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Using Butter Powder for Daily Cooking & Emergency Prep

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Most food storage products purchased from food storage companies are pretty much the same all across the board. Foods like wheat and freeze-fried fruit are all very similar no matter what brand you choose to buy, while other products, like butter powder, can vary widely in quality.

Dairy products, in general, vary from company to company. Food storage companies also change their recipes all the time. As a result, a can of something like butter powder or dried milk that you bought four years ago may bear little resemblance to a can purchased from the same company today.

The upshot of all this means that food storage products are getting better, tastier, and higher in quality all the time. The tricky part is that sometimes there’s a bit of a learning curve while you try to find a brand you like for a particular product. Then there’s the learning curve of figuring out how to best use it.

Prepping wisdom says it’s always best to know how to use something BEFORE it’s an emergency situation. Therefore, we’ll cover everyday use and what you need to know to store it long-term.

image: block of butter with cut marks on brown paper with herb sprig

All About Butter Powder

Let’s dig into butter powder so you can decide if it is a good fit for you and your family.

Is it a good option for long-term food storage?

Fats and oils are one of the trickiest things to store because of their tendency to go rancid. While blocks of butter store well in the freezer for long periods of time, if the power failed or the grid went down, the freezer no longer provides that protection. Then what?

Enter butter powder.

Like all things stored in large #10 cans, the appeal of butter powder is in its shelf life, which can be up to five years or under the right storage conditions. Compare this to regular butter, or even shortening, which can last up to 18 months, and its use is apparent.

What is butter powder made of?

Is butter powder real butter, you mean?

Yes, it’s real butter, but no, it isn’t dehydrated butter. Not technically anyway since that requires removing water and butter is less than 20% water. However, the water that is present is removed, then powdered milk is added back in until it takes on a powdery form.

Does butter powder taste like real butter?

Although you can reconstitute the powder to smear on toast or pancakes, it won’t taste exactly the same. (However, if you drown your pancakes in syrup or use jam on your toast, you may not notice a difference.)

Its texture is more like the whipped butter you can buy in tubs. However, because of the addition of powdered milk, it has a bit of a milky taste to it. If you’re expecting a strong butter flavor, move on. This isn’t it.

However, used properly in baking or cooking the results are quite palatable. In fact, if the recipe calls for both butter and milk, you may not even notice a difference.

Is butter powder healthier than butter?

Butter and butter powder have different nutritional profiles. Generally speaking, the powdered form has fewer calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium, but this will vary by brand. So check your labels.

Can I use it just like regular butter?

Once reconstituted, butter powder is spreadable just like regular butter. To bake or cook with it, it’s recommended to add the powder directly into the other dry ingredients and then add the commensurate amount of water needed. That is, don’t reconstitute.

One thing it won’t do is melt. Instead, it will scorch.

How long does butter powder keep?

Again this varies by brand. For example, in optimal conditions, Augason Farms claims the shelf life of an unopened can is “up to 10 years.” Few of us can maintain such conditions, however, so plan to rotate accordingly.

Once opened, portion the butter powder into smaller containers so as to not continually open a larger one. Store the smaller containers in the refrigerator for longest shelf life, or in a cool dark location.

Learn more: When should you buy food in #10 cans? When should you buy smaller sizes? Read this tutorial.

Where can I buy butter powder?

You can find the shelf-stable substitute in some brick-and-mortar stores, like Walmart. However, this brand is the Survival Mom’s favorite.

READ MORE: These are the food storage companies I recommend and why.

How to Reconstitute

This is going to vary by brand and by what you want to use it for. Do you need it firm or spreadable? Or are you baking or cooking with it? Follow the directions on the package, however, you may need to experiment to get a ratio of powder to water that you’re happy with. I share my experience figuring that out in the next section.

My Experience Learning to Use Butter Powder

Now let’s get real about using butter powder. This was my experience. And this is a great example of why you want to use a product before you’re in an emergency.

Because in an emergency, the last thing you need going awry is your food.

The first time I tried to cook something with butter powder, I tried sugar cookies. One of the primary ingredients is butter, so I figured if any recipe would be a good test of this particular food-storage product, sugar cookies would be it.

I hesitate to use the word “disaster,” but…well…if the shoe fits, right?

The cookie dough had the consistency of cookie “batter.” It wouldn’t firm up no matter how long I refrigerated it.

Usually, my kids and I adore taking “snitches” of cookie dough during the cookie-making process, but I was particularly unhappy with the taste. I thought it reminiscent of reconstituted powdered milk: somewhat “off,” but in a way that is difficult to quantify in words.

When baked, the texture of my cookies resembled cake. While that’s fine when you are baking a cake, it’s not so great when you’re hoping for a batch of cookies.

Being a prepper, though, means you don’t let little things like that stop you.

As previously mentioned, not every can of butter powder is created equal. While my first experience made me want to weep, subsequent experiments with butter powder were much more successful.

Here are a few specific things I learned:

  • Even though the label on the can said to reconstitute the powder with an equal amount of water, this was a big mistake – the result was far too runny and didn’t at all behave in cooking the way regular butter does. The trick, then, is to cut down the amount of added liquid so that your reconstituted butter is the consistency of butter. This alone goes a long way toward avoiding disaster cookies. Some even use a bit of vegetable oil when they reconstitute the powder.
  • The whole point of butter powder is that it is supposed to taste and act like butter, and you can bake cookies during times of emergency. Good butter powder does just that – you can put it on popcorn, in mashed potatoes, and cook with it to boot. The only thing it doesn’t do is melt in a pan. For that type of butter, you’ll need a product like Red Feather butter or ghee.
  • If you are going to buy it at all, don’t get the cheapie kind – that way lies disappointment. A high-quality product is absolutely worth the extra cost. If possible, buy it in smaller quantities, like a #2.5 can, and compare brands.
  • As mentioned above, when baking or cooking with it, just add the powder to the dry ingredients and the requisite water to the wet ingredients. You don’t have to reconstitute prior.

READ MORE: Do you know how to store cookie ingredients properly? Find out how to ensure you can whip up a batch of goodness when you need to!

What do you use butter powder for?

  • In baked goods. Follow the instructions on the butter powder container for the equivalent with fresh butter.
  • Mixed in with mashed potatoes
  • Combine it with honey for honey butter!
  • Add to pancake mix
  • Reconstitute as a spread for toast, muffins, and breads
  • Combine with other savory seasonings as a popcorn topping
  • Sprinkle it over hot, cooked veggies
  • Add it to macaroni and cheese

How to Make Apple Crumb Cake with Butter Powder

image: slice of apple crumb cake on glass plate with fork in front of pan of apple crumb cake

Apple Crumb Cake

Use your dehydrated and food storage inventory to make a delicious dessert!

Prep Time 30 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 1 hr

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

  • 1 set measuring spoons

  • 1 large bowl

  • 1 small bowl

  • 9X13″ baking dish

Apple Crumb Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup Thrive Life Scrambled Eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup Thrive Life Apple slices chopped and rehydrated


  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Thrive Life Butter Powder
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • In a large bowl, blend all cake ingredients.

  • Pour into a greased 9X13″ baking dish.

  • In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly.

  • Sprinkle crumb topping on top of cake.

  • Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes.

Keyword apples, butter powder

Butter powder is a reliable, shelf-stable option for your food storage pantry. Experiment with using it every day as preparation for using it under more adverse conditions. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

This article was originally published on December 19, 2017, and has been updated.

What is your favorite way to use butter powder?

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