5 Amazing Margarine Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Finding good margarine substitutes for baking and spreading is important for reducing unhealthy fat intake and avoiding certain allergens.


First invented in France in the 19th century, margarine has become a widely used alternative to butter. This yellow spread is made primarily of vegetable oils, such as soybean, canola, safflower, and olive oils. The oils are partially or fully hydrogenated, a process that gives margarine its consistency, as well as a higher melting temperature. It is one of the least expensive cooking fats and is commonly called for in recipes for cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Many brands of margarine contain no animal products and are therefore popular in vegan cooking and baking. [1]

Margarine Substitutes

Recently, margarine substitutes have received a good amount of attention because the health benefits of margarine have been called into question. It has been shown that margarine may contain artificial ingredients or unhealthy trans fats, which can lead to an increased risk of heart diseases.

Also, since many kinds of margarine contain soybean or canola oil, people who are allergic to these oils need to find alternatives. Fortunately, there are many common replacements for margarine that are readily available, such as butter, lard, cream cheese, olive oil, and unsweetened applesauce among others. [2]

A box full of butter or margarine

What do you prefer using on your toast – butter or margarine? Photo Credit: Shutterstock


The product for which margarine was created as a substitute, butter is now viewed as having a number of potential health benefits. Spread it or use it in any recipe that calls for margarine.


Made from rendered pig fat, lard is traditionally used in baked goods and other dishes. Unless the recipe is intended to be vegetarian or vegan, it makes an excellent replacement for margarine. [3]

Cream Cheese

This soft, spreadable cheese is generally lower in fat than margarine, especially the reduced-fat varieties. It easily substitutes as both a spread and in baking.

A dollop of lard on a wooden counter

Lard is made from pork fat. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Olive Oil

A vegan alternative to margarine, this healthy oil can be drizzled on loaves of bread and rolls, or used in recipes that call for margarine. Refrigerate it before using to thicken it for spreading. [4]

Unsweetened Applesauce

Use this sweet alternative in place of margarine in vegan baking. Since applesauce is fat-free, it can be the healthiest alternative for those wishing to reduce their fat consumption.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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