Baking for the Holidays: Butter or Margarine?


If you’re anything like me, you’re eyes gravitate toward the lower price advertised, but after several trial-and-error runs, I’ll say that I swear by butter. It would only make sense that you’d choose a 99¢ box of Imperial sticks versus a $3-4 box of butter (if you go for the generic, like me), but their composition is what helps you achieve the taste and texture you want, especially in cookies and frostings.

Margarine itself was made to be a butter substitute, so in contrast to butter, there is a high water content and lower fat percentage ㅡ that doesn’t produce an attractive cookie at all.

In my personal experience, cookies with margarine end up dry and cake-like, expanding their shape and puffing out a bit; cookies with butter transform into the perfectly dense, melt-in-your-mouth, moist cookie they should be.

There is nothing more satisfying than when the dough melts over the chocolate chips, and their bumpy shapes poke out the top. It’s the perfect texture. It doesn’t matter whether or not the butter itself is generic or brand-name; I’ve gotten the same results both ways as long as it’s unsalted and not margarine.

With the holiday season coming up, it’s my prime time for baking, between pies at Thanksgiving and infinite trays of cookies for Christmas. So, this is ultimately something to keep in mind if you ponder whether or not the two make a difference when it comes to baked goods – most importantly: cookies.