Is there a cheap substitute to butter/margarine? Or is there an alternative way to prepare ears of corn without animal products, yet still retains some basic taste?

I am looking for an alternative to drenching sweet corn in butter that's not too fancy. I suppose this question can be expanded for all entrees heavily dependent on butter too. (It's usually easy to come up with butter alternatives for cooking, and that's not what I'm asking.)

4 Answers 4


I've used Earth Balance vegan margarine on corn on the cob before without issue.

Beyond that, you honestly don't even need butter if the corn is sufficiently fresh... I've eaten sweet corn off the cob uncooked and with no other additions before.

If you're grilling it, I'd grill it in a good coconut oil. Boiling it obviously poses no problems, though you might be able to enhance the creaminess by adding a dash of a plant-based milk (the vegan twist on milk boiled corn).

But as for toppings not based in vegan butter at all, if you need to spice up the flavor of out of season corn, I'd suggest rubbing it lightly with a vegan mayo and then adding a shake of salt, a sprinkle of GoVeggie 'parmesan cheese' (or your preferred vegan parmesan substitute, or even just nutritional yeast would work, I think) and some chili powder.

P.S. You might get a bit more bang for your buck by posting this question to the cooking Stack Exchange, which gets vegetarian recipe questions a lot.

  • +1 - but I think the meta comment about asking on Seasoned Advice should be a comment, not part of an answer
    – Zanna
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 17:01
  • 1
    I agree that buying good corn and then eating it without anything on it is best. Or add Earth Balance.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 19:24

In Vegan Soul Kitchen, Bryant Terry gives a recipe for a dressing for grilled corn on the cob, which contains:

  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika

These are simply blended until smooth and used to dress four corn cobs. Perhaps four types of pepper are not all strictly necessary :)

Personally, I use coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil approx 16:8:1 to replace butter as a garnish or major flavour element. Flax can be skipped and just use coconut:olive 2:1. Ultimately, I suggest trying out combinations of oils that are fresh and tasty wherever you happen to be until you find one you like.


I drench my boiled cobs in extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with salt flakes and freshly ground pepper. I’ve done this for years, I find it very tasty yet not too fancy.


Corn does not require any butter. Cooking most non-herb foods, including corn, while wrapped and covered, either retains the food's moisture or creates more. Corn can be cooked inside it's original wrapping, which is the most guaranteed way, or wrapped in aluminum foil, in which case it is a good idea to ensure there are no cracked or loose spots in the aluminum. The corn will be wet when removed and will be cooked correctly. Spices, juices, and sauces can be added after the corn is opened. If you put them on beforehand they can go inside the aluminum without using any kind of special binding substance, or by using lime juice etc. Of course, any other type of oil besides butter can also be used.

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