Can Margarine Replace Butter in Baking?

There are many great debates in life – Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera, Oreos vs. Chips Ahoy, and whether the earth is flat or round. But one argument that’s particular to baking is whether to use margarine or butter. Some say absolutely, while others shudder at the thought. What’s the honest answer?

Margarine can replace butter in baking in a 1:1 ratio. However, it may alter the texture and flavor. Baked goods made with margarine tend to be softer and more delicate but don’t have the same richness as treats baked with butter.

Hello! Michelle here, a self-taught baker with over ten years of baking experience. Personally, I do not use margarine regularly. That doesn’t mean I haven’t used it, though, which is why I feel confident in my position on whether or not margarine can replace butter in baking.

Can margarine replace butter for baked goods? Let’s find out.

Can You Use Margarine Instead of Butter in Baking?

Whether you have dietary restrictions, are looking for a healthier option, or have simply run out of butter and want to make cake or cookies, one question you might have is whether or not the margarine sitting in your refrigerator can replace butter in baking.

The answer is yes; margarine can replace butter in all baked goods. (Unless the recipe explicitly states otherwise – which is rare but possible.)

How to Replace Butter with Margarine in Baking

If you’ve got the green light to use margarine rather than butter in your baked goodie, you must know how to use it. Luckily, this is a straightforward swap.

To use margarine in place of butter in a recipe, simply swap it in a 1:1 ratio.

So, if your recipe calls for one cup of butter, you’ll use one cup of margarine instead.

Yes, it’s that easy.

Benefits of Using Margarine Rather Than Butter

Sure, it’s great to learn that margarine can replace butter in baking. But are there any benefits of going the margarine route? There are actually three great perks of using margarine for your treats.

1. Possibly Healthier Than Butter

Whether or not margarine is truly healthier than butter is another topic that’s up for debate. However, it’s relatively clear that margarine is better for heart health as it contains fewer saturated fats than butter.

So, if you’re looking for an option to replace butter that’s good for you, you might consider using margarine. 

Of course, you need to be careful with the type of margarine you’re using. Double-check the ingredients to ensure they’re not riddled with fats, chemicals, and other poor ingredients. Here are some great options that won’t disappoint.

2. May Be a Suitable Vegan Option

Many (not all) kinds of margarine are vegan-friendly. That said, if you need a swap for butter that fits into your vegan diet, you’ll be glad to know that margarine is an excellent option.

Again, it’s critical to double-check the ingredients, as some margarine contains animal-derived ingredients like milk and casein. 

3. Softer Treats

When it comes to baking, the perk of going the margarine route is that goodies tend to be softer and more delicate compared to those baked with butter. 

With that in mind, if you want a very soft cookie, cake, brownie, or another yummy treat, consider using margarine in place of butter.

The Downside of Using Margarine

Yes, margarine has its perks. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for this ingredient. There are three significant drawbacks that one should consider.

1. Overly Processed

Whether or not margarine is truly the healthier choice is still up in the air, although there has been ample research that proves it’s better for the heart and cholesterol levels. 

However, that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest ingredient out there.

Margarine is overly processed and typically loaded with ingredients, many of which people have never heard of. On the other hand, butter is minimally processed, giving many people more confidence in using it.

2. Less Richness

I don’t know about you, but when I think of dessert, I think about decadence. I want to completely forget about calories, fat content, and all of my worries. And that’s easy to do when you bite into a truly rich and mouth-watering dessert made with butter.

Margarine? Well, it doesn’t affect texture or flavor too much. But one noticeable difference is that treats made with margarine are significantly less rich and indulgent.

Don’t hesitate to use margarine if you don’t mind sacrificing some of the richness that butter provides.

3. More Spreading

Margarine can be used to bake all kinds of goodies without problems. However, one big thing to consider is that when you use margarine for baking cookies, you’ll deal with more spreading. This is due to the high water content of margarine. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. More spreading means you end up with a crispier cookie, which many prefer.

Other Substitutes for Butter

Margarine is a top-notch swap for butter in baking. Not only will it render excellent and delicious results, but it’s easy to substitute – 1:1 ratio. It’s not the sole substitute, though. Here are three other great options for replacing butter in baking.

1. Vegetable/Canola Oil

Many people have vegetable or canola oil in their kitchen pantries. After all, it’s cheap and works in numerous dishes, whether frying or sauteing. 

It can also work wonderfully in baked goods.

To use vegetable oil in place of butter, you’ll need to use ¼ cup less than the recommended amount of butter. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, you’ll use ¾ cup of vegetable oil.

The perk of using vegetable or canola oil is that it has virtually no flavor, thus having zero impact on the final taste of your treat.

2. Shortening

Lots of recipes call for shortening – especially when it comes to pastries. Naturally, it can also be an excellent substitute for butter in other baked goodies.

Shortening is another easy swap, much like margarine. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio. So, if your recipe needs ½ cup of butter, you’ll simply use ½ cup of shortening.

Shortening has the benefit of making baked treats lighter and fluffier. In specific recipes, such as cookies and cakes, it can increase the overall rise, leaving you with sky-high goodies that are genuinely immaculate!

3. Mashed Fruit

Yall, if you haven’t tried using mashed fruit in your baked goodies, you’re really missing out!

The apparent advantage of using mashed fruit (my favorites are bananas or applesauce) is that it’s much healthier and nutrient-rich than butter.

Not only that, but baked goods get a hefty dose of fruity flavoring that is always enjoyable.

You can use mashed fruit in a 1:1 ratio for butter. Be aware that the texture may be somewhat denser, but it isn’t too obnoxious of a change.


If you want to use margarine instead of butter in your baked goods, go ahead! There’s absolutely no problem going the margarine route. But before you whip up some margarine goodies, check out these frequently asked questions below.

How much margarine do I substitute for butter?

Swapping margarine for butter in baking is so easy – you don’t even need to change anything! Substitute in a 1:1 ratio. So, if your recipe calls for a tablespoon of butter, you’ll use a tablespoon of margarine. Easy!

Why is margarine not recommended for baking?

The reason why I do not personally use margarine in baking is that it’s not as rich as butter. It also has higher water content and less fat than butter, so it can alter the texture a bit, especially when it comes to cookies.

What is the healthiest butter substitute?

Do you want to choose a healthier sub for butter in baking? You have a few different options. Mashed fruit is always an excellent idea and will provide some added sweetness. However, you can also use ghee, greek yogurt, or olive oil.

Margarine is a Top-Notch Swap for Butter in Baking

If you want to use margarine instead of butter while baking, you’ll be happy to know you can! Simply use margarine in place of butter in a 1:1 ratio. However, understand that the flavor and texture may be slightly altered, but nothing too noticeable. 

Do you use margarine instead of butter in baking? Why or why not? Share below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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