Easy Vegan Brown Butter

Pitcher of vegan brown butter on a white plate with pecans. In the background are roasted carrots and chocolate chip cookie bars, both made with brown butter.

Introducing easy vegan brown butter! If you’ve ever eaten anything made with real brown butter, you’ll know the delicious nutty flavour that it imparts.

Truly addictive, brown butter is a wonderful addition to recipes both sweet and savoury, from chocolate chip cookies to brown butter pasta sauce. But what to do if you don’t eat dairy?

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Pitcher of vegan brown butter on a white plate with pecans. In the background are roasted carrots and chocolate chip cookie bars, both made with brown butter.
Easy Vegan Brown Butter

To make traditional brown butter, you simply heat the butter in a saucepan. Over about 15 minutes or so, it goes through a number of stages from cooking off the water in the butter to the point where the butter is foaming and the milk solids in the butter start to brown. These milk solids are what produce that coveted nutty, hazelnut-like flavour.

If you attempt to brown margarine, such as Becel (aka Promise in the United States) and Earth Balance, yes, it does brown. But the result decidedly does not have the same flavour appeal. Margarines, of course, vary in how they’re formulated, but if it’s vegan margarine, it will obviously not contain any milk solids, and thus it will be lacking that nutty flavour of browned butter.

So how to get that nutty flavour? The images are obviously providing a big clue here. Yes, by infusing margarine with pecans, you get that nutty flavour, and voila, easy vegan brown butter!

Melted margarine and pecans in a cast iron pan, making vegan brown butter
Making Easy Vegan Brown Butter

I’m going to try to anticipate your questions here. If I’ve missed anything, please ask!

      1. Why not use hazelnuts?

        The dairy version of brown butter is also called beurre noisette or hazelnut butter, due to its hazelnut-like flavour. So hazelnuts are the most obvious choice here, but the small problem is that I am allergic to hazelnuts, so I really could not do my due diligence with testing. Also, pecans, at least in my part of the world (Vancouver, Canada) are easier to find and less expensive.

      2. Can you use any kind of margarine for this? Does Earth Balance butter brown?

        Different margarines have different formulations, so I cannot guarantee that they will all work the same way. I choose Becel vegan margarine to test this recipe. This is not a sponsored post, but I choose the brand because according to Wikipedia, it’s available in many countries worldwide. Note that in the United States the brand is called Promise.

        I have started testing with Earth Balance and will update this post as soon as I am finished my testing. My initial tests show that Earth Balance butter does brown and also that less of the margarine is ‘lost’ in the browning process, which I believe is indicative of the water content – i.e., it looks like Becel (aka Promise) has a higher water content.

      3. Can I use this vegan brown butter in baking?

        The short answer is, it depends. This produces more of a semi-liquid oil than solid butter. Therefore, it will probably be fine in any recipe where you can use liquid oil or melted butter. Even if the recipe calls for butter sometimes you can get away with substituting oil, but you would usually replace it with less oil (about 75%, so for example 1 cup of butter would be replaced with three-quarters of a cup of oil).

        Rest assured, that I will be doing lots of baking tests with this butter, because I really want vegans to enjoy all the goodness of brown butter that non-vegans get to enjoy. I’ve already made some crazy good Vegan Brown Butter Chocolate Chip cookies, which I will be posting soon.

        I don’t think this vegan brown butter will work in recipes where you need solid state butter, such as making puff pastry.

        I’ve included the image below, which admittedly is very grainy, so that you can get an idea of how the butter is actually more of a pourable, semi-liquid oil.

        Easy vegan brown butter being poured into a glass container, against a yellow background, with pecans scattered nearby
        Easy vegan brown butter
      4. What about using vegan brown butter in savoury dishes?

        Again, it depends on how the brown butter relates to the overall recipe. However, you can definitely use it add a nice nutty depth of flavour to sauces. It would be perfect for a simple vegan brown butter pasta sauce with some sage. How about Roasted Butternut Squash Soup or Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ginger Brown Butter Sauce? I have an amazing Brown Butter Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce in the queue too. And, there will be many more recipes to come.

      5. What can I do with the leftover pecans?

        Eat them! They’re buttery and delicious. I love them on my morning oatmeal or with fruit and yogurt. You can also add them to baking, such as that Vegan Brown Butter Chocolate Chip cookie recipe that I mentioned above. I’ve also got an amazing Dark Chocolate Bark recipe that uses them.

        Stack of pieces of dark chocolate bark, studded with buttery pecans and smoked almonds
        Dark Chocolate Bark

Let’s Make Easy Vegan Brown Butter

Okay, let’s do this! You are just 2 ingredients and a few minutes away from vegan brown butter.

Easy Vegan Brown Butter
Prep Time
3 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
18 mins

Impart the nutty deliciousness of browned butter to recipes both sweet and savoury with this easy vegan brown butter, made with margarine and pecans. 

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: can you brown margarine, dairy-free brown butter, does earth balance butter brown, easy dairy-free brown butter, easy vegan brown butter, substitute for brown butter, vegan brown butter
Diet: vegan
Servings: 12 tablespoons
Calories: 138 kcal
Author: Sylvia Eastman
  • 1 cup vegan margarine {See Recipe Notes}
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  1. Put the margarine and pecans in a saucepan or heavy skillet. Bring it to a low simmer and let it simmer for about 15 or more minutes. Toward the end, you'll want to watch it carefully as the butter (and pecans) will burn if you leave them too long. Mine is usually done around 18 minutes or so. If you are nervous, it's better to take it off the heat early than late. It will still taste good. 
    Strain out the pecans and let cool. 

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes
About Margarine

Different margarines are made with different formulations. I  tested this recipe with Becel vegan margarine. This is not a sponsored post. I choose Becel because it is available in many countries around the world. See this Wikipedia article for a list of countries, and note that it is sold in the United States under the name Promise. 

If you are not using Becel (aka Promise), I recommend doing a test version first, with 1/4 cup of margarine and 2 tablespoons of pecans. This will likely take less time to brown, so watch it carefully. 

Getting the Margarine Brown

If you are nervous about burning the margarine or the pecans, you can remove it before it gets really brown. I have cooked it for as little as 7 minutes and you will still get the nutty flavour of the pecans infused into the butter. It will be more of a golden yellow colour still at that point, but it does taste good. 


I store this in the fridge. It will thicken up but it never returns to its semi-solid margarine state. 

Amp up the Flavour

If you want to give the brown butter even more of a nutty taste, you can add a teaspoon or two of hazelnut or pecan oil to it. 

Recipe Yield

The recipe yield is based on using Becel (aka Promise) margarine. 

Nutritional Information 

Nutrition information is an estimate, based on Becel vegan margarine.

Nutrition Facts
Easy Vegan Brown Butter
Amount Per Serving
Calories 138
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Glass jar of brown butter on yellow background, with pecans scattered around
Pin it! Easy Vegan Brown Butter

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