I’ve been vegan since the dark ages–2009 to be exact. Way before the proliferation of Impossible Burgers, oat milk soft serve, and certainly before plant-based sashimi. It was difficult out there. Kids these days get to eat all the stunty burgers and deep-fried lasagna.
We’ve come a long way in the veganification of the grocery aisle, but I’m most excited about all the plant-based dairy. Bye-bye weird margarine-y “buttery spread” and grainy rubber cheese, and hello fatty, creamy, unctuous nondairy ice cream. Today we have vegan butter options for baking, spreading on cinnamon toast, and even making buttercream frosting as fluffy and tangy as the real thing. Are you unsure where to begin? Curious if the best dairy-free butter for baking a pie crust is the same as the one you want for slathering on a warm blueberry muffin? I am a veteran vegan who has tried more than a dozen vegan buttery sticks and spreads. These are the top vegan butter brands that work in every type of cooking situation.
For Literally Everything: Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter
When Miyoko Schinner came on the scene in 2014, she really changed things for butter-loving herbivores. Earth Balance, a margarine-like product that leans toward artificial ingredients, was my only substitute for regular butter at the time. It was something I tried, but not enthusiastically. Then I heard about this woman in Napa making cultured cashew dairy and my house hasn’t been without a brick in the fridge or freezer ever since. Miyoko’s Creamery products can be found at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The “hint of salt” option is my choice (yes, even for baking). It’s flavorful, melts easily, spreads well, and makes good shortbread.
Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter
For Literally Everything, At a Price: ForA Plant-Based Butter
I first discovered this stuff in Los Angeles at Bakers Bench. I smelled the most decadent buttery aroma in the bakery, turned to the case to admire what I assumed were butter-laden treats, but then looked closer and discovered every pastry was marked with a little “v.” I bought a croissant, and it was immaculate–the flavor, the lamination, the flakiness. I discovered they used ForA, and I knew I had to have some.
It did not disappoint. It has been used for cookies, flakey pie crusts, and a satisfyingly dense pound cake. ForA is great for vegetable sauteing and toast spreading. It is different than any other product I have seen. For a rich, creamy texture, it uses coconut oil, aquafaba, and coconut cream. It’s a dream for vegan bakers, but it also works well for vegans and vegan-curious people who are sensitive to dairy. It can be more costly than other brands. It is a highly sought-after commodity, which can be difficult to find in LA except for specialty grocery stores. They also often sell out on their website. Thrive Market can be a good source, though.
For Baking: Flora Plant Butter
I am a serious baker. Flora was a great choice for pie crusts. Flora’s butter sticks are packaged in paper so it is easy to measure the ingredients. It also comes unsalted. Flora butter is not nut-free, unlike other butters that contain cashew or macadamia. It is made from palm kernel and pea proteins, so it is my favorite choice for baking friends with allergies.
For Spreading on Toast, Corn, and Baked Potatoes: Monty’s Plant-Based Butter
I love Monty’s cream cheese, my gateway to the brand, but the butter! It was amazing! I loved it on warm rye toast. It was so flavorful in a way that I had never experienced with vegan butters. You can even microwave it a bit or leave it out at room temperature. This is my butter alternative. It’s more than just butter and has an earthy tang. It is made from cashews and coconut oil. It’s great for topping any toasted bread, including sourdough, bagels and even banana bread. It’s also great for topping a baked potato, a plate of green beans, or a cob of corn. It comes in reusable glass containers which I love.
Monty’s Plant-Based Butter
For Topping Pancakes: Wayfare Dairy-Free Salted and Whipped Butter
Is there anything more ’90s than whipped butter? As a child of that time, I love whipped butter. It is the only butter substitute that can replicate that restaurant-style texture. This whipped butter spread is amazing on cinnamon toast, waffles, and pancakes. Wayfare is made extra melty and easily spreadable by the air. It’s also nut-free and made with a mixture of butter beans and coconut oils.
Wayfare Dairy-Free Salted and Whipped Butter
For Making the Tangiest Buttercream Frosting: Wildbrine European Style Butter Alternative
It’s no surprise that a brand that makes all sorts of fermented things makes the funkiest plant butter. It seems like an odd product for a sauerkraut brand to make but not when you realize that the best real butter is cultured too. I like the European Style butter, made from a blend of cashews and coconut oil, but they also make one with oats and potatoes! It’s great for frosting, spreading and finishing cakes that require buttercream frosting. So tangy.