One of the most asked questions that we receive is about substituting in chocolate chip cookies. I figured that if we had a guide that everyone could pin or read over it would hopefully help to solve any questions about substituting different fats in place of the butter. **NOTE** The above cookies are with butter. See below for further explanation.
Depending on the fat your cookie can turn out totally different. These cookies were all the exact same recipe, but the first used softened butter, then margarine, shortening and good quality coconut oil and clearly they all turned out different. But it’s not just about how it looks on the outside it’s also the inside texture. See the very first photo to see why we love the butter cookie the most for flavor and texture.
Butter~ The butter cookies were soft in the middle, not greasy and the edges were chewy and wonderful. You’ll notice the horizontal picture has a butter cookie that is flatter, however the first shot the cookie is puffy. We froze the rest of the cookie dough and ended up with a beautiful shape and texture. Butter and then frozen dough is our preference for perfect flavor, texture, and appearance.
Margarine~ This cookie wasn’t bad in flavor, but it was very flat and quickly turned quite crisp.
Shortening~ Don’t be fooled by the nice height of the cookie. Definitely not one we would ever eat. The cookie was very dry. You would need to add more moisture to this cookie.
Coconut Oil~ This cookie was actually more tender but quite obvious that there was coconut oil which in our opinion cannot be a classic chocolate chip cookie. It also dried out faster.
Thanks so much for this post! Do you have the amounts you substituted for each of the items?
This is interesting to see. It’s amazing with baking how much a little change can affect the outcome. I saw on Rachel Ray the other day advice to leave the butter out the night before to ensure it is room temperature to get the perfect cookie, but then one of your commenters said she freezes hers…it is all so confusing! This is why I rarely bake!
I like the idea of leaving out the butter overnight. I think a commenter meant she freezes the dough, which I like to so as well so we don’t eat a whole batch in one night.
Annie @ Annie’s Noms
Such a useful post, thanks so much – I’ve been looking to maybe make some cookies with another ingredient, but I think I’ll stick with butter!
Definitely butter all the way!
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
love this comparison! I keep telling my mom that there IS a difference in using margarine instead of butter when you’re baking!
Heather @ Shards of Lavender
What an interesting post! The margarine cookie reminds me of my grandma’s cookies when I was a child because she only baked with “oleo”. I prefer butter in my cookies and like to refrigerate or freeze them before baking to achieve the height and puffiness that a perfect cookie must have. I’m curious if you made whole batches of the four different kinds and what you did with the unacceptable cookies:)
Thanks! This helps me out tons! I love to bake but don’t bake many cookies because mine never turn out and now I know why! Do you think it could be the same for cakes too?
Cakes are so tricky because your pan, oven, flour and fat all play such major roles in cake baking. I love “I am Baker” for any cake recipes that are sure to turn out
Thank you so much!
Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen
Jen @ Baked by an Introvert
Thanks for these great tips. It’s amazing how one tiny little change can make a recipe look completely different.
One you freeze the cookie dough, do you let it defrost before baking or bake it frozen and just for a longer time? thanks!
Nope! We just pop it right in the oven. It may take an extra minute or two depending on your oven but they turn out just lovely
Melanie @ Garnish & Glaze
It’s amazing how much one ingredient can change a cookie! I am tempted to try using half butter half and shortening (butter flavored). Have you tried that before?
Melanie, I totally have. It could have been my recipe but they didn’t turn out well. Gosh, now I want to try again!
Amber @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later!
I was so excited to see the results of this test! I like the look of the shortening the best, although, I probably wouldn’t use shortening in my cookies. Butter or coconut oil isn’t bad though…thanks for sharing!
They looked the puffiest, but tasted the worst. The butter cookies look just like those ones when the cookie dough is frozen first. In fact, I should add that in.