I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different clarified butter substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding clarified butter is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for clarified butter are the homemade version and ghee. You can also go with regular butter, olive oil, canola oil, tallow, lard, or vegetable shortening. For more flavourful options, try duck fat, schmaltz, or bacon grease.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I seared steak cubes to try out loads of different clarified butter substitutes.
Clarified butter is pure butter fat with the milk solids and water removed. This process gives clarified butter a higher smoking point (485F) and a richer, more buttery flavor.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade clarified butter||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Ghee||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Olive oil||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Canola oil||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Duck fat||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Tallow||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Regular butter||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Schmaltz||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
Common uses for clarified butter and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for clarified butter and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Sauces & Gravies: Try using homemade clarified butter, ghee, or regular butter.
- Stir-frying, searing, and other high-heat cooking applications: Try using homemade clarified butter, ghee, canola oil, or tallow.
- Baking: Try using homemade clarified butter, ghee, regular butter, or canola oil.
Homemade clarified butter
You can easily whip up a batch of clarified butter with your regular stick of butter.
Culinary Hill offers a great recipe, but here’s the basic rundown: gently melt the butter over low heat, and watch as the milk solids (that white stuff) rise to the top.
Once the butter has melted, all you need to do is carefully skim off the milk solids, and voilà, you’ve got homemade clarified butter!
And if you want to take things even further.
Cook the clarified butter a bit more to create “browned butter,” a.k.a. liquid gold in the baking world.
Pssst… for best results, use European-style butter. It’s pricey but has more milk fats than American butter, meaning you get a richer result.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade version.
Ghee is a close cousin to clarified butter, with a slight twist in the preparation process.
The milk solids are cooked until golden brown, then strained out, giving ghee an extra layer of nuttiness.
It’s popular in Indian cooking, so you can probably find a jar in the international aisle of your local grocery store, or you can make it yourself with regular butter.
Ghee can withstand high heat so you can use it for frying (my steak bites has a really nice sear), and it also works well in baking.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with ghee.
For a completely plant-based and healthier option, turn to olive oil. It’s got zero saturated fats.
Use regular olive oil when it comes to frying. It has a more neutral flavor and a similar smoke point to clarified butter.
However, for finishing dishes or making hollandaise sauce, opt for extra virgin olive oil to add a touch of richness and depth.
And if you’re worried about missing clarified butter’s nutty flavor, you can try Spanish olive oils – they have more of a fruity flavor compared to Italian olive oil’s grassy notes.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with olive oil.
Canola oil is an easy and affordable alternative to clarified butter.
It’s also very accessible – you probably have a bottle in your kitchen right now!
It doesn’t have a rich flavor like clarified butter but doesn’t burn quickly, making it excellent for high-heat cooking.
And if you’re looking for a healthier option, you might want to consider avocado or corn oil instead – they also have neutral flavors and high smoking points, making them just as versatile.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with canola oil.
For a more luxurious alternative to clarified butter, try duck fat!
It has a savory, extra-rich flavor that adds depth and a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to my steak bites.
Duck fat’s smoke point isn’t as high as clarified butter’s but you can still use it for things like pan-frying, roasting, and baking.
I normally use duck fat to make a decadent hollandaise sauce and crispy, mouth-watering roasted potatoes.
The downside? Duck fat is pretty expensive, so you might need to save this substitute for a special occasion.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with duck fat.
Tallow is another good substitute for clarified butter, especially in savory dishes.
It can withstand heat up to 400F like clarified butter, making it suitable for high-heat cooking techniques.
Plus, it has a richness that’ll enhance your dish’s savory flavors.
Tallow can be found at specialty stores, butcher shops, or online, but you can also make it yourself if you’re up for the challenge.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with tallow.
Not got anytime to make your own clarified butter? You can always stick with plain old butter.
It has a lower smoking point than clarified butter, so you can’t use it for high-heat searing or frying.
But it still works great for light sautéing, finishing dishes, drizzling over popcorn (YUM!), and baking.
You might lose out on some richness by using regular butter, but this won’t be too noticeable.
How to substitute: replace clarified butter in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with regular butter.
Schmaltz (chicken fat)
Another animal fat option is rendered chicken fat, which is popularly known as schmaltz.
It’s just as rich as duck fat, and it has a stronger, slightly more aromatic flavor.
It’s also really easy to make yourself at home.
All you need is some fatty chicken skin. Cook it on a low heat until the fat starts to melt out. Then turn the heat up slightly, and continue to cook the chicken scraps until they’re golden and crispy.
Strain the fat and keep your schmaltz in the fridge for 6 months.
How to substitute: Replace clarified butter in a 1:1 ratio with schmaltz.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above are my top substitute options for clarified butter, but here are some more things to consider.
- Vegetable shortening – this has a low water content like clarified butter, making it great for high-heat cooking. It also has no flavor, so you can use it for sweet and savory applications. Crisco is a popular brand that’s also dairy-free and vegan.
- Peanut oil – this oil has a slightly nutty flavor (almost neutral) and doesn’t break down easily, making it a popular choice for deep-frying. Coconut oil is another option.
- Bacon grease – this is the by-product of cooking bacon slowly. It has a deliciously meaty, smoky flavor that tasted amazing with my steak bites. But the flavor is very strong, so you need to be careful not to overwhelm your dishes.
- Cooking spray – this is just like regular cooking oil in a can, but it allows a more controlled dispersal so you won’t need much oil to cover a pan. If all you need is to grease a pan, this is a good (and healthy) option.
- Processed lard – this comes from pork fat but doesn’t have a strong pork flavor because it’s been clarified. It has a moderately-high smoking point and is good for baking and frying.
Margarine – substitute to avoid
Margarine is a low-quality ingredient that I wouldn’t recommend as a substitute for clarified butter. It lacks the intensely rich flavors that make clarified butter stand out, and has more of a cheap flavor. Plus, some margarine brands burn quickly or wont melt at all, making them tricky to use for cooking.
Homemade Clarified Butter + 7 other substitutes
- 1 lb unsalted butter
- In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. As it melts, the milk solids (white stuff) rises to the top.
- Once the butter is fully melted, skim or strain the milk solids and transfer the butterfat to a clean jar.