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I just happen to have one of those Betty Crocker cookie mixes on hand today, and the ingredients list at the back calls for 1/2 a stick of softened butter. I don't have any butter to spare today, but I do have a bit of vegetable oil, and I know that the two can be substituted sometimes without incident.

Can I do so here, or should I do as the package recommends and use butter?

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The cooking snobs will say that butter is better, and even my fading taste buds can sometimes detect the difference. But much of the time you can make the substitute. BTW the reason for the 7/8 figure is that butter runs about 1/8 water. So you may have to use 7/8 cup of oil and 1-2 tablespoons of water.

The biggest difference between solid fat and oil will occur when you see lines like, "Blend together with a pastry blender until you have crumbs the size of a pea. A pie crust made with oil will not be a tender flaky crust.

However for bannock making in the bush, corn oil works fine as a substitute for lard. and it's a heck of a lot easier to keep.

A comment below mentions cookie recipes. For this to be successful, the flour to fat ratio has to be fairly high. Bannock is 1 cup of flour to 1-2 tbs of fat. This is small enough that the flour absorbs all the oil.

Another signal: If the directions call for chilling the dough then there is enough fat in the mix that using oil would make the recipe way too liquid. I suspect this is the case with many cookies.

Cake recipes usually don't have as high a fat:flour ratio as many cookies, but cakes are often very fussy about ingredient ratios.

So: Test before counting on it. It does work for bannock.

1 cup flour 1 to 3 tbs fat or oil 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder Tiny amount of water.

If you are going to fry the bannock, go light on the oil.

Mix flour and salt and baking powder. Mix in fat. Mix in just enough water to make a stiff dough that holds together. It is very easy to overdo. Knead only long enough to mix.

Cooking: 1. Shape into long strips about 3/8" thick, wrap around smooth pole and bake over a 10 second fire for 15 minutes rotating slowly. (A 10 second fire: YOu can hold your hand where the cooking happens for 10 seconds)

  1. Pat out into 3/8 to half inch slabs. Cook in a frying pan over a 20 second fire for 5-10 minutes on a side.

  2. Pat out to 1/8" thick. Drop into a bucket with 2 inches of smoking hot lard in the bottom. Lift out with tongs after 30 seconds.

Method 1 will keep campers busy for a long time. Method 2 makes bannock you can use for a meal later. Method 3 is the fastest method, but it is dangerous.

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    Even in cookies, which are generally incredibly sensitive to tweaks in the recipe, and which want solid fat not liquid? – Cascabel Nov 27 '15 at 18:33
  • Thanks for the comment. Have edited answer to give hints as to when it might work and when it wouldn't. – Sherwood Botsford Nov 27 '15 at 19:12
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    The OP was asking about cookies (from a mix), it's not just a random comment. Spending most of your answer talking about bannock seems a bit out of place. – Cascabel Nov 27 '15 at 21:04
  • Flakyness/crumbliness can actually be achieved with oil in some cases (adding the oil before any other liquid). Recipes that rely on the solidification of fat when cooling to keep the whole thing solid will, however, fail.... – rackandboneman Apr 7 '18 at 22:17
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I used oil and my cookie mix came out VERY runny and oily

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    Dunno why this got a downvote; seems like a pretty straightforward "no it won't work" to me. – Cascabel Nov 27 '15 at 18:32
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1 Stick butter = 7 T oil. I just made Betty Crocker's seasonal spice cookies in a pouch, the mix called for 1 egg, 2T water, 1 stick butter (half a cup) and said to soften but not melt the butter.

I substituted 7/8 of oil which is 7 Tablespoons, and followed the rest of the directions. Cookies came out perfectly!!

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Liquid oils are not direct replacement for the solid fats such as butter,but you can still make delicious cookies by doing some practice.

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You absolutely can. maximegir link has some great info and here is another link about common substitutions. Just make sure you don't use a one to one, 7/8 oil to 1 part butter like the link says is about right. Also, in my experience there is subtle difference and the dough wont be as thick. I say run with it!

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My cookie dough came out runny, but I just made up for it with more flour. Cookies did have more a cake like consistency though.

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    Are you telling us that you used oil in place of butter, or are you just giving a general statement about a too-runny recipe? – Stephie Dec 3 '17 at 9:53

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