substitutes for butter in frosting

7 Best Substitutes for Butter in Frosting

Frosting is a delicious addition to all sorts of desserts, from cupcakes to churros. And butter plays a huge role in achieving the right consistency and flavor for all our favorite treats. But what happens if you run out of butter?

Fortunately, there are several alternative ingredients that you can use as substitutes for butter in frosting to add a similar rich creaminess to your treats. From nut butter to cream cheese, these alternatives will open up a whole new world of possibilities!

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become a go-to ingredient for many individuals who want to avoid butter in their frosting. Its natural sweetness and health benefits make it an ideal substitute. It is packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals and is also a vegan-friendly option that still provides a rich, creamy texture to any frosting recipe.

When using coconut oil to replace butter in the frosting, mix one part of melted coconut oil with three parts confectioner’s sugar. You can enhance the sweet taste and aroma even further by adding a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the mixture. Remember to bring the coconut oil to room temperature so that it blends smoothly with other ingredients. And depending on what you’re baking, you may have to adjust the amount of coconut oil if you do not want its distinct taste in your final dish.

Suggested ratio: 1 cups of butter = 1 cup of coconut oil.

2. Avocado


Avocado has more healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids than butter, making it a much better choice. It also lacks the cholesterol and trans fats found in butter. Furthermore, avocado has a relatively mild flavor and a creamy texture, making it an ideal alternative for butter in the frosting.

When using avocado in your frosting, you’ll need to use mashed avocado when mixing it with your wet ingredients, such as yogurt or cream cheese and any other liquids. Use a little less avocado than butter to ensure that your frosting comes out beautifully smooth and creamy, just like traditional butter-based frosting. The subtle natural sweetness of the avocado also lends itself well to many sweet recipes.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 3/4 cup of mashed avocado.

3. Nut Butter

Nut Butter

Nut butter makes an excellent alternative if you want to cut down on the amount of saturated fat found in butter while still achieving the desired creamy texture. It’s also a much healthier substitute as it contains essential fatty acids and is rich in minerals and vitamins.

When preparing the frosting, nut butter may be utilized in a variety of ways. You can use it as a 1:1 substitution for butter, but the consistency may vary slightly due to the higher fat content. You can also add it to dark chocolate ganache for a beautiful swirl topping or make a rich, creamy cream cheese frosting. It’s also great for making decadent peanut butter icing for cakes and cupcakes. Just remember to adjust the measurements according to the particular nut butter you are using, as some will have a higher fat content than others.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 1 cup of nut butter.

4. Margarine


Margarine is perfect for those looking to cut back on saturated fats while still enjoying the classic flavor of butter-based treats. Nutritionally, margarine is far lower in saturated fats and can provide a healthier alternative to butter when used in moderation.

When using margarine as an ingredient in frosting, it is important to note that it will produce a lighter flavor than butter and may require more sugar or other sweeteners. Generally, it’s best to use margarine sparingly, although you can start with a 1:1 ratio for a finished product that closely approximates the texture of traditional butter-based frosting. Additionally, substituting margarine for butter may make a thicker frosting, so you may need to adjust the recipe a little.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 1 cup of margarine.

5. Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese makes for a surprisingly good substitute for butter in frosting due to its high nutritional value and unique flavor. It is much lower in fat than butter and is a good source of protein, making it an excellent option for those looking to make healthier food choices while still indulging in sweets. Additionally, its creamy texture and tangy flavor give a delicious twist to the traditional frosting.

When substituting cream cheese for butter in the frosting, you need to consider the ratio of cream cheese to other ingredients. Since cream cheese is tangy, you’ll need to use more confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream to avoid an overly acidic product. And for those looking for a vegan or dairy-free alternative, there are several vegan cream cheese options that you can use instead.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 3-4 oz. of cream cheese.

6. Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable Shortening

Compared to butter, vegetable shortening has a much higher fat content — up to 95% — and half the saturated fat, making it a healthier choice for those searching for lighter sweets. It also has a longer shelf life than butter, so you can create the luscious, creamy frosting ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for weeks.

When creating frosting, just substitute the butter with an equivalent quantity of veggie shortening. Depending on the recipe, you may need to add more liquid to aid with the texture of the frosting. You may also use vegetable shortening in other recipes, such as biscuits and pies, as it can produce light and fluffy dough with a delightful texture.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 1 cup of vegetable shortening.

7. Applesauce


Despite having natural sugars, applesauce is a healthier alternative to butter since it doesn’t have trans fat or cholesterol. Additionally, unsweetened applesauce has a rather neutral flavor profile, allowing the other ingredients to stand out instead of having the flavor of butter overpower them.

Since applesauce has higher liquid content, it will add a lot of moisture to your recipe. So, start with using half the amount when substituting for butter and then add more if necessary. Consider adding a teaspoon of cinnamon for an enticing flavor that will complement the sweetness of the applesauce quite well.

Suggested ratio: 1 cup of butter = 1/2 cup of applesauce.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.