While I was cooking a very simple Alfredo sauce today for my lunch, I had already started my sauce before I realized I was out of butter.

If this happens again to me in the future, what is a good emergency replacement for butter in a recipe?

My recipe (if needed) was:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, divided 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
  • 2 (16 ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccini and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear.

In a large saucepan combine ricotta cheese, cream, salt, Parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Cook over medium heat until well combined, about 10 minutes. Stir in cooked fettuccini and chicken; cook until heated through.

What I ended up doing was adding some EVOO to the sauce because I figured it had a similar fat content. The sauce turned out ok enough, but I'm wondering what the difference would have been if I had used actual butter.

2 Answers 2


This is 100% about flavor. Butter will give you this, EVOO will give you that, ...

Butter will give you a 'richer' taste, whatever that may mean for you. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, generally speaking is far more powerful and may become overwhelming. Any other oil will give you a different taste profile.

Sunflower oil may be the most neutral and therefor the most appropriate for Alfredo sauce. Cannola oil may be another neutral oil, but I've never used it myself.

Generally speaking, an oil is an oil is a fat (for emulsifying).

  • I wouldn't say it's 100% about flavour. Butter is a far better emulsifier than oil. I'm not sure that an oil-based alfredo sauce would really be stable (although certainly the cream helps).
    – Aaronut
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:02
  • Maybe you're right, I was talking from the top of my head. Will look into it. I did make a couple of roux with EVOO without problem, and mayo is a mix of sunflower and EVOO. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:05
  • 1
    Mayo uses egg yolks which are very effective emulsifiers. Alfredo is not a roux, it's a cream sauce. Are you confusing it with béchamel (white sauce)?
    – Aaronut
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:08
  • @Aaronut, rumtscho's answer on another question suits me :-) One of the first Google results. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:09
  • @Aaronut, I've made bechamel with oil, no problem. Never made Alfredo's though, so maybe it's completely different. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:12

Per the previous question about Fettucine Alfredo, the traditional Alfredo only uses butter, parmigiano, cheese, and pasta. So your recipe already contains several substitutions and changes from a traditional Alfredo. I'm not sure making one more (the olive oil) really made that much of a difference.

For a traditional Alfredo it would be pretty much impossible to substitute for the butter, since it's one of only 3 ingredients.

  • Fettuccine alla Alfredo were invented in 1914, essentially to spill some money from American tourists... I'm not sure "traditional" is the right adjective to use.
    – nico
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 10:45

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