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Dairy-free ghee substitution

What dairy-free substitutes are there for ghee? I've heard of vanaspati ghee, but I've also heard that the commercial brands are full of saturated and trans fats (so the real stuff is more healthful). Does it make a noticeable difference if vegetable oil is used for frying instead of ghee?

Thank you in advance for all responses.

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  1. Ghee is dairy free. The process to make it skims off all dairy solids, so what remains is pure fat. Any milk solids are gone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: beany

      It may be lactose free, but the butter fat is still of dairy origin. Of course the relevance of this depends on why the OP wanted dairy-free in the first place.
      paulj

    2. I once found a vegetable ghee (dont ask me the process there) called Dalda. It comes in a yellow and green tin as I recall.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rainchilde

        That is one brand of vanaspati ghee and it's all pretty bad - conceptually you can think of it as somewhere between shortening and margarine.

        Definitely use some sort of neutral oil. It won't taste the same, but it's not at all "inauthentic" in the sense that health conscious Indians have been switching to it as a primary cooking fat for quite some time, using ghee as a flavoring/seasoning rather than the primary fat. (And only comparatively rich Indians can afford large amounts of usli/butter ghee in the first place even if they don't care about dying young from cardiovascular diseases. ;) .)

      2. Could you try making it from Earthbalance margarine? It is vegan and trans-fat free.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bear

          I don't think you can clarify margarine, simply because there are no solids to eliminate. Unless, of course, I completely misunderstood your answer and you just meant "cook with margarine" instead of "make margarine ghee"...

          1. re: piccola

            zNope, you didn't understand. I don't know much about margarine, so I just threw that out there. Now I know!

        2. I'm no Indian cooking expert, but I can't imagine why anyone would consider using margarine or any kind of fake ghee when you could just use a high quality vegetable oil -- possibly peanut or grape seed. I know there's proponents of coconut oil but I'm not familiar with using it. If you don't fry at high temperatures, olive oil would be good too. It's not going to have exactly the same taste as something made with a butter product -- because butter is butter and there's no getting around it -- but with the right spices it should still be very good.

          1. Just looked at my can of Dalda vegetable ghee--it's made from soybean and palm oil--32% saturated fat.