Can I Substitute Butter For Oil?

Although we are told constantly that fat is scary or terrible for us and our diet, we actually use fat a lot in our cooking, and it is a key component of a healthy diet. Without fats, your body simply would not function like it should do.

There are a variety of fats that you can include in your diet, and most of them are fine in moderation. The two most common types of fat are butter and oil.

Can I Substitute Butter For Oil?

Generally, your use of these will depend upon where you are from, but they are both great fats to use.

However, many people ask the question about how similar they are, especially the question of whether you can use one for the other. So, can you substitute butter for oil? Or is that a step too far?

Today, we seek to find this out.

Can You Substitute Butter For Oil?

The short answer is that you can absolutely substitute butter for oil. The main differences between the two fats is where they come from.

Butter is an animal product that is made from milk. The milk is churned until the fat globules of the milk have separated from the buttermilk.

Generally, butter is made from cow’s milk, but it can be made from other milk like goat’s, sheep’s, buffalo’s, and even yak’s milk.

Oil is generally made by extracting the oil from a seed, fruit, or nut, specifically from the lipids of these three. This process can be long and time-consuming, as it requires constant distilling and refinement.

Sometimes this can be done easily with oil such as olive oil, since olives are naturally quite oily, but it gets a little more difficult with things like sunflower oil.

There are lots of different plants you could extract oil from and there are even a few animal substances you can get from as well, but the most common types of oils are sunflower oil, canola oil, and palm oil.

The big difference when cooking with butter instead of oil is that oil has a much higher smoke point, and it will take a lot more heat for it to burn than butter would.

This is because most of the oils that are made from plants are refined and have had a lot of the excess products within them filtered out.

How Can You Substitute Butter For Oil?

Substituting butter for oil may seem like a mammoth task, but it is something that can be done quite easily and something won’t take too much effort from you:

  • A ratio of 1 to 1 – when using butter instead of oil, you should use the same quantity of butter as the recipe says to use oil.
  • Butter only works for certain oils – specifically olive, canola, coconut, and vegetable.
  • Butter has a distinct flavor that is different from other oils and shows it to be purely butter. As such, if you need a neutral oil, then butter might not be the way to go.
  • Butter is solid – therefore you need to melt the butter before adding it to any of your recipes, however let it cool to room temperature after melting before using it.
  • When you would normally add oil in the recipe, add the butter.
  • Butter has a higher water and milk content, so when you add it to a cake recipe, expect the cake to be more moist than usual and have a richer flavor.
  • If you are doubling said cake recipe, try to reduce the liquid content of the recipe by a few tablespoons, otherwise it may become too moist.
  • When making a chiffon cake, beat butter into the cake’s batter before folding in the eggs.
  • If you are making food for people on a non-dairy diet, then you shouldn’t use butter.

As you can see, there are a great many scenarios where butter can be used instead of oil, but you have to be aware of the differences between the two before doing so.

Other Ways You Can Use Butter Instead Of Oil

Butter doesn’t just have to be substituted for oil within recipes. It can also be used in other methods of cooking and give you some wonderfully rich flavors while doing so:

Can I Substitute Butter For Oil?


Normally, people would add a dash of oil when they are pan-frying or sautéing things within a frying pan.

However, you can easily use butter instead of oil for this, all you have to do is place a pat of butter into the pan and melt it slowly. Once all the butter has melted, you can add your ingredients.

Just remember to constantly move the food if you plan to fry on a high heat, so the butter doesn’t burn.


If you plan to stir-fry, then you cannot use regular butter. Stir-frying requires a high heat, and butter can easily burn at high temperatures, with its smoke point only being about 150 degrees Celsius.

As such, you should use a clarified butter, which is a refined butter that can stand up to much higher temperatures than normal butter.


Roasting with butter can create an insane amount of flavor for your dish, and you don’t have to do too much preparation to get it that way.

All you need to do is to cut up inch thick cubes of butter and dot them around your pan and on the food you plan to roast. As the food roasts, the butter will melt and ooze flavor over everything.

Oil And Butter Together

If you don’t mind eating too fatty a dish, then you could always combine butter and oil when cooking with them.

The oil will be able to withstand the high heat and insulate the butter from it, while the butter will provide oodles of flavor to whatever dish you are cooking.


Butter can be substituted for oil in most scenarios, and in almost all those scenarios it will taste great. However, it is important to know the differences between the two before you start using butter on a whim.

Jenna Priestly
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