After writing my last blog post on dairy-free alternatives, I got inspired to do more product tests and reviews. To start off this experimental series, I put four of the major plant-based butters through both a sweet and savory test: Earth Balance, Miyoko’s Creamery, Country Crock, and Flora. For the first round, I baked four batches of vegan sugar cookies, changing only the brand of butter. For the second round, I melted the butters and put them on four separate bowls of noodles. My husband and I scored each cookie and noodle dish out of 10, and the final ranking is the result of adding our average scores from each round. Unlike me, my husband did not know what butter was in each cookie and noodle bowl, so his reactions are unbiased.
Spoiler Alert- we could easily tell a difference across the brands.
Before getting into the experiments and reviews, here is some background information on each butter product . All were purchased at my local Kroger.
- Ingredients: Vegetable Oil Blend (Palm, Canola, Soybean, Flax, and Olive Oil), Water, Salt, and Contains 2% or Less of Natural Flavor, Soy Protein, Organic Soy Lecithin, Lactic Acid, and Annatto Extract (Color)
- Allergens: Soy
- Non-Hydrogenated and Non-GMO
- Price: $5.99 for 16 oz
- Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cultured Cashew Mix, Filtered Water, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt
- Allergens: Coconut and cashews
- USDA Organic and Cruelty Free
- Price: $5.99 for 8 oz ($11.98 for 16 oz)
- Ingredients: Blend of Plant-Based Oils (Palm Kernel, Canola, Palm Fruit, and Olive Oil), Water, Salt, Pea Protein, Sunflower Lecithin, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color)
- Allergens: May contain soy
- Price: $4.49 for 16 oz
- Ingredients: Palm Kernel and Palm Oil, Water, Sunflower Oil, Pea Protein, Sunflower Lecithin, Lactic Acid, Natural Flavor, Annatto (Color), and Vitamin A Palmitate
- Allergens: No major allergens
- Non-GMO and free of artificial flavors
- Price: $3.49 for 8 oz ($6.98 for 16 oz)
There is no denying that Miyoko’s Creamery butter has both the least amount and highest quality of ingredients in terms of health. Its lack of palm oil is also a sustainability benefit, as the palm oil industry is a large contributor to deforestation. That said, with a higher level of quality comes a higher price tag, and Miyoko’s Creamery butter clocked in at the highest price of $11.98 for 16 ounces. The second most expensive being Flora at $6.98 for 16 ounces.
At the other end of the cost spectrum, Country Crock butter is the cheapest option at $4.49 for 16 oz. Its ingredient list reflects the lower price, as the brand does not claim to be free of hydrogenated oils or non-GMO like Earth Balance (the next similar option).
If both soy-free and nut-free is required, Flora butter would be the only option from this list. Flora has the only packaging without a box, as it just comes in a paper-like wrap.
To compare how the vegan butters behave in baking, I made the same cookie recipe four times, only swapping out the brand of butter in each batch. I chose a sugar cookie recipe in order to showcase the different butter textures and flavor profiles without much distraction. To keep with the plant-based theme, the recipe is a fully vegan sugar cookie by “Loving It Vegan”.
In order to minimize the effects of other baking variables, I made sure the following steps were the same across all batches:
- Each butter was creamed in my KitchenAid stand mixer for exactly 3 minutes on level 6.
- All butter was taken out of the refrigerator directly before use.
- All flour was measured out with a scale and stirred with a fork (this is my way of avoiding sifting, because I don’t have the patience or time for it).
- All cookies were baked on the same stone pan.
- Each batch made exactly 20 cookies.
- Each batch was baked for 12 minutes and cooled on the pan for an additional 3 minutes.
- All batches were made back-to-back in one afternoon baking session.
The Miyoko’s Creamery dough visually stood out after the creaming, because it was whiter and less fluffy than the others. In contrast, the Earth Balance dough fluffed up the most. I believe it’s this variance in texture post-creaming that caused a difference in how much liquid was required to make a workable dough.
Interestingly, each dough required a different amount of milk to reach the right texture. The recipe calls for 2 tbs of plant-based milk, or enough until the dough is no longer crumbly and able to form one large ball (note that I used Ripple milk). Flora required the most extra at 2 additional tbs, while Earth Balance only required the base amount of 2 tbs. (Miyoko’s- ½ tbs, Country Crock- 1 tbs)
I would say that the “doneness” of the cookies when I took them out of the oven was the same across all brands. Visually, the Miyoko’s Creamery cookies were the lightest in color and the most wrinkly. The Earth Balance cookies were the least wrinkly and slightly more yellow than the others.
The Taste (all score are out of 10)
Earth Balance: 7.25. We both agreed that this cookie tasted the most buttery and the least twangy. (Gabriela- 7.5, Noah- 7)
Miyoko’s: 7.5 This cookie was definitely the softest on the inside, and it tasted more of sugar than butter. (Gabriela- 8, Noah- 7)
Country Crock: 6.5 I described this one as a regular cookie from the store with a slight twang. The flavor was less pronounced than the others. My husband described it as a Christmas cookie with a pretty good texture. (Gabriela- 6, Noah- 7)
Flora: 7.5 We both agreed that this was the chewiest cookie, and it had a standard sugar cookie flavor. (Gabriela- 7, Noah- 8)
As a whole, we were both surprised at how easily we were able to identify differences across the cookies. In my husband’s opinion, they were all good cookies in their own way, but one was better than the rest (Flora). He had the Flora cookie first and hot out of the oven, but even when he ate another cooled cookie later amid others, he was still able to identify it as his favorite. To me, the Miyoko’s Creamery butter resulted in the stand out cookie, as I prefer a less crumbly cookie and one with more of a sugary twang.
Cookie Round Winner: Tie- Flora and Miyoko’s Creamery at 7.5/10
To melt the butter, I put one tablespoon of each brand into separate glass bowls and put them all on the same rack in the oven at 350 degrees. I didn’t measure how long they were in the oven; however, they were all heated for the same duration. The pronounced visual difference between the melted butters surprised me. Immediately, my eyes were drawn to the Country Crock butter, as it was lighter than the others and had separated materials floating on the surface. Flora and Earth Balance had a fairly similar full yellow appearance with Miyoko’s Creamery being slightly lighter.
- Earth Balance: 7- Strong butter flavor.
- Miyoko’s: 8- Rich, full bodied butter flavor.
- Country Crock: 5- Standard butter flavor, just okay.
- Flora: 5- Very normal tasting.
The difference in flavor profile when melted on noodles was staggering. Our ratings came instantly, and it was easy to determine which bowls had a higher quality of butter. We agreed on each score.
Butter Noodles Round Winner: Miyoko’s at 8/10
Overall, when combining the scores from the sweet and savory experiments, here is our ranking of the vegan butters:
- Miyoko’s Creamery– 15.5/20
- Best overall and best at melting
- Earth Balance– 14.25/20:
- Strongest butter flavor
- Flora– 12.5/20:
- Free of all major allergens
- Country Crock– 11.5/20:
- Lowest price
Before this experiment, I had never purchased or used Miyoko’s Creamery butter mostly because of its high price tag; however, I will likely buy it now on special occasions when I am looking to really impress someone (especially with savory food). Even though Country Crock butter was the lowest on the list, it isn’t a bad option for the price, and it still results in a quality bake or dish. I was being particularly picky for the sake of comparison, but I see myself still reaching for it depending on what other brands happen to be on sale.
I hope this gives insight into the different vegan butters on the market, what to expect at each price point, and how they respond to melting and baking. I certainly enjoyed working on this post, and I look forward to testing more products. Let me know if you have any requests for future experiments! Until next time!
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