Great substitutes for when you run out of butter

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, butter is enjoying the ultimate comeback. The low-fat diet craze has been widely debunked, and even the formerly infamous saturated variety of fat is seen as a dietary villain no more. What to do, though, when your beloved gold-foil-wrapped Kerrygold has diminished to wafer-thin proportions? Don't reach for that trans-fat laden margarine! True kitchen geeks know that there are a few butter swaps that will get you by in a pinch.

Olive Oil: Popeye's secret formula

Popeye's secret to success wasn't just his trusty spinach. Enter, olive oil (no, not his girlfriend)! Olive oil is a staple in any well-stocked kitchen, and can do so much more than just dress a salad. Try drizzling extra-virgin olive oil onto a baked potato, or mashing it into your favorite pulverized 'tater recipe. When cooking at high heats, avoid using your best extra-virgin and virgin olive oils in favor of more economical light olive oil. Light olive oil's higher smoking point, and less-pronounced olive flavor, is the ideal choice for sauteed recipes, or a swap-out for butter when baking.

Avocado: not just for guacamole anymore

All hail the mighty avocado, AKA nature's green goddess. Loaded with fiber and packed with more potassium than a banana, this oft-mistaken-for-a-vegetable fruit is also packed with versatility. It's hard to beat avocado's creamy goodness as a substitute for butter on toast. Just mash the ripened flesh with a fork (and perhaps squeeze in a twinge of citrus with a pinch of salt, if you're feeling fancy), and spread away. For baking, pureed avocado substitutes cup for cup with butter, but you may want to reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees to avoid excessive browning of your creations. Brownies are an ideal use for avocado when baking … the chocolate masks the avocado's subtle flavor.

Greek yogurt -- perfect world-wide

Home cooks were privy to the magic of Greek yogurt long before Chef Bobby Flay was shilling its wonders on television. A healthful and tangy substitute for sour cream or mayo in dips, unflavored Greek yogurt can also be subbed in equal measure for butter when baking. The high heat will kill off the beneficial live and active cultures naturally found in yogurt, but the yogurt will deliver moist and flavorful results in your baked goods, with a boost of added protein. Plan to use glass or stainless steel bakeware when baking with Greek yogurt, as the high acid content can have a negative reaction with aluminum pans.

Applesause is the boss

Could Johnny Appleseed have ever imagined the nationwide apple fever his little gardening expedition would cause? Yes, Americans love their apples, so much in fact, that astronaut John Glenn even brought squeezable tubes of applesauce on his initial 1962 space flight. It's hardly any wonder then, that applesauce is one of the most popular subs for butter in baking, with the recommendation made right on the packaging of many cake, brownie, and bread mixes.

When baking from scratch, cut down on the amount of sugar in your recipe — the applesauce will add its own, natural sweetness. One caveat to keep in mind, though: applesauce is not ideal in cookie recipes, as the resulting batter tends to dissolve into cookie-mush.

Keep calm and eat bacon

Ask any of your friendly, neighborhood, Paleo dieters, and they'll tell you that bacon fat is liquid gold (or solid gold, depending on the room temperature). The best part about bacon fat may be how easy it is to obtain. Simply fry up some bacon in a pan, pour off the excess fat, and voila! You have a dynamite fat for sauteing everything from veggies to eggs to, well … more bacon! Storing is super-easy too, as bacon fat will keep in the freezer for months. Just bring the bacon fat to room temperature before using it in your favorite stove-top recipes that call for butter or oil.

Once you have embraced bacon fat as a cooking agent, have fun exploring other time-tested rendered animal fats, like beef tallow or suet, lard (from pork), or even some gourmet duck fat (try it the next time you make popcorn!)

We're nuts for coconuts

Let's hear it for the culinary superstar at the table … coconut oil! No longer fat-shamed for its high saturated fat content, the abundant medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil do a body good. The uses for coconut oil seem to be never ending. It's delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, it's a slam-dunk in smoothies, it's a mouthwash, it's a skin moisturizer — What will coconut oil do next, your taxes?

For best results, stick to the healthier, raw-pressed, extra-virgin variety when possible, while saving refined coconut oil for high-heat cooking and baking. Coconut oil does contain a lower amount of water than butter, though, so plan to add about half a teaspoon of H2O to your baked recipes per one-half cup of coconut oil used. Other than that, grab a jar of the stuff and bake away!