The cheapest is to just forgo using better, but are there a simple substitutes to butter/margarine? Or is there an alternative way to prepare ears of corn without animal products, yet still retains some basic taste?

I am looking for an alternative to drenching sweet corn in butter that's not too fancy. I suppose this question can be expanded for all entrees heavily dependent on butter. (It's usually easy to come up with butter alternatives for cooking, and that's not what I'm asking.)

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    Vegan margarine is quite easy to find. – Sneftel Sep 4 '19 at 14:41
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    Unless you're spreading like a pound of margarine on your ear of corn, the total price increase will not be significant, no. – Sneftel Sep 4 '19 at 14:44
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    Where do you live? In Sweden, dairy-free margarine is available everywhere and costs like margarine with dairy. – Jobjörn Folkesson Sep 4 '19 at 14:56
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    what about a good olive or avocado oil - expensive though. – bob1 Sep 4 '19 at 15:48
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    In the UK vegan spreads (margarine) are cheaper than butter, as is a lot of olive oil. I don't recall butter being very cheap in the US, but didn't check the spread we bought – Chris H Sep 4 '19 at 16:50

"Dairy-free margarine" is available at any supermarket.
It's half the price of a supermarket 'econo-saver' butter, pound for pound & a quarter the price of a premium, Lurpak, President etc.

If you want something a bit less 'artificial' try a spray of olive oil & a light sprinkle of salt. Half the point of putting butter on corn is the added salt anyway.

'Fun' alternatives - chilli oil, garlic oil, basil oil, pesto...

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    And make it a good quality olive oil. Don't cheap out, if you're using it as a condiment you need one that tastes good (and you won't need much for something like this). – Allison C Sep 4 '19 at 17:46

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