How to Make Vegan Butter - Regular Vegan Butter - Coconut Oil Base
Butter is one of those ingredients that can be so central to baking that as soon as some people hear the term vegan baking they wonder aloud almost in a panic, “what about the butter?!” Many vegan baked items get along great with fats like canola, coconut oil or even olive oil. These types of fats work wonders for cakes, cookies, bars and breads. When designing recipes where we need something to act like butter, things start to get complicated. Solid fats like butter and margarine are integral to things like puff pastry, pie crust, shortbread, croissants, danish dough and certain cakes. This is because in these cases the fat is used to coat the flour so gluten doesn't develop too much and also trap air bubbles to enhance leavening and texture. The only option in these instances is to turn to a margarine or similar vegan butter that is solid at room temperature and gets soft as it melts so it blends to one cohesive mass of dough.
Vegan butter options as of this writing are pretty slim. If you're lucky, you have access to Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Spectrum Spread (tub margarine is a no-no in baking due to its excessive water and salt content). These margarines utilize a blend of fats, water, starches and gums to mimic real butter. If you're unlucky you only have access to other margarines which use a process called partial hydrogenation to solidify vegetable (usually soy) oil. This hydrogenation process alters the fat structure which also happens to create compounds called trans fatty acids that are highly toxic to the body. Toxic to the point of where finding local, sustainably raised real butter would ironically probably be a better pseudo-vegan alternative in the grand scheme of things.
Non-hydrogenated vegan margarines aren't knights in shining buttery armor either. Lots of them use palm oil which, as of this writing, is currently associated with rainforest destruction due to its rising popularity as regions like Sumatra scramble to devote more land to its production without respecting the environment. Imagine that: a vegan option that actually leads to habitat destruction. There are efforts currently underway to sustainably cultivate palm oil but as vegans know, the best way to really know that you're not contributing to it is to just not buy it.
I've never been a huge fan of margarines because I find that they're so packed with chemicals and stabilizers that they frequently remind me of what it would be like to chew on a candle on a hot day. Have you ever done a taste test with butter and margarine? Butter dissolves away on the tongue and margarine overstays its welcome by a long shot, leaving a gummy residue lingering on. Loving a challenge, I decided to do something about this lack of quality vegan butter and give my best shot to making my own alternative. Lucky for us, this turned out to be much easier than I thought and I think I may have opened a buttery portal to give vegan bakers a little more power to innovate with the flavor of their recipes. Buttery Vegan Shortbread anyone?
I make Vegan Butter in large batches and store it in my freezer. The night before I bake I transfer it to my refrigerator or kitchen counter depending on the consistency my recipe calls for.
Understanding Real ButterTo create Vegan Butter we must understand traditional dairy-based butter. Dairy butter consists of about 78% fat, 18% water and 4% milk solids. In Europe, the fat is usually even higher in proportion to the water. The milk solids are responsible for emulsifying the fat and water, adding additional flavor and allowing the margarine to melt softly. I decided that in order to have a tasty vegan drop-in replacement for butter and margarine in things like laminated doughs and pie crusts, I'd have to stick to these figures. And heck, I'd might as well do my best to make it taste awesome as a spread too.
Real butter comes from heavy cream. The fat globules in the cream are completely surrounded and suspended in a network of emulsifying compounds in the water. As you shake the cream, the fats get shaken out of their emulsifying network, find each other and join together. As they join together they start to solidify and the water can be drained away to a point. The result is butter.
To create Vegan Butter we must understand traditional dairy-based butter. Dairy butter consists of about 78% fat, 18% water and 4% milk solids.
Designing Vegan ButterIn regards to fat I'd have to use something that's solid at room temperature and not be palm oil due to the environmental issues associated with it. Coconut oil is perfect for this application because it's available refined (unflavored) and unrefined (with coconut flavor intact). Cocoa butter comes in a close second but let's face it- it has an overwhelming chocolate flavor. To capitalize on this, I developed a bonus White Chocolate Vegan Butter. Here's to hoping coconut oil and cocoa butter production don't lead to habitat destruction as their popularity rises.
Coconut oil supposedly has health benefits over other fats but as of this writing it really depends on who you talk to. One camp insists that coconut fat is made up of medium-chain fatty acids that are small enough to the point of where they don't get stored as much as other fats and result in quick-burning energy. This camp also insists that the high amount of saturated fat in coconut oil isn't detrimental to health as other saturated fats. The other camp pledges that all saturated fats are bad and should be avoided. I personally think it's too early to say one is right and the other is wrong and happily exercise the everything in moderation approach.
It would be pretty easy to make a fat with the consistency of butter but how would I mimic the flavor without resorting to chemicals? I'm a firm believer in the power of curdling and fermentation. Fermentation and curdling involve hundreds of chemical reactions that produce a multitude of complex flavor compounds with a depth that can't be replicated by chemicals. I know that dairy products like cultured butter and crème fraiche involve a certain level of fermentation; you can even buy the cultures at cheese making stores and make it yourself. I wasn't interested in the complexity of fermenting before mixing my ingredients though. This would probably be more trouble than it was worth. What if I simply curdled non-dairy milk to build the flavor I was looking for?
Non-Dairy Milk CurdlingCurdling involves adding acids to a liquid that causes the proteins to unravel like balls of yarn. As the proteins unravel, their strands line up, join together and tighten. This tightening causes tiny clumps in the mixture and also generates a large array of flavors that add a significant amount of depth to almost anything you bake it with. You may have noticed how much of a fan of curdled non-dairy milk I am due to how often I use it in my recipes on Veganbaking.net.
Several weeks prior to these Vegan Butter experiments I conducted tests with different non-dairy milks to see how they vary in curdling in regards to taste. I ended up curdling a half cup of soy, hemp, almond, rice and coconut milks each in 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes, then analyzing thickness and flavor. The results were surprising: soy milk curdled the most and had the most complex flavor (think buttermilk), followed by hemp milk, then almond milk. Coconut milk and rice milk didn't curdle at all. This confirmed my theory that curdling is directly proportional to the amount of protein in the non-diary milk. This makes perfect sense after the explanation of curdling above. This Vegan Butter was going to have to use soy milk. You could probably make a cashew purèe to use for this base if you're not keen on soy, however I haven't tried this yet as of this writing. Banana Vegan Butter doesn't use curdling to build flavor so this is an option for those interested in eliminating soy. It can also be made raw.
The role of acidity in Vegan Butter
Emulsifiers and stabilizers
Psyllium husk powder
Fine tuning the salt
When making these Vegan Butters it's highly recommended that you use a silicone mold like the Tovolo King Cube Extra Large Silicone Ice Cube Tray. This will allow you to make gorgeous butter cubes that can easily be slid out of the molds.
Find out how to make Regular Vegan Butter with Cocoa Butter as a base
This is regular 'ol Vegan Butter that's designed to mimic your favorite commercial variant. Use it wherever you use butter or margarine. Like traditional butter, Vegan Butter is more solid than tub margarine and not as spreadable. This is so it can perform optimally in vegan baking applications. If your goal is to have a conveniently softer, spreadable Vegan Butter, swap out 1 Tablespoon of the coconut oil with 1 additional Tablespoon canola, light olive oil or rice bran oil.
Regular Vegan Butter Recipe - Coconut Oil BaseYield: 1 cup (215 grams), or the equivalent of 2 sticks
¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon coconut vinegar (if you can’t find coconut vinegar, substitute with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar so the total is 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
¼ + ⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (130 grams) refined coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon canola oil, light olive oil or rice bran oil
1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin or liquid sunflower lecithin or 2 ¼ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder
1) Curdle your soy milkPlace the soy milk, apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.
2) Mix your Vegan Butter ingredientsMelt the coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. Making smooth Vegan Butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.
3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifiesAdd the soy milk mixture, soy lecithin and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. It should be ready to use in about an hour.
Store Vegan Butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 year.
For more Vegan Butter recipes check out the Vegan Butter recipe section.
Get a price on the Liquid Soy Lecithin I Recommend at Amazon.
What a fabulous article! You are a scientific magician! Cannot wait to try this.
Very, very nice
Made this today for use in an alfredo-style sauce. Just...I haven't had butter in seven years. I can't describe my reaction as anything other than "ecstatic". My partner, who is a low-fat, whole foods vegan (while I am, as well, I still enjoy making things that confuse omnivores, and occasionally, consuming them), was thoroughly deterred by the texture and flavor, confirming for me that this recipe is spot-on ;)
A note to others attempting this recipe: it is THOROUGHLY worth it to invest in a digital kitchen scale, if only because it's a pain in the tail to try and get the refined coconut oil out of the jar, then pack it into a measuring cup, and THEN scrape it all out again (thanks for the weight-based measurement, by the way; very helpful). Let's not forget effectively cleaning solidified oil from said cup-measure. You can get a decent one for between $15 and $25 at your local department/grocery store (I go to Fred Meyer, e.g.). And if, like me, you have a secondary kitchen hobby like micro-batch beer brewing, that scale absolutely will see other uses.
Thank you for giving butter back to me.
I really liked reading how to make vegan butter is it possible to have the other ingredients
in grams other than the coconut oil as this already has it grams.
A (baking) lifesaver
I just want to say thank you for sharing this recipe. It has seriously made our lives so much easier and our purses thank you. I make this all the time in big batches and I've found the recipe so flexible that it's a wonder. :) I've given up on the store bought vegan butter and couldn't be happier with my new homemade butter. Thank you for sharing all of the details, too, since it made me more informed and therefore more confident with trying this out.
I am not vegan
This is terrible! I have always been a butter lover, but lately I try to stay away from it because it's too heavy on my stomach, I was asked to make dairy free cookies for my grandsons birthday. I needed BUTTER. I made this with virgin coconut oil. Worst thing I could have done. No one could tell there wasn't butter in the cookies. I got rave reviews ! Not only that, but now I look for things to eat that I can butter with this. I plan on using this instead of real butter or margarine. I never liked margarine. And I like the light coconut flavor on toast and sweet potatoes, sometimes even on my finger tip!
I ordered a tub of refined coconut oil to make more but I'm sure I will still be making some with virgin oil.If you're wondering why it's terrible, it's because I like it too much! LOL. Thank you for creating and sharing. Especially something with healthy fats that serves the purpose of something I liked but tried to
avoid. Anyone who is thinking of trying this, do not hesitate! You don't know what you're missing. Oe0bd
Looking forward to making this
Looking forward to making this.. I have to make a Vegan birthday cake. and im hoping this will work as a great substitute for the Italian buttercream I make
great recipe but good food processor and liquid le
this recipe came out FAB the first few times I made it. Blended up the lecithin no problem, tasted lovely, very much like dairy butter.
My old foodprocessor broke though and the new expensive one i got is absolute garbage. I dont have access to liquid lecithin here (well, Fearns, but its not non-gm, so i wont use) and my food processor has done a junky job at dealing with the lecithin granules...i have tried soaking them in hot soymilk for several hours, soaking them in heated oil for several hours, trying to mix them with water to dissolve, to no avail. all the batches ive done with the new food processor have come out like garbage; little chunks of lecithin still in them no matter what i soaked them in first or how long i blended. the last few even separated into 2 layers :/ and some batches came out crumbly as well :/ Not the recipe's fault though, just my crummy food processor :(
Also you list the shelf life as 2 weeks in fridge or a month in freezer. if my stuff has been in the fridge for almost 2 weeks can i pop it in the freezer for another week or 2? Is a month the max shelf life in freezer? Thanks
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I love, love, love your butter making methods, chemistry and creativity; however do you have any of the vegan butter recipes with a complete list of instructions and ingredients that use the almond milk instead of soy substitutes, and that use non-soy substitutes for the other ingredients as well while utilizing psyllium husk?
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I love, love, love your butter making methods, chemistry and creativity; however do you have any of the vegan butter recipes with a complete list of instructions and ingredients that use the almond milk and instead of soy substitutes, and non-soy substitutes for the other ingredients as well while utilizing psyllium husk?
Fantastic (Almond/Soy Free Version)
Ok, so first off, this recipe is fantastic. It tastes like butter. A little hard to spread, but I'm sure I'll figure out a fix for that (maybe add more liquid oil). So, I can't eat dairy and I can't eat soy, so finding these ingredients was a little difficult. I found coconut vinegar at Upaya Naturals, along with psyllium powder, sunflower lecithin, and some other great finds. I made mine with coconut oil, canola, almond milk, apple cider & coconut vinegar, sunflower lecithin, and psyllium powder. This recipe is super easy and very yummy.
alternate to soy info
Hey there, I've already said how much I LOVE This recipe here. I'm not on the anti-soy band wagon, but I have a friend who is deathly allergic to soy, so I've been mucking about with how to make this without soymilk. As Mattie has made clear, protein content matters. I tried hemp and homemade almond milk, but neither one curdled very well. So today I tried So Delicious brand Almond Plus, their higher protein Almond milk. It has pea and rice protein added to it, and it curdled almost as well as soy milk. I'm not into selling brands, and to be honest I'm pretty disgusted with how most mass produced non dairy milks are mostly just water and thickeners with very little of the nuts, oats, seeds or whatever they claim to be based on - so I like making my own. But in this case, this product came through for making this butter without soy. I used the unsweetened version and it tastes great.
Also, response to Alexis - if you use all coconut oil it will just be a harder butter. The vegetable oil seems to be there to make it softer. So I think it will work fine, you just might need to leave the butter at room temperature for a little bit to make it spreadable.
I have an important question!
I have a weird intolerance to oils (my body can't digest them well) I really can only use coconut oil with out upsetting my stomach. I have a huge problem with canola oil and was wondering if instead of it I could use all coconut oil and it would still come out fine? Thank u!
I just made a double batch of this butter and it is FANTASTIC! It looks just like the picture and melts on your tongue :) I have't used it in recipes just yet but I daresay it will be perfect for making buttercream icing.
To the people who have had issues with the granules not dissolving, blend the mixture for longer! All the granules disappeared with my mixture but I also use a high powered blender so those with regular blenders may need to blend for a few minutes. They definitely dissolve if you blend it extra :)
Counter shelf life response
In response to knoxing27, I can't tell you anything precise, but I made Mattie's easy buttercream frosting using this butter on the weekend. I prepared the frosting the day before, then put it back in the fridge, in a bowl covered in clingwrap. The next day, I made and iced the cake, and it was out on the counter for several hours (maybe 4 or 5), although it is currently winter in Australia, so temperatures were probably around 10 degrees C for most of that time, and it tasted just fine. Hope that helps.
Bye bye Nuttlex
This recipe is one of the best vegan discoveries I've made. I don't think it tastes exactly like butter (I was fairly new to veganism when I first made it), but it sure tastes great. I always have some in the freezer now, and I no longer feel inordinately jealous of Americans with their access to Earth Balance. I use it as a spread and bake with it, and it's never let me down. Omnivores and lacto-vegetarians have also given me positive feedback.
Since Australian tablespoons and cups are slightly different, and because I always make a tripple batch, I've posted a trippled for-Aussies version of the recipe at the website below. If you're an Aussie, you might find it convenient.
Counter shelf life
Thanks so much for posting this!!! I just made it and it was pretty easy to do. Can you tell me how long this vegan butter's shelf life is if left out on the counter? I plan to ice a cake with the a vegan buttercream frosting made with it and keep the cake covered cake dish, but I want to make sure I don't serve the the cake with the vegan buttercream frosting past it's fresh point. Thanks!!!
Thanks so much for this! I'm using it to make Vegan pies! The pasty comes out beautifully!
Does anyone else find that the soya lecithin gives it a slightly funny taste? Have been playing around with the quantities but It remains the same!! It doesn't matter in regards to the pies as it doesn't affect the flavour of the pastry but to use it normally it would be nice to not have that soya flavour.
I would just love the quantities to make a kilo in grams!!!! can't work it out myself as me and maths hate each other!
In reply to "that person" who says coconut oil is not the great product we all think it is. . . . do more research. Coconut oil contains MCTs; medium chain triglycerides. The fat in coconut oil is NOT stored as fat in our bodies but helps with the efficient burning of energy. Coconut oil has countless health benefits. This is not "new hype". Coconut oil has been around for a long time and there are numerous studies you can read about it. You're not a downer, you're just mis-informed. If you know how to ferret out the proper information on the internet , you'd see how wonderful coconut oil really is :)
I love all of the food science behind this, very fascinating! I will definitely be trying this out in the future. I tried looking through the comments on the off-chance the question had already been asked, but only got through five pages before reading fatigue set in, so please forgive me if a similar question has been asked.
If one were trying to just make a liquid butter FLAVOR (sort of similar to the artificial butter flavors like McCormick's, Adam's Best, etc.), would the first part of the recipe be sufficient (curdled soy milk part)? Obviously, not as concentrated as those artificial extracts one buys from the store. but volume isn't necessarily important as flavor. I'm trying to refine some recipes for "butterbeer", both hot and cold, and those extracts are A) way too expensive to go through as often as I do, and B) I have no idea what's in them, so if I could make my own up and control the ingredients that'd be even better. An added bonus C) on being vegan, for many many reasons.
If I understood correctly, soy milk yields the most buttery flavor due to the protein content. From your tests, did you notice anything in particular that seemed to boost the buttery flavor? I'm aiming to try and keep it liquid for my tests without necessarily making the butter completely, as melted butter doesn't seem to mix the best with cold carbonated water (I'm guessing due to the oil content).
This butter was great, but I'm not sure if my soy milk curdled enough when I made it. I was wondering if you used sweetened or unsweetened soy milk?
No More Earth Balance for Us!
bless you for sharing this! i subbed ground chia seeds for the last 2 ingredients, and it turned out really well. i'd rather dip bread in olive oil than use something like earth balance. the texture and melting quality of this was perfect! delicious in your chewy vegan chocolate chip cookies too. you've made life much more bearable for this mom of a baby with 10+ food allergies! :) if he's clear on soy, we will be all set, thanks to you!
I don't want to be "that person," but coconut, regardless of the new hype on the product and the mis-information about it spreading like wild fire all over the internet is actually a saturated fat and yes, contrary to popular belief, your body will store this fat and it will raise your blood lypids and cholesterol levels. I am trying desperately to find and alternative that is neither a saturated fat, nor a trans fat product. I won't use soy or oils of any kind. It would just be amazing if someone on this forum new of anything or could come up with anything that might actually work. Thanks so much! Sorry for the downer. :/
the only problem is that i only made 1 batch. and it's already gone. will remedy that situation tomorrow, officially known in the house as "vegan butter making day." i used soy lecithin granules which did not dissolve, but like others have mentioned, it didn't seem to affect the outcome of the butter or the baked goods i made with it. i used it in the Chewy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (by far one of the BEST cookie recipes i have ever made), and used the leftover in place of some shortening for biscuits. i actually felt kind of bad mixing it with the shortening. there's something so special about fresh, high quality butter. i feel like i was gifted this recipe. thank you Mattie!!!
want to know if coconut oil can be substituted? it has high saturated fat content . using it as an alternative for butter again a highly saturated fat content spread makes me think is there a healthier oil alternative?
Xanthan Gum Concerns
I read one person's concerns about xanthan gum being genetically modified. I'm sure this is true with many brands but Bob's Red Mill is not. I contacted the company about it and they're very dedicated to GMO free products. In fact GMO free will be appearing on their labels. When in doubt about an ingredient in a recipe, just contact the company. Nowadays, it's easy to do via email and they're generally good about replying. You like their answer, buy their brand. You don't like their answer, don't buy their product. Simple.