What is the Difference Between Butter and Margarine?

What is the Difference Between Butter and Margarine?

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Go to the dairy section and you will surely notice a lot of margarine and butter. Usually, people prefer one of these and they strictly use one. But is there actually a difference, and do you know how is butter different from margarine and vice versa?

Difference between Butter and Margarine

What is the Difference Between Butter and Margarine?


This is a product created by churning cream or milk. This process will separate the buttermilk from the butterfat. Usually, the butter you will often buy and find is made from cow’s milk, but there are also other options – buffalo, goat, sheep, or yak milk products. Depending on the animal’s diet, butter’s color can range from deep yellow to white. However, it’s usually pale yellow in color. The great thing is that the butter is made from a single ingredient at its core, which means that you can make it at your home.

Sometimes, you will notice “sweet cream butter” labeled on your butter. This means that it was pasteurized. In other words, it was heated first in order to prevent spoilage and kill pathogens. In the United States, all of the butter is pasteurized. Raw butter is made with raw milk, but you won’t be able to find it anywhere in the United States being commercially sold. You may, however, find it in some parts of Europe.

Whipped butter is made to be more spreadable. Meaning that there is more air added to the butter, making it less dense and lighter. This means that the same portion of regular butter compared to whipped butter will have more calories and more fat content.

The fat content is what sets different brands of butter apart. This also has a lot of effect on the butter’s texture and taste. In the United States, all of the butter that’s commercially sold has to be at least 80% fat. Butter is an animal fat, meaning that when compared to margarine, butter is higher in saturated fat and it contains cholesterol.


On the other side, margarine is not a dairy product, it’s only created as a substitute for butter. The primary ingredients today are water, oil, salt, emulsifiers, and you will often find some that include milk. You can find margarine in tubs or sticks.

Not all margarine is created equal, and this is very important to know. It’s important to read the label as there are variations from brand to brand. You are not able to make margarine at home like you can do with butter.

Margarine also needs to have a minimum of 80% fat by law. If it has less than 80%, it’s considered a “spread”. The spreads and margarine can range from 10% to 90% fat. The levels of water and vegetable oil will vary depending on the fat content. Those that have lower fat content will have a higher water percentage.

Vegetable oil is the primary component of margarine. This means that it lacks the saturated fat and cholesterol that can be found in butter, but it has a higher percentage of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some products main contain trans fat, but a lot of brands eliminated this from the ingredients list and they use palm kernel oil and palm oil instead.

Now that you know the Difference between Butter and Margarine, which do you prefer?