Is spray butter a healthier option?

Is spray butter too good to be true? When looking at the nutritional value, the true picture becomes apparent.

So many of us are trying different ways to watch the number of calories we consume because of weight loss concerns or because we’re trying to maintain our current weight. Most people love the taste of butter and like to add it to foods traditionally lower in fat and calories such as vegetables or popcorn.

The concerns of adding calories and fat to food are justified because the amount of fat and calories adds up quickly sometimes without a conscious idea. This makes turning to spray butter with claims of zero fat and calories with an appetite-pleasing buttery taste with every spray.

So is this one of those ‘too good to be true’ situations? When looking at the ingredients, the true picture becomes a little more apparent. Spray butter is made up of mostly soybean oil, buttermilk, 15 milligrams of sodium, thickening agents, preservatives and flavoring. 

Also, claims of zero calories aren’t exactly true either. Most spray butter actually contains about one calorie per spray so covering a portion of food may actually be adding 25 or more calories. Companies are only required to report calories when there is over one calorie per serving and since the companies themselves get to gauge the size of a serving there is plenty of potential for creative calculations. 

After diving into this topic, I discovered an option for a lower-calorie and healthier way to add butter flavor to your veggies, popcorn, casseroles, or any food you love by making your own butter spray:

Gina O’Neil's homemade butter spray recipe

Here’s what you need

  1. A spray bottle, washed in boiling water and then air dried to remove all water (You can even wash and sterilize your empty bottle of I can’t believe it’s not butter spray)
  2. 8 oz of very light flavored extra virgin olive oil
  3. Butter extract – found in the spice section of Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc next to vanilla extract and almond extract


  • Fill your spray bottle with the olive oil
  • Add two teaspoons of butter extract
  • Gently shake before you use it each time to mix the butter flavor into the oil

This recipe seems very easy to make and use in place of the spray butter on the market. Friday home movie night popcorn will have a new topping this week after I make this new butter flavor recipe.

Michigan State University Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute has many programs to help the public with nutrition advice and goals. Experts from MSU Extension makes it possible to make your lifestyle healthy for the long haul. 

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