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.
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question about adding flavor
I was wondering if nutritional yeast could be used to act as part of the salt or add flavor as part of the curdled soy milk? I don't normally work with these products, but I am still a bit curious.
Thank you. This has been so helpful. I am from south Africa and we don't have any great vegan butters to bake with. Which of the butter recipes would be best for a buttercream icing and my nemesis Swiss meringue buttercream.
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Easy hack for recipe
Two easy hacks to take the flavor from great to OMG!!
1 Use a protein shake blender bottle. Eliminates the scrape down each time you add stuff, and make it easy pouring to mold. 2 Double recipe sub cocoa butter for half the coconut oil. REALLY make the taste zing! Thanks for your recipe
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A game changer!
This 'butter' is wonderful! Used to Irish and French butter before we became vegan, we were always slightly sad when eating other butter substitutes that we'd never taste that lovely flavour again but no - with your butter we're the happiest vegans possible, thank you for sharing your knowledge and your recipe!
Love this butter! Delicious taste, nicely buttery, easy to make and palm oil free (unlike most store bought stuff). I used only apple cider vinegar and didn't notice any 'vinegary' taste. So far I used it on bread, in mashed potatoes and baked vegan croissants - works great! I've tried it with different unsweetened soy milk and it worked best with alpro brand. Thank you for the recipe!
Nigari salt instead of vinegar for curdling soy mi
Thank you very much for this wonderful recipe and all the explanations. I tried the butter-produktion today, and the result looks very well, and the flavor is perfect!!!. As I was sceptical about vinegar, I used 1/4 teaspoon nigari salt for curdling soy milk (as used from making tofu at home). You can buy nigari salt in macrobiotic stores.
Really love it!!!
LOVE LOVE THIS Cruelty free butter !!
I just made this and we all LOVE it !!! The best part is that it is cruelty free !! The dairy industry is so savage.
Thank you so much for all the work you've put into this, Mattie! I really appreciate learning about the science of baking.
I'm curious, what are your thoughts about "Nina's Game Changing Vegan Butter with Aquafaba"? Have you compared this recipe to hers? From what I gather, the difference will have something to do with warm-temperature stability and flavor profile? I'm really looking for an ideal butter for laminated pastry.
Also, have you tried using a flavored coconut oil such as Nutiva's Organic Buttery Coconut Oil as a base for your butter? It appears to be a refined coconut oil, with the addition of "vegan buttery flavor". According to their website, "Our vegan buttery flavor in our Buttery Coconut Oil is made from pure certified organic non-GMO plants including sunflower, coconut, and mint."
As a side note, Miyoko's also produces a (cultured) vegan butter. I'm curious if you've tried it? Her recipe for home-made butter was published in a review, and includes some interesting notes about a "really hard butter" variation to use for pastry. You can find it here: http://anunrefinedvegan.com/2015/07/27/the-homemade-vegan-pantry/
Read the recipe again, you're inaccurate............
Butter is made from heavy cream, you're right about that. But heavy cream is only 36-40% milk fat, not 78%. Do more research.
I've made this butter a couple times and I love the taste, but I've had a few issues when I bake with it. First off I did, I followed the recipe as written, using liquid sunflower Lecithin, all apple cider vinegar because I couldn't find coconut vinegar and xanthum gum.
The mixture looks curdled after I blend it. I've let it blend for 2 minutes or longer. Maybe I'm over mixing it?
The first time I baked with it I made a pie crust. The crust actually tasted great but it was left with many small holes in the top crust. I didn't think much of it but when I made chocolate cut-out cookies with the butter, the cookies spread a lot and had many small holes, just like the pie crust. I'm wondering what could be causing this. It's like something is melting through the baked goods. Maybe there are chunks of coconut oil that are not properly mixed into the butter?
I would love some help!
After i discovered that the Vegan butter i was buying at the grocery contained Palm Oil i set about looking for the perfect recipe for my own homemade version. This is it !! This is the third recipe i have tried. I used the psyllium husk because that is what i had on hand. And i added a tiny sprinkle of tumeric to give it a yellow color. It looks, tastes and melts just like the real thing. Best of all no baby cows were murdered :-) And no habitats stolen from Orangutans !! Enjoy !!
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I made this butter 10 weeks ago for the first time. I followed the step and the final product did not look appealing. However, I put it in the fridge not expecting much. I could not be any more surprised. The butter was amazing; my husbands and daughters were so impressed. The second time, I used a pestle and mortar to grind the soy lecithin granules to a powder form, added 2 tablespoons of aquafaba and a pinch of turmeric for colour and it turned an amazing butter into a very creamy and special butter. I love it! I have had great success with using this butter for vegan croissants, cakes, cookies, brownies, brioche, wholemeal bread and the latest frying French toast. I have quadrupled the recipe and it still amazing. The most amazing part is that the butter is ready straight from the fridge but leave it 5 minutes outside and it is really nice. Your information before the recipe is excellent. Thank you so much for your generosity!
Thrilling to try!
Love love the article about vegan butter, excellent job on explaining how all the ingredients works.
I am also greatful for Keith comment about it's final result of the butter and the fry 'issue'.
Will return with a feedback as soon as I make a bach.
Unfortunately sauteing with your butter recipe ends up in unwanted clumps due to xantham gum being fried at high temperatures. Perhaps you could use something that melts. You are right about the acidic taste. The vinegar flavor ruins the butter experience if you were to spread it on bread to be eaten directly. Lemon juice has the same effect. Moreover, I did try organic coconut oil which resulted in the best flavor. But, as I am sure everyone knows, organic oil is extremely expensive. It is also interesting to note that this butter for some reason will collect mold rather quickly if not used soon enough. Freezing only retards the mold growth.
How long do you hold your butter before using? Have you tried other neutral tasting acids with or without success?
The bottom line for me is I cannot fry in many cases with this butter but it is great for baking and it is good for spread if consumed before it molds.
Storage at room temperature?
Anyone have any experience storing at room temperature? I'd really like to still use my nice butter bell!! Lol!
Fast, delicious...a game changer!
I've only just whizzed this up, but OMG. I used all apple cider vinegar and xanthan gum as I was worried how the lecithin granules would break down. I added some turmeric for colour and I've tasted it from the bowl and it is amazing! So easy and fast. I won't be buying the $10 store brand anymore! I can't wait for it to solidify, but in the meantime I scraped the extra out of the bowl and it's gone straight on a cracker and was everything I had hoped it would be! Thank you!!!!
I converted this recipe to grams for those interested.
2.47g coconut vinegar
140.79g refined coconut oil
13.63g liquid oil
4.54g liquid soy lecithin
0.75g xanthan gum
1.05% apple cider vinegar
1.05% coconut vinegar
59.65% refined coconut oil
5.77% neutral liquid oil
1.92% liquid soy lecithin
0.32% xanthan gum
I'm not vegan, but have friends who are & a young nephew who is allergic to just about everything.
I made a non-soy version of this twice so far. This made my day! I baked a vegan red velvet cake last night using my homemade vegan butter. I've never been happier! Hubby couldn't tell the difference between my usual red velvet cake & my vegan one!
I used my Ninja processor to mix everything together. Then I poured it in a silicone butter keep & slice I found. Eureka! The "butter" was the perfect weight. Recipe made sticks (0.25 lb).
I used Barlean's butter flavored coconut oil. This tastes just like the real thing. I'm going to make a spread for my mother-in-law who is vegan as well.
Thank you so much! I can't wait to try some of your other recipes!
Noobs: Read my story and learn from my mistakes!
So I've made this twice now and the results were awesomeish. I say "awesomeish" as my endeavor with this was hilariously funny. So the first time I made this, I had no idea that liquid lecithin (sunflower) was so messy! I made it but noticed there was still some lecithin not mixed in. I pretty much made a hot mess and just dumped it in the mold. The husband also ordered silicone loaf molds instead of butter or ice molds so each cavity holds the equivalent of 4 sticks of butter. Feeling determined, I still used the butter to make a batch of cookies. I pretty much copied a nonvegan recipe and the results were amazing even though my butter didn't look that great!
Learning from my mistakes and feeling more determined, I made the recipe again. I accidentally did a whole tablespoon of lecithin instead of a teaspoon so I ended up tripling the recipe. Learning from my mistake, I mixed the lecithin into the curdled soy milk directly. This time the results were beautiful and not nearly as messy. As I was pouring my butter into my loaf pans I then made the realization I forgot the salt! it was still great though and I really appreciate your amazing effort plus the science involved in it. I just recently got involved in baking so this is awesome! Do you have any advice on making a sweet cream butter? I might add a little turmeric to get the yellow in there as someone recommended. Thank you so much! I was a Nucoa user for years before this!
Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I have made this twice already with coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and soy lecithin granules. It has come out delicious every single time. I can't wait to make it on the butter mold I just ordered (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZLDDH4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).
Can't wait to try
My liquid lecithin won't be here til next week but just wanted to add that you can get a gallon sized tub of coconut oil on amazon for 25 usd. Up until now I've just used butter flavored coconut oil so I'm really excited. Will review next week
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I've made this twice and it's amazing! My husband thought he would only want melted earth balance on his popcorn so I did 75% this recipe to 25% earth balance and he loved it! Also did the same with mashed potatoes! TY so much ???
Awesome for Vegan Frosting
Thank you so much for this recipe! I make and sell baked goods. I wanted to make my own vegan butter, as the store closest to me doesn't carry it and I thought it may be cheaper to make. To be honest, I thought it'd be fun to say I made the vegan butter myself as well :) I used the vegan butter in a chocolate frosting and it turned out amazing! I even like this frosting more than the non-vegan ones. I wish I could post a photo here. It was so light and fluffy. Even after 4 days , the frosting was still holding it's shape and very tasty! As for a few people on here mentioning a strong vinegar smell... I didn't get that. Are you sure that you put the right amount of vinegar in?
Best thing since butter!
This recipe is fantastic!!! I absolutely love the product. I can't imagine it tasting any more like butter without being butter.
The recipe seems to be quite robust, because in spite of a couple issues I had, it turned out great. I used all apple cider vinegar since I couldn't find coconut vinegar. Also, my soy lecithin granules hardly dissolved at all - so I ran my food processor twice as long as the recipe suggested, and then ended up straining out the rest of the granules. But it still worked well.
Thank you as well for the brilliant write up. It's so nice to understand the science behind the recipe.
Metric measurements please?
I just made this and by the look of it it should pretty damn great! I have a request though. It took me a while to convert everything to metric (grams and ml) and I'm still not certain I got everything right.
It would be beyond helpful if you could add the measurements in metric, or at least respond to this comment or email me, anything really, but I would really, really appreciate it. Thank you so much!
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.