In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use margarine instead of butter for cookies?”, and what are the effects of butter and margarine on health.
Can you use margarine instead of butter for cookies?
Yes, margarine can be used instead of butter in baking. Although butter is the key ingredient of cookies and in general baking because of its rich flavor, however, many people avoid using butter either because they avoid dairy or they are calorie-conscious.
It is not advisable to use margarine in cookies in which butter is the staple flavor ingredient like shortbread cookies.
Effects of margarine on cookie structure
Using margarine instead of cookies makes the cookie spread out more during baking and the cookies tend to be flatter. This is because margarine has lower fat content than water. Therefore, always choose margarine with a fat content of at least 80%. Flat cookies with thin edges are prone to getting burnt. However, the chewiness that margarine imparts to your cookies is reminiscent of childhood when grandma used to bake cookies on Christmas or holidays.
What is butter?
Butter is a dairy-based fat-in-water emulsion made from the milk of cattle(cow, sheep, goat, etc) and contains at least 80% butterfat. Rendered butter is called clarified butter or ghee. Butter starts to melt at temperatures between 32-35°C. It has wide applications in cooking and baking.
- Softened butter can be used as a spread on toast or pancakes.
- Butter, when used in cooking, absorbs the flavors of the spices and herbs and makes them taste milder.
- When used in baking, butter adds to the richness of the baked goods and softens the crumb structure whilst making it fluffy.
- Butter is the staple flavor ingredient for some sauces like bechamel sauce.
What is margarine?
Margarine is a water-in-fat emulsion made from plant fats. Margarine can be used for cooking or baking. Margarine with 80% fat can be used as a butter substitute for butter in baking. Reduced or low-fat margarine is used as a spread for toasts, sandwiches, and crackers when cutting down on calories.
What differentiates butter from margarine?
The difference lies in their composition. The source of fats for butter is animal-based. For margarine, the source of fat is vegan. Butter has a high percentage of cholesterol and saturated fats, therefore, it stays solid at room temperature. Margarine has more unsaturated fats that are healthy and stay liquid at room temperature. Higher water content and unsaturated fats are what make margarine prone to spoilage.
What are the different types of margarine?
Margarine can be categorized into the following three types.
Stick margarine is solid at room temperature just like butter. It has high levels of trans fats due to the hydrogenation of vegetable fats. Stick margarine can be used for both cooking and baking. Use sparingly to avoid negative health effects.
Tub margarine has a vegetable fat content of 61-79%. These have negligible trans fat content and are often fortified with calcium. These can be used for cooking. Due to a low-fat content, using them in baking makes a dry and tough crumb
Low-fat margarine has a vegetable fat content of 0-40%. These are suitable to be used as spreads. When used in baking, it results in a dense crumb structure of inferior quality.
Butter and margarine-which one is healthier?
Health benefits of using butter
Grass-fed butter is rich in vitamin K2, CLA, butyric acid, and omega-3 fatty acid. Vitamin K2 fights cancer and osteoporosis. CLA has been found to possess anti-cancerous properties. Butyrate has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes digestive health and weight loss.
Health risks of using butter
Half of the butter is made up of saturated fats, such high levels of saturated fats have been associated with an increased risk of heart diseases. In addition to this, butter has exceptionally high levels of cholesterol.
Health benefits of using margarine
Margarine is rich in polyunsaturated fats and phytosterols. These are responsible for reducing the risk of heart diseases and LDL cholesterol, respectively.
Health risks of using margarine
Margarine is solidified to mimic the appearance and composition of butter. For this, vegetable oil is hydrogenated to convert the unsaturated fats into saturated fats. While doing so, high levels of trans fats are produced as a by-product.
Margarine is high in omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and must be taken with omega-3 fats in a balanced proportion.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you use margarine instead of butter for cookies?”, and what are the effects of butter and margarine on health.