While going through the traditional eastern cuisine, you might have come across an ingredient named “ghee.” And if you are intrigued about it, then you are here for all the right reasons. You are about to get some quick facts about ghee and how you can replace it with vegan and non-vegan alternatives.
I am a great fan of Indian cuisine, and cooking a variety of Indian desserts is one of my favorite pass times. I love to share new culinary experiences with my friends and family by cooking them exotic meals. So, while I was going to cook a delicious carrot halwa for my friends, I couldn’t find enough ghee in my kitchen pantry. The good news is that there were other oils and fats available that saved the day! And today, I will share the list of all the possible substitutes for ghee that I found most helpful, with you as well.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a high clarified butter that appears semi-liquid and yellow in color. It is different from the clarified butter in both taste and texture. Ghee is a type of edible fat like butter, margarine, shortening, or oil that we use in cooking and baking all the time; however, it is a little different from regular butter and other forms of fats. It has a distinctive taste and yellowish color with a semi-liquid texture.
Ghee is made through long cooking of butter, so it develops a strong nutty flavor with a distinctive aroma and caramelized amber color. It is widely used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Middle Eastern cuisines, particularly in sweets and desserts.
Top 11 Easy Substitutes for Ghee
Ghee is valued for being nourishing and nutritious. But for someone who cannot have saturated fats in the diet, using ghee is just not an option. So, naturally, I also had to find healthier substitutes to replace ghee in a variety of dishes.
Some of the best substitutes that can replace ghee in a recipe include olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil and butter, margarine, and lard. Let’s discuss each individually!
1. Olive Oil
I admire olive oil for its obvious health benefits. It is an unsaturated and nutritious oil, and you can use it in a variety of dishes. The best thing about olive oil is that it is available in every household. So, you don’t need to step out of your comfort zone to get it. The only difference between olive oil and ghee is the consistency; the olive oil is less dense and more liquid, whereas ghee is quite dense and has a semi-liquid consistency. So, if a recipe requires a certain dense texture of fat, then you cannot use olive oil as a substitute for ghee. But if you just want to replace the nutty flavor of the ghee, then you can definitely add olive oil.
How to replace ghee with olive oil?
Since olive oil is a liquid, so you can use 3/4 cup of olive oil to replace one cup of ghee. Once melted, the ghee takes lesser volume. So, a 1: ¾ proportion is a perfect conversion criterion that we can use here.
2. Coconut Oil
While we are talking about a healthy substitute for ghee, we cannot keep ourselves from including coconut oil on this list. Coconut oil is generally considered a healthy and nutritious oil, which is good for cooking and baking purposes. Coconut oil has a slightly different flavor. It receives its taste from the coconut. So, It is not that nutty in flavor, but it does have a dense consistency like ghee and at lower temperatures, the coconut oil, solidifies, just like the ghee.
And once heated, the coconut oil converts into a liquid fat. Due to this property, you can substitute ghee with an equal amount of coconut oil, which means that if a recipe says a half cup of ghee, then half a cup of coconut oil is enough to replace it.
3. Canola Oil
If you have canola oil at home, then that will also work for you. It can easily substitute ghee in a recipe. Due to its neutral flavor, it does not mess up the taste of the entire recipe. And you can add a little bit of butter to give this oil a ghee-like consistency as well.
Canola oil has a higher boiling point, which means that you can cook things in this oil without worrying about the food getting extra brown or burned. Since canola oil is also a liquid oil, you need to replace one cup of ghee with a three-fourth cup of canola oil.
4. Sesame Oil
As I was looking for a strong-flavored fat to replace ghee, sesame oil instantly came to my mind. It is a good substitute, especially when you want to fry or sear food. Sesame oil comes in different varieties; the toasted sesame oil is a good replacement for ghee because it has a very strong toasted sesame flavor with darker golden color.
And this intensity of flavor is best to replace the nutty taste of the ghee. You can replace ghee with sesame oil in a 1: ¾ proportion which means that one cup of ghee is replaceable by ¾ cup of sesame oil.
5. Soybean Oil
Soybean is a very healthy and nutritious legume, which is used to extract a variety of ingredients that we normally use in cooking. Soybean oil is another healthy ingredient that is processed out of soybeans, and it has a strong flavor that can best replace ghee in baking and cooking. If you have soybean oil in your kitchen pantry, then you can replace a tablespoon of ghee with ¾ tablespoon of soybean oil.
6. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is an excellent substitute for ghee due to its aromatic and intense flavor. It is healthy, and it also has a higher boiling point, which means no burning or browning of oil. You can deep fry food in this oil or use it for searing other ingredients. Sunflower oil is a liquid fat, so you can replace ghee with this oil in a 1: ¾ ratio. A tablespoon of ghee can be replaced with ¾ tbsp sunflower oil.
7. Vegetable Oil
This oil is extracted out of the seeds of a variety of vegetable plants. And it is a good substitute to replace ghee in halwa, sweets, or for baking, cooking, or frying things. These oils are more shelf-stable, so you can store them for a longer duration in your kitchen pantry and use them any time.
Both ghee and butter are dairies, in fact, ghee is processed out of the butter, so I guess they can be interchangeably used. You can substitute ghee with butter or replace butter with ghee. I personally enjoy adding butter to cookies, cakes, and muffins, etc. And when I used butter in a halwa recipe, I just loved the taste of it.
Butter brings a dense and rich flavor that greatly complements the taste of Indian sweets and desserts. You can replace ghee with butter in a 1:1 proportion.
9. Clarified Butter
Most people confuse ghee with clarified butter, but both are slightly different products. Ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been cooked for a longer duration to remove all the moisture, and fats solids are caramelized in this process. Once the fat is caramelized, the mixture is strained out. This gives the ghee a rich nutty flavor.
Ghee also has a longer shelf life than the clarified butter. But despite these differences, you can use the clarified butter to replace ghee in a recipe. Take 1 cup of clarified butter to replace one cup of ghee or use the 1:1 proportion in sweets and other dishes.
Margarine is a non-vegan substitute for ghee. It has a soft texture, and it can be easily melted and used in different recipes. Like the ghee, margarine also has a nutty flavor with dense consistency. You can try using melted margarine with some olive oil to get a good substitute for ghee in cooking.
Margarine can replace ghee in an equal amount. So, if a recipe says a tablespoon of ghee to use, then you can replace it with one tablespoon of margarine. But remember, margarine is a hydrogenated product which means it is saturated and not good for health, especially for people with high blood cholesterol levels.
Can you substitute ghee with lard? Well, yeah! If you are fine with using rendered pork fat, then lard is also a good option. It has a slightly different color and a neutral taste but if you want to sear or sauté anything, then using lard as a substitute for ghee is also a good option. You can replace lard in a 1:1 ratio to replace ghee.
How to make ghee at home?
Ghee is a dairy product that is processed out of butter. It is a highly clarified form of butter. So, you can also make ghee at home if you have butter in your refrigerator. For this, you will need some unsalted butter and a cooking pan or skillet.
Melt unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. In this way, all the solids will start to float on top of the butter. Make sure to take a good amount of butter to get a sufficient quantity of ghee out of it.
Continue cooking this butter until it turns amber in color, and the butterfat accumulated on top gets a deep golden color. You will start smelling a nutty aroma coming out of the butter, which means that you have turned the butter into ghee.
Now remove the skillet from the heat and allow the ghee to cool for five minutes. Once the ghee is cooled, you can pass it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Make sure to spread a triple layer of cheesecloth in the strainer, and then pass the ghee through it. In this way, all the minute solid particles will be removed, and you will get highly clarified butter. You can store this ghee in a jar with a lid for up to three months or up to a year in a refrigerator.