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Cookies without butter?

So I made and sent off to a friend 2 different batches of cookies, only to find out that she's lactose intolerant. One recipe had cream cheese and butter, the other one had oil. She could eat the second one easily but would have to take a pill ahead of time for the first one.

I've got 2 questions:

(1) Can I substitute margarine for butter in my cookie recipies? I'm sure the taste will be different, but what about the texture? Is it a dumb idea and not worth the effort?

(2) Does anyone have any tried and true cookie recipes that don't use dairy? Or know of any specific website where I can find some? I tried searching on Epicurious for "cookies without butter" and got recipes with ....butter.

I'd love to send her something she can actually eat without having to take a pill beforehand. Many thanks!

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  1. I ran across a dairy free recipe for Spicy Molasses Cookies over at Pioneer Woman. Here's the link:


    Edit to add: The Oatmeal Crispies are dairy free too

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mattkn

      I make these same molasses cookies (except I up the molasses to 1/2c and the flour to 2 1/2c) several times a year. They are a family favorite and don't contain any butter - but you'd never know. They are chewy and delicious. For the holidays, I sometimes roll them in powdered sugar, so that their surface remains white, while the cracks come out deep brown - like chocolate cringles.

    2. Try meringue cookies. You can add nuts and or chocolate to them. They are really good and not real hard to make.

        1. Are you sure your friend's problem is with butter? Lactose is a naturally-occuring sugar in milk and most milk products; butter is almost pure fat with only trace amounts of lactose.

          The recipe you mention that she wasn't able to eat contained cream cheese, which is more likely to be a problem for someone who is lactose intolerant.

          1. The New York Times had an article about butter in cookies and what it does for them.
            I've never tried to substitute margarine for butter, but after reading this article I'm not going to even consider it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chocolateman

              you can sub margarine, but the cookies spread more. crisco website says to chill dough before baking to minimize spreading. also, crisco has a butter flavor shortening (with recipes) that my niece uses in a cookie. my mom loves those cookies. (i haven't tried them.). google "crisco butter flavor" cookie recipe".

            2. Search for vegan cookie recipes....Vegans eat no animal products.

              1. Make traditional biscotti

                1. Meringue kisses, with pecans and coconut, somehow taste as if they have chocolate in them. They're quite tasty if you can find a dry day on which to make them. :)


                  1. Thanks for all the suggestions. My friend said she's definitely lactose intolerant, and has switched to soy products (and feels much better as a result).

                    I read the NYTimes article on butter this morning, and it will be helpful in my other baking.

                    MsMaryMc, what do you use for shortening? Butter flavored Crisco? I used to use Crisco to make French toast (like my mother did) but never thought of using it for baking.

                    Thanks again.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: rednails

                      I haven't made this recipe yet, but I plan on trying it this year. Pignoli cookies from Italy, they are almond cookies with pine nuts and they do not contain butter. If you give them a try please let me know how it goes.


                      1. re: lizzy

                        Looks good, I'll try it.


                      2. re: rednails

                        For the Snickerdoodles I've used plain old original Crisco. I haven't tried the new version without trans fat, but I probably will next time I make them.

                        That recipe is from my Aunt Elizabeth, who spent summers cooking for a firefighting crew in the Sierras. "Her boys" devoured those cookies by the pan-full. She swore by Crisco!

                      3. I cannot actually vouch for these cookie recipes, but here is a site that has some ideas...Go Dairy Free.com


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: valerie

                          Ohhh, this is helpful, I'll send the link to my friend and others I know are lactose intolerent.


                        2. I use margarine in choc chip and oatmeal cookies all the time to keep them parve. It works just fine, but make sure you buy a good brand. Earth Balance or Fleischmann's sticks are both good. Make sure you buy the Fleischmann's that just says OU not OU-D because the "D" signifies dairy.

                          1. some more vegan cookie recipes (other desserts too) here:


                            1. I've posted this one many times before...
                              "Joe Froggers" are an old New England recipe, they keep FOREVER, but go from soft and chewy to hard, but still good, in the process...You can double, or even quadruple, the recipe easily..Sailors traditionally took them to sea for seasickness, so I baked them for schooner passengers...They were my go-to cookies for the days I was too lazy to leave butter out to soften the night before....

                              Joe Froggers (makes 24)

                              2 c. flour
                              1 T. ginger
                              1 t. baking soda
                              1 t. cinnamon
                              1/2 t.salt
                              3/4 c. shortening(I used crisco)
                              1 c.sugar
                              1 egg
                              1/4 c. molasses

                              Mix the flour, spices, salt and baking soda... In a separate bowl, mix the shortening, sugar, molasses and egg. Add to the dry ingredients..Mix together, then roll into 1, 1 1/2" balls...Flatten them onto a greaseed cookie sheet..bake at 350 for 10-15, I go to the lower side, i like them chewy.

                              Try them as is, but I double the spices(for myself!), for a REALLY searingly spicy cookie..

                              1. Neither of these cookie recipes have dairy in them. In fact, I think the butter would actually ruin them, either taste or texture wise. The first, which is my favorite cookie recipe, uses shortening. The 2d, which I tried tonight for the first time, uses oil, and they turned out great and are definite keepers for me.