If you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, when the dietary establishment was loudly preaching that margarine is healthier than butter, you might have opinions about the best margarine. Or, if you’re like me, you grew up on margarine (and skim milk) and haven’t really touched the stuff since you started buying your own groceries and treating yourself to delicious, fatty, creamy butter (and delicious, fatty, creamy whole milk).
Related: What Is Margarine, Actually?
Let’s be honest: The best margarine doesn’t quite taste like butter. At the risk of making a liar out of Fabio, I gotta say, I can believe it’s not butter. Butt the good news is that it’s very spreadable, lower in saturated fat than butter, and also easy to veganize. We tried a bunch of popular brands that ranged from meh to slightly better than meh, along with the few standouts that made this list. From vegan margarine to a fan fave Country Crock variety, here is the best tasting margarine at the grocery store.
- Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive Oil
Yes, this is called “plant butter” rather than margarine. And even though it happens to be our favorite plant based butter, I’m giving it the co-title of best vegan margarine. Part of the reason this stuff is so good is that it’s made with olive oil rather than vegetable oil, and that gives it a bitterness and depth that margarines made with vegetable oil just don’t have. Sporked contributor Danny Palumbo said he’s used it for eggs and even eaten it on crackers. It’s that good. If you don’t do dairy, this is the best margarine.
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart
- Country Crock Light
I know that “light” products can be a buzzkill, but Country Crock Light is among the best tasting margarine we tried. I feel like margarine experts (those exist, right?) are going to yell at me for this, but, I swear, I could barely tell the difference between this light margarine and regular Country Crock. It’s rich and creamy. And it has less fat and calories than Original Country Crock (35 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving, versus 50 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving). We tried a few light margarines and the difference in flavor was very subtle, but this one was the best tasting margarine by a hair.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Smart Balance Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you want an olive oil based margarine and don’t mind that it isn’t vegan, Smart Balance is the way to go. The olive oil flavor is extremely pleasant. It’s buttery up front, but then you get some nice, olive-y bitterness on the finish. It’s not aggressive, just more interesting than a lot of other margarines. It’s creamy and flavorful and everyone seems to agree that extra virgin olive oil has more health benefits than vegetable oil. This is the best margarine to use to sauté up some tomatoes to make a rustic sauce.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Country Crock Churn Style
Country Crock Churn Style isn’t dramatically different in taste or texture from regular old Country Crock, but I swear…there’s just something better about this. Is it the psychological effect of “churn style” sounding quaint? Maybe! I liked that this margarine dissolves on your tongue with a blast of buttery saltiness. It claims to have a “fresh-from-the-farm taste,” and while I’m not sure that’s entirely true (granted, I’m not a farmer) it definitely has a touch more flavor than other margarines. This is the best margarine to eat on a warm dinner roll at your Midwestern aunt’s house.
Best Olive Oil
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Imperial Spread, Blue Bonnet, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light, Smart Balance, Country Crock, Smart Balance Light