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Butter vs Oil in Baking

Butter vs. Oil in Baking

Not all "fats are" created equal…especially when it comes to baking, it makes a difference which fat you use and when you use it in the recipe. It’s not always a straight one to one substitution, there are several things to consider when deciding to use butter or oil. Here are some suggestions and insights for baking with butter or oil.

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

The Role of Fat in Baking

You just can’t leave the fat out of a recipe when it comes to baking. All fats, whether solid or liquid, provide flavor and richness. It is important especially when you’re looking to create tender baked goods. Fat also helps with leavening, which is what helps the dough rise.

Provides Flavor

Baking with fats creates a rich tasting experience and more flavor overall. Another plus: cakes and cookies will be moister when baking with fat. Overall, baked goods made with fat taste better, that’s a fact 😊.

Tender Crumb

Fat creates tender baked goods by slowing down the formation of gluten. When fat coats flour it acts as a barrier between the protein and water. That’s why rich bread like brioche or cinnamon rolls are richer and more decadent in comparison to a baguette or Italian loaf, which don’t have any fat in them.

Leavening Agent

Solid fats, like butter, can help baked goods rise. When you cream butter and sugar together, it creates an aerated mixture that provides lift before, during, and after baking. Butter also contains water, and when the water evaporates, it creates flakey layers critical to a pie crust or biscuit.

Butter vs Oil in Baking

Butter is considered a solid fat because it is solid at room temperature and oil is considered a liquid fat because it’s liquid at room temperature. Because of this, you can’t rely on oil to provide any leavening help in baked goods, which can result in a denser texture. In the photos of cookies and cake made with butter and oil below the top photo is made with butter and the second photo is made with oil. 

2019 butter vs oil cookie whole
2019 butter vs oil cookie broken
2019 butter vs oil cake

Oil is also a more neutral flavor, so it doesn’t provide as much flavor as butter. In order to maximize flavor and recipe success, we recommend you follow the recipe ingredient list when baking. If you have questions about a substitution for a recipe, please contact us at 1-800-328-4155.

More Information on Baking with Butter

Check out these other resources for more information on baking and cooking with butter and different fats.

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