What effect, if any, does substituting butter for oil in a quick bread recipe have on its texture, ability to slice, etc.? Thank you so much. ;o)



Jeannie C. July 1, 2020
I made Pumpkin Bread with light olive oil, which is what the recipe called for...the bread was so moist and it was nice..however...it tasted like olive oil...the olive oil just took the sweetness out of the bread....not a fan. I will try either 1/2 butter/1/2 oil next time or all butter..trial and error..ya know!
happycao December 9, 2010
I've always made my quick breads with butter/margarine, and then the other day I tried Mrs. Larkin's Pumpkin bread which I customized and changed with another muffin recipe, and it was with oil.... IT WAS THE BEST PUMPKIN BREAD I've ever made. The texture was moist, but still quite light. it was much better after it cooled down and it didn't crumble when cutting. The outer crust did have a nice harder shell and a moist inside. I will use oil from now on for quick bread.
betteirene December 9, 2010
There's something about using 100% fat (oil or melted shortening) that makes for a more tender crumb. I think it's because the fat coats the flour in way that prevents or slows down the formation of gluten. Even if the butter is melted, the moisture it contains does something to help the gluten along. Or something like that: I don't remember the details.

I do remember that ghee, which is butter that has had its liquids and solids cooked off and strained out, can be substituted measure for measure for oil; ghee is 100% fat and is liquid at room temperature and it will affect the taste (adding a nutty overtone) but not the texture of the product. But clarified butter is NOT an equal substitute for oil and it will affect both the taste and the texture of the final product.

Plus, there's a scientific something about butter, even if it's been mixed and baked with other ingredients, that says it reverts to its solid form at room temperature or less, but oil keeps its liquid state even when frozen.

What does this mean for you and your quick breads? If you want to substitute butter for oil without detriment to the texture and also to boost the flavor, use ghee. And make sure to publish the recipe here.
campagnes December 8, 2010
I agree with whoever said that subbing butter for oil in recipes with fruit purees will have the best result. I've subbed melted butter for oil, and I've found the result to be a little on the dry side, as butter also contains water, whereas oil is just straight-up fat. I've swapped melted butter for oil in pumpkin bread, vanilla cupcakes, and a rum cake - the pumpkin bread was great, but the other two were dry and a bit crumbly. (in fact, if I really like the flavor of a butter cake recipe but find it dry, I usually try it again, adding 2-3 tbsp. oil to the batter for moisture). Just my two cents!
SallyCan December 7, 2010
I switch around the fat in recipes frequently, and have found that usually oil will create a bread or cake with more evenly spaced and uniform holes, or grain, with a more pufffy or light texture but less dominant flavor, whereas butter, even melted, will give you one with a denser, more random texture, but with more flavor and generally more interesting. Often I use half oil and half butter, for the best of both.
spiffypaws December 7, 2010
Definately melt and cool the butter. Not knowing the ratios in the recipe you are using, I think that I would try 1/2 melted butter and 1/2 oil the first time to see how it goes. Oil is 100 percent fat and butter (depending on which one you use) averages out at 80 percent fat, so you might want to slightly reduce the amount of liquid to compensate.
iuzzini December 7, 2010
-yikes I'm tired- you may lose some volume to the water ( butter is about 80% milkfat but I think the rest is largely water)
iuzzini December 7, 2010
Also- measure the butter after melting because you may lose some volume due to milk fats etc.
Hilarybee December 7, 2010
I think it depends on the other ingredients. I've subbed melted butter for oil before, and I've had both success and failure. Success with a pumpkin bread and I couldn't find any discernible difference. I didn't really think it tasted any better or different. I think with so many spices in a pumpkin bread, it is hard to discern a delicate butter flavor. I failed in a cinnamon quick bread. It came out significantly less moist and only lasted about a day. I think it was because there wasn't a lot of moisture in the cake to begin with. Sweet breads with purees will probably be fine- you just might be able to taste the butter.
mrslarkin December 7, 2010
I've never tried subbing butter, but I think it would work equally well as long as you melt the butter. And depending on the recipe, like my pumpkin bread, it wouldn't be vegan anymore.
Rivka December 7, 2010
Actually just had a twitter convo about this: if you want to sub butter for oil for flavor purposes, melt the butter; it'll mimic oil more closely that way.
nutcakes December 7, 2010
I find that cakes made with oil have a more open texture with uniform tiny holes, and that cakes made with butter are more flavorful with a soft crumb. While oil is fine for me in many quickbreads, including banana, I have a great recipe I use that uses a stick of creamed butter. Both slice fine for me.
hardlikearmour December 7, 2010
Good question! I think if you melt the butter you should get a similar texture as the oil has, with more flavor. If you cream the butter, your texture will be lighter and more cake like. Looking through my Baking Illustrated they pretty universally favor melted and cooled butter for making quick breads, 6 Tbsp per 9" loaf.
aargersi December 7, 2010
Just looked at Mrs Larkin's pumpkin bread again and she uses oil ... so there has to be a good reason for it
aargersi December 7, 2010
Hi! I make my banana bread with (gasp) shortening - when I do the texture comes out the way I like it - nice and moist and just the right amount of density. I tried making it with butter one time and it seemed heavier to me, also the butter sort of "simmered" up the sides of the loaf pan. Now, I only tried it that one time and the rest of the time I have used shortening (or margarine - same thing right?) so it is not a fully tested scientific experiment. One of the real bakers should weigh in.
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