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BEST Substitutes For Butter in Mashed Potatoes + 1 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of substitutes for butter in mashed potatoes to find the best one.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.

The best substitutes for butter in mashed potatoes are olive oil, ghee, animal fats (like chicken, duck, or bacon fat), and cream cheese. Mayonnaise works as a last minute option if it’s all you have in your fridge. And if you want to replace the milk and butter, use eggs.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I made small batches of mashed potatoes to several test different butter substitutes – don’t worry, I had my neighbors help me finish everything! 

Butter is a staple ingredient in the most basic recipe for mashed potatoes.

It’s responsible for adding fat and decadence to your mash, and transforming the texture from starchy, to creamy-and-oh-so-fluffy.

For each substitute I made notes on the taste and texture, how easy the substitute was to use, as well as anything unique about it compared to butter.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteRating
MargarineReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Olive oilReplace with ½ the amount9/10
Heavy creamReplace with ½ the amount9/10
GheeReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Goose/duck/schmaltzReplace with ½ the amount9/10
Cream cheese/mascarponeReplace with ¾ the amount9/10
MayonnaiseReplace with ½ the amount7/10
EggsUse 2 eggs for every 2 lbs of potatoes6/10


The most straightforward substitute for butter in your mashed potatoes has got to be margarine – you’ve probably already considered it, but I had to include it just in case!

It’s butters doppelganger and gave my mash a super creamy texture.

The only downside? I found margarines flavor quite artificial (I’ve never been a fan). But you can easily mask this with other tasty add-ins like bacon, garlic, or cheese.

Psst… most margarine brands are vegan, so this is an easy plant-based option (always make sure to check the label, though).

How to substitute: replace butter in a 1:1 ratio with margarine.

Extra virgin olive oil

Butter’s role is to add fat to the mash, making it rich and silky. Olive oil does the exact same thing – minus the dairy.

And it’s easily accessible with added health benefits! Instead of the saturated fat in butter, olive oil is mostly good-for-you monounsaturated fats.

But hey, let’s not stop at olive oil. Any edible oil can work.

Ever tried walnut oil? It’ll bring a slightly sweet, nutty flavor to your mash. Or you could give truffle oil a whirl for an earthy, umami kick.

I’d avoid using cooking oils like canola oil though because these have no flavor and your mash won’t be as rich. And add the oil slowly, I added slightly too much the first time and my potatoes were greasy.

How to substitute: replace butter with 1/2 the amount of your chosen oil, slowly pouring it in.

Heavy cream

You might already be using heavy cream in your mash, in which case you can simply add a touch more to make up for the lack of butter.

The mash I made with heavy cream was extra creamy but had quite a heavy texture, it wasn’t as fluffy. It was also slightly bland because cream doesn’t have as much flavor as butter.

But this was an easy fix with some extra salt and pepper.

Pro-tip: don’t add all the heavy cream at once. Add it in slowly as your mashing and taste as you go, so you can stop when you’ve got the prefect texture. You can always add more cream, but you can’t take it out.

How to substitute: replace butter with ½ the amount of heavy cream. 


If you have a jar of ghee sitting in your pantry, you’re in luck! It’s an upgraded version of butter. 

To make ghee, butter is heated over a low heat until all the water and milk solids evaporate and the butterfat turns a toasty brown color.

Toasting the fat gives it a nutty taste that was really delicious in my mash. And because all the milk solids are removed, ghee is lactose-free!

Quick tip: ghee is solid at room temperature, so warm it up in the microwave before adding it to your mash. This will help it blend in better.

How to substitute: replace butter in a 1:1 ratio with ghee.

Duck/chicken/bacon fat

Animal-based fats like goose, duck, bacon or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) are fantastically flavorsome alternatives to butter in mashed potatoes.

These fats have a deep, savory flavor that turned my plain old mash into an elegant, restaurant-worthy side dish. Honestly, it was so moreish.

I used duck fat because I had some to hand. But for the most flavor, go with bacon fat. It’s smokey, salty, and full of umami.

It’s easy to make at home too. Next time you fry up some bacon, simply save the fat in a jar.

Psst… moderation is key here. These animal fats are very high in saturated fats, and no one wants greasy mash. The flavors can also become overwhelming if you use too much.

How to substitute: replace butter with ½ the amount of you chosen animal fat.

Cream cheese/mascarpone

Now we’re shifting gears to a slightly more luxurious substitute – cream cheese or mascarpone. 

These options are pricier than regular butter, but their subtle tang cut through the richness of my mash perfectly and made everything feel lighter.

And the texture of my mash was gorgeously fluffy and creamy. Another benefit of cream cheese? All the different flavors you have to pick from. Garlic and herb, sun dried tomato, or black pepper are my favorites.

How to substitute: replace butter with ¾ the amount of cream cheese/mascarpone. 


Mayo in your mash is a game-changer. 

It brought a delightful creaminess to my mash and a slightly sweet flavor. At first I replaced the butter in a 1:1 ratio with mayonnaise but I thought it was too sweet.

So I tried again with half the amount of mayo and this was much better.

And a great way to counteract the sweetness is to add some chives or scallions to the mash – think of it like mashed potato salad!

Psst… garlic mayo or sriracha mayo would be uh-mazing.

How to substitute: replace butter with half the amount of mayonnaise.


As strange as it may sound, eggs are a solid alternative to butter in mashed potatoes.

I got this tip from Mae’s Menu, which suggests using two eggs for every 2 lbs of potatoes, but they also skip the milk. If you’re still using milk, I’d go for one egg for every 2 lbs of potatoes.

The crucial thing here is to have your eggs cracked and ready for when the potatoes are done boiling. 

You’re relying on the residual heat from the potatoes to cook the eggs, just like with carbonara. My mash was rich and creamy, and didn’t tasted eggy at all.

How to substitute: 2lbs of potatoes = 2 whole eggs, and skip the milk. Or 1 egg if you still want milk.

Avoid using unsweetened applesauce

Unsweetened applesauce is often used a substitute for butter in baking recipes, and I saw some blogs suggesting it could work for mash as well, so I tried it. But it didn’t work out well. The apple sauce added moisture, but it didn’t give the potatoes that luxurious creamy consistency you’d get with butter. And the fruity notes were way too prominent.

Other substitutes to consider 

The suggestions listed above are my top picks for butter substitutes in mashed potatoes. But there are loads of other options you can try.


Yogurt is another healthier alternative to butter. It has fewer calories and boasts an extra dose of protein and probiotics. But it does have a pretty strong flavor that not everyone will like.

Sour cream/ranch dressing 

These alternatives are similar to yogurt and bought creaminess with a zesty kick to your mashed potatoes. Consider adding chives if you plan on using either of them. It’s a classic combo that’ll take your mash to the next level! 

Silken tofu 

Silken tofu is naturally creamy once blended, making it a great vegan alternative for butter. My mash was nice and light, but didn’t have much flavor. So you’ll need to add more salt, herbs, or spices.

Creamed corn 

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Creamed corn is rich and luscious, and gave my mash the same texture. It also added a subtle sweetness which I think kids would love. Get smooth creamed corn if you can, no one likes lumpy mash.

BEST Substitutes For Butter in Mashed Potatoes + 1 To Avoid

I tested several different substitutes for butter in mashed potatoes to find the best one. I was looking for a substitute that could bring the same rich flavor and consistency to my mash.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: butter in mashed potatoes substitutes, substitutes for butter in mashed potatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 102kcal


  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ¾ tbsp goose/duck fat/schmaltz
  • ¾ tbsp cream cheese/mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen butter substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 102kcal

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