Buttery-tasting liquid oils and how to use oil as spread? (UK)
September 30, 2017 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to use liquid oils where possible instead of solid fats. I struggle with this a bit when it comes to something to put on bread/toast. First, what would be your best recommendation for a buttery *tasting* oil? (I mean, with no artificial flavours.) Is my best bet flax oil? Hemp? Some particular kinds of olive oil that aren't bitter? Second, is there any way of getting a liquid oil to perform something approaching the same function as a spreadable solid fat - being a barrier between bread and sandwich filling?
posted by tangerine_poppies to Food & Drink (32 answers total)
posted by raccoon409 at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

OIive oil and vinegar is typical but you need to put it on and then eat the sandwich very soon or it'll get soggy.
posted by fshgrl at 5:47 PM on September 30, 2017

A bit of pesto or tapenade makes a nice sandwich spread.
posted by yarntheory at 5:48 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not an oil, but I use mashed avocado for this. It gives me the same satisfaction as butter (almost).
posted by Vaike at 5:58 PM on September 30, 2017 [11 favorites]

I use vegan mayo, which is just emulsified oil, for this purpose, and there are a number of DIY recipes out there that use chickpea water as the emulsifier so it's not creepy gums or whatever.

Do you consider coconut oil to be liquid oil? If so, I have tasted the Nutiva Buttery Oil and it is...buttery. Honestly even dairy butter isn't "buttery" like butter-flavored things, I don't think the oil was either one of those things but it definitely had a sense of butter. It looks theoretically available in the UK.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:26 PM on September 30, 2017

Butter usually has salt in it, so don't forget to add salt after you add the oil. I've found that, generally, almost any mild oil + salt can replace butter pretty well. I've had luck with olive, which is nice because it's fairly thick, and also canola.
posted by amtho at 6:42 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sesame oil might work, the darker (toasted) version you'd find in an Asian food aisle/grocery. Just a bit more savory than other vegetable oils. As for spreadability, maybe along the same lines, a seed or nut "butter".
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I may be misunderstanding the question, but what about coconut oil? It's solid at room temperature -- is that a deal breaker? I use it in place of butter because I am dairy-intolerant.
posted by cnidaria at 7:08 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

For the first part—to use oil not as sandwich spread, but just with bread—dredging bread pieces through a small plate of olive oil plus grated Parmesan and cracked pepper works well. You get really great umami flavor from the combination.
posted by limeonaire at 7:18 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

A liquid oil is going to soak into the bread and make it soggy. It will not act as a barrier like butter or mayo on a sandwich.

What is your goal for using liquid oils instead of solid fats? That might help with more detailed answers.

My personal recommendation for a butter or mayo is thoroughly mashed avocado with a hint of salt, but that's definitely not a liquid.
posted by erst at 7:23 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Google butter-flavored coconut oil (assuming coconut oil meets your requirements, not sure since it can be liquid or solid) - at least the ones I've seen use all natural ingredients for the flavoring. I haven't actually tried this yet myself, but I plan to.
posted by amro at 7:26 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really think that clarified butter itself (aka ghee) meets your standard. It is butter with the milkfat solids rendered out, leaving a clear golden oil with an intense butter flavor.

Also, bacon grease. It is really good as a butter substitute on toast.
posted by seasparrow at 7:43 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Olive oil has a shockingly wide array of flavors, but my experience is that you only get that from fairly high-end oils. I have no specific recs, but I was once given an olive oil sampler that contained about half a dozen different oils. They ranged in flavor from peppery to bitter to smooth and grassy--the last one really did taste nearly buttery to me. If you can afford to order a sampler or two to find what you like, I strongly recommend it. (Sadly, the place where I got mine has gone out of business, otherwise I'd point you that way.)
posted by mishafletch at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2017

I once upon a time frequented a house full of vegans and they swore by some margarine-like spread called Earth Balance. They went through tubs of the stuff constantly.

I don't know how helpful this is, but when I think of things to put on bread/toast my thoughts in order are: avocado, lox, egg salad, any soft cheese, hummus, peanut butter, and only now do I get to butter. If butter was my favorite thing to put on toast and for whatever reason I couldn't have it, I would proceed down that same list.

If you're willing to experiment, miso is spreadable and super-satisfyingly umami (and probiotic if you care about that kind of thing). It'll last months in the fridge too. Maybe mix that with a little walnut oil to get a nice consistency. Might have to try that myself...

As far as bread/sandwich filling barriers, you can't beat mayo. If I was making a sandwich for someone who didn't like mayo I'd use mustard, and if they didn't like mustard I'd use hummus.
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:44 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I forgot about pesto, romesco and garlic confit (buy a pint of peeled garlic cloves, put them in a saucepan and barely cover with olive oil, bring to a simmer and turn down the heat until they just start to brown - drain and save the oil for sauteeing stuff and mash the garlic).
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:55 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not sesame oil, especially toasted sesame - way too distinct a flavour.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:07 PM on September 30, 2017

I find a lot of olive oils have a flavour that tastes ‘off’ to me and the one I now buy is Kalamata olive oil. It doesn’t taste buttery, but you might find it more generally palatable.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:29 AM on October 1, 2017

I like organic canola/rapeseed oil with salt, or with gomashio (roasted, salted, crushed sesame seeds) as an alternative to margerine/butter. Nutty flavour seems strong at first but then it does have a more buttery feel than olive oil.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:43 AM on October 1, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far! I'll just clarify a few things:

* Coconut oil, ghee, and bacon grease don't count as liquid oils - I'm trying to avoided saturated fats and go for liquid oils (so polyunsaturated or monounsaturated). So things that are liquid at cool room temperature.

* Great savoury suggestions, but I do also often use butter-type things as a barrier before honey or jam. I don't think hummus or pesto would give the right effect for that.

* Mayo: I have wondered about the potential to create a non-savoury mayo spread at home by just combining a neutral or appropriate-flavoured oil with a non-dairy milk and a pinch of salt. At the moment I'm mostly interested in theory, as living situation means I try to avoid spending time in the kitchen. But I *am* interested in theory, if anyone has any comments on this idea!

* Avocado - not sure if it'd work with sweet and savoury things, but unfortunately am also really not a fan of it :(
posted by tangerine_poppies at 1:52 AM on October 1, 2017

Instead of mayo as the sandwich barrier, I often use a dollop of greek yogurt mixed with either a little vinegar, mustard, lemon juice or sriracha, depending on what taste I'm going for. I actually prefer this to commercial mayo now .
posted by flourpot at 3:07 AM on October 1, 2017

For sweet things, recognising none of these are oils, but there is a long tradition of nut butters, things like quark or Creme cheese, which can be very low fat, and even solid cheeses. Cheddar with a sweet or savoury jam is extremely nice. So don't discount savoury with sweet until you've tried.

If none of these work perhaps also consider if part of your problem is the choice of bread? A sandwich loaf needs a barrier. But a slightly less soft, fluffy bread should hold up for a while even if you put jam on it without barrier. There is also a good chance that such a bread would be more filling and use less other additives to make the fluffy texture, if these are things you care about.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:29 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you tried macadamia oil? It has a bit more saturated fat than something like olive oil, but much less than butter or coconut oil (and it is a liquid at room temperature). It also has the butteriest flavour of any oil I can think of.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:12 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

May I gently suggest that butter is kind of special and you're not going to find anything that satisfies whatever aspect of the experience of eating it that you're hoping to simulate - especially if sturated fats in general are a no-go - and that you might instead have more fun appreciating these other suggested ingredients on their own terms, rather than as subpar substitutes? At the end of the day there really is nothing like butter.
posted by STFUDonnie at 7:13 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I still use butter (unsalted if possible, and from grass fed cows if possible) for cooking eggs and for spreading on bread for certain types of sandwiches.

I also do like to use olive oil on certain breads, depending on the sandwich fillings, and you can find milder oils. Some of the French and Spanish ones can be milder. For Spanish you can look for ones made with Arbequina (or sometimes Hojiblanca) olives - stay away from things described as "peppery". One company to check for that makes a decent mild blend is the Spanish brand name Columela, which I believe sells in the U.K. Alziari is a French brand that makes a milder blend (note that not all the olives used in the blend are French); "douce" = mild. Here in the U.S. there are specialty stores and higher end grocers and supermarkets that will have samples of olive oils to try, which is how I've found stuff to buy.

Some people would find this heretical, but if you chill olive oils they get more solid and easier to spread like butter (they will of course become oil again at room temperature, and taste more flavorful in their natural oil state).
posted by gudrun at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2017

I would be surprised if your mayo idea worked, but I found this recipe for a fat-free mayo. I haven't tried this, but I've tried other recipes from this site and I've also used cashews to make more healthful ranch dressing and sour cream. I can report that cashews work extremely well for making substitutes for creamy dairy items.

So maybe you can alter the recipe to make it less savory. Good luck.
posted by FencingGal at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2017

For sweet things such as toast, try ricotta, which has a mild but creamy flavor.
posted by acidic at 8:23 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sadly, I don't know where you can find it anymore--I've looked and come up empty--but if you can ever find cold-pressed corn oil, it is amazingly buttery and delicious. I used to buy it in little tin bottles from Walnut Acres. It was dark gold and so, so good.

Meanwhile, if you'd be willing to settle for reducing saturated fat instead of eliminating it altogether, I can confidently recommend blending 50% oil of your choice and 50% butter in the blender, then refrigerating. It will taste like butter and behave like butter spread. You could experiment with upping the percentage of oil until you get to a point where you're minimizing the amount of butter but still personally satisfied with the taste and performance.
posted by HotToddy at 8:44 AM on October 1, 2017

Dip! You can dip bread in oil!

For sandwiches, fry the bread in a little oil.
posted by aniola at 9:18 AM on October 1, 2017

Try spreading bread with a good thick plain greek yogurt. Or even thicker, Lebanese labneh.
posted by zaelic at 10:47 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

As to your theoretical mayo question: There's been a fair amount of activity in an aquafaba group I'm in about making mayo-like spreads with it.
posted by jocelmeow at 11:05 AM on October 1, 2017

Seconding Earth Balance -- it's expeller pressed olive oil with some color and natural flavoring to give it a buttery taste. It comes in a tub that you keep in the fridge to keep it solid, and it really does tick all the boxes that butter does for me.
posted by ananci at 12:02 PM on October 1, 2017

I've never tried it, but I wonder to what degree butter will infuse its flavor into a neutral oil. Seems like a cheap experiment-- heat up a mixture of butter and oil together, let it cool to room temp or more likely freeze the result (sealed jar-- fat absorbs funk in the freezer), and then pour off the liquid or maybe filter through cheesecloth/paper towel. I'm not sure whether they'll separate. Anyway, whatever's liquid at freezing temperature is your jam, as it were. Taste that.

If it tastes buttery, then Bob's your uncle. If not, you spent about two dollars to learn something.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2017

« Older Witty songwriters?   |   I need some short, funny or fun but... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.