UPDATE 28 July, 2016: Nutiva no longer produces the buttery spread product, but they do produce Buttery Coconut Oil and Shortening with similar ingredients as those listed here.
I’m often asked what dairy-free butter substitute I use in my recipes. Because I have been dairy-free nearly as long as I have been gluten-free, finding a good quality butter substitute that “acts” like butter in my recipes has been a top priority.
Sometimes, We Need to Change Products to Find One that Works Best for Our Needs
In many early recipes shared here on the site, I used Earth Balance Soy-Free spread. It performed well in most baked goods, and because I have multiple food allergies, in addition to celiac disease, it was ideal for me.
Unfortunately, after several years of positive results with EB, I had an epic fail making a batch of cookies one day. I assumed it was just something I did and remade the recipe, twice. Both times, the same results: a runny glob of cookie dough on the pan.
Of course, I contacted Earth Balance. I was told “there was a slight change” to the ingredient configuration, but nothing more. So, I scoured stores for every tub of the soy-free variety I could find, and sure enough, I found containers with different ingredients. Well, actually the ingredients were the same, but in a different order. As you know, the order of ingredients on a label indicates the amount of that item in the product, going from greatest to least as you read down the list.
And yes, this is likely significant enough of a difference to make a recipe go from great to an epic fail like my cookies did.
I wish I had more information to share with you about EB, but when I tried to discuss this issue with their team, I never received a reply. After multiple tries, I just moved on. Regardless, I think EB has some great vegan GF products for consumers. For me, that doesn’t include the butter substitutes.
That experience meant my search continued.
Coconut Oil is One Option
Coconut oil is something I use often and in most of my recipes, I feel it is a good sub for butter most of the time, but definitely not always. There are certain qualities it has that simply do not lead to success in every recipe. For example, it can make baked goods far too “wet”, sometimes even causing them not to bake through completely, regardless of the amount of time spent in the oven.
Also, I have learned some of you do not want to use coconut oil, especially the type I use and recommend – extra virgin and unrefined – because it does have a mild coconut flavor and some of you just don’t like it. I understand.
Ingredients Inside: Nutiva Organic Vegan Buttery Spread
Still having this butter substitute issue in the back of my mind, one day, I saw a tub of Nutiva Organic Vegan Buttery Spread in my local Whole Foods Market. I like Nutiva brand products in general, so thought I would give the ingredients list a read.
From the label, here is the Nutiva Organic Vegan Buttery Spread ingredient list (with my added details beneath each one):
- Organic oil blend (organic palm oil, organic unrefined red palm oil, organic unrefined virgin coconut oil)
Organic palm oil – Palm oil is derived from the pulp of oil palm fruits, not to be confused with palm kernel oil, which comes from the kernel of the same fruit. There is a significant amount of controversy surrounding palm oil, due to the negative impact of harvesting on our environment. Nutiva uses organic and sustainably grown palm oil from small family farms in Ecuador.
Unrefined red palm oil – Red palm oil has been used by other cultures for thousands of years, and has been recently recognized in Western nations as a nutrient-dense culinary oil. It has a naturally vibrant orange color due to the presence of antioxidant vitamins A and E, in the forms of beta-carotene and rare tocotrienols and tocopherols of the vitamin E family.
Organic unrefined virgin coconut oil – This type of coconut oil is produced by pressing fresh or dried mature coconut meat without using chemicals or refining agents to extract the oil. In the case of Nutiva’s coconut oil, immediately harvested fresh coconuts are used. You can learn more about the benefits of coconut oil in my article, “The Facts about Coconut Oil“.
- Water – self explanatory
- Salt – self explanatory
- Organic sunflower lecithin – An excellent alternative to soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin is an emulsifier, or an agent that is used to help ingredients that normally would not mix and remain combined to stay combined. Sunflower lecithin in extracted from a portion of dried sunflower seeds.
- Organic butter flavor – I contacted Nutiva regarding this ingredient (as well as other allergens) and was told, “the buttery flavor in our Buttery spread is a proprietary formula, so I can’t tell you the details of the formula. But, it is a certified organic, certified non-gmo, blend of plant based foods, guaranteed.” Because some of you avoid corn products, I asked is this flavoring is corn-derived, and Nutiva answered, “The organic flavor blend used in our Buttery Spread does not contain any corn or corn derivatives.” (This is updated from the original post. Nutiva originally told me corn was used, but then contacted me the next day to say the representative had mistyped their response to me and assured me there are NO corn ingredients/derivatives in the buttery spread.)
Based on this information, I will leave you to make your own decision about this ingredient.
In the additional information from Nutiva on allergens in their products, I also learned the buttery spread holds the following certifications:
- USDA Organic
- Fair Trade & Kosher
On the Nutiva website the buttery spread is also reported to be: (I’ve provided links to the certification organizations where Nutiva is listed with them so that you can visit those sites to see these, and to search for other, products.)
- Free from dairy, lactose, sweeteners
- Free from hexane, soy, canola
- Free from trans fats
- Certified organic by QAI and Ecocert SA
- Non-GMO verified (the buttery spread is shown as one of the products currently in the process of verification)
- Packaged in a non-BPA container
Other Allergens and Cross-Contamination Info
In the allergen document I received from Nutiva, it is stated that the following items are present in the same manufacturing facility:
- Peanut products (unrefined oil)
- Tree Nuts (unrefined oils: Coconut, Almond, Walnut)
- Dairy products (milk powder)
- Soybean products (unrefined oil)
- Wheat (flour products)
Nutiva’s allergen disclosure also states:
“Nutiva’s production locations are highly proactive toward food safety and the prevention of allergen cross-contact per current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). Although unlikely, cross-contact is a possibility at any stage of the manufacturing process. We advise you to make sound purchasing decisions based on individual sensitivity and risk tolerance. Please note, full ingredient disclosure is on our product labeling as required by FDA regulations.”
Now, you have the facts about the Ingredients Inside: Nutiva Organic Vegan Buttery Spread, so you can make an informed decision regarding whether this is a product that will work for your gluten-free, allergen-free lifestyle.
How Nutiva Organic Vegan Buttery Spread Performs in Baking
In terms of performance in baking, I’ve been experimenting with this product and so far, I love the results in baking. I do not like it on its own, as a spread on bread and neither did my taste testers. Those who have recently had real butter told me it tastes nothing like butter to them. I don’t think it has much of a taste at all. But, again, I am enjoying it so far in my baking and will continue to use it.
Here’s a recipe for my Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Gooey Butter Cake with Cooked Chocolate Icing where I use Nutiva in both the cake and icing with terrific results!
Coupons from Nutiva!
Just an FYI, you can visit the Nutiva website for some great coupons on this product and their Shortening, too.
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