Looking for the best substitute for margarine in baking? Explore my margarine replacements + ratios for your favorite homemade baked goods in this quick FAQ.
Our top 7 substitutes for baking with margarine are:
- Vegetable oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Nut butter
Margarine provides moisture and fat to recipes, helping to keep pie crust, pastry, croissants, and more moist and tender, with a rich profile. There may be times when you want or need to replace margarine in your homemade goodies, though.
Whether it’s due to flavor preferences or just a choice to omit it from your recipe, there are suitable alternatives available.
Before we unlock some of those options, let’s first get to know margarine better and tackle some reasons why it could be a good idea to swap it out.
What Is Margarine?
Margarine is made from vegetable oils like soybean, palm, or canola. With its lower water content, it can be used straight from the fridge, making it a convenient choice for baking.
The spread has a slightly milder taste compared to butter. Its unique flavor can influence the taste and texture of baked goods—something many bakers and consumers appreciate.
Here are some unique properties of margarine:
Margarine adds moisture to baked goods by providing them with essential fat. This gives a soft texture and extends the product’s shelf life. Margarine’s fats help keep cakes and breads from drying out, preserving their texture and taste over time.
Margarine helps achieve a flaky texture in pastries and pies. It prevents the dough’s gluten from overdevelopment, leading to distinct layers and a tender bite in products like croissants and puff pastries.
Margarine can add a creamy texture to baked goods, especially cakes and cookies. This leads to a richer texture and a more moist outcome, improving the overall taste and experience.
Long shelf life
Margarine has a long shelf life. This feature helps reduce spoilage and waste, particularly for bulk buyers. Also, its long shelf life is great for make-ahead recipes, helping to keep the end product tasty even after storing, which is why it’s often used in commercial kitchens.
Why Substitute Margarine?
Here are several reasons why you might want to swap out margarine:
Some margarines, particularly stick margarine, are high in trans fats, which can be unhealthy, especially when eaten in higher quantities. Although many margarines have since removed or reduced trans fats, concerns remain for some people.
Taste and texture
Some people prefer the taste and texture of other fats or oils over margarine, especially in baked goods or cooking.
Quality of ingredients
Some margarines might contain additives, preservatives, or artificial colors/flavors that health-conscious consumers prefer to avoid.
Cultural or regional preferences
In some cultures or regions, traditional recipes might use specific fats or oils instead of margarine. For example, Mediterranean dishes might use olive oil, while some Indian recipes might use ghee.
In some areas or situations, margarine might not be readily available, necessitating the use of an alternative.
Best Substitutes For Margarine
Butter is the most common substitute for margarine in baking. It has a richer flavor and a creamier texture than margarine, giving your baked goods a more traditional taste.
Use a 1:1 ratio of butter to margarine.
Vegetable oil is a wholesome alternative to margarine due to its lower saturated fat and trans fats. However, it doesn’t have the same flavor or texture as butter, so consider blending it with a bit of butter or adding butter-flavored extracts to your recipe.
Use a 3/4 cup of vegetable oil for every 1 cup of margarine.
Shortening is a solid 100% fat that has less saturated fat than dairy butter, and less moisture than margarine. Shortening, like Crisco, also has a higher melting point than margarine. This means that baked goods made with shortening may be less tender and more flaky than those made with margarine.
Use a 1:1 ratio of shortening/Crisco + 4 teaspoons of water to margarine.
Applesauce is a good substitute for margarine in some recipes, such as cookies and muffins. It provides a sweet touch and moisture, ensuring baked goods remain soft, tender, and flavorful.
Note: If using sweetened applesauce, consider reducing the amount of sugar by ½ t in your recipe.
Use a 1:1 ratio of applesauce to margarine, minus 1 t of liquid in the recipe, if possible.
Coconut oil has a rich, slightly sweet flavor and a high melting point, making it another worthy substitute. And remember, coconut oil can impart a subtle coconut flavor, which might not be suitable for all recipes. Be sure to melt it before using it in baked goods.
If you want to use coconut oil, go for a 1:1 ratio of coconut oil to margarine.
Avocado oil is a liquid oil made from avocados. It has a mild flavor and a high smoke point, making it a great replacement for margarine. But keep in mind that it won’t add a buttery taste like margarine would.
The ratio of avocado oil to margarine is 1:1.
Nut butter, such as peanut butter, almond butter, and walnut butter, can be a tasty substitute for margarine in baking. They also add fatty density to baked goods, so your baked goods may come out heavier than if using margarine.
Quick tip: Some nut butter varieties have added sugars or salt. Check the label and adjust your recipe’s sugar and salt content if needed.
Use a 1:1 ratio of nut butter + 2 water.
How to Adjust Your Recipe
Okay, so you’ve picked your substitute. Next, how do you adjust your recipe to ensure the mixture turns out just right? Here are some tips that might help you:
Pay attention to fat content
Margarine and its substitutes have varying levels of fat. For example, if you’re using a replacement with less fat, like applesauce, you might need to add a little extra to maintain the right texture.
Watch the moisture
Some substitutes add moisture, or less, such as shortening, which is 100% fat. Read labels and check ratios.
Keep an eye on baking time
Different fats can affect how your treats get baked. Keep a close watch on your oven and adjust the baking time as needed. Nobody wants burnt cookies!
Experiment and Taste
Baking is an adventure. Embracing different substitutes is part of this exploration, leading you closer to that perfect taste. On that note, don’t be afraid to try other choices and tweak your recipes until they’re just how you like them. Remember, the most delightful dishes often come from unexpected combinations.
The bottom line
So there you have it, our journey through the world of margarine substitutes in baking. Margarine is usually an inexpensive and readily available option but it’s not the only choice we have. You can swap it out for butter, vegetable oil, shortening, applesauce, coconut oil, avocado oil, or nut butter and decide depending on your preferences.
Remember, baking is all about having fun and trying new things. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make your recipes your own. Whether you’re baking for a special occasion or just because you want a tasty treat, there’s a substitute available for you.
- Butter - 1:1 ratio
- Vegetable Oil - 3/4 c for 1 c margarine
- Shortening/Crisco - 1:1 + 4 t water
- Applesauce - 1:1 ratio minus 1 t liquid, if possible
- Coconut Oil - 1:1 ratio
- Avocado Oil - 1:1 ratio
- Nut Butter - 1:1 ratio + 2 t water
- Substitute margarine for one of our top seven recommended options.
- Use one of the above ratios when substituting for margarine in your baked goods.