Picture this: you just got back from work. You’re pretty exhausted, and the only thing you want is to have a nice, fulfilling dessert.
Naturally, you go with banana bread. After all, it’s rich in nutrients and it’s super sweet, so it’s a perfect choice.
So, you start prepping your ingredients, then soon realize you have no butter!
You start to panic! Now you’re full of questions: how important is butter in banana bread? Can I replace it with oil? How much oil should I use?
First of all, slow down and take a breath. Banana bread is so versatile that there are a dozen ways of making it without compromising its delicious taste.
In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and more, so you can understand how to make the perfect banana bread, even without butter.
At first glance, you might think the sole purpose of butter is to add flavor and richness to your recipe.
That’s true, but only up to a point. The truth is that butter has a more important role in baking, which is to work as a leavening agent.
In other words, it’s responsible for making your bread rise inside the oven.
You see, butter contains a bit of water. When you bake bread, this water evaporates and turns into steam, which gets trapped inside your batter. The result is that the batter rises, producing wonderfully delicious, fluffy bread.
Furthermore, butter adds texture and tenderness to your bread.
If you don’t add butter to the batter, you’ll end up with dry banana bread that’s lacking in richness and fluff.
So, can you only get rich, fluffy banana bread using butter? No. Luckily, there are other alternatives, like oil.
Besides adding a rich texture and flavor, there are other advantages to using oil when making banana bread.
When you use butter, you either melt it or whisk it. Both take some time.
Since oil is a liquid, you don’t need to do that. You just add it to your wet ingredients, and that’s it. You’ll also have fewer dishes to clean, which is always a plus.
Furthermore, oil adds moisture to baked goodies, and, as any good baker knows, there’s nothing worse than a dry, bland dessert.
That’s a tricky question.
There are a lot of banana bread recipes out there that use oil. Different recipes require different types of oil.
The type of oil you use should depend on what you’re looking for in banana bread because each kind will impact the recipe differently.
Let’s take a look.
The most common butter alternative for banana bread is vegetable oil.
The thing about neutral vegetable oil is that it doesn’t have a strong flavor. That means it doesn’t change the taste of your recipe, and the other ingredients will have more room to shine.
On the other hand, it’s not the healthiest option. So, avoid using too much of it.
Using olive oil in baking is a relatively novel idea, as it’s often associated with salad dressings and marinating meat.
However, baking with olive oil has some benefits.
For example, it’s healthier than vegetable oil and butter. Olive oil contains antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy fats.
Keep in mind that olive oil has a unique flavor, so it’ll alter the taste of your bread. If you like the taste of olive oil, then good for you.
If you don’t, then maybe olive oil isn’t the right choice for you.
While it’s a solid alternative to butter, baking with coconut oil can be tricky.
On the one hand, this nutritious oil can provide you with the energy your body needs. If you’re looking for a good dose of antioxidants, it’s got you covered.
On the other hand, coconut oil is high in saturated fats, so you don’t want to get carried away with it.
Nobody likes greasy desserts.
When you use oil, you need to accurately measure how much to add. It’s not only good for your health, but your bread will taste better.
There aren’t definitive rules on how much oil you need in banana bread recipes. Every recipe requires a different amount of oil.
The amount also depends on how much you make.
If you choose a recipe that uses butter, there are some guidelines you can follow if you decide to use oil instead.
Oil has more fat than butter. Butter consists of fat, milk, and water, whereas oil is pure fat. So, you generally want to use less oil than butter.
If your recipe requires one cup of butter, add ¾ of a cup of oil.
Some might use a 1:1 ratio, or one cup of oil instead of one cup of butter.
The amount you use depends on your personal preference and the kind of oil you use. For example, olive oil has less saturated fat than butter, so a 1:1 ratio can be proportionate, whereas coconut oil has more fat, so it’s better to use slightly less than one cup.
There isn’t a decisive answer to that question. We can, however, show you the pros and cons of each and let you decide for yourself.
The biggest leverage butter has over oil in baking is taste. Generally, banana bread made with butter tastes better and has a richer flavor.
As mentioned before, butter is an effective leavening agent. Since oil doesn’t contain water, it can’t contribute to the rise of your bread. Hence, if you’re looking for a better-looking loaf of fluffy bread, butter is the way to go.
Oil, on the other hand, is more effective at enhancing the texture, giving you moist, tender banana bread.
Butter is solid fat. If you melt it and add it to your recipe, it’ll solidify the colder it gets. So, your bread will harden slightly when it gets cold.
Oil, on the other hand, remains liquid even when cold. So, your bread has a better chance of maintaining its moisture with oil.
Ultimately, it comes down to what’s best for you.
From what we’ve covered so far, you probably think you only have two choices when making banana bread: butter and oil. Yet, there are a few other healthier alternatives that will make your bread taste just as great.
Oil and butter are heavy in fat. So, if you’re trying to lower your consumption of fats, applesauce might be a better option for you.
The best part? It won’t just give you a lighter loaf of bread, but will also increase the bread’s nutritional value.
It’s also easy to use. If your recipe requires one cup of butter, replace it with one cup of applesauce.
You need to be careful, though because applesauce will add sweetness to your bread. So, adjust your sugar measurements accordingly.
Greek yogurt is another healthy option on this list. Just like applesauce, it’ll reduce the amount of fat in your bread, while adding a rich, dense flavor with a moist texture.
If you decide to go with Greek yogurt, use the same 1:1 ratio as the applesauce, and your bread will come out perfect.
The war between butter and margarine is as old as time.
While margarine isn’t necessarily healthier than butter, there are some benefits to baking with it.
Health-wise, you’ll be avoiding saturated fats and high cholesterol. Flavor-wise, it’ll give a soft texture that’s sure to melt in your mouth.
Plus, it’s a vegan option, which is even better.
That said, you need to carefully measure how much you use and use complimentary ingredients when possible.
While it’s not hard to make banana bread, there are common mistakes you should avoid.
The key to making good banana bread is having a balanced ratio between all the ingredients, including butter.
Adding too much butter will result in banana bread that’s dry on the outside and moist on the inside.
That imbalance will offset your taste buds.
Flour can make or break your bread.
Add too much, and you’ll have dry bread; add too little, and you might make it too moist.
Don’t just scoop it out of the bag. Gradually add flour to a measuring cup until you get what the recipe calls for.
So, can you make banana bread without butter?
However, keep in mind that butter would be a great addition to your batter that provides a rich flavor, moistness, and fluff.
Yet, if you run out or prefer another option, you can always go with oil. There are three types of oil to choose from, each with benefits and drawbacks. So, choose wisely.
If, for any reason, you don’t want to use either butter or oil, you can substitute them with healthier alternatives like the ones mentioned above.
Whichever ingredient you end up using, it’s sure to be one tasty, easy-to-make dessert your whole family will enjoy!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.