Let's face it, life would be bland without butter. Seasonings wouldn't blend as well and flavors wouldn't be as rich. There's nothing like a simple slice of butter melted atop a seared steak or the flakey and delicious debris that falls from a decadent pastry. Butter is perfect for enhancing recipes without overwhelming or introducing other flavors. Salty and creamy, bitter yet neutral, there's no wonder it's such a beloved kitchen staple.
Despite butter's global popularity, not everyone is able to have traditional cow's milk butter. If dairy isn't your cup of tea, there are many dairy-free options that pack all the buttery goodness without the ingredients you can't have. Nothing can replace the full-bodied flavor of butter from cows, but there are some brands that have managed to come close to the real thing. From plant-based oil blends to butter made with cashews, here's a ranking of the best vegan butters. Prices may vary based on your location.
Read more: 12 Tricks For The Vegan Baker
Violife 100% Vegan Plant Butter
Starting with the butter most worthy of the "Steer Clear of This" award, Violife Plant Butter is far from everything you know and love. It's surprising, actually, as the brand's line of vegan cheeses isn't half bad. From the first taste to the ghostly flavor that never manages to materialize, you're left without words to properly describe it. After all, how does one describe the taste of nothingness? Violife Plant Butter lacks the full-bodied roundness that helps ingredients infuse in harmony. It takes the concept of a blank canvas and turns it into an invisible portrait.
Disappointing taste aside, the ingredients are decent. Violife Plant Butter is made with an oil blend of coconut, sunflower, and canola. Faba bean, a common protein used in vegan products, is also included. Sadly, decent ingredients aren't enough to compensate for the state of confusion your tastebuds will be left in. Violife 100% Vegan is one of the most recognizable and affordable vegan brands at major grocery stores. It's known for good products but somehow missed the mark here. The brand really needs to go back to the drawing board with this one and rework the recipe.
Melt Organic Butter Sticks
Another affordably priced yet less than spectacular vegan option comes from Melt Organic. It's honestly confounding how some plant-based alternatives make it into grocery stores. While it's completely understandable to not perfect the distinct taste of butter, to make something that's clearly a world apart in flavor and consistency is just plain rude. Closer to margarine, Melt Organic butter has a waxy, plastic-like taste with an oily finish. It immediately invokes an expression of "ew." If you're looking to substitute real butter with a vegan alternative, Melt Organic is not likely to convert you.
Maybe the ingredients are the culprit — it's mainly composed of an expeller-pressed organic oil blend and water. There's not much to pull flavor from, and the watery consistency disappears into recipes rather than enhances. One upside is that it's a great price for four sticks of butter. It has slightly less sodium than some of the other plant-based oil-blended butters, too, if that's something you're on the lookout for. We only recommend purchasing this if you have absolutely no other options. Avoid if you're trying vegan butter for the first time — first impressions are everything.
Country Crock Plant Butter With Olive Oil
One of the most recognizable butter brands, Country Crock is a dairy-first company that now offers vegan butter. As with the main line of products, this one is also widely available. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities end, as we think Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive Oil should've been left in the crock. Oily, with a watery finish, it tastes closer to light mayo rather than butter. Trust, it's the last flavor your tongue wants to be greeted by. Difficult to describe, the best word might be "artificial."
Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive Oil has a waxy texture that drags against the tongue, leaving a cardboard-esque aftertaste. It's as if the flavor begins to bloom and then mysteriously vanishes before fully blossoming. There aren't many good things to say about this disappointing butter and it feels as if money inspired it more than quality.
The ingredients consist of pea protein and a blend of plant-based oils. Plant-based oils may give customers the impression that vegan butter is healthier, but the blend often consists of oils you should limit like; coconut and palm. This vegan butter in particular is loaded with 110 milligrams of sodium.
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, It's Vegan
While the original I Can't Believe It's Not Butter contains milk, the brand has grown to include a vegan offering. Marketed as a "healthier" alternative to dairy butter, both the original and the new offerings have 70% less saturated fat and 40% fewer calories. When it comes to taste, it's very salt-heavy — the flavor hits the palate with a bang and then vanishes before you can blink. The consistency is somewhat watery and lacks body and there's an unappealing oiliness as well.
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, It's Vegan is made with a vegetable oil-blend of soybean, palm, and palm kernel oil. Filtered water and salt are other prominent ingredients, along with vinegar. Each tub is packed with 90 milligrams of sodium. We definitely suggest being mindful of how much you use when cooking, as it can taste very salty, very fast. If your recipe already contains salt, adding this may tip the scales. Like the OG, it's very affordable for 15 ounces. Not all stores that carry the original offer the vegan option, though. While it's been available since 2017, it doesn't seem to be gaining steam with its core audience. Having Fabio as the spokesperson must've really made a difference.
Trader Joe's Vegan Butter Spread
Major grocery store chains have never been known for their in-house brands. Trader Joe's happens to be an exception. It's a great place to find a diverse selection of in-house food products, and there's a constant rotation of new ones that keep things fresh, as well. Some hit it out of the ballpark, while others strike out. Trader Joe's has two vegan butter options: Trader Joe's Vegan Butter Spread and Organic Buttery Plant-Based Spread. Unfortunately, the first option flew right past the swinging bat.
The flavor is indistinct and difficult to grasp. It has a super mild aftertaste of salt, which makes it closer to unsalted butter. Ingredients include an oil blend of coconut, sunflower, and canola, along with shea nut butter. According to the Food Allergy Research And Resource Program, shea nuts are oily seeds that are indigenous to Africa and come from the shea nut tree.
TJ's Vegan Butter Spread has a thick consistency that resists the butter knife, yet melts nicely on the tongue. We recommend using it in cooking for additional creaminess but not if you're looking for the taste of butter. One good thing about it is that it only costs $2.99 for an 8.82-ounce block.
Organic Buttery Plant-Based Spread
TJ's other vegan butter offering improves on what the other lacks, but only slightly. It gets creaminess right, but it is also a bit oily. Whereas the vegan butter spread is devoid of taste, this one surprises with a super salty finish. What makes it even more surprising is that it contains less sodium than the other. Since there are only two vegan butter options at Trader Joe's, the non-organic one can be viewed as unsalted and the organic plant-based spread as salted. Don't ask us why the salted and unsalted butter are divided between organic and non-organic.
Confusion aside, the organic buttery plant-based spread is decent for toast and crackers. It has a soft consistency unlike the other one and reaches room temperature fairly quickly. Between the two, we definitely consider this one superior, if only for the salt. Price-wise, it's nearly double that of the vegan butter spread, but it also comes in a larger 13-ounce tub. The ingredients consist of coconut, canola, sunflower, flaxseed, and palm fruit oil, as well as sea salt. Sea salt tends to give foods a more pronounced salty kick.
Miyokos Creamery Oatmilk Butter
This next vegan butter comes from Miyoko's Creamery and is made with oat milk. Miyoko's is a brand that makes a range of dairy-free alternatives using simple, quality ingredients. Whereas many vegan brands offer shredded and sliced cheese, Miyoko's goes further by offering spreadable cheese options like brie and smoked gouda. In other words, they have the taste and consistency of dairy-based foods down to a science. That's why it's so surprising to find that the oat milk butter doesn't deliver the same level of quality. To be clear, it's not bad, it's just not Miyoko's-level good.
Although it nails the creamy consistency, it has an undesirable oily finish that doesn't leave the tongue with a nice feeling. There's also a subtle oat taste and a slight cheesiness that you may or may not enjoy depending on your preference. Compared to the brand's plant-based blend, it's saltier and has a lighter consistency. The flavor is decent but not as balanced and full-bodied as the real thing. We definitely recommend it over many of the other vegan butter options, though.
When it comes to cost, Miyoko's is somewhat pricey. This variety in particular costs $6.49 and comes in a 12-ounce tub. That's considerably more than other vegan butter brands that come in larger-sized containers. Since it isn't on the flavor level of Miyoko's other butter products, we'd say it's slightly overpriced.
Earth Balance Original
Earth Balance is one of the best butter substitutes on the market. It was one of the first brands to offer a non-dairy butter that actually tasted like butter. Since those early days, it's expanded, and today has the widest variety of options available. From soy-free to olive oil, there are many kinds to try, each packaged in color-specific tubs. But how does Earth Balance Original stack up to today's broader selection of vegan butter? You have to give it to the flavor masterminds behind it because it's still a pretty good substitute.
Like real butter, it's rich and creamy, though not as thick. The taste is similar, yet is noticeably salty, with up to 105 milligrams of sodium. Surprisingly, Earth Balance doesn't offer an unsalted option in the spreads, yet it does have unsalted "baking sticks," or sticks of butter. It costs $7.49 for 15 ounces, which is not as pricey as Miyoko's Creamery, yet more than Country Crock. When cooking, you'll find that its buttery taste adds to the overall recipe, boosting flavor like the real thing. We definitely recommend it for first-timers and if you're looking for a healthier option without breaking the bank.
Kite Hill Plant-Based Butter
Another contender worth betting on is Kite Hill Plant-Based Butter. Much like Miyoko's Creamery, it closely captures the taste of the real thing. Creamy and rich, it's great for cooking and using as a spread. That said, there are some areas where Kite Hill could improve. It's slightly salty and has a cheese-like note that's oddly reminiscent of Kraft singles. That could be a good thing or not depending on what you like. The flavors stand out when eaten alone, but will blend nicely in your cooking. Try using it to make savory vegan mashed potatoes.
Kite Hill Plant-Based Butter is made with coconut oil and almonds, which may explain the subtle cheesiness. The brand is fairly easy to find and is usually available at Whole Foods or similar grocery stores. There's one caveat though, to experience this quality vegan butter you have to pay a hefty price. It costs $6.29 for a mere 8 ounces. That means it'll leave you wanting more, you can't beat quality taste and ingredients. Not to fret, though, as Kite Hill is totally worth the extra moolah.
Good&Gather Plant-Based Buttery Sticks
One of the most surprisingly delicious vegan butter options comes from Target. Of all places, Target is one of the last places you'd expect to churn out a worthy dairy-free butter. As one of the largest retailers in the U.S., offering quality-tasting vegan butter says a lot about Target's dedication to recreating the real thing. In fact, this might be the closest to dairy butter taste and consistency.
From its creaminess to its bitter and savory profile, Good&Gather Plant-Based Buttery Sticks delivers. There's an impressive balance that's perfectly salted. In cooking it melts just like butter and even gives off a similar aroma. We recommend using it for vegan baked goods. As for the cons, what it achieves in taste, it lacks in premium ingredients. Like the other lower-cost options on the list, it's made using a plant-based oil blend of coconut, sunflower, and palm.
As the title suggests, the packaging includes four buttery sticks. The box also reads "100% Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back," which means that Target's pretty confident in its recipe. You can find it at locations nationwide, but make sure to call ahead and check first, as each location doesn't carry it.
Le Grand Vegan Butter Sea Salt
This next one has a unique consistency that may only be suited to acquired tastes. Made with coconut oil, sunflower oil, and unexpected ingredients like potatoes and carrots, Le Grand Vegan Butter is for those ready to truly earn their vegan badge. Its consistency is off-putting initially — it's closer to a paste than a spread. At first, you're unsure whether you like it or not, but as it begins to settle on your palate, all the flavors fall into place. Don't expect your typical butter experience, but do expect to be surprised.
If you're looking for an oil-free option, this one retains its paste-like consistency even at room temperature. In cooking it takes longer to melt than regular butter and doesn't carry its distinctive nutty aroma. Despite that, it does have dairy butter's flavor-boosting abilities.
Le Grand Vegan Butter has a flavor that dissipates as soon as it arrives, leaving you wanting more. The sea salt one is pretty high in sodium, but there's an unsalted option available, too. Originally from Quebec, Le Grand isn't as widely available as most vegan butter brands. Lassens and Bristol Farms carry it along with smaller specialty grocery stores.
Miyoko's Creamery European Style Plant Milk Butter
Coming in at number one, and rightfully so, is Miyoko's Creamery European Style Plant Milk Butter. Not only is it a better example of how great Miyoko's non-dairy products are, but it's perhaps the best vegan butter substitute period. No ingredient is under or overplayed here, the flavor profile is a perfect balance of salt and bitterness, with a subtle cheesiness. It's simply leagues ahead of the others. The taste is immediate and doesn't overpower, nor linger around too long. Just like real butter, you'll want to use it in everything. While Good&Gather nails flavor and consistency, this one nails both that and quality ingredients.
Different from other vegan butter on this list, it has 65 milligrams of sodium, making it the least salty (so you can still make whatever you want with it). That doesn't mean it lacks in the flavor department: On the contrary, the salt dances gracefully beneath the creamy surface. Miyoko's Original Cultured Butter is made from cashews and coconut oil. The cashews give it a nice, creamy, and spreadable texture. It isn't the most affordable option though. Expect to pay nearly $7 for only 8 ounces. We definitely recommend using it for any recipe you'd normally add butter to. You can even try out this vegan biscuits and tempeh sausage gravy recipe.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.