How to Use Coconut Oil as a Vegan Butter Substitute


Butter is one of the easiest things to substitute for when cooking a vegan dish.

In my experience, coconut is one of the best vegan butter substitutes.

coconut oil

Here’s what you’ll need to know:

  1. You should add the same amount of coconut oil as the butter in the recipe (a 1:1 substitution).
  2. Unrefined coconut oil has a stronger coconut taste, and is also thicker. You should use refined or “aroma free” coconut oil if you don’t love the taste of coconut.
  3. You’ll need to melt the coconut oil (or at least soften it) in the microwave before adding it.
  4. Add a pinch of salt if the recipe lists salted butter.

The Easiest Way to Measure and Melt Coconut Oil

Trying to scoop out coconut oil into a measuring cup and then microwaving it (most measuring cups aren’t really meant to be microwaved) is a huge pain.

The better way to measure coconut oil is by weight. You can scoop it directly into a microwavable glass, bowl, or mug that’s sitting on a scale, and then put it into the microwave.

In most coconut oils, a tablespoon (15 mL) is equal to 14 grams, which is equal to about 0.5 fl oz. Therefore:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) = 2 fl oz = 56 grams of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) = 4 fl oz = 112 grams of coconut oil
  • 1 cup (240 mL) = 8 fl oz = 224 grams of coconut oil

Just divide the amount of mL you need by 15, and multiply by 14. Or, just multiply the mL directly by 0.93.

For ounces, just multiply them by 28 to get the number of grams of coconut oil that you’ll need.

Don’t Have Enough Coconut Oil? Use These Other Vegan Butter Alternatives

There are other vegan alternatives to butter that are just as easy and good as coconut oil.

1. Vegan Butter (Buy or make your own)

Earth Balance Butter Sticks

When I first bought vegan butter (Earth Balance) from the store, I couldn’t tell the difference from real butter. It’s one of the best mimics that I’ve come across.

There are multiple brands of vegan butters in most grocery stores, although that’ll depend on where you’re from.

If you can’t find any, it’s really easy to make your own vegan butter, using a mix of:

  • Almond flour
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Turmeric

It tastes very similar to the store bought ones, and you have complete control over the ingredients.

2. Olive Oil

In many cases, you can substitute olive oil for butter using a 3:4 ratio (3/4 cup olive oil for every cup of butter). It’s obviously a bit thinner, which is why you usually need a bit less.

It’s not the perfect substitute, but it’ll work in a pinch.

It works really well in savory meals like pasta dishes, but it’s a decent last resort while baking.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.