Can I Make Sugar Cookies Without Butter? Our Recipe

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We’ve all been there. It’s the weekend and you feel like whipping up a delicious treat, but you check the refrigerator and are missing a fundamental component of the recipe: butter or melted butter.

If you find that you’re in a bind without butter, don’t panic. This sugar cookies without butter recipe is not only delicious but is also incredibly easy to make.  

Keep reading to find out how to make sugar cookies without butter! 

You might be thinking that sugar cookies without butter sound dry, but I promise you – you can still achieve that beautifully soft, buttery texture without having to use any butter at all. 

Reasons why you might need to replace butter in a recipe 

There are a variety of reasons why you might need to replace butter in a recipe that goes beyond just running out of it. 

Milk allergy

Although butter is low in protein, it still contains a small amount of the milk protein casein, which can cause an allergy flare-up.

That being said, if you have a milk allergy, it’s important to be cautious and mindful of your butter intake, especially in baking when you might not notice the butter content as much.

If your allergy is severe, you may need to avoid it completely to avoid allergic reactions from occurring. 

Lactose intolerance

For many people, dairy might not be a suitable option because you struggle with lactose intolerance.

Although some individuals are more sensitive to lactose than others, you may have to avoid butter for this reason. 

Vegan diet

Alternatively, your diet might not allow you to consume butter.

If you live a vegan or plant-based diet, for instance, no dairy products are suitable for you to consume, and you’ll therefore need a suitable substitute to accommodate this. 

Health issues

Whether you’re trying to avoid butter because it’s high in saturated fat or because it potentially could be raising your cholesterol, there’s no denying that butter is also packed with calories.

As a result, you might just want a healthier recipe for a treat that accommodates your health. 

If you can’t make it to the store but still want to bake some delicious cookies, you needn’t look further than your pantry or fridge!

There are many different substitutes for butter that are just as effective in this classic cookie recipe that you probably already have at home. Check out our favorite substitutes for butter below. 

Substitutes for butter  

Butter is used in baking as a leavening agent, meaning that it is used to introduce air into baked goods to make them light and fluffy. Alongside this, it contributes to the moist texture of baked goods that make cookies so more-ish, as well as contributing to their rich, delicious flavor.  

There is an array of substitutes for butter available out there. You can really get creative if you’re in a bind with a recipe that requires butter when you don’t have any in the house.  

Pantry substitutes 

Coconut oil

Coconut oil can replace butter in baking at a 1:1 ratio. However, you should be mindful that it may slightly change the flavor, as different types of coconut oil vary the taste more than others.

Unrefined coconut oil tends to taste more strongly of coconut than refined varieties, so the type that you use is up to you and your preferences. 

Olive oil

Olive oil also works well as a butter replacement. In the majority of recipes, olive oil can be substituted for butter at a 3:4 ratio by volume.

For instance, if the recipe requires 1 cup of butter, you can replace it with 3/4 cups of olive oil. 

Vegetable oil

Similarly to the other oils suggested above, vegetable oil is an excellent butter substitute. The vegetable oil can replace butter in baking at a 1:1 ratio.

Vegetable oil is great for a sugar cookie, as it tends to have a milder flavor or can be tasteless in comparison to other oils, such as coconut, that have a distinct flavor. You can also look at almond butter, nut butter, or even maple syrup in your recipe.

Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter with an aromatic and nutty taste that originated in ancient India. Commonly used all over Asia, ghee contains essentially no casein or lactose and is therefore considered to be a safer option for individuals with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

In baked goods for which a strong, buttery flavor is desirable, it can replace butter at a 1:1 ratio. 

Apple sauce

Apple sauce is an excellent substitute for butter as it significantly reduces the calorie and fat content of baked goods. It is likely that you already have some in your pantry, and is a great ingredient to have to hand whenever you run out of butter in baking.

However, it is worth mentioning that apple sauce does add sweetness to a recipe, so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe accordingly with this butter substitute. 

Fridge substitutes 

Greek yogurt

If you’re fine with eating dairy, using Greek yogurt in a recipe can add a boost of protein to your recipes and replaces sweetness with a tangy flavor.

Full-fat yogurt is great for keeping baked goods creamy, performing similarly to butter. 

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a popular replacement for butter as the result makes your cookies deliciously soft. Typically speaking, you will need to use half a cup (125ml) of buttermilk for every cup of butter.

Buttermilk will provide your recipe with a tangy flavor similar to Greek yogurt, although it is generally higher in calories and fat. 

It is worth noting that when using a substitute of any kind in baking, you should always do your research to check how much to use. In the case of butter, some substitutes have a 1:1 ratio.

This means that you would use the same amount of the substitute ingredient as the original ingredient in the recipe. However, that being said, these ratios can vary depending on the substitute, so it’s always worth checking to avoid upsetting the balance of the recipe. After all, baking is a science! 

Can these sugar cookies be made vegan? 

Yes – these sugar cookies can absolutely be made vegan with a few alterations to the recipe. You simply need a vegan butter replacement, such as coconut oil, as well as an egg replacement.

For the egg replacement, you simply need 1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water. This mixture will become gloopy and is the perfect egg consistency that gives your cookies a speckled look. 

If you don’t like chia seeds, there are alternatively lots of other ingredients that you can replace the egg with, such as chickpea water otherwise known as aquafaba. Just because you’re vegan or follow a plant-based diet, doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all of the yummy treats.

By making a few adjustments, you can easily make these sugar cookies without butter suitable for vegans. 

In this recipe, I ended up using coconut oil to replace the butter, but if you’d prefer, choose another substitute above. Check out the recipe below.

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4.81 from 62 votes

Sugar Cookies Without Butter

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 179kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups and 1 tablespoon All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Begin by whisking flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  • Next, grab a larger bowl and use a wooden spoon to cream the coconut oil and sugar together until well combined.
  • Add the egg and vanilla to your oil and sugar and mix until combined.
  • Once combined, begin to gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until a dough begins to form. Make sure to add a dash more flour if the dough becomes too sticky, being careful to not over-do it as you don’t want it to become bread-like.
  • Once you have your dough, roll it into a ball, wrap it up, and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst your dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  • Finally, roll the cookie dough into 1.5-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet, flattening the balls with your hand or the bottom of a glass to create flat circles.
  • Bake for 11 minutes or until golden!

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 70mg | Sugar: 13g

Sugar Cookies Without Butter

 
  • 2 cups and 1 tablespoon All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)
  1. Begin by whisking flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl.

  2. Next, grab a larger bowl and use a wooden spoon to cream the coconut oil and sugar together until well combined.

  3. Add the egg and vanilla to your oil and sugar and mix until combined.

  4. Once combined, begin to gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until a dough begins to form. Make sure to add a dash more flour if the dough becomes too sticky, being careful to not over-do it as you don’t want it to become bread-like.

  5. Once you have your dough, roll it into a ball, wrap it up, and chill the dough for 30 minutes.

  6. Whilst your dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

  7. Finally, roll the cookie dough into 1.5-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet, flattening the balls with your hand or the bottom of a glass to create flat circles.

  8. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden!

 
Dessert
American


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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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