The Fresh Loaf

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Substitute for Butter/Margarine in Cookies?

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Ottilie's picture

Substitute for Butter/Margarine in Cookies?

My sister's daughter is allergic to milk, soy, and nuts and peanuts.  This rules out butter and margarine in baking.  I've been baking breads from Maggie Glezer's Blessing of Bread book, with excellent results - the recipes are written with a Jewish audience in mind, so most of them use oil instead of solid fats.

The problem that I haven't cracked is how to adapt a conventional cookie recipe to use vegetable oil, coconut oil or lard (or a combination) instead of butter or margarine.  I send over a lot of sweet breads and cakes, and even the odd doughnut, but cookies end up too runny or too crumbly.  We've only found two cookie recipes, one for Jewish Kichel and another for molasses cookies, that really work.  It would be nice to have some alternatives, especially for the Christmas season.

Does anyone have suggestions for substitutes or alternative recipes?


dstroy's picture

Would this one work? It's popular in our house, even though under normal circumstances I do not even like carob, but they are really good in these cookies. We call them our guilt-free hippy cookies because they arent as full of sugar and fat as the other cookies that we like to eat.

Obviously, you'd have to omit the walnuts, but otherwise, would they work?

Ottilie's picture

I think they would work - I know there's at least one kind of chocolate chips that are OK for my niece.  They look yummy.  I love carob, it always reminds me of my childhood in the 70's!

Thanks for the link!

CeraMom's picture

A quick pester to my facebook friends ( many of whom have more allergies than safe foods ) brought about the idea of - which has quite the section on cookies as well

A friend of mine just did buckwheat cookies with the following restrictions :

No gluten ( except the buckwheat for a trial )

no eggs

no dairy

no soy

no nuts


And she said they were quite fabulous!

celestica's picture

I use Earth Balance Shortening - made from palm oil.  You could also use coconut oil, it is hard at room temp.



Ottilie's picture

I'll definitely look up that website, Sarah!  Thanks for the tip!

Marni's picture

This is another Jewish recipe using oil:

Aunty Anne's Mandel Bread

3 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 C oil ( I use canola)

1t vanilla

1 C sugar

3 C flour

2t baking powder

sliced almonds (or our modern addition- chocolates chips instead of nuts. I use a whole bag)

Beat eggs and oil, add vanilla and sugar. Mix in dry ingredients. The dough should be quite stiff.

Bake logs at 350 about 20-25 minutes, remove and let cool 10 min. or so.  Slice the logs about 1/2 thick and lay the cookies on their sides.  Bake again until crisp, about 10 min.  Check them during the baking for doneness.




Janknitz's picture

Sorry, I'm at the office but at home I have a recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies made with oil, not butter.  They are really good, though it's a bit hard to incorporate the chocolate chips in because of the texture of the batter.  I think they call for nuts, but you can certainly eliminate those.  I will look up the recipe when I get home.  Haven't made them in years but they are very good!

Kosher cookbooks are a good bet for dairy-free items.  They should be clearly marked as "dairy"--meaning it contains some form of dairy and "pareve" meaning there is absolutely no dairy in the recipe so that the dessert can be served with a meat meal. 

You might also try googling "pareve cookies" or "Pareve cakes". 


celestica's picture

1 c blackstrap molasses (organic is nice)
1 c white sugar
1/2 c shortening (Earth Balance or lard)

1 tsp. salt
2.5 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
(I added 1/4 tsp. mace, 8 allspice berries, and 8 peppercorns.  Use whole spices and grind.  For more flavour, toast lightly until fragrant prior to grinding.  A coffee grinder works best, whir until small then add a few tablespoons sugar from the 1 c. in the recipe, and grind more until fully powdered)
Mix all ingredients well, starting with shortening and sugar.  You may want to try reducing flour slightly so it sticks together better.  I ended up adding oil to make it stick together better.
Roll into logs, freeze, and thaw 5-10 min. before slicing.  Bake 8-11 minutes at 350, depeding on thickness.  Cookies will crisp up as they cool.
Very yummy and crunchy!