HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Whats the difference?

What is the difference if I use margarine instead of butter and vice versa?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Butter tastes a lot better than margarine and is a natural product. Marg is full of nasty hydrogenated fat and is vile, imho.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greedygirl

      Butter tastes WAAAAY better. I don't like the margarine in any form, whether it's used for frying, baking or plain on bread or muffins, potatoes, etc. I know a lot of cheaper restaurants have subbed marg for butter but ick! That will lower my "I'm coming back" factor.

      I don't know much about the "health" aspect. I expect if you're eating either of these then there's not much concern about it.

    2. If you are using a unhydrogenated soft margarine you don't have the trans fats nor the saturated fats. I prefer butter from the taste stand point. If you are worried about nutrition go with UN-Hydrogenated margarine.

      1. So I should use more margarine then!


        1. Most people prefer the taste of butter. The hard margarines often contain a lot of unhealthy trans fats. Worse for you than the natural saturated fats in butter.

          If you use a soft margarine, it may contain more water. It will not work well in baking and may interfere with saute and browning.

          1. In addition to agreeing with all the other points made thus far, it's worth mentioning that margarines have salt for flavor (so you don't realize you're biting into Crisco! ;D). Well-written recipes will specify unsalted butter so as to better control the amount of salt in the dish. This is because brands of salted butter may differ in amount of salt, and because since salt is a preservative, salted butter may not be as fresh as unsalted - or so Martha Stewart says, anyway. One sign of a better restaurant is that its bread basket is accompanied by unsalted butter.

            8 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              Martha is right. There was a time in the US when creameries distributed their unsalted butter to local grocers, then came back days later, and what was left was gathered up, replaced with fresh, and the old stock was taken back to the creamery where it was salted to preserve it before being repacked and returned to the store as salted butter. I never buy salted butter.

              1. re: Caroline1

                "There was a time" - but that time is not now. You're depriving yourself of some wonderful deliciousness if you haven't tried Kerrygold salted Irish butter. Huge difference from even the premium domestic brands, in both flavor and spreadability right out of the fridge! I suspect the latter has something to do with higher fat content. I wouldn't put any other kind on toast.

                1. re: BobB

                  Well, Bob, I'll see your Irish Gold salted high cholesterol butter and raise you a pound of my grass fed unsalted butter any day of the week! My butter has all the good Omega 3 oils and other good stuff common to salmon and/or olive oil, and it tastes great! Take a fresh from the griddle and into the toaster home made English muffin, top it with globs of creamy unsalted grass fed butter sprinkled with pristine pyramids of Maldon's sea salt with a side of blackberry preserves and a cup of steaming espresso and you've got abandoned hedonism on a plate! Bon appetitie! '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    I want that right now!
                    Where do you find this grass fed butter? I usually use basic unsalted Plugra and have mail ordered better butter, but that sounds divine.

                    1. re: lucygoosey

                      It's Pastureland unsalted grass fed butter, and I get it here: http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/gra...

                      Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll find it on the right hand side. I usually order 12 pounds at a time -- saves on shipping -- and find that it freezes really well, probably due to the low water content. I'm really happy with it, and my cardiologist has put her stamp of approval on it, with the agreement that olive oil remains the "primary fat" in my overall diet. I tend to like my butter at about half the thickness of my toast, consequently I restrict myself to buttered toast about once a week, but it's always comforting to know it has my cardiologist's personal stamp of approval! This butter is soooo good! '-)

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        I just checked out their site and as an added bonus it's on sale! We're ordering today.
                        I agree w/ you about eating thick butter. It's a real treat, so I might as well get the good stuff. Good news about cardiologist approval too.

                        1. re: lucygoosey

                          Hello, it is always great to hear some banter about butter!
                          I work for Kerrygold and I just wanted to let you know that Kerrygold Butter does come from milk from grass fed cows in Ireland. Beta-carotene, nature’s own pigment found in grass, gives Kerrygold butter its distinctive golden color and flavor definition. I just wanted to pass on the knowledge. Enjoy!

                          1. re: Molly O

                            There you go, Caroline - we're both right! I didn't know Kerrygold was from grass-fed cows, but that helps explain why it tastes so different from standard supermarket butter.

            2. If you or guests keep kosher, you can use margarine (at least those with no dairy components) with meat flesh. Which you could not do with butter.

              There are certain recipes where margarine is specifically called for instead of butter, but other than that, butter's the way to go for cooking and baking recipe that specify butter.

              1. I use margarine on my toast or bagel but otherwise when I cook, always butter and always unsalted so I can control the butter. Never salted butter. I don't cook with anything other than butter, but use it in moderation. Many times I cut it with a little olive oil and try not to fry but rather bake or broil.

                6 Replies
                1. re: kchurchill5

                  What about the appearance of the baked dish you prepared using margarine? Does it have any difference on it?

                  1. re: Dark Wanderer

                    Never had a problem. Baking like sweets is the only time when I really follow a recipe to a tee, but otherwise I try to cut sometimes by evoo and butter, never had a problem unless with a alfredo sauce obviously when you need to use real butter. Casseroles, baked foods, no difference for me. Maybe just lucky but I haven't noticed much difference. And hey whos to say ... I have used margarine when I was out of butter and most times success. I'm no gourmet chef and we all need to improvise. It's worked and would probably work again. I use a yogurt blend at home for toast bagles, every day use for that type of thing but cooking ... I do try to use real butter in moderation. NOT a fan of Paula Deen in that respect, but I do love her however. She is an icon by far.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      I see. Thanks for those information.
                      Now let me change the topic, I have this recipe that only calls for egg yolks. Now what if I accidentally put the whole egg instead, will there be a difference on the outcome?

                      1. re: Dark Wanderer

                        Yep. Give the whites to the cat.

                        In so far as butter goes, I buy both and we EAT butter, actually using less because the taste is so much better, but I will fry eggs, etc in margarine or a mixture of the two because it doesn't burn as easily.

                        1. re: Whosyerkitty

                          most times yes, egg yolks mean eggs, egg whites mean whites. ESPECIALLY in baking. In cooking a bit more flexible but when I come across a recipe with specifics like that ... I trust the recipe.

                        2. re: Dark Wanderer

                          Depends on the recipe. In most cases, that means the recipes does not want the proteins of the white, and only wants the fat or emulsifying properties of the yolk.

                  2. Bottom line for me, both contain fat, butter has cholesterol and margarine trans-fats. I use butter because I like the flavor. It browns better, thickens sauces better, and is natural (compared with the chemically processed compounds of margarine).

                    I know my own dietary limitations, so I don’t go hog wild with it.

                    Some people freak out when a cookie recipe calls for two sticks of butter (half a cup), that’s 8 oz. Divided by 48 cookies, that’s only .16 oz per cookie. Roughly 7 cookies would give you one oz. of butter. That’s not very scientific I know, but it seems like such a small amount, I don’t worry about it.