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. Add 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.
3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifies.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.
Thank you for this recipe. I am impressed by what you achieved. This is above all expectations: it has a more buttery quality than any commercial margarine, and I have to congratulate you solemnly, for you really understood butter -- and helped me understand it. You've earned a Breton's infinite respect. As we are known as the pickiest butter lovers among the French, it is not easy to have us satisfied with substitutes.
I gave it a little twist. Before I curdled the milk I blended it with a small amount of NUTRITIONAL YEAST, which has a buttery, umami taste and is often used in vegan recipes to compensate for the absence of cheese. The result was a bit unhappier than planned, because I could not find pure yeast and resorted to a mixture of yeast and wheatgerm instead, so there was an undesirable vegetable taste in it. I am sure it would be very palatable with pure yeast, and for now the idea that the nutrient profile of my butter is improved by the wheatgerm in it makes up for its slightly unpleasant taste. Well, actually, it does not, for I am no superfood freak. Anyway, if your aim is to come close to real butter, use nutritional yeast, but no wheatgerm. Do not use curcuma either: the vegetable taste may be ascribable to that pinch of curcuma I sprinkled on my curdled milk for the sake of colour.
Now I have a project, which is to find a replacement for the coconut oil. I will make some special butter for technical purposes. Before you condemn my zeal, please read through! I know it will not be easy to swallow that I consider having recourse to refined SHEA BUTTER but here are some reasons:
1) coconut oil is costly and my aim is not only to avoid using unethically sourced products, but also to reduce the cost of food;
2) coconut oil has a very low melting point, even lower than spreadable butter, and even in its solid state it is quite soft, so I am afraid this vegan butter will not be fit for making puff pastry;
3) for all I know, and I know little, so I am not completely sure of this, coconut oil has a better nutrient profile than shea butter and is less harmful (one may infer it from the resemblance between shea butter and palm oil). That said, I do not make so much of a point of using healthy ingredients, as of using "ethically cleaner" ones. Ethically sourced refined shea butter can be found easily. I thought of using a blend of regular oil and refined cocoa butter but the latter is rare, expensive and its origin is often untraceable.
The final product may have a more distinct flavour and a less pleasant texture, but I will not use it as a spread. It should be suitable for baking.
Making rouxs and bechamel
I'm so excited to make some of these as I'm so inlove with baking and cooking at the moment. Can you cook on stove top with these butter like regular butter? As we all know baking is not the only place butter is used. Like me I usually use them as for making rouxs, bechamel, making scrambled eggs(not for me but for my family), making holandaise sauce. Have you tried using this butter for anything else other than baking or on toast? Thanks.
When followed as written the recipe works perfectly. Tastes buttery (and since I've only been non-dairy for 3 days, I have a good memory of what that should be like). I found a good butter mold on Amazon and doubled the recipe to fill it. Currently chilling--but I may have licked the spatula for a taste test.
coconut vinegar is the way to go
As a science based person I really appreciated the background here. To those who have difficulty finding stuff locally--that's what Amazon is for. Even though my local organic store (Sprouts) had refined coconut oil AND coconut vinegar--I ordered online as well. You can get more than a pound and a half (54 0z) of Nutiva Refined Coconut oil for around $17, and the vinegar for around $6. I also got some palm oil as well (since most commercial products I find contain both coconut and palm oil) I hope the environment will forgive me. I also ruined the first 2 batches. I didn't have refined coconut oil on hand so I used unrefined---big mistake--I hoped everything else would mask the coconut flavor--it doesn't. Don't go there! second mistake: I used exactly the blue silicone molds that were in the picture..they had been in the freezer unused for a couple of years and imparted a terrible freezer taste to the butter that penetrated well into it. I could at least get a sense of the flavor though and found that the 1/2 apple cider and 1/2 coconut vinegar was still too much apple cider vinegar for me. Today I made it without apple cider vinegar---It's great!
Other points---I sometimes make homemade soy milk--it's easy---I found that homemade curdles MUCH better than commercial.
While I like both tumeric and saffron (both mentioned by other readers) I didn't want it in my butter---BUT using 1/2 of the oil being palm oil--it comes out a pale golden.
My usual go to vegan butter had been earth balance---no need--this is quick and easy, and especially good for baking
This was my first attempt at making vegan butter. I subbed rice milk (don't use soy), using rice milk powder, reconstituted. It worked well. For color, I added about 1/8 tsp. of turmeric (which couldn't hurt, you know). I might reduce the salt some next time (I love sweet butter.) Or, I'll try making it into an herb butter.
There's a 'gummy' quality to the butter (not in mouth feel, but on the spreader.) Is this the lecithin (sunflower) or the xanthan gum?
I buy "Melt", and it's very similar in taste. Melt has no gums (or milk, for that matter.) Just wondering if one could duplicate this at home.
Thank you for this recipe!
Its a bit pale, but tastes great
Obviously, coconut oil is white, and that isn't a problem. But I enjoy the look of pale yellow in my butter. I added a small amount of saffron to the soy milk for a few min before I added the vinegar. It gave this very nice vegan butter the light yellow butter of dairy butter. Also, Saffron adds an undertone of a gentle hay like flavor which reminds me of fresh cow's milk.
PLEASE USE SOY MILK
TO THOSE USING ALMOND/FLAX MILK AND THEN RATING THE RECIPE 3 STARS...it's not the recipe's fault. This will NOT work with anything other than soy milk, because the soy milk is high in protein and that's what makes the curdling happen. Please try again with soy milk and you will have greater success. Per cup of soy milk has 6-8g of protein while almond only has 1. I made this with great success!
I was so excited to make this butter I got all the ingredients except the soy milk. I used Almond milk. It did NOT curdle, but I went ahead and continued to make the butter. It really smelled like vinegar when I poured it into the molds. It is now in the fridge and we will see if it is any good. I am kind of afraid to try it since it smells so strong of vinegar. lol Please tell me how I can get the vinegar smell to go away for the next batch....
I also see that you are not too quick to answer anyone commenting on your blog, which is not cool. Please answer these nice people who have complimented you left and right and have questions... Thank you for this recipe and your scientific explanations they are very appreciated.
Wondering if you had ever tried flax milk? I find it has greater viscosity and thickening properties, sours pretty well and tastes great... I only use the original or unsweetened for my applications, as the vanilla has a bit too much sugar...
Darn... I was so excited about vegan butter... But my dairy and egg- allergic son is also allergic to nuts and soy... So that eliminates this as an option. Man! I was getting so excited :(
I generally need to stay very strict on the fats for health reasons, but this is a great option for those rare exceptions and freezes nicely! Curious if you have ever tried using konjac powder (glucomannan) as an emulsifier...its a natural, dehydrated konjac root ingredient used to make those cool zero calorie"miracle noodles" from Japan. (shirataki). I have been playing with a bag of this stuff, a fine white powder, and it is awesome and amazing in all kinds of applications! Blended into liquid it acts like a thickener without having to heat it, like cornstarch, though warming it makes it dissolve quicker. It has so many useful and unusual properties and applications I have yet to even scratch the surface! It has many health benefits to boot and needs to be better known! I may have to try it if you haven't, the next time I need to make butter. Thanks!
great recipe! I'm only giving it a 4/5 for now because my butter was a fail- I experimented with flax seed milk... curdled just a tiny bit!!!! lol. Going to try again tomorrow with almond milk. I don't have soy milk. Could you possibly include pictures of the curdled milk above or offer suggestions to improve the butter if I want to use something like almond milk? I made the whole thing but it literally has no flavor. I'm inclined to think it's because of the type of milk I used. Also, I don't have a food processor, I have a blender. Do you know how long I should blend for? (I have a blend tec). Recipe shows promise for me and I'm excited to try it again.
I think I'll use my flop batch tomorrow in a baking recipe and try again.
Its a great recipe!
I made this recipe with coconut virgin oil, guar gum and rice vinegar. That's what I had at the time. I realized the really important step is the emulsifying process: because of the Gum gets sticky so fast, you must run the blender or food processor as quickly as you can. I blended it for more than 2 min. I think longer is better. It's a really good amount of liquid and gets hard in minutes. For the question to Julia, yes. You can use lemon juice for it, it works as the same: both they are acids.
Thank you so much for your recipe!!
Hi, is it possible to use this butter to make browned butter, like with real butter? I have read that stuff like Earth Balance does not create the same flavor as real butter if browned, so I'm curious if this recipe would. Thanks!
I used psyllium husk powder and all apple cider vinegar for this recipe. It came out great! I made it in a Magic Bullet (for those who wonder about food processor capabilities) and poured the mixture into a smaller rubber ice tray. The smaller cubes are better for me to comply to serving sizes for other recipes. I did go a bit out of my way to get the lecithin and the psyllium husks, but they were both inexpensive and this recipe only requires a tiny amount (make many batches).
Overall, I think the recipe is great, this was my first time making my own butter, but it will not be my last! I will say that the taste was closer to Earth Balance margerine, but not exactly like butter. Next time I will experiment with coconut vinegar for a slightly different flavor.
Confused in the face of others' successes
I was SO excited about this recipe. I've seen this one and similar ones all over the blogosphere, and I was super into it. I got sunflower lecithin and refined coconut oil (ingredients I don't usually have, although virgin coconut oil is typically in my cupboards), followed the recipe as written, measured carefully, got the ingredients to the temperature described, and I got a yucky, broken emulsion. I really don't understand what I did wrong here, or if there's a missing piece of information that everyone else understood. Maybe the ambient temperature in my house is too cool? Or by processing for three minutes instead of two minutes, I did something wrong? Do I need to use my larger, more powerful food processor? Would I be better off whisking, slowly adding in the oil as one does with other emulsions? Has anyone else had this problem?
To all vegans out there. I am not sure if this is something you know about or not. When you purchase your "Non-dairy" milk substitutes you may want to look at the container more closely. If you look at the Kosher certification of the product I have not found a company that makes soy milk with out it saying OU with a D next to it on the container. That means that the soy milk was produced in a factory that also produces dairy products and that there is enough evidence for the Rabbis' to say that this product may contain a large enough quantity of dairy that it can not be eaten with meat. The Rabbis are very strict about this. Dairy and Meat can NOT be mixed together. So if you really want to stay away from dairy then I would look for a product that does not have a D next to the certification. So far the only one I found that is dairy free is Shoprite Almond Milk.
Thank you for this fantastic recipe! I couldn't believe how easy and impressive the results were. This stuff is BETTER than butter. It melted beautifully on a piece of toast and tastes great.
I used all apple cider vinegar, canola for the oil, and for the milk I used homemade quinoa milk I had on hand (it curdled perfectly).
I doubled the recipe so I had some extra sticks to share with friends, and they also were amazed at how good it is.
Thanks again for doing all of the research for this. I really enjoyed learning what was behind each step or ingredient.
I really appreciate all the work that went into this recipe, the trial and error and research. I made this recipe a while back, and while it was almost perfect, my only complaint was that it had a salad dressing/mayo like taste. Granted, I used olive oil, so that probably contributed to that taste. But the vinegar taste was very strong too. I'm wondering if I used a more innocuous oil, is there a more mild vinegar I could use?
THANK YOU for this recipe, and also for explaining why/how these ingredients work together. As a vegan I have used Earth Balance 'butter', but have decided to stop using products that contain palm oil. So there really wasn't any other option. So glad I found this recipe. I followed it exactly -- using sunflower lecithin and all apple cider vinegar - and it's PERFECT. My husband even made the comment that it has the perfect aftertaste. It's summertime so my kitchen is warm as a default - which meant my coconut oil was already in liquid state to begin with. I think it may have been a little too warm, even, since once blended everything was very liquidy. But like I said - came out perfect. I will be making a bigger batch of this next time!
Question, does this butter melt like normal butter? like could I use it in a recipe requiring melted butter?
Hello, I am really excited to try this recipe, but where I live apple cider vinegar and liquid lethicin are not available. I only have a really primitive food processor so granules aren't an option... Does anyone know if lemon juice would be a suitable substitute for the vinegar and if lecithin powder could be used in the same dosage as the liquid? Thanks very much for this recipe!
I have made this recipe several times now and it is great. I've recommended this recipe to others. However, I was also thinking it would be cool to know of a way to make this without a food processor or blender, if there are people who want to make a Vegan Palm-Oil Free Butter but don't have that equipment.
I have a question: in my country we are already used to low fat butters (around sixty percent fat). What would you recommend doing in this recipe to obtain a low (or lower) fat butter?
Thanks in advance, looking forward for some feedback.
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.