How to substitute ghee for butter

If you've been seeing the word "ghee butter" everywhere lately, you're not alone. The butter substitute has been trending amongst health communities, with everyone from health-obsessed YouTubers to frequent clickers of the "cleaneating" hashtag on Instagram toting its benefits.

While it originates from an Indian-style of cooking, the rest of the world has been taking notice thanks to it being a healthy alternative to butter. This makes it perfect for those who want to shape up for summer, including those giving it a go with the popular Whole30 diet. Here’s exactly why you should give ghee a try, and how you can substitute it for butter, one of the world’s most popular kitchen staples.

What is ghee butter?

To put it simply, ghee butter is butter, just a clarified variation. Clarified butter, often called "liquid gold," is prepared by removing all the milk solids and water, leaving only the butterfat. Clarified butter has a higher smoke point, which makes it good to use for high temperatures in cooking. The smoke point change is something to consider when deciding to use it or not in your recipes.

Ghee butter, according to registered dietician Hannah Burkhalter, is clarified butter, just taken one step further. For example, "once the milk solids have separated, the butter is simmered until all of the moisture evaporates and the milk solids brown slightly," says Burkhalter. "The result is the delicious browned, nutty, caramel-like taste and aroma ghee is known for."

Are there substitutes for ghee butter?

Since butter and ghee butter are similar, they are quite interchangeable, meaning you can substitute ghee for butter and vice versa. Just keep in mind the varying nutritional facts for the two as ghee is found to be a healthier option.

If that is a deal-breaker for your diet or specific recipe (looking at you again, Whole30ers), consider using clarified butter or healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.

How to substitute ghee for butter

A ghee substitute for butter follows a 1-to-1 ratio. Something to keep in mind when baking with ghee vs. butter is the fact that ghee is missing some of the solid elements that make regular butter a great binding agent. Ghee, on the other hand, has a lot more moisture, so you might need to add more flour to counteract the moisture and act as a binding agent.

While the 1-to-1 butter to ghee ratio still stands for most recipes, Jeremy Rock Smith executive chef, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Stockbridge, Massachusetts spoke to Yoga Journal and advised on using less ghee since it contains more fat than regular butter. He recommends using about 25 percent less. Additionally, "if your batter seems dry, add a little water until you get the desired consistency."

Since ghee is good for cooking foods at high temperatures, it works well with foods such as bread and cookies, according to Healthline.

If shaping up for summer is your goal, or if you are simply cooking a recipe that requires a nutty, sweet flavor, then consider substituting ghee for butter.