How to Replace Milk and Butter in Baked Goods

by Deborah Lundin
When you run out of butter or milk halfway through a recipe, substitutions can keep you baking.

When you run out of butter or milk halfway through a recipe, substitutions can keep you baking.

When it comes to baking, milk and butter play a role in creating flavor, richness and texture. While these elements are essential for many baked goods, a swap is sometimes necessary to cut calories, provide a vegan option, or simply to fill in for a missing ingredient. Various ingredients work similar to butter or milk when baking and make ideal substitutions and you can customize your substitutions based on your needs. While milk is in liquid form, making substitution slightly easier, butter substitutions depend on how your recipe calls for the butter.

Got Milk Alternatives?

Replace the amount of milk your recipe calls for with an equal amount of non-dairy milk alternatives, such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk.

Create a fruity flavor in your baked goods recipe by substituting an equal amount of fruit juice, such as orange or apple juice for milk.

Mix evaporated milk with an equal amount of water to create your own milk substitute. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup milk, combine 1/2 cup evaporated milk with 1/2 cup water.

A Different Kind of Fat

Substitute melted butter in your recipe with oil, such as olive oil, canola oil or vegetable oil. According to Colorado State University Extension, substitute 7/8 cup oil for every 1 cup melted butter in your recipe.

Substitute shortening, lard or margarine for solid butter in your recipes. For shortening, substitute 7/8 cup for every 1 cup. Margarine works by direct substitution, or 1 cup for 1 cup.

Add applesauce or other fruit or vegetable puree as a butter alternative into your favorite recipe. Fruit purees substitute by using half of what the recipe calls for. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup butter, replace with 1/2 cup fruit puree. For vegetable puree, use 3/4 cups for every cup.

Replace butter with yogurt or buttermilk, using half of the required amount. For example, if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, add 1/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk.

Items you will need

  • Non-dairy milk alternative
  • Fruit juice
  • Evaporated milk
  • Cooking oil
  • Shortening, lard or margarine


  • If your batter or dough appears dry when using fruit or vegetable purees, add slightly more puree until you reach the desired consistency.

About the Author

Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images