Ask the Diva: Best Substitute for Butter?
Q. I’d like to know if you have any suggestions for a non-dairy butter substitute that can be used in baking--especially cookies and crisps? Is there anything with less fat that will work?
A. Although it won’t have the same flavor as butter, you’ll probably get the best results substituting one of the new trans-fat free margarines or shortenings in baked goods that call for butter. Most of these contain either coconut or palm oil. Like butter, coconut and palm oil contain saturated fat (although they are cholesterol-free). Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature and that’s often critical to getting the right texture. (See also my recent show on the benefits of coconut oil.)
There are reduced-fat non-dairy spreads available but I wouldn’t recommend them as a substitute for butter in cookies. The low-calorie spreads usually have a good bit of water whipped into them, which will ruin the texture of your cookie. I think you’d have better luck looking for recipes that are specifically developed to be lower in fat.