Ghee, a kind of clarified butter without water, made by slowly cooking butter and separating milk solids from the butter, is a popular ingredient in Asian Kitchens, especially in India. You may need Ghee Substitutes if you run out of it or are looking for a vegan option or are just trying to replace ghee for dietary reasons like lactose intolerance. This post contains a detailed list of Ghee Alternatives that you may find interesting and useful.
Hailing from India means loving Desi Ghee by default, more so as we grew up with the aroma of ghee when it was being made at home. Those were the days... Ghee is the pride of Indian cuisine and Indian cooking is desolate without the addition of Ghee.
As I type this post for my readers who might be looking for healthier alternative for ghee for various reasons, I feel overwhelmed as ghee has played an incredible part in my health and life. Those who have been reading my blog already are aware that Ghee is the secret ingredient of so many recipes that I have posted. In fact, a few of my baking recipes also include desi ghee, and in my humble opinion, ghee did take those recipes to another level. Find few recipes here: Wheat Apple Cobbler, Eggless Sweet Potato Pie and Sugar Free Pumpkin Muffins.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is aromatic and nutty clarified butter. It's made using the butter from the milk by slowly cooking it in a heavy-bottomed pan till the water and milk solids separate from it. Made generally using cow's milk, ghee is easily made in Indian households and it's recommended as the best for kids.
Ghee, a dairy product has a high smoke point and can be used for high heating. Indian food is mostly made in ghee and ghee lovers would always opt for dishes made exclusively in ghee. Most popular include desi ghee parathas, Ghee tempering to Dal/ Lentils, Sweet dishes made in ghee, and a long list.
Not just cooking, I have used ghee for massaging my daughter when she was a kid. Ghee acts as a healer as per Ayurveda. We use ghee for religious purposes as well. A Bhog made for God is always made in ghee. The lamp lit while doing Hindu Puja is with ghee in it.
Being rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, Ghee is indeed a great source of energy and has several health benefits. It's great for lactose intolerant people as milk solids are separated from it while making it. It is considered as a healthy alternative to butter. When used in moderation, ghee is considered to be a healthy fat. Good for a healthy gut, ghee keeps you warm and is known to save you from cough and cold. 
Vegan Ghee Substitutes For Cooking & Baking
If you are looking for an alternative to ghee, you may get the best options compiled in one place for you. Ghee is used extensively in Indian cuisines (Middle Eastern cuisines as well) and helps you cook healthy meals. Yet if for some reason, you can't have ghee, you may look for the following substitutes.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a similar nutty flavor to ghee. Though low in smoking point, coconut oil can be used for cooking daily meals, baking desserts, or adding creamy flavor to smoothies/ dips. It is easily used in place of ghee for all kinds of recipes-cooking, gravies, rice, or vegetable side dishes and is a perfect substitute.
South Indian food uses coconut oil in most of their dishes. You may make curries or dry vegetables using coconut oil. It is solid at room temperature like ghee. If you are not a fan of coconut flavor, scroll down for more options or use refined coconut oil which would have toned down the flavor.
Generally, coconut oil can replace ghee in a 1:1 ratio, that is, the same amount of coconut oil is used as that of ghee, with no changes in the recipe.
2. Olive Oil
Olive Oil is a light liquid oil, unlike solid ghee. It's a popular and expensive oil that is used in making pizza, pasta, fresh salad dressings, and bread.
It won't be very nutty like ghee but has a fresh aroma, and rich flavor, is buttery, and tastes like herbs, a little bitter. Since it is in a liquid state, it may be ideally used less than ghee and not in a 1:1 ratio. Perhaps, 1: ½-3/4 may work depending upon the recipe. It is the best ghee substitute for salads, pasta, and bread. I recommend using extra virgin olive oil for the best taste and flavor.
3. Sesame Oil
Sesame seeds are one of my favorites and I use them in pastas, Ladoos, and on chili potatoes. They are naturally rich in oil and the sesame oil is indeed a healthy choice.
Dark Sesame oil has a nutty and earthy flavor similar to ghee and can replace ghee in most recipes. It has a neutral taste and can be used in stir fry, lentils, etc. It can also be used for frying.
Unlike ghee, Sesame oil is not a solid fat and is liquid at room temperature. So, you would need it less than ghee. A ratio of 1: ¾ works best for recipe substitutions. It is ideal for deep frying as ghee has a high smoke point and is not advised to be used in deep frying food.
4. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil has a nutty, grassy, and mild flavor and is considered the best vegan ghee substitute. Mostly they taste like avocados. It has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking like frying and sautéing, and its mild, buttery flavor can mimic the richness of ghee in various dishes.
From baking desserts to cooking pasta, avocado oil works best for low-carb diets. It works with a 1:1 ratio for recipes.
5. Mustard Oil
A very common Indian oil used in vegetable cooking is mustard oil. Strong in flavor, mustard oil has anti-fungal properties making it best for Pickles and dry vegetables. It adds a spicy touch to the vegetables. It's known for its distinct, pungent flavor that adds depth to dishes. Like ghee, mustard oil has a high smoke point, making it suitable for frying and sautéing. The ratio for substituting would be 1: ¾. It is perfect for high-heat cooking, especially deep frying.
In a few countries, it is not used as an edible option. You may feel free to choose other substitutes for ghee.
6. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil has mild and little flavor and is a versatile oil. It doesn't add much flavor to the food which is cooked in it. It has a high smoking point just like ghee and is best suited for slow-cooking food.
It can replace ghee in a 1:1 ratio. You may use a little less as sunflower is a liquid oil, unlike ghee.
7. Vegetable Oil
A common refined or vegetable oil has a subtle flavor and can replace ghee for several recipes like stir-fried veggies, lentils, pancakes, etc. Yet the taste of ghee is far superior to the taste of any brand of vegetable oil. Use ratio 1: ¾ for recipes.
If you are a vegan, then vegetable oil of good quality is a good alternative to ghee.
This is not to discourage you if you love vegetable oil. It's just Indians love ghee in every dish as the taste of your dish is super when made in ghee. I may be biased and encourage you to choose the best choice of oil as per your preference. I won't recommend baking in vegetable oil as that might not yield same flavor and taste.
8. Canola Oil
Rapeseed oil or canola oil, can serve as a substitute for ghee in some cooking applications. It has a neutral flavor and a relatively high smoke point, making it suitable for sautéing and frying. However, it lacks the rich, buttery flavor of ghee, so while it can work in certain recipes, it won't provide the same depth of flavor. If the distinct flavor of ghee is essential to a dish, rapeseed oil may not be the best substitute.
9. Vegetable Shortening
In baking, vegetable shortening can replace ghee for texture, but it won't provide the same flavor. In most recipes, you can substitute vegetable shortening for ghee at a 1:1 ratio by weight. Ghee has a rich, nutty flavor that vegetable shortening lacks.
Non-Vegan Substitute For Ghee
Since ghee is a clarified butter, butter makes a decent ghee substitute. Butter is closest to taste in ghee and though less in fat part, it gives a similar flavor to the dish.
Ghee has no water and hence it doesn't splutter when cooked. You may swap ghee with vegan butter as well. Butter can substitute for ghee in a one-to-one ratio.
For baking recipes, butter or unsalted butter is the best ghee replacement. However, for vegan recipes, you might wish to use vegan butter in place of ghee.
Yes, you may use ghee as an alternative to butter in the ratio 1:1.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It's more concentrated in fat than butter.
This post answers this question in detail- The 10 best substitutes of ghee include- coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and a lot more.
Note: This post in no way discourages users from having ghee. As mentioned, the author is a great fan of ghee. It's meant for users who can't locate ghee, have allergies or follow eating preferences due to lactose intolerance or otherwise recommended by a doctor.
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Popular Vegan Recipes that use other oils instead of Ghee:
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- Easy Vegan Energy Balls Recipe- No Bake Granola Balls
- Healthy Air Fryer Eggplant Fries-No Breadcrumbs
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