How to Make Vegan, Palm-Oil Free Butter

If you're looking for a palm-oil free butter with dairy, then you have a lot to choose from. Even if you need for it to be spreadable, there are several options available with something like canola oil, sans conflict. 

If you want that palm-oil free butter to be vegan though, you might just have to make it yourself. Though Earth Balance is in the process of making the palm-oil in their vegan butters fully traceable and while we are anxious to read their sustainability report at the end of the year, many of our readers request palm-oil free spreads for their own respective countries. We can hardly make a recommendation for the U.S., let alone Canada, Germany, or China, etc. So, we thought it best to give you the basic tools for palm-oil free vegan butter making. This way, you can make your own spreads with confidence, wherever you hang your hat. 

We tried many of the more popular vegan butter recipes making the rounds and feel like we've found the best one to win over the hearts of vegans and non-vegans alike. We'll also give you important tips on cleaning up and buying the right milk - all without conflict palm-oil. If you want to know the ins and outs, or even just the basics, of palm-oil free vegan butter making then today is your lucky day!

Common Ingredients

First, you need to know which butter is going to best suit your needs. Are you using it for broccoli or pastries? There is a big difference. Understanding the role of common ingredients used in homemade vegan butters will let you better choose which route to go. 

Refined Coconut Oil

This is going to be your base and it is very important, as coconut oil resolidifies as the temperature drops. This base allows you to pop your 'butter' out of cute molds, if you want. Why does it have to be refined? Unfortunately, the all-natural, coconut taste that comes with virgin oil makes for coconut tasting butter. Good, but not authentic. If you want your butter to taste like the real deal, you have to used refined. 

If you want a hard butter for things like croissants, Miyoko Schinner suggests using cocoa butter here

Oil 

Controlling this element can greatly alter the 'spreadability' of your butter. You can choose mostly any variety but we stuck pretty closely to sunflower, as we like the neutral taste. 

Salt

Add a small amount to enhance some of 'real butter' flavor or don't and make 'unsalted butter' - whichever you choose, we recommend adding this at the beginning of the recipe and not the end. Add the salt too late and your butter may freckle, as seen below. 

Plant Milk 

It's also important to have something opaque, fatty, and easily curdled to make your butter a success. Buyer beware though, if you're interested in making this a palm-oil free recipe, be on the look out for Vitamin A Palmitate, synthetic Vitamin A derived from palm-oil. You can use one of these palm-oil free options, or make your own almond, cashew, or hemp milk at home.

Make sure that your milk is high in fat and protein - rice and quinoa milks may not yield optimal butter for this reason. 

Lecithin 

This emulsifier comes in both granules and a very viscous, molasses-like liquid. Soy lecithin can be commonly found at vitamin stores or independent health-food grocers like Sprouts or maybe Whole Foods. We bought ours for less than $7 and feel like it was a good investment for future recipes. If you avoid soy for any reason, you can order sunflower lecithin online. This is a pretty important element; a claim that will be supported later. It is something you can surely go without, though we don't recommend it.  Also, that yellow color? That's from the lecithin. 

Acid

It's important that you curdle your milk, though the time it takes to make that happen is debatable. We tried recipes with lemon and those with apple cider vinegar, and every time ACV won out. Strangely, it lends a flavor that is just far closer to actual butter! Read more below on when to take the time to curdle your milk, outside of the blender. 

Stabilizers

We still haven't used one in our trials because the options available, like psyllium husk, didn't agree with our diets. This may mean that your stick of butter is better but we don't feel it's truly necessary. We shot these photos in the hot Texas sun and their melting was minimal, so don't fret about that.

Tip

If you're using a palm-oil free soap to wash up afterwords, like pure castille, then lecithin is going to make cleaning a nightmare. Instead of washing and rewashing to no avail: rinse solids off with hot water. Then, with a cloth, wipe the item down completely. Then go back in and wash as you normally would. Trust us! 


To Curdle or Not?

If you're using a blender and an emulsifier, then we don't much see the need for letting the mixture sit and curdle. We tried both and didn't see or taste too much of a difference. However, if you're using an acid that is not so strong (lemon juice) or can't find lecithin, then we recommend mixing the acid and the milk and letting it sit for ten minutes or less before blending. 

Equipment

For this recipe, you will need a blender, but don't worry about the brand. We have a very cheap and unreliable blender and it did the trick just fine. We also used silicone molds for our cubes of butter but if you don't already have these and want something a little more ecofriendly, then you can set your butter "crock style" in a ramekin or a small bowl, which can be seen below. Be sure to cover this in the fridge so that it does not spoil!

Now, let's talk about ways in which the outcome may be less than perfect, and why:

With lemon, no lecithin

The picture below is a cube of butter we made from a popular recipe that circulates around Facebook often. It uses lemon juice and no emulsifier, like liquid lecithin. We didn't enjoy the taste and it melted, very quickly, but we understand that this may be an option for those without access to ACV or lecithin. If you go this route, I would add more salt (it was pretty flavorless)  and not bother with trying to demold this. Set your butter in a ramekin and use it as a spread instead, also seen below. 

Freckles & Air Bubbles

Like we said above, if your butter is freckled with salt then you likely added it in too late and it did not have time to fully dissolve before blending. Air bubbles appear for a number of reasons but are mostly due to how much air was whipped into the mixture during blending.

Blend your mixture consistently on low to medium for up to a minute. When you mold your sticks, gently tap the mold on a counter to displace some of the air, something that wasn't done in the picture below.  

So, which recipe was the best overall?

Hands down, Miyoko Schinner's vegan butter recipe tastes the best. We blind tasted these butters with muffins and both vegans and non-vegans agreed that Schinner's recipe not only passed as real butter, well maybe real margarine, but tasted superb whether melted or not. 

Watch her video here on how to make it. It's an easy and impressive recipe to have in your vegan and palm-oil free arsenal - don't miss out!