Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Butter vs. Margarine

I must confess: I use margarine.  I grew up on it.  I’m used to the way it handles, melting easier & faster than butter & baking more evenly.  My husband even prefers the taste of margarine to butter at times.

HOWEVER.  As we all have come to know, natural fats are better than processed ones.  And margarine is definitely a processed fat.  Natural fats, in moderation, are key to a healthy diet.  Crazy.  I love learning about the chemistry & alchemy related to cooking & food in relationship with our bodies and how we process it all.

I have a dessert recipe I make pretty often that calls for margarine AND butter.  You’re supposed to use the margarine in the crust part and butter in the fudgy filling part.  Lately I’ve been doing this, whereas I always just used to use margarine for it all.  Frankly, I can’t taste a difference at all.  And the butter melts SO. MUCH. SLOWER than the margarine did.  So it’s annoying. 

I have to say that melted butter on my popcorn is preferable to melted margarine, though.  I make my own popcorn, instead of buying the bags of prepackaged stuff.  I usually pop ¼ cup of popcorn (measured unpopped) and melt 2 tablespoons of butter to pour over it (slowly, as I stir & salt the popcorn).  Again, the butter takes infinitely longer to melt but it’s decidedly worth it.

I had been slowly working real butter into my cooking more & more.  But now, with Jake’s new low fat, low cholesterol diet, we’re going to be using Blue Bonnet Light margarine for just about all our needs.  It’s also dairy-free.  However, I'm trying to make more things without any butter/margarine at all now.  And more good fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts are being incorporated into our diet.

My younger brother’s recent declaration was, “If you have real butter, use it!”  (Perhaps paraphrased a bit.)  What’s your take?


  1. Have you tried the Smart Balance products? I like the taste and they cook/bake well. The soft spread is supposedly almost vegan and the sticks are a butter/Smart Balance blend.

  2. It's been awhile, but I have used the Smart Balance spread before. And yes, they are generally very good products.

  3. I am a butter lover. I grew up on margarine but a few years ago read an article on how butter, in moderation, is better for you and even though I'm not a health nut, I decided I liked butter better anyway. Now I can't eat anything else!

  4. For margarine sticks I only use HyVee's blue box margarine, and can't use anything else! Is there a reason you prefer Blue Bonnet? Just curious! I love your posts, always so interesting :)

  5. I'm a butter nazi. If margarine is the only choice, I'll happily decline. I was raised in a "butter family" and truly do not care for the flavor of straight margarine or the actual thought of spreading oil on my muffin. (I know that's a weird image but I genuinely think of it that way.) However, I know all kinds of people who swear by margarine. I think it's really just a preference.

  6. Thanks for the feedback, ladies! Becky, I grew up on Blue Bonnet & it and Imperial are super cheap, so that's probably why I use those. But the Blue Bonnet Light is also low fat for my husband's new diet and is also the only dairy-free version I know of out on the market these days, which is great if he has to go that route more extensively too. As far as using butter vs. margarine for spreading on my muffins, I've never loved bread & muffins definitely fit that category. So I rarely use butter or margarine for spreading on bread items anyway. Hadn't really thought of that, more just for cooking IN things. Good thoughts all!! And I love to see how being raised on a certain product influences us so greatly!!