The blog of cooking-ez.com

Butter doesn't make you fat, unless you eat too much of it.


Butter doesn't make you fat, unless you eat too much of it.
Whenever I'm discussing cooking and recipes, there is one idea which comes up frequently, like this: "Oh no! But that's got butter in it" (I should add, for the sake of accuracy, that this is something I hear more frequently from women, who are almost all concerned with keeping their figure).

This immediately gives me the impression that butter is THE ingredient that should be banished from the kitchen, and it has been banned in a lot of so-called "healthy cooking" or "slimming" recipes, often being replaced by oil, preferably olive.
27,1924/5 for 10 ratings
Grade this page:

Last modified on: March 26th 2012

Butter doesn't make you fat, unless you eat too much of it.

Whenever I'm discussing cooking and recipes, there is one idea which comes up frequently, like this: "Oh no! But that's got butter in it" (I should add, for the sake of accuracy, that this is something I hear more frequently from women, who are almost all concerned with keeping their figure).

This immediately gives me the impression that butter is THE ingredient that should be banished from the kitchen, and it has been banned in a lot of so-called "healthy cooking" or "slimming" recipes, often being replaced by oil, preferably olive.

As I am a fan of olive oil – I use it every day – that suits me fine, but I'm not ready to abandon butter under the pretext that because it is fat, it makes you put on weight.

Allow me then to list a few of the benefits of butter, apart from its nutritional qualities (notably Vitamin A), as its disadvantages are well known:

- Butter contains around 80% fat ; if that seems like a huge amount and you prefer the idea of oil, remember that oil is 100% fat!

- Great chefs often say, quite rightly, that butter "fixes" flavours. So adding a small amount of butter, even if it is not the main type of fat in the dish, will improve the overall flavour. Think of fresh garden peas, boiled quickly in salted water, with a knob of butter melted over them before serving – delicious!

- Butter can provide the fat needed for cooking, but in the process it adds its own subtle flavour, and this is closely tied to the quality of butter you use. It is true that this is also the case for olive oil, but not at all for sunflower or groundnut oil, which are fats with a neutral flavour.

- You will not put on any more weight through eating butter than any other fat; it's an excess of butter/fat which leads to weight gain.

- Butter can be eaten cold and can be used hot in cooking, but with certain precautions. It only becomes indigestible when burnt (ah – that awful outmoded recipe for ray with black butter).

- Without butter, there would be no French pâtisserie (cakes and pastries), or hardly any. Replacing butter with margarine does not make a good shortcrust pastry or good french croissants (for example).

butter cake



I think the recipe which best illustrates this negative perception of butter is a "basic cake". When I'm asked for an easy cake recipe, especially when children are helping, I always suggest a four quarters (“quatre-quarts” in French) , and hear the reply "Ah, no – too much butter; I'd rather make a yogurt cake” . I'll make no attempt to hide the fact that I don't get on with yoghurt cake; I find it unpalatable and stodgy. There might not be any butter in it, but instead, there's a half or whole cup of oil (100% fat, let's not forget).

But it's not just because I live in Brittany that I owe it to myself to stay faithful to butter. It is certainly true that using too much butter is neither good for the cooking nor for health, but – as in all things – it is an excess that is bad, and only an excess. If you are worried about your figure, then eat less, or only a little, but do eat the good, proper stuff.

So there is no need to deprive yourself of using butter in cooking, or take an extreme anti-butter stance, but just use it wisely. To all lovers of good food and enthusiastic cooks (like us), it is a precious ally.

I will close with a quotation attributed (allegedly) to Paul Bocuse. He was talking to an American food critic, who remarked on the quantity of butter he used in his cooking. The chef replied, "If you don't like butter or cream, there's really no point coming to France".

Back to top of page

Lasts posts

Other pages you may also like

The art of the charlotte
The art of the charlotte
Here are some hints on making charlottes.PrincipleA charlotte mould is lined in the bottom and around the sides with syrup-soaked biscuits. This outside layer is then filled with a cream and left to set in the fridge (usually overnight).MouldOf course, it is best to use a proper...
11,4283.3/5 for 4 ratings
The window-pane test in bread-making
The window-pane test in bread-making
The home bread-makers often ask themselves “Have I kneaded my dough long enough?” . A good question, as dough that is insufficiently kneaded will not rise properly or will fall flat when the top is slashed, which is very frustrating.To know when the dough is ready, one can rely on the length...
11,183 13.6/5 for 12 ratings
Egg yolks and caster sugar
Egg yolks and caster sugar
We often come across recipes where we need to mix egg yolks with caster sugar. This would appear to be a very ordinary and simple thing to do but, be warned, these two ingredients can behave oddly together.Let’s take confectioner's custard (crème pâtissière, or french pastry cream) as an...
12,1034.5/5 for 10 ratings
The 3 kinds of meringue
The 3 kinds of meringue
Meringue – what could be simpler? Just beaten egg whites with sugar added. This makes a fairly stiff mixture which can then be cooked in a cool oven to create those lovely, light confections.But in the world of professional patisserie, meringue comes in three different kinds. Even if the...
6,011 43.9/5 for 9 ratings
The skin of the almonds
The skin of the almonds
For whole almonds, there are 2 versions in stores: so-called "white" or "blanched" almonds, ie without their brown skin, and "whole" almonds with their skin.For the almond powder, there is the same powder known as "white almonds" where they are almonds without the skin which are reduced to...
90 83.7/5 for 3 ratings

Post your comment or question

I am not a leaving thing

Follow this page

If you are interested in this page, you can "follow" it, by entering your email address here. You will then receive a notification immediately each time the page is modified or a new comment is added. Please note that you will need to confirm this following.
I am not a leaving thing
Note: We'll never share your email with anyone else.
Alternatively: you can subscribe to the mailing list of cooling-ez.com , you will receive a e-mail for each new recipe published on the site.

Back to top of page