                              1. re: missclaudy

                                I do like butter. And I cook with it. That said:

                                Earth Balance is not full of phony flavoring agents and chemicals. I would not eat anything of the sort and never have. I also read Michael Pollan and am up on his argument. Maybe nothing is as satisfying to you as real butter, but I like EB on my toast. The original poster DID ask for suggestions for buttery taste without using butter. I think we all know that butter is delicious and satisfying. I was responding to the original poster -- not crucifying butter -- and sharing a personal preference.

                                EB contains expeller-pressed oils (cold pressed, not chemically extracted) of soybeans, palm fruit, canola, and olive; water; salt; flavoring from corn (but no MSG, alcohol, or gluten; soy protein and lecithin; lactic acid derived from sugar beets; and a littl beta-carotene color from natural sources.

                                I use EB in part because I've done vegan baking for friends and family who do not or cannot eat animal products. I got to liking the taste and texture myself. EB contains no hydrogenated oils, no trans fats, no genetically modified materials, and has been proven by researchers at Brandies University to (as part of a diet they tested) to improve cholesterol ratio in some people. You can find it at any co-op or natural foods store -- where there are other foods that are food. Which is why I shop there.

                                1. re: slowfoodgrrl

                                  Thanks for this great suggestion. Yes, I am looking for suggestions exactly like yours.

                                  I've seen butter flavorings on a few on line cooking stores. Some say they are derived from real butter. I don't know what that means, and I was hoping someone might have tried one and could tell me their experience.

                                  I am not really looking for something to butter my toast with. Rather, I am looking for a flavoring to add to a Splenda-based cake or something or a fish sauce so that the taste is there but not the fat.

                                  Land o' Lakes used to make a light margerine that had real butter in it. It was awesome. Tasted like butter to me. Mais oui, it is discontinued. Why????

                            2. EarthBalance is great - seriously, try it - so good!