Butter vs Margarine: Difference and Comparison

Margarine has increased in popularity as it has been a less expensive and maybe healthier substitute to butter since its invention. Many people assume butter and margarine to be similar.

But, when you break it down, margarine and butter are created from separate components, have multiple health benefits, and are used in the kitchen in many ways.

Key Takeaways

  1. Butter is a dairy product made by churning cream, containing a high percentage of saturated fat.
  2. Margarine is a non-dairy product made from various plant-based oils, fortified with vitamins and minerals.
  3. Butter and margarine have different compositions and flavors, with butter being a natural product, while margarine is a processed alternative.

Butter vs Margarine

Butter is a dairy product made by churning milk or cream to separate the fat from the liquid and is made from cow’s milk, but it can also be made from the milk of other animals. Margarine is a cheaper alternative and a processed food product made from vegetable oils, water, salt, and other ingredients.

Butter vs Margarine

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Butter is a basic nutritional essential made from whipped cream. It is most used as a fat, spread, or ingredient in sauces, cakes, and pastries.

It is manufactured from rich cream of cow’s milk, high in saturated fat and natural cholesterol. Butter is expensive and spoils quickly if it is not stored properly.

Margarine is cooked food that resembles the taste and appearance of butter. It is recommended as a healthy substitute for butter.

It is manufactured from vegetable oils and contains many vitamins. Margarine is less expensive and contains less fat and cholesterol than butter.

The molecular structure of vegetable oils is modified to make them look solid, like butter, as they are liquid at normal temperatures.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonButterMargarine
DefinitionButter is a milk product made by processing the cream from cow’s milk.Margarine is an alternative for butter made from vegetable oils. It can be a plant-based product or a combination of plant and milk products.
IngredientsButter is mainly comprised of cream.Margarine is mainly comprised of vegetable oil.
ProcessProcessing and separation are used in the production of butter.Hydrogenation is for Margarine.
FatButter is abound in saturated fats.Margarine abounds in trans fats.
CholesterolButter is high in cholesterolMargarine is low in cholesterol compared to butter.
Product TypeButter is a more natural productMargarine is a highly processed product.
TasteButter is soft, creamy, and rich in taste.The taste of margarine differs widely depending on the brand, but it rarely has the complete flavor of butter.

What is Butter?

Butter is a dairy product that is prepared by churning milk cream. It is a semi-solid mixture that contains over 80 percent butterfat at room temperature.

Cow milk is the most common source of butter. Humans may also prepare it with milk from other animals, such as sheep, goats, and buffalos.

Butter is the ideal grease for many cooking applications due to its soft, creamy, and rich flavour. It can be used as a spread and a component in baking, frying, and sauce-making.

Butter is soft at room temperature and becomes liquid and solid when kept at high degrees in the refrigerator. The color of butter varies depending on the feed of the animal whose milk was used to make it.

It comes from saturated fat and is a source of cholesterol for many consumers. Butter causes many health problems, including heart problems.

Ghee is another product made from the butterfat. There are different types of butter when used for cooking or baking. A few of them include:

  • Salted and Unsalted Butter

A small amount of salt is added to salted butter. Salt also serves as a preservative and helps extend the butter shelf. There is no salt added to unsalted butter.

This type of butter allows bakers to manage the salt amount and is a basic component in many baking recipes.

  • Cultured and European- Style Butter

Cultured butter, like yoghurt, is made up of live bacteria that produce lactic acid and aromatic compounds, giving it a sour taste. Due to too high milk fat content, European butter is richer and softer than American butter.

It has an average milk fat content of 82 to 86 percent, whereas standard butter in the United States has an average milk fat content of 80 percent.

  • Clarified Butter

Clarified butter is formed by refining butter or separating milk proteins and water from butterfat content. It is also known as ghee.

The outcome is a gold, translucent butter with a high-fat content, a high boiling point than conventional butter, and a fantastic animal fat alternative.


What is Margarine?

Margarine is an alternative to butter manufactured from vegetable oil. It is made from a mixture of vegetable oils such as palm oil, soybean oil, and palm kernel oil.

Margarine is made from vegetable sources. It contains unsaturated fats, which help to lower bad cholesterol levels. So, margarine is more effective in reducing cholesterol.

Margarine includes poly saturated fats, which are bad for humans. Vitamins A and D are added to improve their nutritional value. Salts, artificial colors, and preservatives are included in margarine to keep it usable for a long time.

The trans fat in margarine can raise blood insulin levels, raising the risk of diabetes.

Vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature. So, scientists changed the chemical structure of vegetable oils to make margarine look like butter.

This is achieved by the process of hydrogenation. This method is used to increase the number of saturated fats in the oil.

Many different types of oils are used to make margarine, but the texture of the margarine at room temperature is the fundamental variation between them.

  • Liquid Margarine

At normal temperatures, liquid margarine is more liquid than solid. It is available and sold as a spray or squeeze bottle in the market.

  • Margarine Spreads

The most common form of margarine is a soft spread. It is used as a seasoning for toasted bread and other foods that require spreadable margarine.

  • Hard Margarine

Hard margarine is solid margarine that is marketed in blocks and used in cooking. It is the most solid variety of margarine and contains the most hydrogenated fats.


Main Differences Between Butter and Margarine

  1. Butter is a dairy product from animal milk, while margarine is from vegetable oils.
  2. Butter involves processing and separation, whereas margarine is prepared by the process of hydrogenation.
  3. Butter is naturally yellow, which depends on the food given to the animal giving milk, while margarine is white.
  4. Butter contains saturated fats and cholesterol as it is made from animal milk, whereas margarine contains less fat than butter and has trans fats.
  5. Butter has a rich and creamier flavour, and a taste similar to cow’s milk, while margarine has a soft flavour or may taste like the artificial flavourings used in its production.
Butter vs Margarine – Difference Between Butter and Margarine
  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/calr77&section=11
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/312/7036/931.short
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1930387/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643884710565

Last Updated : 27 July, 2023

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