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Margarine Instead of Butter in Cookies (Can You Use It?)

Margarine is used in many cookie recipes, but usually in addition to butter, and oftentimes many people substitute the margarine with butter. But could you use just margarine instead of butter when making cookies?

Margarine is a great substitute for butter in cookies and many other cooking and baking recipes. The ratio to substitute is 1:1, and when making cookies, one should look for a margarine with higher fat content. This will help the cookies bake well and prevent them from spreading flat in the oven.

Here is my recommended brand of margarine for baking, seen in the Amazon market. It has a high fat content and low water compared to other brands.

You can substitute butter for margarine in a cookie recipe, but you should know that the cookie may taste slightly different. The taste will not be bad, but depending on the type of margarine or other substitute you use, the cookies will come out of the oven with slightly different tastes or textures. For more information on this, read below!

Woman adding butter of margarine to a mixing bowl with flour

Making Cookies with Margarine

If you are substituting butter for margarine or any other ingredient, you might be wondering if the oven temperature will work or if you should make it lower or higher. I am here to tell you that you do not need to worry about oven temperature when substituting the butter in a cookie recipe.

Cookies typically bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes. This is a good recommendation and baseline rate of temperature and time for cookies, no matter the butter substitute you used. So, if you have your worries, preheat the oven to 350°F and set a timer for 5-8 minutes. After this timer goes off, check on the cookies and set another timer for about 3-5 minutes if they need to be cooked longer. This is helpful to do so that you can keep your eye on the cookies and see how they are baking, so you don’t accidentally burn them.

However, avoid constantly opening the oven. Use your oven light instead. If you check on your cookies too often, the heat trapped inside the oven will constantly be let out, and the oven temperature will not stay at 350°F, which can cause your cookies to bake poorly. So, just make sure you allow the cookies to bake without interruption for 8 minutes, then go ahead and check on them.

If your first batch comes out well, remember the amount of time it took for them to bake, put that time on your timer, and allow the cookies to bake without interruption.

Related Can I Use Margarine Instead of Butter for Baking?

How do you know if your cookies are done when using a butter substitute?

If you are worried about knowing when the cookies are actually done, you will want to watch for a few signs. If you are making classic chocolate chip cookies, the cookie dough is a cream color, and no matter the substitute, the cookie should be slightly golden when fully baked. Another indication of readiness is whether or not the top of the cookie is wet or matte. If it is looking less wet or shiny and is starting to mattify, your cookie is almost done being baked but needs a few more minutes in the oven.

If you are making other cookie recipes like chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, coconut cookies, or any other variety, you may not be able to rely on color. But, in any sense, if your cookie gets a little golden, keep an eye on it for about 1 or 2 minutes until it is done.

If the color doesn’t change like that, for instance, a chocolate cookie does not get golden, you should also look at the base of the cookie and see if it is in the spreading phase where it is hanging onto the pan more, and it is sticking to it. When the cookie looks like it is lifting off of the pan slightly and is relatively well-formed, not wet looking, and holding itself together, you can bet that if it isn’t done, it will be soon.

Will the cookies be thinner or rounder?

Chocolate chip cookies baking in an oven

By substituting butter with margarine, your cookies can come out flat or more round than regular cookies. This will vary depending on the fat and water content ratio, as discussed above. But, assuming that you purchased a high-fat margarine, your cookies will come out of the oven round.

When using avocado as a butter substitute, there will be very little spreading, so the cookie will be quite round and tall. With the oil substitutes, the cookies will hold their shape better than you’d expect because there isn’t a lot of water in the oil since water and oil do not mix. So, the cookies will have some spread, but they should hold their shape well, which is great if you want your cookies to look, feel, and taste just like they do when there is real butter in them.

All in all, if you have margarine, definitely use that or shortening before other substitutes, and if you are out of those options, there are a lot of things you can use instead. This is great because it means that you won’t ever have to be without freshly baked cookies, even when you haven’t been to the grocery store in a few weeks. Enjoy your cookies that were made without butter!

7 Substitutes For Butter

Margarine is a great substitute for butter, but what if you want to use a healthier alternative, or what if you don’t have enough margarine left and need another substitute? Well, there are many great ingredients you can use to replace butter in a recipe.

You can use coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, bananas, peanut butter, applesauce, greek yogurt, shortening, or avocado in place of butter in a variety of recipes. Some of these options work better in cooking or for cakes and breads, but if you just need to make a batch of cookies and you just need something to substitute butter, this list has it all.

For cookies, the best butter substitutes would be margarine, shortening, greek yogurt, avocado, and any of the oils mentioned above. So, if you used these substitutes, what would your cookie turn out like?

1. Margarine

Margarine would be the best butter substitute to use because it is extremely similar to butter in appearance, taste, and smell. It is just the ingredient list that makes a difference. More details on those specifics are below, but if you use a good margarine with a high-fat content as opposed to its water content, your cookies will turn out like normal.

They should have the fluffy and gooey insides everyone loves, and also be nice and crispy on the outside. Using the wrong margarine for cookies will make them spread out and not hold their shape.

Overhead view of several common baking ingredients and tools on a counter

Related The 8 Best Margarine Brands For Baking.

2. Shortening

Shortening is also in many cookie recipes already, but typically you’ll see it say something like, “1/2 cup or one stick of butter and 1/2 cup of shortening.” So, though it is different from butter, it does make a good substitute. When you make the dough, there shouldn’t be a difference in texture if you use shortening instead of butter. But, the difference can be seen when the cookies bake.

Depending on the shortening you use, the cookies should hold their shape quite well, and when you bite into one, the taste shouldn’t be much different. The texture should not be noticeably different, and the taste should be just like normal but will have less of a buttery taste to it. This makes sense since shortening is not butter. However, after margarine, it is the next best substitute for butter.

3. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a great replacement for butter in a cookie recipe. If you have already started making your favorite classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, you can add peanut butter in butter’s place and the cookies will turn out great and have a wonderful peanut butter flavor to compliment the chocolate chips.

So, if you are gathering ingredients and realize you are out of butter, maybe it’s time to pull out your favorite peanut butter cookie recipes! You should have the ingredients for that, and the cookies will for sure satisfy your sweet tooth.

4. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great way to make cookies without butter or the other substitutes above, but the cookie will taste different. The consistency will be similar but the cookies may not come out as fluffy. The cookies will also not have that buttery taste to them. Instead, they will give highlight to the vanilla extract and sugar, with a little smoothness from the greek yogurt.

This is a substitute that you have to try for yourself and see if you like it. It works, but you never know how much you like the option until you try it out. If you do like it, you may make cookies like this more often since it is a relatively healthy alternative to butter.

5. Avocado

Avocados are great in many recipes, but cookies? Well, it actually works! Avocados are a great source of fat that can help keep cookies formed while baking.

Avocados don’t have much water content, so they do not melt in the oven. That means they will not spread a little like butter, and they can be a little denser than you’d expect. The cookies can also taste a little different, and the color will not be like a regular cookie since avocados are green, but the taste should satisfy your craving. Just know that the cookies will stay quite round and tall compared to the typical cookie.

6. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can work well to bring cookie dough together, but it will cause the cookies to taste different than normal. Coconut oil will make the cookies have more of a tropical taste because of the coconut flavor. If you love coconut treats, add coconut oil and maybe even some coconut shavings. This will pull the whole cookie together and give you a treat you would like to make again.

When using an oil like coconut oil as a substitute for butter, the ratio of oil to butter is 3/4 cup oil for every 1 cup of butter.

7. Olive or Vegetable Oil

If you have both olive oil and vegetable oil, you should use olive oil because the taste of the cookies will turn out a little better than if you use vegetable oil. However, you can use either type of oil as a substitute for butter in your cookie recipe.

Use 3/4 cup of oil for every cup of butter the recipe calls for, and you’ll find that your cookies turn out very well. Some people actually prefer using oil instead of butter in their cookies, so this substitute may be worth a try!

A basket of cookies and a pitcher and glass of milk

Related Can You Substitute Margarine for Oil? | What You Should Know.

More Details About Margarine

Margarine is a mixture of oils and unsaturated fat. You can find different margarine products that contain different amounts of vegetable oil and animal fat, all blended together to give you a butter-like substance. Many people prefer this product to butter because they can better control the amount of fat that is in the product, which is helpful for people watching their fats and those who have cardiovascular concerns.

Depending on the margarine you get, there will be a ratio of fat to water content, and when making cookies, you will want the product to be higher in fat. That is because the margarine with a higher water content will melt and evaporate more in the oven, which will cause the cookies to spread and become quite crispy.

All you need to remember is if you want to swap butter for margarine, you need to use high-fat margarine or your cookies will be flat rather than golden, round, and wonderfully ooey-gooey in the middle.

So, if you like flat cookies and you are looking out for your health, you can use margarine with higher water content and it will make the cookies turn out how you want. But, if you want the cookies to be as normal as possible without using butter, using margarine with higher fat is best.