What Can I Use Instead of Ghee
You’ll tend to find that most authentic Indian recipes call for a little ghee. But often, it isn’t an ingredient that we all have readily to hand when making curries, and you may be asking, ‘what can I use instead of ghee’? The good news is that there are plenty of options, so you can still cook your favourite Indian Dish. Today I’m going to talk you through some excellent ghee substitutes.
Quick Answer | What Can I Use Instead of Ghee?
There are plenty of alternatives to Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter solids. In essence, this is simply fat. Therefore any other fat source will be a good substitute. Most cooking oils will work really well, although they might not have the same nutty flavour as Ghee. Alternatively, if you are cooking a dish that requires a fairly low cooking temperature, you could give normal unsalted butter a go!
If you want to learn more read on.
What is Ghee? (Basically Clarified Butter)
Ghee is clarified butter that is used predominantly in Indian cooking.
It is formed by gently simmering regular butter, which separates into solids and clear fat. The fat is the layer we are interested in. This is skimmed off and further refined until you are left with a sort of clear, pale golden liquid which solidifies.
Ghee has a few notable characteristics that make it great for cooking:-
Ghee is Great for High-Temperature Cooking
Ghee has a smoking point (this is where fat begins to burn) of around 250°C. You’ll tend to find that other conventional cooking oils tend to reach their smoke point around 200°C. This makes it a great choice for cooking dishes over high heat (like a nice Jalfrezi)
Ghee Has a Distinctive Nutty Taste
As Ghee is simmered, the fat and solid separate. But the story doesn’t end there. It is simmered so that it begins to darken. As it does so, it takes on a kind of nutty flavour. The longer and hotter the it is simmered, the stronger the taste. Ghee simmered at low temperatures is lighter in colour and much more mild tasting.
Is Ghee Healthier than Butter?
While you may read fancy diets telling you that Ghee is better than butter, it is almost identical to regular butter from a calorific point of view. Take a look for yourself.
In fact, according to myfitnesspal, Ghee is slightly higher in calories and contains marginally more fat than regular butter!
How Can I Replace Ghee in a Recipe? | 9 Great Alternatives
So you’ve found the recipe calls for clarified butter ghee? But you've got none? The good news is that you can substitute ghee for plenty of other oils.
Don’t worry, here are 9 great Ghee alternatives: -
1) Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is an ingredient we nearly always have lying around the kitchen. It is a great choice as it has a smoke point of 232°C. One of the nice things is that it tends to take on the flavour of whatever was last cooked in it.
Authentic Indian restaurants often use it as a substitute for ghee (it is much cheaper). In fact, they have a special name for it. They call it seasoned oil. It is normally created by skimming and sieving oil layers previously used for frying hundreds of onion bhajis. This gives a really rich onion taste to your curry!
2) Unsalted Butter
Ok so, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noted that Ghee is made from butter anyway. In this instance, we just skip a step and avoid clarifying it.
The good news is that just like Ghee, the solids and fats will separate. You’ll find that butter browns quite easily, and you’ll get that distinctive nutty taste.
The bad news?
Sadly the solids cook and burn much quicker than the fats. This means that if you are cooking over a higher temperature, you may create a dish that tastes burned.
3) Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has become very popular in recent years. It isn’t too expensive and, depending on the brand, can add a really nice nutty flavor taste to your dishes.
There is a downside when trying to replace ghee with coconut oil however. Coconut oil has a low smoke point of 177°C, which means that it isn’t best suited for dishes that need to be cooked quickly over very high heat. However, for most curries, you should be fine.
4) Soybean Oil
Soybean oil has become popular years as an alternative to vegetable oil. It has a really high smoking point and a mild taste. Its also cheap too making it one of the best ghee substitutes.
However, if you have the option, I’d probably go for an alternative.
Check this article out! Soybean oil is pretty refined and perhaps a little too synthetic.
5) Sunflower Oil
Let’s keep it natural.
Sunflower oil is formed by compressing and refining sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil is mild in flavour and has a really high smoking point, making it ideal for curries!
While you can use it to replace ghee, it isn't particularly good for your cardiovascular system.
6) Peanut Oil
A mild nutty flavour and a high smoke point?
Now it isn’t the cheapest of oils, but it is really tasty, and you can tell the difference in your food. One reason that this makes for a great ghee substitute is that it has the same nutty flavor!
If you are making samosas it is particularly great for deep frying.
Disclaimer!: If you are cooking for guests, be sure to check if they have any allergies before using this as an ingredient!
7) Olive Oil
Olive oil has been used as a cooking ingredient for thousands of years. There are so many different varieties. If you are looking for a good ghee substitute… I’m sure that you’ll have a bottle of this lurking in your cupboard.
The only problem with olive oil is that it can sometimes taste a little strong, especially when heated. If I had to make a choice between vegetable oil and olive oil, I’d probably opt for vegetable oil when it comes to curry! And as an added bonus you can use it in salad dressings!
Oh and top tip, don't worry about using extra virgin olive oil. It costs more and you'll only use it for frying anyway!
8) Canola Oil
Canola oil is very similar to vegetable oil and is a great ghee substitute. The main difference is that it is refined from a specific type of crop, called Brassica Napus. If you are looking to be all-natural, however, canola oil might not be for you. Canola oil is refined and extracted using chemicals. It is also a genetically modified crop.
9) Make Your Own Ghee!
Still looking for a ghee substitute? Forget Olive oil, canola oil and even coconut oil! (and don't even talk to me about toasted sesame oil!)
How’s about you make your own clarified butter?
This is by far my favourite solution! Provided you’ve got a stick or two of butter, and a little time, there is no reason why you can’t make your own Ghee at home.
Let’s check out how to do it....
How to Make Your Own Ghee
The good news is that once made, Ghee lasts for ages. So, with a little effort, you’ll never run out again.
To Make Your Own Ghee, You’ll Need: -
- A saucepan
- A large metal spoon
- Some muslin or cheesecloth
- A sealable jar
- A large stick of butter
- Add your stick of butter to a saucepan and place it on a low light. The butter will melt and then start to simmer and bubble.
- Don’t stir the butter! Just leave it, and you’ll notice three distinct layers forming. The top, foamy layer is the water from the butter, this will eventually evaporate, but to speed the process up, I suggest skimming it with the spoon.
- Eventually, you should notice that the middle layer of your butter starts to become clear! The milk solids should be at the base of the pan. Welcome to ghee town! Distinctive taste and rich flavor here we come!
- Take the pan off the hob, let it cool for a while, and pour it through the cheesecloth into a jar. The milk solids should be separated, leaving you with a nice jar of Ghee ready to use!
See? I told you it was simple!
What can I use instead of Ghee? Now you’ve got plenty of ideas. In truth, making your own is the best option. I also like to use vegetable oil (especially if I’ve been frying onions in it). Any fat could do the trick, but be sure to pick one with a high smoke point. Have I missed any off my list, what do you use? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them!