Butter vs Vegetable Oil: Discover the Differences

Here you’ll find a comparison of butter and vegetable oil. While both have their place in the culinary world, they possess distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different cooking techniques and dietary preferences.

By understanding their unique properties, you’ll be better equipped to make informed choices in your kitchen to help elevate your culinary game. Let’s get into the details!


Butter is used to enhance the flavor of foods as a condiment. For example, it is often used on vegetables, toast, and popcorn as a way to make them tastier. Chefs and the more advanced home cooks use butter and herbs to baste meats like steaks. It is also used in baking to create foods like cookies and pastries. Butter can be used for frying but its lower smoke point makes it less than ideal for this purpose.

Vegetable oil can take high heat making it a popular choice to use for frying. Its neutral flavor also makes it perfect for making salad dressing and mayo. Additionally, many recipes call for the use of vegetable oil to make things like cakes and cookies similar to butter.


Butter has more saturated fat and cholesterol compared to vegetable oil. However, vegetable oil has more calories and total fat.

The polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are actually healthy fats that can reduce heart disease. Both butter and vegetable have the same amount of monounsaturated fat but vegetable oil has more polyunsaturated fat.

ButterVegetable Oil
Serving Size 1 tbsp. (14g)1 tbsp. (14g)
Total Fat11g14g
Saturated Fat7g2g
Trans Fat0g0g
Polyunsaturated Fat.4g8g
Monounsaturated Fat3g3g
Sodium0mg (unsalted), 90mg salted0mg
Total Carbohydrate0g0g
**View the packaging for the most accurate nutrition facts for a given product.**

Vitamins & Minerals

Butter provides the body with some vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, B12, and K2. However, as Healthline notes, the amount of vitamins and minerals consumed when eating butter doesn’t significantly contribute toward total daily intake recommendations.

Vegetable oil may provide the body with traces amounts of vitamins and minerals. In other words, it’s not a significant source for vitamins and minerals.


Butter is made from cream that is churned. The churning process divides the fat from the buttermilk in the cream. The fat is what is used to create butter, a popular dairy product. Salt is added for salted butter. Around 80% of butter is fat while the remaining portion is largely water.

Vegetable Oil is produced by extracting the oils from the seeds of plants. The common ingredient of vegetable oil is soybean oil. This oil is highly processed and refined.

Dietary Restrictions and Allergies

Butter is a dairy product since it is derived from milk. It is typically made from cow’s milk in the United States but there are certainly less popular butter products available made from other animals such as sheep and goats.

People who have allergies to dairy should avoid butter. Furthermore, any person who does not wish to consume foods derived from animals, such as vegans, should not consume butter.

Vegetable oil is made from plant-based ingredients making it suitable for a vegan diet. Since vegetable oils are highly refined, the proteins that produce allergies in people are removed from the oil. Generally, vegetable oil is not a concern for allergies.

If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to read the ingredients of any food to confirm that it is suitable for you.

Smoke Point

Smoke point refers to the temperature at which an oil or fat begins to break down and produce visible smoke. This point is important because when an oil reaches its smoke point, it can negatively affect the flavor and nutritional value of the food being cooked.

For reference, a high smoke point oil or fat is one with a smoke point of 400°F or higher. You’ll want to use high smoke point oils or fats when cooking at high temperatures.

Let’s take a look at where butter and vegetable oil stand in regard to their smoke points:

Butter has a smoke point between 302°F to 350°F. You have to be careful about using butter over high heat since its easy to get a pan to heat above the smoke point causing the unpleasant taste of burnt butter. The milk solids in butter are what causes it to burn quickly.

Use ghee instead, if you want a product with a buttery like flavor that has a higher smoke point. Ghee’s smoke point is roughly 100°F more than butter. In fact, ghee is produced from butter by heating it over low heat to remove its water and then straining off its milk solids.

Vegetable oil is a much better substance to use for high heat cooking. It has a smoke point of about 400°F making it suitable for even deep frying at the typical 325°F to 375°F temperatures.


Butter is a recognizable taste for most people since it is widely used for direct eating on food like toast and baked potatoes. Its derived from milk/cream which makes it creamy with a bit of sweetness to it. You’ll also taste salt in salted varieties of butter.

Vegetable oil has a neutral or mild flavor. Most people won’t pick up on its flavor when used for frying or similar purposes.

Popular Brands

Butter is sold down the refrigerated dairy aisle at the grocery store whereas vegetable oil is commonly shelved in the baking aisle. Some of the top brands you’ll find at stores are as follows:


  • Store Brands (Kroger, Great Value (Walmart), etc.)
  • Land O’Lakes
  • Challenge
  • Kerrygold
  • Cabot

Vegetable Oil

  • Store Brands (Kroger, Great Value (Walmart), etc.)
  • Crisco
  • Wesson

Image Credit: Crisco Vegetable Oil- Mike Mozart/flickr