How to Substitute Butter for Oil in Pancakes

By Caryn Anderson

Using butter in place of oil in your pancake recipe will add delicious flavor, but you must do it carefully to avoid altering the consistency of the pancakes too much. Not all fats are created equally. Fats such as vegetable oil contain 100 percent fat and never solidify. Liquid oils evenly coat the flour in your recipe and provide a smooth consistency. Butter contains approximately 81 percent fat plus 19 percent milk solids or water.


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Clarify butter to remove the milk solids. Place butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. When you see a white deposit forming on the bottom of your saucepan, remove the pot from the heat and strain the butter into a heat-safe container, discarding the white residue. Use the clarified butter in an equal measure to the vegetable oil required by your pancake recipe.

Follow a butter/oil conversion formula to determine the amount of nonclarified butter that may be used to replace the oil in the pancake recipe. You cannot use equal measures of butter and oil due to the differences in fat content. According to the conversion chart on the Good Cooking website, if your recipe calls for 1/4 cup of oil, use 1/3 cup of butter. If your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil, use 2/3 cup of butter.

Test your altered recipe before serving it at a formal brunch or breakfast for someone special. Vegetable oil and butter contain different types of fat that act differently in your recipe. Keep in mind that butter browns more quickly --- so check your pancakes more frequently to avoid burning them.

  • Decrease the fat content in your pancake recipe by substituting an equal measure of applesauce for the oil. You can use applesauce as a substitute in many recipes, including cakes, pancakes and muffins.

  • If you are short on time or do not want to create clarified butter or convert the recipe, consider replacing the vegetable oil with another liquid oil, such as canola. According to, replacing one oil for another is the most effective replacement because oils act the same way in baking. Likewise, butter is best replaced by other solid fats such as margarine, vegetable shortening or lard.