Butter Substitutes 

The first I remember anything about butter substitutes was back in the 1950’s. Word was out about this “cheap” butter in the grocery. Of course, Mom would try it if it meant saving money. It was called “Oleo”; I don’t know if that was the proper name or just what we called it. I do remember how we kids fought when Mom brought it in the house; not because we wanted to eat it but there was a chore that came with it that we all fought to do.

My first experience with a butter substitute was one that came in a plastic bag looking just like a solid shortening, like Crisco. In the bag also was an orange ball looking much like a plastic marble about the size of a “shooter”. Someone had to sit and squeeze this bag of shortening and the “shooter” until the shooter broke; this was the chore which we all fought to do. When the marble broke, it would color the shortening; after continued pressing and twisting the white turned to a pretty yellow color and be ready to use.

This butter substitute was only popular with the kids wanting to do the “chore”. The adults really did not care for it for two reasons. One was that people with no kids in the house to do the “chore” had to do it themselves. The other reason was that none of the adults really liked the taste. It did not take long for more butter substitutes to be in the groceries, with better taste and less work; no more kneading.

It seems that the first butter substitute originated in France. They became more important during the Depression and World War II. During this time period it was issued as a cheap rationing product in many parts of the world. As economical times improved it became a cheaper alternative to butter to purchase from the grocery. Then as times got even better, our country began to see a large increase in health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Doctors starting advising their patients like my dad to use butter substitutes to remedy these diseases.

From the first “Oleo” many different brands of butter substitutes like all the margarines were developed. When I was a young homemaker, I used margarine in all my cooking and baking because it was cheaper. The problem I had was that various brands contained various amounts of liquid; this was reflected in the result of my cooking; particularly my baking. I had to find one brand which I liked and I stuck to only buying that brand to ensure the same results each time. Today I only use good butter and no margarine in my cooking to maintain the best quality. If I do need to go back to margarine for health purposes, I would not hesitate to do so.

There are other butter substitutes which I do use on a regular basis; ones that I could not do without. Many delicious and healthy oils are available in the markets. I couldn’t live without the many different types of oil. What would Italian dishes be without the wonderful flavor of olive oil? I substitute olive oil for butter almost every day of the week.  Grape seed oil is another choice for delicious light flavor. Just look at your shelves in the grocery store; the choices are endless with each offering its own unique flavor. There are many great substitutes for butter; search for your favorites.

Below you will find some delicious recipes using butter substitutes. Try them using your favorite brands and see what you think. I have made these and they are good.

RAISIN APPLESAUCE CAKE RECIPE with a butter substitute

This butter substitute recipe is very tasty. If you are on a low sugar diet, cut back on the sugar; the applesauce and raisins add natural sweetness.

  • ½ Cup margarine
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 Cups sifted flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Cup apple sauce
  • 1 Cup raisins
  • ½ Cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar and lemon peel until fluffy; add egg and beat until blended.
Sift together 1 ½ cups flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in separate bowl.
Add flour mixture alternating with applesauce to creamed mixture; beat until well blended.
In small bowl stir raisins and nuts with remaining ½ cup flour.
Blend raisin and nut mixture into batter only until thoroughly mixed.
Spread batter into lightly greased and flours 8 inch square pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until pick comes out clean.


This butter substitute corn chowder is also good flavored with other spices; add some of your favorites.

  • 2 Pounds diced potatoes
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 Tablespoons margarine
  • 3 Medium chopped onions
  • 4 Chopped stalks celery
  • 1 Medium chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ Teaspoon crushed dried sage
  • ½ Teaspoon white pepper or black
  • 2 Cups low fat milk
  • 1  2/3 Cups cooked or frozen whole kernel corn

Combine potatoes, bay leaf and 4 cups water in large saucepan.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender; discard bay leaf.
Drain potatoes reserving liquid; set aside.
In same saucepan melt margarine; add onion, celery, green pepper and cumin seeds.
Cook vegetables until tender; stir in flour sage and pepper.
Stir in enough reserved potato water to make a paste.
Stir in remaining potato water and potatoes; heat thoroughly.
Stir in milk and corn; stir and heat thoroughly.
To serve top bowls with chopped fresh parsley; serves about 14.


You might like to try any of your favorite oils as the butter substitute instead of margarine. Some that are seasoned with herbs are very good also.

  • 6 Whole chicken breasts
  • 1 Medium chopped onion
  • ½ Cup margarine
  • 1 Can (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms drained
  • 1 Can (10 ½ ounces) cream of chicken soup
  • ¾ Cup milk
  • ½ Pound grated low fat Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ Teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pimiento
  • 1 Cans (15 ounces each) green tip long asparagus
  • ½ Cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Steam chicken breast in a little water until tender; cool and tear into bite size pieces.
Sauté onion in margarine; add remaining ingredients except for asparagus and almonds.
Simmer sauce until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; grease 9 X 15 X 2 inch baking casserole.
Layer chicken, then asparagus and sauce; repeat layers ending with sauce.
Top casserole with almonds; bake until hot and bubbly about 25 to 30 minutes.
This is great for gatherings and can be made ahead and frozen. Serves about 12.


  • 1 Pound cheap margarine
  • ½ Cup oil
  • ¼ Cup buttermilk

WHIP ALL INGREDIENTS together until creamy; refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.