Are you looking for the perfect sugar cookie recipe, but want to avoid using butter? You’re not alone.
This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the best butter substitutes for your sugar cookie recipe.
Find out what adding butter to sugar cookies does and explore 5 alternatives that will still give you the perfect texture and taste.
What Does Adding Butter to Sugar Cookies Do?
Adding butter to sugar cookies gives them a rich, indulgent flavor and a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Butter is an important ingredient in sugar cookies because it contains water and fat that helps to break down the dough while blending together with the flour to create an even texture.
The water found in butter also helps keep sugar cookie dough from becoming crumbly, which allows baked treats to hold their shape and become lighter after baking.
In short, adding butter creates better-tasting sugar cookies that last longer when stored.
Tips on using butter for sugar cookies
For the best possible sugar cookies, butter offers a smooth texture, subtle sweetness and depth of flavor that is hard to replicate.
Beyond these virtues, there are additional benefits to using butter: it helps the cookies hold their shape when baking, adds a slight golden color, locks in moisture and creates a crumbly texture.
While you don’t want to leave out this key ingredient if you can help it, substitutions for butter in sugar cookies can be made if desired.
When adding butter to your cookie dough, make sure it’s at room temperature and well-incorporated into the mixture.
If the dough gets too cold from adding cold butter directly from the refrigerator, briefly microwave it for about 5-10 seconds on low heat before mixing.
This helps ensure that your dough is evenly combined and will bake properly.
When adjusting recipes for substitutions of butter in sugar cookies such as applesauce or oil, reduce the total quantity by 25 percent from what the original recipe calls for because these ingredients are generally not as dense or viscous as butter when added to your dough.
Additionally, bear in mind that some ingredients such as applesauce or coconut oil introduce natural sweetness similar to honey or maple syrup; reduce accordingly so your cookies don’t end up overly sweet.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Butter in Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are a classic holiday treat, made from mixing ingredients like flour, butter, sugar and eggs.
But what do you do when you want to make a tasty treat without using butter? Here are five of the best substitutes for butter in sugar cookies:
1 – Margarine
Margarine is a widely-used substitute for butter in cooking, as it has a similar texture, taste, and consistency.
When using margarine instead of butter in sugar cookies, one should look for products that are specifically made to be baking-friendly.
Margarine should also not be used in combination with other high fat dairy products, such as cream cheese or heavy cream.
Margarine may give the sugar cookies a slightly softer consistency compared to those made with butter and will also impact their flavor.
This is something you may want to consider if they will be accompanying other dishes that have strong flavor profiles.
Additionally, if you are substituting margarine instead of butter in sugar cookies, you will likely not need quite as much as you would use when making them with butter.
2 – Shortening
Shortening is a fat, usually made of hydrogenated vegetable oils, that has a creamy white color.
It has a neutral flavor and can be used in place of butter in baking recipes.
Shortening is ideal for cookies because it has the same melting point as butter so the dough won’t get too soft when it is mixed together.
It also adds moistness and stability to the Cookie dough which will lead to a finer-textured cookie with good flavor and shape retention.
When substituting shortening for butter in sugar Cookies, use three-quarters of the amount of butter called for in the recipe.
For example, if one cup (2 sticks) of butter is needed, substitute three-quarters (1 ½ sticks) cup of shortened instead.
3 – Olive & Vegetable Oil
Making sugar cookies without butter requires a substitute that still brings richness and flavor to the dough.
Olive or vegetable oil may seem like strange ingredients for sweet treats, but adding them to sugar cookie recipes works just as well as butter.
Olive oil naturally has a fruity flavor so it’s best used in cookie recipes that don’t require too much sweetness.
While it has a more distinct flavor than vegetable oil, both can produce soft and chewy cookies.
When creating your dough mix, use an olive-based or light vegetable-oil based spread with at least 65% fat content.
Swap solid fats such as butter for liquid fats in an equal proportion, so if your recipe calls for 1 cup of butter you can replace it with 1 cup of olive or vegetable oil.
Make sure you stir the fat mix into the dry ingredients until it forms clumps as this will help create light, fluffy cookies once cooked.
4 – Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a delicious and healthy alternative to butter in sugar cookies.
Coconut oil works well as a substitute for butter because it has a similar texture, provides moisture, and adds richness to the cookies.
However, it should be noted that not all types of coconut oil will perform the same; virgin coconut oil is best for baking.
It has the least amount of saturated fat compared to other types of coconut oil, making it a better choice for health-conscious individuals.
When substituting coconut oil for butter in sugar cookie recipes, use equal amounts of the two ingredients–for example, one cup of butter would be replaced with one cup of coconut oil.
Since coconut has its own unique flavor, you may want to adjust other flavors in your cookie such as using different extracts or adjusting your spices and sweeteners accordingly.
5 – Applesauce
Applesauce is a great substitute for butter in sugar cookies since it imparts similar moisture and sweetness.
However, keep in mind that too much applesauce can dry out the cookies and make them crumble easily, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid used in the recipe.
To replace 1 cup of butter, use ¾ cup of unsweetened applesauce plus ¼ cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil.
Applesauce can also be used as a vegan alternative to butter in other cookies as well.
When baking sugar cookies, butter is often added for flavor, texture and shelf life.
However, for those looking for alternative baking ingredients or vegan options, there are numerous substitutes that can be used.
These include coconut oil, olive oil, margarine, apple sauce and mashed bananas.
Depending on the recipe and which substitute you choose to use, some experimentation may be required to achieve the desired consistency and flavor.
It is important to note that the fat content in a sugar cookie recipe can have an effect on its texture and final appearance.
Therefore it is recommended to always measure the amounts of each ingredient with care when following a recipe.
Adding too much of one ingredient or not enough of another can result in different outcomes every time you bake a batch of sugar cookies.
However, this variability only serves as an opportunity for bakers to become more creative with their recipes.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!