These Easy Margarine Substitutes Can Make Your Recipe Healthier

Low on margarine? Swap in any of these easy substitutes. We've also got some healthy margarine substitutes.

Before we get into the ingredient substitutions, it's important to know fats and oils add flavor and contribute to the texture of your baked goods. It's no secret that our Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen loves a good cookie or pound cake recipe loaded with a buttery flavor. But what about margarine? Since margarine is found in the same section of your grocery store, you might be wondering if you can easily interchange your recipe that calls for margarine with butter or another butter substitute. The short answer is while there is no exact rule for substituting the fats in your recipes, you'll likely be able to use butter or shortening as a one-to-one swap for margarine. In addition to butter, we're sharing some easy (and healthier swaps) for when you need a margarine substitute stat.

oil, margarine, coconut oil, and butter
Peter Krumhardt

Margarine Substitutes

While oil provides moisture to a lot of baking recipes (we're looking at you, olive oil cake!), you need your margarine substitute to be in a solid form so the proper amount of air can get incorporated. For example, you want to be able to cream your butter and sugar together in order to get your chocolate chip cookies to come out at the perfect texture. For this reason, cooking oils such as vegetable or canola are not recommended substitutes for margarine.

Substitute Butter for Margarine

The easiest, fool-proof way to ensure your baked goods will turn out the most similar is using butter.

Substitute Oil for Margarine

It's easy to swap in coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, or vegetable oil for margarine. When making most recipes, oil is substituted for margarine at a 3:4 ratio. This accounts for any water or other ingredients in the margarine. So for every cup of margarine in the recipe, use 3/4 cup of oil.

Healthy Margarine Substitutes

For 1 cup margarine, substitute 1 cup of the following:

  • 1 cup softened cream cheese (or one 8 oz. block) or reduced-fat cream cheese, which has fewer calories and fat.
  • 1 cup 60% to 70% vegetable oil spread or olive oil spread, which are trans-fat-free.
  • 1 cup tofu (best in brownies).
  • 1 cup baby prunes (best in dark baked goods, due to color).
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, which cuts the fat and adds vitamin C.

Keep the healthy kick going by learning more ways to bake with less fat. Or download our free healthy substitutions chart to keep even more ideas on hand for your next meal.

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