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If you HAD to use margarine...

I usually make my tomato sauce similar to the Hazan butter-onion sauce, but I need to modify the recipe for vegans. Has anyone had luck with a particular margarine? I hate to sacrifice the richness.


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  1. I used unsalted Fleischmans all the time, and I have no problems. I also bake with it. I keep a kosher house and can't use butter with meat, and nobody I cook for has ever complained, they all love whatever I make.

    1. I was looking for vegan margarine recently and was surprised how many of them have some milk ingredients in them, so look at the ingredient labels carefully.

      1. I never use margarine so I can't remember the name, but I am sure there is one that is made from olive oil. Would fit in nicely with the Italian theme.
        Is it Oliveta or something like that?

        1 Reply
        1. re: billieboy

          Olivia is good, but not vegan - it has milk solids.

        2. Earth Balance makes a very nice one (I'm allergic to milk so have no choice about not using butter). But word of caution - they just changed their packaging and the vegetarian spread looks almost exactly like their one with part butter! Shame on them. Some Trader Joe's carry it you can also find it at Whole Foods, and Ralphs/Kroger.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hbpthomas

            I strongly second the recommendation for Earth Balance. I don't like margarine at all, but this stuff is not too bad and very handy if you have vegan friends. Though honestly I find it's much easier to just make something that is vegan rather than try to alter something to be vegan. Either way, good luck!

          2. hmmm... What about trying a batch using olive oil to see if it works out okay? Personally, I've never tasted a margarine I liked.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              Nope. It will not be the same - it needs to be a fat that is solid at room temperature to have a chance of doing the same emulsifying magic and it also has to have the predominantly sweet flavor profile of butter. If you go with oil, do a different sauce, not this one. It's all about the sweetness of the tomato fruit, the sweetness of the onion and the sweetness of the butter. Oil fundamentally alters the nature of the sauce.

              1. re: Karl S

                And exactly where did I say it will be the same? Look, there are "solid at room temperature fats" and there are "solid at room temperature fats." Of them all, margarines are, as a group, the least healthy simply because in order to get them to be solid at room temperature, the manufacturers end up doing nasty things to oil (hydrogenating them) in order to gain that consistency. And in my personal tasting experience, there are NO margarines that taste LIKE butter. Some are more reminiscent of butter than others, but for me, the "butter substitute" that tastes most like butter when used properly is a product called Molly McButter, which, even though a "dry" powder form, contains "partially hydrogenated soy bean oil AND milk solids (natural butter flavor) so it's not that good a choice for the OP's purposes either.

                Olive oil comes in a wide variety of natural flavors and is immensely more healthy than any margarine. If you will please read my post again, all I suggested was that she try olive oil to see if she finds the resultant flavor satisfactory. I made NO claim that she would duplicate the flavor that real butter provides. For my own purposes, when I use butter, I use grass fed organic butter, which is far more healthy that the standard butter on the average super market shelf. In cooking, as in life, there are rarely trade-offs that are 100% satisfactory. But occasionally, one does find a trade-off that results in an improvement. You just never know until you try, do you?

                1. re: Caroline1

                  The OP wants similarity. Hence my comment.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Though, speaking or "solid at room temperature fats," I wonder if using palm oil or a mix of olive oil and palm oil might work...

                    1. re: jzerocsk

                      Well, it couldn't be an olive oil with pronounced flavor...which sorta exemplifies the problem with using olive oil....

                      1. re: Karl S

                        EXCEPT...... Some people really groove on the flavor of olive oil. Which is why I suggested she try it in a small batch. If she likes it, great. Make a bunch! Olive oil is standardly used in Italian style tomato based sauces. Tomato modifies the flavor of olive oil. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

                        As for using palm oil, jz, the jury is (maybe) still out on just how healthy palm oil is when it comes to saturated fats and cholesterol levels. I say "sort of" still out because there is lots of evidence showing it's not a heart-healthy food, but the governments of some of the countries (one of the countries?) that produces palm oil is trying hard to refute the evidence. Personally, I try very hard to steer clear of saturated fats.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          That may be, but the flavor and consistency of olive oil would fundamentally make this *not* Hazan's recipe. Which might still be a nice sauce, but it's just something different. It's not a substitution in the proper sense. It's not like subbing a mixture of AP flour and cake flour for pastry flour. It's like subbing stilton for mozzarella on pizza.

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Well sure, but the recipe is being modified to make it vegan, not more healthy....it's not like the butter in the original recipe was super heart-healthy to begin with :-)

                2. It just won't taste the same. I really strongly suggest using olive oil instead.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JudiAU

                    I agree - and I have made this sauce with olive oil and it is still delicious. The OP could perhaps then trying swirling a little margerine in to a small amount in the end to see if it adds anything good.

                  2. Definitely just use oil. The only time I'd make the substitution would be when you needed the solid texture. In a sauce, oil will taste worlds better. I don't know that recipe, but I'd use olive probably.

                    1. I would use olive oil, as well.

                      1. Another vote for olive oil.

                        1. Oh Olive don't do it! I used some funky pot-butter (crap that someone else bought) in a feeble attempt at au gratin potatoes - it could have been the brand but it separated and was almost ... fishy.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Boccone Dolce

                            If it was "almost fishy" I bet there was some Canola oil in it.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              no If it was fishy that sounds like the fat in the oil oxidized likely because the processors didn't do a very good job of making it or the funky pot-butter was indeed funky.

                              Canola oil is really clean tasting when fresh and protected from oxygen, water, and sunlight.

                              1. re: Bryn

                                Perhaps, but there are other oils at comparable price-points that don't suffers as much as canola does in this regard. I don't bother with it.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  I'm from alberta where we grow it, so I know it's local. It's fats are really well balanced nutritionally. High in the omega 3s. I like it better than most of the others and it's cheaper here than sunflower or safflower.

                                2. re: Bryn

                                  I also tried to sub Almond milk for cream. I never said I was a food wizard... ;o) Thank God my family has to love me. I think there are laws...

                            2. Earth Balance buttery spread (Original) in the tub or Earth Balance buttery sticks (yes, EB comes in whipped and half spread half butter so you must do some careful checking ) but the Original in the tub and the sticks are vegan. Recently, I saw an Earth Balance tub that featured olive oil and less sodium, less fat, but I haven't seen it lately. I also love Soy Garden spread, also by the company that makes Earth Balance. I think that Soy Garden says Earth Balance on the tub. It gets confusing. I use Smart Balance with flax oil (dairy free, kosher, pareve) for spreading on toast. I really like the taste. I add ithese spreads to my tomato sauce recipes when I want some extra creaminess. They all work very well for me in cooking and baking. I have dairy issues, so I'm glad to have these products, all non-hydrogenated, to choose from. I'm at a point now where I prefer the taste of these spreads to butter (I know, sacrilege)!!

                              6 Replies
                                  1. re: addicted2cake

                                    Then the bit about liking it more than butter is HUGE.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      I agree. It's been many years since I've cooked with or eaten butter due to my dairy sensitivity. Every once in a great while, I experiment with some treat that's been made with butter and I'm finished after one bite. I find butter too rich for my palate, almost unpleasant. Hard to believe my taste buds have undergone such a transformation. It took time, but I'm more than OK with it. I guess, given my situation, that's a good thing!

                                1. re: addicted2cake

                                  Big ditto on the Smart Balance. I have a milk allergy and use this in all my baking. People have no idea until I tell them it's not butter. Someone even went on about my cookies being so buttery once.

                                  1. re: lisaf

                                    The people you are baking for are pretty clueless. In baking for my daughter's vegan friends, I've used SB and the texture and taste are in no way similar to the same item made with butter. Not saying it's inedible, but I wouldn't spend the calories on this stuff. I'd rather make an Italian cake using good olive oil and either blood orange or Meyer lemon juice.

                                2. I wouldn't make the recipe, margarine doesn't even qualify as food. It doesn't spoil and bugs will not eat it.

                                  When cooking for vegan friends, I choose a recipe that works with oil.

                                  1. Why not just use olive oil? I believe in one of her books, Marcella says that you can use butter or olive oil. I would think that margarine would be a little odd.

                                    1. Nuttelex, i love it, my mum always had it around when i was little because she didn't use butter and i've never stopped using , i love the taste and it has no trans fat, its high in mono and polyunsaturated fats. it makes a great vegan substitute and its salt reduced but you can't tell (i should mention i live in autralia so it might not be around outside the country)

                                      1. OK, so bear with me here: this might not work, but I thought I'd throw it out there. When I make curry or pad thai or something of that nature, I use very finely ground nuts, maybe cashew or pine nuts, ground so finely that they disappear into the sauce. It enriches the sauce, but without adding a strong flavor because the rest of the ingredients are highly flavored.