Any good non-dairy alternatives to butter for your toast?
May 2, 2016 8:30 AM   Subscribe

My wife has to go non-dairy for health reasons (severe heartburn). She's OK with the non-dairy stuff in baking. But when she spreads it on toast, she said it is awful. So far she has only tried the Country Crock stuff and Smart Balance. Obviously she is not expecting a real butter experience on toast/bagels but she would like something better than awful. Any recommendations?
posted by luvmywife to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Earth Balance. I use soy-free. I wouldn't have discovered it except my two sons are both allergic to dairy and I was looking for the least awful alternative that would let them eat toast with butter like their dad.
posted by annathea at 8:33 AM on May 2, 2016 [12 favorites]

Yeah sure, but you pretty much have to abandon the buttery pretense altogether.

peanut/nut butter
savory stuff like fried egg yolks
avocado, smooshed or in slices
goat cheese, if goat is ok

Butter isn't gonna happen. A butterlover trying to recreate the butter experience without the presence of cows is opening themselves up for a world of perpetual disappointment.

Source: hurf durf am a buttereater.
posted by phunniemee at 8:35 AM on May 2, 2016 [17 favorites]

Earth Balance for sure. Tastes very much like butter.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think you will hear earth balance a lot.

You can also spread a thin layer of miso paste. Or carmelize a bunch of onions (so easy!) and then blend em for an onion paste. Add the paste to other spreads, too.
posted by aniola at 8:40 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Earth Balance with jam or marmalade!
posted by barnone at 8:43 AM on May 2, 2016

Marmite will reliably hide the non-butteryness of a non-butter alternative
posted by runincircles at 8:44 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Coconut oil, unrefined so it has the strong coconut flavor, and a little bit of salt.
posted by clavicle at 8:45 AM on May 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

She could try coconut oil, I had good luck with doing a dairy free cinnamon toast with that. It was a little different but very good. I suspect it wouldn't be as good just plain on toast, but who knows. And seconding phunniemee, nothing is really going to replace butter for a butter eater, I'm usually happier when I "abandon the buttery pretense".
posted by pennypiper at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding coconut oil + light salt sprinkle.
posted by headnsouth at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Miyoko's Kitchen butter (you can buy it packaged or make your own using her recipe). I've had the homemade version and it's very delicious.
posted by snaw at 8:51 AM on May 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

I agree that Earth Balance is the one I've found to most closely replicate butter (I feel like it tastes even more buttery than actual butter - I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing?). She also might try ghee depending on what her specific issues with dairy are -- this basically has the milk solids removed, so possibly it wouldn't give her the same problems as other dairy.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:58 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ghee is clarified butter that, in my butter-induced heartburn experience, does not induce heartburn. It is spreadable and is tasty.
posted by jillithd at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2016 [12 favorites]

Bacon fat? You can cook bacon, split a bagel, and rub the sliced surfaces in the pan to get them evenly coated.
posted by XMLicious at 9:03 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use avocado where my toast combo item is savory, like lox. Haven't tried it with jam.
posted by mzurer at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would try mixing 1p of miso (I would start with a lighter miso, and work towards a darker one if you like) with 3p of your butter substitute. Whip both of them together at room temperature. You can even do larger batches in a stand mixer. Adjust the ratio to your taste, depending on the miso you have or . It'll add body, and give it a really nice savory/umami flavor.

We do the same thing with butter, but really, the diluted miso flavor is the star; the other part of the equation doesn't need to be butter.

Its really good on baked potatoes, corn...everything.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

A tiny bit of marmite or vegemite (I'm talking pea-sized) spread as evenly as possible over Earth Balance or something similar, gives it the super intense umami/salty kick needed to turn it back into real butter flavor.

On preview, very similar to what furnace.heart suggests.
posted by windbox at 9:06 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So, this will sound disgusting, but bear with me.
1 part coconut oil + 1/2 part lard + a tiny sprinkle of salt makes the closest thing to butter I've ever had. If you prefer that butter be a little sweet, adding literally a few grains of sugar makes it lovely.
posted by zinful at 9:06 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this recipe scales up beyond "enough for two pieces of toast" so ymmv.
posted by zinful at 9:08 AM on May 2, 2016

Olive oil!
posted by the_blizz at 9:16 AM on May 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

Earth Balance, 100%, and because this miracle product exists, no of course you won't have to abandon "the buttery premise". I'm a snob about dairy, and I'll happily eat it by itself on toast.

Avocado or hummus spread thickly on toast is also delicious, but it's not butter and if you want butter Earth Balance is your go-to.

I've also been enjoying vegan nut-based soft cheeses a lot lately, though they're expensive.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Schmaltz! (Even better if there's some bits of gribenes mixed in.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:18 AM on May 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Dittoing olive oil. Garlic goes well with olive oil, if she likes savory toast.
posted by joycehealy at 9:19 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for a good margarine, the one my Mom used right up until she went back to butter was Fleishman's.

But hell, the stuff is so cheap, why not do a taste test?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2016

Earth balance is about as close as you get but like many vegan things it has an ingredient list that gives me the willies. This particular product is essentially all oil ("a blend of palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil and olive oil.") I have found that worked best for me is just skipping the substitute. My toast is now spread with jam, period, or honey, period. My bagels are spread with cream cheese, period. Etc. You get used to the absence of butter pretty darn fast.
posted by bearwife at 10:06 AM on May 2, 2016

> Schmaltz! (Even better if there's some bits of gribenes mixed in.)

Seconding this, the earlier suggestion of bacon fat, or duck fat.

Alternately, borrow from Spain's classic breakfast of pan con tomate: puree a fresh tomato with olive oil and salt (and a little fresh garlic if you like) and spread that on your toast.
posted by desuetude at 10:10 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

zucchini butter, mmm!
posted by bookworm4125 at 10:14 AM on May 2, 2016

Nthing ghee. Will add that coconut oil turns solid if it is not warm. It doesn't even have to be cold per se, just not warm. This makes it spreadable like butter. I have been told that if you refrigerate olive oil, it also becomes semi solid and, thus, can be used as a margarine substitute. So, also Nthing coconut oil and olive oil.
posted by Michele in California at 10:15 AM on May 2, 2016

peanut butter or hummus
posted by janey47 at 10:18 AM on May 2, 2016

Yep, Earth Balance. Not the organic kind though; that has a weirdly frothy mouthfeel and is not anywhere near as delicious. Apply right away so it melts nicely.
posted by teremala at 10:24 AM on May 2, 2016

I like Becel Vegan, myself. (But I also grew up eating Becel margarine, so it might just taste "right" to me.)
posted by northernish at 10:28 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry; cannot figure out how to make the link clickable.

Hopefully this is the link to the zucchini butter recipe!
posted by bookworm4125 at 10:39 AM on May 2, 2016

Guava jelly.
posted by EastCoastBias at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2016

Walnut oil on bread is amazing. I also use this oil to make up my own salad dressing with a fancy vinegar.
posted by Coffeetyme at 10:53 AM on May 2, 2016

If you're into trying your own recipes, I haven't tried making it but this vegan butter recipe was very popular online a few years ago. It has a few specialty-but-not-impossible ingredients and is coconut oil-based.
posted by spelunkingplato at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

This may sound absolutely mental, but I found that most butter-likes are improved by a wee sprinkle of salt.
posted by xyzzy at 11:28 AM on May 2, 2016

What about tofu 'cream cheese'? They have it as an option in every bagel place around here.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2016

I make big batches of that vegan butter recipe all the time, and even my committed omnivore of a husband thinks it's great. I bought the "weird" ingredients--soy lecithin, xanthan gum, and a silicone mold for butter sticks--on Amazon for less than $40.00.

I've used it as a spread, for baking, for sautéing, and melted it on the stovetop. It behaves like butter in every circumstance. I've even made a delicious American buttercream frosting with it.

Two important recipe notes:

1. substitute some of the vinegar for lemon juice. Following the recipe as it's written gives you a noticeable vinegar smell and taste in the finished product. I really don't like a vinegar-y butter flavor so I use 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar and the rest lemon juice.

2. It's critical to find a soy milk without emulsifiers and stabilizers; anything else will never curdle properly when mixed with the acid. Of all the soy milks available in major chain grocery stores, Edensoy is the only brand I've found that is just soybeans and water. Sometimes it takes longer to curdle than the recipe assumes; I usually give it a half hour or so.

I was really intimidated by this recipe at first, but it's actually pretty simple and the results are delicious. I used to use Earth Balance but I found the oily flavor base off putting. Plus that stuff is impossible to wash away; I frequently noticed that residue from it clings to knives, plates, etc., even after a trip through our brand-new dishwasher. Creepy.
posted by jesourie at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ghee ghee ghee absolutely! She can even make it herself.
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 12:30 PM on May 2, 2016

Which type of Smart Balance did she try? I think the original version is great -- I even converted a die-hard butter user at my office! The "light" ones are not good, IMHO.
posted by radioamy at 2:38 PM on May 2, 2016


I went dairy free about a year ago for my breastfed, milk protein-allergic daughter. In the beginning, nothing tastes right. But slowly, you forget what real butter (and cheese, and milk) tastes like. And Earth Balance on your toast tastes just fine.
posted by marmago at 6:11 PM on May 2, 2016

posted by papayaninja at 6:44 PM on May 2, 2016

I love good olive oil drizzled on toast
posted by Jacqueline at 7:05 PM on May 2, 2016

Go commando.

You don't need congealed grease on your toast. Try your normal toppings on their own.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:20 PM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I add annatto seeds to my bottle of vegetable oil so that it's more buttery in color.

This is particularly useful when I eat all the butter and still want to dig for the butteriest pieces of popcorn in a popcorn bowl.
posted by aniola at 10:19 PM on May 2, 2016

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