Best Substitutes For Ghee

If you love cooking Indian food, you’re probably familiar with recipes calling for ghee. However, you might not always have access to it, want to consume it, or want to buy an entire container only to use one teaspoon. So a common question I come across often is, what can you substitute for ghee instead?

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Key Answers

  • Butter is an ideal substitute for ghee since ghee is made from pure clarified butter.
  • Other ghee substitutes would be high-smoking point oils such as avocado or sunflower oil, nutty-flavored oils like olive and sesame oil work well, or any version of a good quality vegetable oil such as canola oil.

Finding a substitute for ghee requires it to be as close to ghee as possible, which means something with a slightly nutty flavor, a high-smoking point, high in fat, and a thicker consistency. Some options don’t fit all these requirements but can still replace ghee for what it offers. Let us look at some of these options.

Ghee Substitutes

Here is a list of options you can use to substitute for ghee in your recipes, be it Indian cuisine or any other dish where you may want to get the benefits or taste similar to that of ghee.

Butter As A Substitute For Ghee

Butter is the ideal replacement for ghee since butter is heated on low and then skimmed to make ghee. Ghee does have a nuttier flavor than butter, and if you add a little olive oil to the butter when substituting for ghee, you will get a closer flavor replacement. However, butter can work fine on its own.

If you are looking at calories and fat intake, butter is the option to use. Since you can use ghee in any application that calls for butter, it would mean that you can be use butter in any application that calls for ghee. Butter also has a similar consistency to ghee; therefore, it works out perfectly.

The ratio of substituting butter for ghee: 1:1 – no further measurements of corrections are needed.

Clarified Butter As A Substitute For Ghee

Clarified butter, like regular butter, is also ideally the perfect replacement for ghee. Ghee is ultimately a variation of clarified butter but more caramelized, giving it a deep nutty flavor. The clarified option would be ideal; however, it is not as readily available as regular butter.

To get the nutty flavor that ghee has, a little olive oil added to the clarified butter will imitate the taste of ghee a little closer. Like butter, if you are looking at calories and fat intake, clarified butter fits the description and is a good choice for deep frying.

The ratio of substituting clarified butter for ghee: 1:1 – the ingredients are the same, leading to a similar consistency, and therefore no changes in the ratio are necessary.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

If you haven’t yet realized from the previous two options, olive oil falls under the list of ghee substitution. It gives a nutty flavor to your food dishes, similarly to ghee but does not interfere with the taste; but rather, it enhances it. Olive oil is also high in healthy fats.

Olive oil is considered the healthiest choice with its rich source of antioxidants and monosaturated fatty acids, providing you with several health benefits similar to ghee. Ghee is ideal for sautéing and roasting, as is olive oil. Another similarity that ghee and olive have is they are both in the pricier range of cooking fats.

The ratio of substituting olive oil for ghee: 3:4 – a cup of ghee can replace with three-quarter cup olive oil.

Coconut Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

The critical point in comparing the substitution of coconut oil for ghee is that ghee provides a nutty flavor to food, and coconut oil also gives extra flavor to food. The tastes might not be precise, but combined with other flavors of your dish, it can be a convincing enough substitute.

In addition to taste, coconut oil is high in fats like ghee. It also has a closely similar consistency to ghee, allowing it to appropriately replace ghee in particular recipes. In the case of cooking, raw coconut oil for cooking is the best option to achieve the distinct flavor in substituting ghee,

The ratio of replacing coconut oil for ghee: 1:1 – the similar consistency does not require altering the components.

Sunflower Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

The easiest, most accessible, and inexpensive substitute for ghee is hands down sunflower oil. Like ghee, sunflower oil has a high smoking point making it ideal for deep frying. A higher smoking point allows for healthier food because nutrients cannot escape as easily this way.

Sunflower oil also has a distinctive nutty flavor, like ghee, making it the perfect replacement. It also delivers a similar aftertaste as ghee and can be used for sautéing and roasting apart from deep frying.

The ratio of substituting sunflower oil for ghee: 1:1 – it would be necessary to cut back moisture in another ingredient from your dish. If you cannot do that, then use the 3:4 ratio of sunflower to ghee.

Canola Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

Canola oil works as an excellent ghee substitute in terms of its high smoking point. It is also a high-quality vegetable oil perfect for deep frying preventing too many nutrients from escaping, and calls for roughly similar cooking times to ghee.

Another way canola can oil can replace ghee is if you do not enjoy the flavor and taste of ghee. Ghee does have a distinctive taste which is not for everyone. On the other hand, canola oil doesn’t have any taste – a great advantage if you do not want to alter your dish in any shape or form.

The ratio of substituting canola oil for ghee: 1:1 – like sunflower oil, you will need to reduce the moisture in another ingredient or use the 3:4 ratio instead.

Soybean Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

Soybean oil is one of the less commonly used oils in daily cooking. However, you will not regret trying it in a deliciously cooked Indian dish by substituting ghee. Soybean oil is made from soybeans and, like ghee, contains fats such as polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids.

Soybean oil has a mild flavor and will not change the taste of your dish but will not take away from your flavor either. It is the ideal replacement in curry dishes for frying and sautéing. It even works well for baking recipes.

The ratio of substituting soybean oil for ghee: 3:4 – the consistency of soybean oil works as the perfect replacement, but using too much will make your recipe too moist.

Sesame Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

Another excellent vegetable oil substitute for ghee is sesame oil, made from sesame seeds. It is ideal for getting in extra fats that ghee provides by adding over salads or pouring over foods and works excellent for stir-frying to improve the aroma of food dishes.

The strong sesame flavor mimics the ghee’s nutty flavor and truly comes through in cooking. It is ideal for incorporating into Indian cuisine to replace ghee, and it also has similar health benefits as ghee.

The ratio of substituting sesame oil for ghee: 3:4 – 1 cup of ghee will require three-quarter cup sesame oil as a replacement in cooking.

Rapeseed Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

Rapeseed oil is a versatile option to replace ghee because it works well for all dishes. It differs from ghee because it lacks a nutty flavor, and the other spices and flavors will overpower it, making it an excellent option if you are not fond of the taste of ghee.

Rapeseed oil works as a substitute for ghee through its high-fat content. However, it should be an occasional substitute due to its high erucic acid levels.

The ratio of substituting rapeseed oil for ghee: 3:4 – for every 4 parts of ghee, you can use 3 parts of rapeseed oil.

Avocado Oil As A Substitute For Ghee

Avocado oil may seem like it would be entirely off from substitution, but it works perfectly as a ghee replacement because of its own bitter and nutty flavor. It can be added to baking recipes and is excellent for sautéing and even deep-frying in Indian recipes.

Avocado oil has a high smoking point, as does ghee, saving nutrients from escaping. In addition, like ghee, avocado oil is a high-fat oil, so it works similarly in terms of calories. However, avocado oil had monosaturated fats compared to ghee which has saturated fats.

The ratio for substituting avocado oil for ghee: 3:4 – to avoid excess moisture in your food, use 3 parts avocado oil for every 4 parts ghee.

Why Substitute Ghee?

There are some primary reasons why you can substitute for ghee in your cooking. Let us look at some of those reasons:

  • If you are lactose intolerant, ghee may not agree with you since it is made of pure butter containing cow’s milk, and you will need to substitute it with vegetable oil.
  • You may have an aversion to the taste. Ghee has a distinctive nutty flavor from the caramelization of the milk fats.
  • You may feel an aversion to the smell. Ghee also has a distinctive smell, like its taste, which comes from the milk fats, which are the caramelized remains of the butter.
  • It is pricey. Ghee is typically not inexpensive because of its extensive preparation process from pure butter, which is also costly.
  • It isn’t very accessible. You would have to find a health store or Indian market or make it yourself. Many stores don’t sell ghee, and when they do, it is high-priced.
  • Ghee contains saturated fats. If you are avoiding unhealthy fats, you probably will want to find a substitute for ghee.

Is Clarified Butter The Same As Ghee Or A Substitute?

Clarified butter is ideally one of the closest substitutes for ghee because made with the same process. Many people have the idea that clarified butter and ghee are precisely the same. However, as closely related as they are, they are not the same. Ghee is the Indian form of clarified butter with an additional step in the making.

Clarified butter and ghee are prepared by treating pure butter through a low heating process until the water evaporates and the butter starts to foam. This is the whey from the butter that floats to the top and can be skimmed off. This is known as clarified butter.

The extra step used when preparing ghee is that the milk fats start to settle at the bottom of the pot and brown a little, becoming fragrant. That is the caramelization part, and it is what gives the ghee its distinct nutty flavor.

You can see why clarified butter is different from ghee and works as an excellent substitute. It is very similar and contains the same ingredients but lacks the nutty flavor, and therefore a little olive oil added to your clarified butter will give a closer replacement of ghee.

Is Butter A Better Option Than Ghee?

Many people, specifically ghee lovers, might argue that ghee is the best and healthiest option. But that debate is complex. There are good reasonable grounds as to why so many people are looking for ghee substitutes.

Butter is an excellent replacement for ghee in any recipe. It works well, the consistency is similar, and the flavor is pretty close. But additionally, to all that, butter also contains less fat content than ghee because the water content and protein are still present in butter.

When it comes to ghee, the whey (protein) is skimmed off and strained out, and the water evaporates during the heating process. That leaves you with only milk fat, making the fat content higher than butter. That also means ghee is higher in calories than butter.

To argue that one is better or healthier than the other would be futile because it entirely depends on each person’s ingredient preferences and whether they prefer the whey and water with less fat or the clarified version with more fat and unique flavor.

The bottom line is: unless you are looking for a vegan option or lactose intolerant, butter is ultimately the best substitute to replace ghee, especially in Indian cuisine.

Which Ghee Alternative Will You Pick?

While butter or clarified butter is the closest substitution for ghee, if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, options like sunflower, canola, coconut, avocado, olive, or sesame oil would be ideal options.

Substituting for ghee is easy if you look out for high smoking point oils, nutty flavors, and high-fat oils. No need to miss out on the taste of Indian cuisine without ghee!

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