What can I use instead of butter for cobbler?

Cobblers are classic American desserts that typically consist of sweetened fruits like berries or peaches topped with biscuit dough and baked. The biscuit dough topping is often flavored with butter, which gives it a rich, tender texture. However, butter contains saturated fat and cholesterol. If you are looking for healthier cobbler options or need a dairy-free alternative, there are several excellent butter substitutes to try.

Quick Answer Summary

Here are some quick answers to what you can use instead of butter in cobbler dough:

  • Vegetable oil – Any neutral tasting oil like canola, grapeseed, or vegetable oil works well.
  • Coconut oil – Provides great flavor and tender texture.
  • Shortening – An excellent 1:1 butter replacement with similar texture.
  • Margarine – Use non-hydrogenated margarine for a butter-like flavor.
  • Vegan butter – Made from plant oils, ideal for dairy-free cobblers.
  • Plain yogurt – Adds tanginess while keeping the dough tender.
  • Applesauce or mashed bananas – Provides moisture and natural sweetness.

Vegetable Oils

One of the easiest butter substitutes for cobbler dough is a neutral vegetable oil like canola, grapeseed, or generic vegetable oil. Vegetable oils have a mild flavor that won’t compete with the fruit filling. They contain 100% fat so they mimic butter’s ability to create tender, flaky layers in the biscuit dough.

For the healthiest option, use an unrefined, expeller pressed oil. You can replace butter directly with oil using an equal amount. So for example, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of melted butter, use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Be sure to still melt solid oils like coconut oil before mixing into the dough.

Canola oil has a neutral taste and light texture that makes an excellent butter stand-in. Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point so it won’t burn during baking. Generic vegetable oil is highly affordable and versatile. While olive oil would work fine, its distinct flavor is better suited for savory baked goods.


  • Very mild flavor
  • Excellent substitute ratio
  • Tender, flaky texture
  • Healthy plant-based fat
  • Inexpensive and accessible


  • Less rich flavor than butter
  • Need to melt solid oils before baking

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is growing in popularity as a butter substitute due to its smooth consistency and subtle coconut flavor. Unrefined coconut oil provides the sweetest coconut taste to enhance fruit cobblers. Refined coconut oil has a more neutral flavor if you don’t want the coconut coming through.

Coconut oil is 100% fat, mostly from medium chain triglycerides that are metabolized differently than other fats. When chilled, coconut oil becomes solid so you’ll need to melt it to mix into the biscuit dough. Use coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio for butter.

The high saturated fat content means coconut oil won’t have the same heart-healthy benefits of oils like olive or canola. But it is plant-based and dairy-free. Pair it with antioxidant-rich berries which can counteract negative effects of saturated fats.


  • Sweet coconut flavor
  • Excellent 1:1 substitute
  • Keeps biscuits tender
  • Dairy-free and vegan


  • High in saturated fat
  • Solid at room temperature
  • Strong coconut taste if unrefined

Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable shortening is essentially 100% fat derived from plant oils, creating a solid white block similar to butter. Shortening is flavorless and easy to use in a 1:1 ratio for butter in any baking recipe. The air pockets formed by shortening are ideal for creating flaky, layered biscuits.

Look for non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening made without trans fats. Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening is a quality choice. Shortening coats the flour which gives a tender, moist texture to the biscuits. It can be left at room temperature for convenience.


  • 1:1 substitution for butter
  • Excellent texture
  • Long shelf life
  • Room temperature storage
  • Typically non-hydrogenated


  • Lacks flavor
  • Highly processed
  • Not dairy-free


Margarine originated as a butter substitute and it still works great for baking. Regular margarine contains at least 80% fat so it replicates the moisture, flavor, and texture butter adds to cobbler biscuits. For a healthier option, use soft tub margarine rather than stick.

Avoid harder stick margarines with hydrogenated oils. Look for non-hydrogenated tub margarines made from quality vegetable oils. Some even contain yogurt or olive oil for extra moisture. Earth Balance is a popular, vegan-friendly brand. Use margarine in a 1:1 ratio for butter.


  • Very similar to butter
  • Less saturated fat than butter
  • Soft tub options available
  • Mimics flavor and texture well


  • Not dairy-free or vegan
  • Contains refined oils
  • Stick forms have hydrogenated oils

Vegan Butter

Vegan butter provides the rich taste and yellow color of real butter without any dairy products. It’s made from plant-based oils combined with natural flavors and colors. Brands like Miyoko’s Creamery Churned Vegan Butter actually taste amazingly similar to real butter.

Vegan butter typically contains less saturated fat compared to real butter yet still whips up light and fluffy. It can be used as a direct 1:1 substitute in any baking recipe. Vegan butter is shelf-stable so it doesn’t require refrigeration. Use sticks for easy measuring and melting.


  • Very close to real butter
  • Dairy-free and vegan
  • 1:1 substitution works perfectly
  • No refrigeration needed


  • More expensive than real butter
  • Added oils and flavors
  • Not widely available

Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt is an excellent substitute for keeping cobbler biscuits tender and moist. Non-fat Greek yogurt works well since it is strained for a thicker consistency. Replace up to half the butter in a recipe with an equal amount of yogurt.

The extra protein in yogurt helps the biscuits hold their shape and rise properly. It adds a nice tangy flavor. Be sure to avoid flavored yogurts which can clash with the fruit. You can use regular plain yogurt but the biscuits may spread more during baking.


  • Adds moisture and tenderness
  • Tangy, subtle flavor
  • Helps biscuits rise evenly
  • Contains protein


  • Can change texture slightly
  • Requires trial and error
  • Doesn’t replicate butter’s flavor


Applesauce is a handy replacement for half the butter when baking. It adds just the right amount of moisture, sweetness, and binding. Replace up to 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. Any variety works well.

The natural pectin in applesauce helps biscuits hold their shape without compromising tenderness. It provides a health bonus of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. If you want an even stronger apple flavor, use homemade applesauce.


  • Excellent substitute ratio
  • Adds sweetness
  • Provides fiber and vitamins
  • Helps biscuits rise


  • Slightly changes texture
  • May need to reduce other liquids
  • Alters color slightly

Mashed Banana

Mashed banana can provide the moisture, binding, and subtle sweetness that butter adds to cobbler biscuits. Use very ripe, spotted bananas for the best flavor. Replace up to 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup mashed banana.

Bananas are naturally sweet so you may be able to reduce any sugar in the recipe slightly. The fruit sugars caramelize beautifully during baking for delicious flavor. Just be careful not to add too much banana or the biscuits may get too dense.


  • Provides moisture
  • Natural binding
  • Sweetens biscuits
  • Imparts flavor


  • Can make dough more dense
  • May change appearance
  • Too much alters texture

Recipe Ideas

Here are some irresistible cobbler recipes using butter stand-ins:

Blueberry Coconut Oil Cobbler


  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch in 8-inch baking dish.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt.
  4. Add melted coconut oil and milk. Stir just until combined.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of batter over fruit.
  6. Bake 30 mins until topping is golden brown.

Pear Yogurt Cobbler


  • 4 ripe pears, sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss pears, brown sugar, cinnamon in baking dish.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder.
  4. Cut in butter until crumbly.
  5. Add yogurt and milk, stirring just until combined.
  6. Drop dough over pears. Bake 25 mins until golden.

Mixed Berry Cobbler with Vegan Biscuits


  • 2 cups mixed berries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss berries, sugar, lemon juice in baking dish.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
  4. Stir in melted vegan butter and non-dairy milk until just combined.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls over fruit.
  6. Bake 20-25 mins until lightly browned.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Cobbler

Cobbler is best served fresh and warm right out of the oven. But you may have leftovers, especially if making a large batch for a potluck or holiday meal. Here are some tips for storing and reheating cobbler:


  • Allow cobbler to cool completely before storing.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Plastic containers with lids also work well.
  • Refrigerate up to 4 days.
  • Can freeze cobbler for 2-3 months.
  • Split into portions before freezing for easier reheating.
  • Use freezer bags or containers.
  • Avoid freezing fruit fillings with custard or starch-thickened sauces.


  • Reheat refrigerated cobbler in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.
  • Microwave individual portions for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Thaw frozen cobbler overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheat thawed cobbler in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cover with foil to prevent over-browning if needed.
  • Microwave frozen cobbler for 1-2 minutes per portion.


Butter may be traditional in cobbler biscuits, but there are now many healthier, dairy-free options that bake up just as tasty. Vegetable oils, coconut oil, shortening, margarine, and vegan butter all substitute nicely using a 1:1 ratio. For extra moisture and flavor, mix in yogurt, applesauce, or mashed bananas. With endless fruit fillings to choose from, cobbler can easily be enjoyed by anyone regardless of dietary needs.

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