Vegetable oil is often a blend of different types of oils including soybean, sunflower, corn, soy and/or safflower oil. And using vegetable oil in place of some — or all — of the butter you typically eat can be a heart-healthy change to your diet, per the American Heart Association.
Making this easy swap can reduce your intake of saturated fat, therefore potentially improving your cholesterol levels and reducing your risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. Get insight into the reasons to make this heart-healthy ingredient substitution, as well as tips on how to swap butter for vegetable oil.
How to Substitute Butter for Oil in Baked Goods
Replace butter with vegetable oil in equal amounts in quick bread and muffins. Most likely, you won't notice a major difference in the taste. But you may find that you need to reduce the other liquids in the recipe slightly.
Using oil in place of butter in pie crusts or scones is more challenging since these types of recipes rely on small chunks of solid butter to create air pockets, says Amy Shapiro, RDN, CDN, the New York City-based founder of Real Nutrition.
"This may be achievable with coconut oil, as it is also [made up of mostly] saturated fat, and solidifies when cold," Shapiro notes. However, opting for coconut oil means that you lose the health benefits that accompany vegetable oil, which is much lower in saturated fat. Oil also doesn't work as well in recipes such as cookies and cakes, which call for the butter to be creamed or aerated with sugar and eggs first. For these recipes, stick with butter.
You can also replace fat with purées — such as apple sauce, banana or pumpkin — in a one-to-one substitution, says Shapiro. "This may cause a more dense product but it adds fiber and nutrition."
How to Substitute Butter for Oil on Veggies and Bread
If you're accustomed to slathering vegetables in rich butter, try roasting them in the oven with vegetable oil on high heat instead. The oil moistens the vegetables and caramelizes them in the oven, rendering a sweet and healthy side dish.
You can also sauté vegetables using vegetable oil, or spray the pan with a nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray.
Choose your oil wisely. “You do want to be conscious of the heat or smoke point of the oils so they do not become carcinogenic and lose some of their health benefits,” says Shapiro. Opt for olive oil for dressing or after cooking and canola or avocado oil for high-heat methods such as frying, recommends Shapiro.
Consider serving crusty breads with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil for dipping. Other vegetable oils, such as canola, don't have the same distinctive taste and are rather bland when used as a dipping oil. You can add chopped garlic, rosemary, salt or balsamic vinegar to the olive oil for added flavor. The results will be so tasty, you won't miss using butter on your toast.
The Health Benefits of Opting for Vegetable Oil
Butter contains saturated fat, which raises cholesterol and can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Only five to six percent of the calories you eat should come from saturated fat, advises the American Heart Association.
In contrast, vegetable oil contains polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat — these fats help improve cholesterol levels, which in turn can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, says the Mayo Clinic. Both poly- and monounsaturated fats are better for your body than trans or saturated fats, according to the American Heart Association.
There are many varieties of vegetable oil readily available at the supermarket, including vegetable oil blends as well as corn oil, olive oil and safflower oil.
Read more: The 14 Best Foods for Your Heart