Today we are going to explore a common query we often get asked and answer the following question: is it better to use margarine or butter in fudge?
Over the years we’ve tried many different fudge recipes that include a wide variety of ingredients, and it’s safe to say we know our stuff when it comes to this delicious treat. But choosing the right ingredients for cooking can be a tricky decision to make.
There’s nothing worse than going to the trouble of buying ingredients, preparing the fudge, mixing the ingredients, setting the batch, only to find out that the fudge tastes underwhelming or just doesn’t quite hit the spot. A lot of times it comes down to the fat used in the cooking process.
For clarification, butter is a dairy product that is made from milk or cream, and margarine is an oil-based product that is typically made from 80% vegetable oil and water, which aims to taste just like butter through flavoring. Now you know why they call it “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”
We are going to describe the major differences between butter and margarine, and at the end, we’ll give our take on which we prefer and our recommendations moving forward for your fudge-making efforts.
So which one is best? Starting with the pros and cons for each, here is our professional breakdown.
Why You Should Choose Butter
When it comes to cooking, butter is hands-down the far superior choice and nothing has yet to top this traditional baking ingredient. The first reason why we prefer butter to margarine for cooking, is that butter contains a high-fat content which gives baked goods a much nicer texture and holds them together better.
It generally performs well if you ever decide to make cakes, cookies, pastries and is also great for frying. For our discussion on fudge, most recipes require the use of baking, and butter is more resistant to being broken down. If strong consistency is important to you, butter is the clear winner.
In terms of cooking, your fudge is less likely to burn when using butter, which has a massive impact on the taste. Whilst margarine contains more water and less fat, this can cause the fudge to have a looser consistency and may end up burning the fudge, which ruins the taste.
The final point is that margarine contains artificial flavoring, which is often highlighted through cooking. Though this may not be a problem for everybody, some might not like the after taste that margarine leaves.
Why You Should Use Margarine
Margarine is the modern alternative to butter and has been labeled as the ‘healthy’ alternative to butter. But is this the truth?
One of the benefits of using margarine is to do with heart health. As margarine is made from vegetable oils, it contains many healthy unsaturated fats – namely polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. It’s also beneficial if you don’t typically eat a lot of fish, nuts, and seeds because margarine contains these types of fats.
These types of fats help to reduce low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, which is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol for the body that blocks arteries. And because butter contains more saturated fat as it is made from animal fat, it’s not considered a healthy choice when compared to margarine.
However, margarine also contains 2 grams of trans-fats per 100 calorie serving which also isn’t great for heart health. So this is something to bear in mind.
When we take a look at calories, margarine comes in slightly lower as one tablespoon of butter is roughly 100 calories, whilst one tablespoon of margarine is 60-10 calories depending on the source.
If your goals include weight loss or weight management, margarine would probably be the better option because of its lower calorie intake. To find out how many calories are in fudge, check out our informative guide.
However, the difference between margarine and butter is so small, that if you already follow a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, have a decent protein intake, and include plenty of wholegrains, nuts, and seeds in your diet, then having butter in your recipes probably won’t do any damage.
Which Do We Prefer?
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and as you’ve probably already guessed, the decision comes down to whether you prefer your fudge healthier or tastier.
In terms of health, margarine has slightly lower saturated fat levels than butter and also has higher unsaturated levels which are heart-healthy. It’s also slightly fewer calories per tablespoon when compared to normal butter, so you could argue that they are somewhat healthier, although the trans-fat in margarine does cancel out a lot of these benefits.
Butter is easier to cook with and in our opinion yields better-tasting fudge because it is less likely to burn and creates a better texture for our bed of fudge. Margarine can have an artificial taste to it, and if we’re being honest, butter just feels better on the pallet because of its creamy texture.
Overall if we had to pick one over the other, we prefer butter over margarine. And the number one reason is that we’re making fudge to enjoy the taste. This has always been our priority and will continue to be so.
Although the benefits are there for choosing margarine, at the end of the day we don’t think 10-40 extra calories is that big of a deal, and if your diet is already pretty good, then a few extra calories aren’t even going to be noticed when it comes to the bigger picture.
So there we have it. We’re old-fashioned and love the creaminess of the original cooking fat over its newer rival.
However we appreciate that many of you do factor in things like saturated fat, and bad cholesterol levels, and if you feel more comfortable using margarine on your fudge-making adventures, do not let us stop you from enjoying this amazing treat.
If you’re still undecided after all of this, then your last option is to make two similar batches, one with margarine and the other with butter, and see which you prefer.