Can You Use Margarine Instead of Butter in Cookies

Margarine and butter. They look the same, act the same, smell the same, and even taste pretty similar. With that in mind, plenty of people wonder if they can simply use their margarine instead of butter in cookies, and the answer is yes. You can use margarine instead of butter in cookies, but high-fat is preferred.

Hi! My name is Michelle, and I used to be a fan of margarine. Now, I love the decadence and richness of real butter. However, I totally understand the desire to go the margarine route. Either way, I have swapped margarine for butter in cookies countless times.

If you’re a margarine fan or you don’t have any butter on hand, this article will explain why you can easily use margarine instead of butter in cookies. It will also share some other handy information, like the difference between these ingredients and which kind of margarine to use. 

Who’s ready to bake some margarine cookies?

Difference Between Margarine and Butter

Before you can understand whether or not you can use margarine instead of butter in cookies, you need to know the difference between the two. 

  • Butter – Butter is a dairy product and is high in fat, mostly saturated fats. It also contains around 20% water and a few other milk proteins.
  • Margarine – Margarine, on the other hand, is derived from plant oils. It contains polyunsaturated fats and far more water content than butter. 

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why margarine is better for you than better, especially when it comes to the heart. Of course, this statement is only true if you’re using a tub of margarine that is void or has low trans fats. 

Since margarine is technically the healthier option, it’s easy to see why one would consider swapping regular butter for a margarine substitute in their cookie. Can it be done, though, and what will happen?

Margarine vs Butter in Cookies

Yes, you can use margarine instead of butter in cookies. It’s really easy to do so, too, considering the ratio is 1:1. So, if your chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for one cup of butter, you can swap it for one cup of margarine. 

How Does Margarine Affect Cookies?

So you can use margarine instead of butter in cookies. Great. That’s it, right? Nothing else to consider? Well, not exactly. You have to understand that butter and margarine will render slightly different results (although both ways are highly enjoyable).

When using butter, cookies get an incredibly rich and decadent flavor, unlike any other ingredient substitute. And, since it melts slowly, it provides the perfect consistency and texture. Cookies spread out just enough to be somewhat crunchy while also ooey-gooey.

Margarine, on the other hand, works basically the same. But since it has more water and less fat, margarine cookies tend to spread a bit further and become thinner. The result is a crispier cookie. That’s why it is easier to burn cookies when using margarine – so be extra careful!

Choosing the Right Margarine is Key

Using a stick of margarine is highly recommended. Why? Because there is a higher fat content. However, keep in mind that stick margarine tends to have trans fats, which plenty of people are trying to avoid.

So why do I recommend it? Well, it’s all about consistency. If you’re not super concerned with making your cookies heart-healthy, stick margarine will provide the cookies with the correct texture and flavor that resembles butter more similarly.

You can also opt for a tub of margarine with a higher fat content if you’re looking to avoid trans fats altogether.

Other Butter Alternatives for Cookies

If you want to swap the butter but don’t have margarine (or don’t like it), don’t worry – there are other substitutes for butter in cookies. I’m just going to name a few here to help you out in a pinch.

No Butter or Substitute

What? No butter? Yup. Some cookie recipes contain no butter, so you don’t even have to think about replacing it with another ingredient. The result might be a less decadent and crumblier cookie, but it’s still going to taste great (especially if you add extra chocolate chips).

Olive Oil

Health-conscious individuals looking to ditch butter should highly consider olive oil and all of its amazing health perks. You will enjoy the fact that you’re using something healthy while still achieving cookie greatness. Just expect a bit less chewiness in the end. Use a 3:4 ratio.

Mashed Avocado or Banana

Avocados and bananas have a slew of health benefits, making them both excellent options for butter replacements in cookies. Not only that, but they’re high in moisture and will give your batter the right consistency. Just note that the cookies may be puffier than normal.


Now you can nail your cookie recipe, feeling confident using margarine as a replacement for butter. But wait! You still want to learn more. I’m here to teach, fellow bakers. Check out these frequently asked questions for more.

What is the difference between using butter and margarine in cookies?

There isn’t a huge difference. However, cookie recipes using butter will tend to be a bit more crumbly, chewy, and have a far richer flavor. Margarine produces a great flavor, but the texture will be slightly off as the cookies spread further than butter, causing crispier edges.

What makes cookies softer butter or margarine?

Shortening is the go-to when looking to make cookies softer. When using shortening instead of butter (or margarine), you can use it in a 1:1 ratio. 

Can I use margarine instead of unsalted butter?

Yes, you can easily swap margarine for unsalted butter just as you would regular butter. However, with regular salted butter, you may have to add a pinch of salt when swapping for margarine.

What can I use in cookies instead of butter?

There are so many options for butter substitutes in cookies. I have listed a few above – olive oil, mashed avocado, banana, and leaving it out altogether. You can also use applesauce, coconut oil, peanut butter, shortening, Greek yogurt, and so much more.

What brand of margarine is best for baking?

Some brands are better than others when it comes to the best margarine for baking. The goal is to find stick margarine with a higher fat content than the competition. For example, Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and Land O’ Lakes Margarine Sticks are great options.

Is margarine better than butter?

Yes, margarine is technically better than butter in terms of health. However, it does not top butter in the baking department. Butter simply allows for better flavors in baking and cooking. It also develops preferred textures compared to margarine.

Final Words

You can easily use margarine instead of butter in your cookie recipe. Just try to find margarine that has a higher fat content, like most stick margarine. Keep in mind that it’s easier to burn margarine cookies as they spread thinner, so keep an eye on them while baking.

Do you prefer to bake with butter or margarine? What kind of margarine do you use when baking cookies? Share below so we can try it out, too!

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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  • Trina

    I need to know if I can substitute butter in my sugar cookies as Parkay margarine is virtually not available unless you want to pay $96.00 for a huge supply.

    My favorite cookies I have been making for at least 60 years are not very good when I substitute butter for margarine in equal amounts. Is there a way to adjust butter amount to make them good again.

    Patrina Nickson

    • Michelle

      Are you open to trying a new recipe? I always make my sugar cookies with butter and they’re delicious.