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Do you enjoy eating whipped butter with the basket of bread or slathered on your entree when eating out at a restaurant? If so, then you need to order a very specific way to ensure that you are getting what you expect!
The Realities of Whipped Butter
In all but the best of restaurants, the whipped butter that is served is not really butter at all.
It is actually a blend of butter and margarine whipped to look and taste almost exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, there is no butter in at all!
The same goes for the “honey butter”, “cinnamon butter”, “herb butter” and any other types that might be an option. They are almost without exception butter/non-butter blends as well.
Restaurant olive oil is another example of customer bait and switch. What servers call extra virgin olive oil is commonly a cheaper blend with some sort of vegetable oil, usually canola.
Another trend is serving a blend of maple syrup and cheaper cane syrup while still calling it “maple syrup”. Cracker Barrel is one prominent chain that does this last time I checked.
Don’t get me wrong here. This is certainly better than the artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup usually served. However, it isn’t what customers are expecting … 100% real maple syrup.
Spotting Margarine vs Butter
You can see in the photo above the whipped butter blend on the right and the pieces of 100% butter on the left that I was recently served at a steak restaurant.
In order to get the real butter, we first asked the waiter if the “whipped butter” in the cup was 100% butter. He said no, so we asked if he could please ask the chef for pure butter instead.
He was happy to help and brought out the cup of 100% butter shown on the left in the picture above. The chef apparently had to cut it off a stick for us!
Watch Out for Butter Packets Too!
If you are served whipped butter packets instead of a small cup of whipped spread, take care to read the print very carefully.
These little packets which used to be 100% butter are now increasingly butter blends as well.
The print on these tiny containers is hard to read too even if you don’t use reading glasses! A trick I use if necessary is to use your phone and take a picture of the label. Then, you can magnify it nice and large to see if it’s real before deciding to eat it.
Are you wondering what all the fuss is about with customers wanting real butter?
The reason is that the high omega-6 fatty acid profile of margarine tends to encourage inflammation. In addition, butter substitutes contain many undesirable additives, fillers, and otherwise artificial ingredients. They are best avoided.
While there are definitely some healthy butter substitutes that are available (this brand is my favorite), the ones used in restaurants are most decidedly not!
That’s why they are using margarine or a whipped butter/margarine blends after all! Because it’s cheaper!
Butter is always more expensive than margarine, and educated customers are going to prefer it unless there is a dairy allergy present.
In that case, it is best to not eat the margarine/butter blend at all.
What do you do in restaurants when they serve butter with the bread or main entree? Do you just eat whatever they serve or ask for real butter instead?
Hi, Thank you for this information. I rarely eat out as I’ve known for many years of the chemicals being added to foods, plus I try to eat organic. Since my husband’s death, I’ve become friends with other widows who love going out to eat, so I go now and then. I do need to get out more, and try to make good choices. I also try to ‘carefully’ educate them when I can. I prefer breakfast out as I feel I can do better with that meal. A couple restaurants do have the little containers with ‘butter’ and I foolishly assumed it really was, as I didn’t put on my readers to check. You can bet I will next time and complain if/when I find out they’re cheating.
In the past, many times, I’ve taken along my own vinegar-oil, maple syrup (not too convenient) or other additives, but feel it’s terrible that we have to do so…almost like being sneaky….but that’s what they’re being.
Thank you for publishing this. My son actually gets physically ill from this whipped “butter” that the servers often really think is butter. It took a long time for us to figure out what was making our son sick when we ate out sometimes because at home we always used the real thing. Finally this common denominator was clear. Even at movie theaters, they call that liquid stuff you can get on popcorn “Real Butter” and it’s trademarked! It might have a speck of real butter in it but it definitely is not. That stuff even make me and the rest of my kids feel nauseated after eating it. We no longer trust any “butters” that don’t look like they were cut off a stick of butter anymore, at any venue.
I’m happy to hear that you eat out sometimes! Thanks for another great article.
Sarah Pope MGA
Ha! Yes, I eat out several times a month. I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating the restaurant minefields!
Maureen E McGovern
I’m so glad you wrote this article because this such a huge problem today! I eat out for lunch 5 times a week due to my job, and I have watched this deceptive trend take over in chain restaurants. Growing up in Wisconsin we have the Butter Law, which requires restaurants to serve butter. Being the Dairy State (and lots of other traditional foods still) has helped us be the state with the least crime and the most Centenarians. But as chains began coming in over the last decade or two they don’t care about that important butter law. It’s scary that the public is so easily deceived, but just as much that the restaurant employees believe it’s butter too…and the deception just continues. I actually go to Outback a couple times a month. I had to gently argue with staff that the garbage they were trying to pass off to me wasn’t butter. Now I have a waitress who remembers me, and she always brings out actual butter right away. Lol!
Recently I began going to a local grocery store…a local chain. I inquired into their butter cream frosting, and the bakery staff swore up and down it was made of butter. Hesitantly I tried it, and of course it wasnt. I went back to tell them, and their assistant manager explained that just 2 items in the bakery were real dairy, including the cream puffs. They were shocked and said their manager told them it was. So much deception continues…and people are basically clueless. Thank God for our great local cheeses that we still have, and that production continues to increase. Hopefully they’ll never mess with our cheese…
Hello Sarah, I very much appreciate your health and products information. I inquired at a restaurant to please show me the “butter” that they said they used. Thank goodness I asked! It was “Baker’s Butter” a big brick of horrible hydrogenated oils and long list of fillers. It could make anybody (everybody) ill.
Sarah Pope MGA
It really should not be allowed in restaurants to call a fake food by the name of a whole food. So misleading to customers especially those with dietary issues that can cause reactions!
My in laws favorite restaurant is Longhorns and I can’t believe I never put two and two together that whipped butter wouldn’t be only just butter! We eat there a fair amount and I will definitely be asking for only butter this next time around! Thank you because this seems like it should be more obvious than it is!! I typically bring my own butter to restaurants that I know just have margarine…
Sarah Pope MGA
The picture at the top is of the Outback Steakhouse breadboard … if their “butter” is a margarine blend then probably Longhorn’s does it too.