Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (2024)

Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (1)

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Margarine frosting is so delicious, cheap and easy to make you may be asking why there aren’t more recipes using this butter substitute. Sadly, margarine is one of those foods that causes a lot of controversy. People love it or hate it. Regardless of the stance you are on, it makes a wonderful baking element for many people with dietary restrictions. It can replace butter in many recipes.

So why the conflict? In the past, margarine was made with a type of fat called trans fats which they found out was incredibly bad for your health. It caused heart attacks, strokes, weight gain and a slew of other health issues. Trans fat is present in milk, cheese butter and meats. So the argument of butter being healthier isn’t so strong after all. Especially when you consider that and the amount of saturated fats present. You can read more about that here if you like. The good news is they have since removed or are in the process of removing transfat from man made products, so margarine is back in style! You can even make cakes with margarine that rival a butter cake in texture and taste.

So let’s learn a bit about and then how to make margarine frosting. You may find this frosting more soft than traditional buttercream, but you can still pipe simple decorations with it as I will show you below. This frosting should be kept refrigerated until ready to use as well. For a dairy-free frosting that doesn’t require refrigeration, go to the classic white frosting recipe.

Despite that, this is a delicious frosting and is one of the cheapest ones to make. You can frost an entire cake for less than one dollar. That’s pretty amazing, right? And you can flavor it with any extract out there and use food coloring as well just as you would any other frosting. Margarine frosting is great to practice baking cakes and decorating with as it’s so affordable for the new baker. And once you master this frosting, the others are a breeze to work with as this one is the most sensitive to changes in temperature.

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Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (14)

This is great tasting butter-free recipe that uses margarine as a substitute. You can still decorate cupcakes and cakes with this icing and have beautiful results. This frosting is wonderful for those wanting to cut out some saturated fat or dairy out of their diet. Replace the milk with water or juice to make this frosting completely dairy free. It's also very cheap and quick to make!

Print Recipe

Prep Time10 minutes minutes

Total Time10 minutes minutes

Servings24

Calories 76.7

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups (312.5g) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (113g) softened margarine
  • 1 tsp (5mL) vanilla
  • 1 tsp (5mL) milk, juice or water
  • ½ tsp (2.5mL) vinegar

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, beat margarine on medium speed until fluffy.

  • Gradually add powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, mixing on low speed. Add in vinegar.

  • Mix in vanilla.

  • Add milk, juice or water until you reach the desired consistency for spreading or decorating.

  • Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.

Notes

Vinegar is used to cut the sweetness and is completely optional. Salt is normally used in frostings with butter or shortening, but margarine is already well salted. The vinegar helps balance out the flavor.

Water or juice can be used in place of the milk to make the icing dairy-free. If frosting is thin, chill 30 minutes.

This will generously frost 12 cupcakes, the top of a 9×13″ cake or a 6″ double layer cake. Double the recipe for 9″ layered cakes or to have enough for decoration.

If you are choosing to use margarine for dairy-free purposes, please check the manufacturer’s ingredients. Some of the newer margarines have started adding milk products such as whey, lactose or buttermilk to their ingredients. The margarine used to create this recipe is a plant-based, vegan friendly margarine.

Nutrition Facts

Margarine Frosting

Amount per Serving

Calories

76.7

% Daily Value*

Fat

3

g

5

%

Saturated Fat

0.8

g

5

%

Monounsaturated Fat

1.7

g

Sodium

30

mg

1

%

Carbohydrates

12.5

g

4

%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

* Calories provided as a courtesy and not guaranteed.

28 Comments
  1. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (15)

    Benedicta Gogo Adokoon September 3, 2023 at 10:50 am

    Hi Jackson,

    Thank you for sharing this information with us.. I’m now trying to bake cake so , I was looking for alternative ways to make frosting without using unsalted butter and if I can also use margarine for frosting and I came across your post.. unsalted butter is very expensive in
    Ghana..

    Thank you 😌💕

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (16)

      Jacksonon September 3, 2023 at 1:30 pm

      You are very welcome! We do try to stick with affordable recipes on this site.
      I hope you like the frosting!

      Reply

  2. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (17)

    Lisaon December 11, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Does color bleed with this recipe?

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (18)

      Jacksonon December 11, 2022 at 10:01 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      That can depend on the type of food coloring used and whether or not you let the frosting get up to melting temperatures. When margarine gets too hot, it will split and the water will cause most of the the liquid food coloring to run. I’ve also seen it happen with the betty crocker gels when it gets a little too warm. However, I have not experienced this with issue with Americolor, Hobby Lobby’s brand or Wilton gel food colors. I wish I had a better answer than “it depends” but I don’t want to mislead you. My suggestion would be this: take a small amount of the frosting and try it with the brand you are using. You’ll know right away if it’s going to be a problem.

      Also, really read the labels right now and make sure it still says “margarine” and not “vegetable oil spread” on the packaging. A margarine I used for years that had 80% fat is now a vegetable oil spread with 70% fat! It ruined my cake as I didn’t notice until after the batter split adding the eggs. Due to “shrinkflation” a few of the margarines I’ve used in the past and loved are now called vegetable oil spreads (less than 80% fat to be considered a margarine) and not really announcing it. These do not perform the same way as margarine in baking. I hope you will avoid the same costly mistake I just made!

      Reply

  3. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (19)

    Monica G.on November 30, 2022 at 9:52 am

    How long ahead of time can this be made? Can it be stored overnight for use the next day?

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (20)

      Jacksonon November 30, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Hi Monica, it can be made several days in advance, but it should stay chilled since margarine is prone to splitting at room temperature after about 24 hours. Also, cover it well so it doesn’t absorb odors such as onions in the fridge. You simply need to bring it back up to room temperature and whip just until smooth.

      Reply

  4. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (21)

    Lina soenartoon September 7, 2022 at 6:36 am

    Thanks for the recipe using margarine. Butter is not cheap in Japan. I will keep this recipe n share with family n friends, bless you all.

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (22)

      Jacksonon September 7, 2022 at 11:02 am

      You are very welcome! Butter has become quite expensive here surprisingly. This is a good alternative and tastes pretty good! Blessings to you and your loved ones as well. 😊

      Reply

  5. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (23)

    Queenyon July 6, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    Can u use normal sugar instead of powdered

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (24)

      Jacksonon July 6, 2022 at 6:57 pm

      Hi Queeny, unfortunately what happens when you use regular sugar, it is very gritty tasting and not smooth like buttercream should be. It does work in terms of creating a sweet flavor, but the powdered sugar provides sweetness and substance to the butter and allows you to shape it. This is one of these recipes that powdered sugar can’t really be substituted, sadly. Some have put regular sugar in a blender and pulsed it until it was powdery, but I ruined a blender trying it myself. So I wouldn’t recommend it.

      Reply

  6. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (25)

    Kelseyon June 13, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    How would the ratios change if cocoa powder was added to make it chocolate icing?

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (26)

      Jacksonon June 24, 2022 at 12:37 pm

      I would start out by adding 2 tbs (10g) cocoa powder. You’ll likely need to add a tsp or so more milk to get a good consistency. Just add the milk a tsp at a time and stir 20 seconds to let the cocoa hydrate.

      Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (27)

      Ronni kayon November 12, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      For chocolate I like to fold in ganache to the buttercream icing. It’s quite decadant

      Reply

      • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (28)

        Jacksonon November 12, 2022 at 12:45 pm

        Ronni,

        That sounds wonderful! I’ll have to give it a try next time I make this cake.

        Reply

  7. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (29)

    Noeyon April 8, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (30)
    This is my first time making this margarine frosting and it turned out the way I wanted it as I needed it on my cake for my nephew’s 1st birthday. The recepe perfectly fits my 9inch cake. I added red colouring to add some touch to the frosting. Though it turned out slightly gritty, I know the reason why after reading your replies to the comments. I added the powdered sugar a cup at a time with out following the instruction to add a spoon at a time because I was in a hurry. I loved the outcome. It was firm and not runny. I added vinegar and milk as the instruction called for.

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (31)

      Jacksonon April 10, 2022 at 10:19 am

      Noey, I am so glad it worked out so well for you. It’s wonderful you are baking a homemade cake for your nephew’s birthday! I hope you all have a pleasant day together enjoying memories and cake!

      Reply

  8. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (32)

    Rachelle Samsonon March 26, 2022 at 2:42 am

    Hi there, I am a big fan of using margarine for everything that calls for butter. I see that you mention the buttercream should be kept refrigerated until ready to use. Once the cake has been frosted, could it stay unrefrigerated? I have been asked to make a large cake that would be served at a homecoming, and will most likely be sitting out most of the day. Thank you in advance. 🙂

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (33)

      Jacksonon March 26, 2022 at 4:21 pm

      Rachelle, I’m a margarine person myself and all my recipes on here, I use margarine instead of butter as well. So the only reason the cake would need refrigerated is to firm up the frosting. It will melt in hot temperatures, but it is safe at room temperature according to the USDA official website. After a few days, margarine can get a rancid flavor or split and become watery, but it would be safe to leave out all day.

      Just be mindful of the temperature as margarine frosting melts faster than butter. You could add a cup more powdered sugar to help it maintain it’s shape longer. Getting soft and falling off is the worst thing that will happen. I would keep it chilled as long as possible so that it’s really nicely set and holds up longer. I’ve left cupcakes out for 3 days on the counter and they have held up pretty well. Enjoy your homecoming!

      Reply

      • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (34)

        Rachelleon June 24, 2022 at 11:09 am

        Good morning! Thank you so much for your reply! I am only seeing this now, as I thought I would get a notification. Thank you, this helps. 🌺

        Reply

        • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (35)

          Jacksonon June 24, 2022 at 12:35 pm

          You’re quite welcome. 🤗 I will have to look at the settings and see what’s going on with notifications. Thanks for letting me know that’s happening.

          Reply

          • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (36)

            Rachelleon June 24, 2022 at 5:48 pm

            Awesome, thanks!

            Reply

            • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (37)

              Jacksonon June 24, 2022 at 5:57 pm

              You’re welcome. 🤗

              Reply

  9. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (38)

    Amanda Gaitheron December 24, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    it came out so grainy, i dont know what to do.

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (39)

      Jacksonon December 28, 2021 at 2:17 pm

      Hello, Amanda. I am sorry to hear this for you. Most powdered sugar frostings can take on a little bit of a grit tasting to them when preparing. There are three main reasons powdered sugar frostings come out grainy. One, is you are using vegetable spread instead of margarine. They look very similar in the stores, so it’s an easy thing to get wrong. The vegetable spreads have more water and less fat, so they don’t combine well and need more powdered sugar. The second reason is your powdered sugar was added too quickly and not given a chance to dissolve. I’ve done this when I was in a hurry. It is best to add it in a tablespoon at a time as you are mixing. The third reasons is your powdered sugar was lumpy due to humidity (happens often with opened older bags) and it makes it harder for the sugar to dissolve into the margarine. You can combat this by sifting your powdered sugar before using. Since you are past those stages, you can try mixing it for 5 minutes on low speed and then letting it sit covered for 1/2 hour before using. Some of the grainy texture will dissolve with time, but unfortunately, it will not be ideal. I hope this helps.

      Reply

  10. Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (40)

    Kateon July 13, 2021 at 4:55 am

    Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (41)
    I didn’t expect this to turn out so good!

    Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (42)

      Jacksonon July 13, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      It’s amazing that it’s made with margarine, isn’t it, Kate? The margarine cake is surprisingly tasty, too.

      Reply

    • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (43)

      Vivon February 25, 2022 at 5:24 am

      Hi, the consistency was not as thick and wouldn’t hold when piping, any idea why this was, I didn’t even add the milk or vinegar suggested.

      Reply

      • Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (44)

        Jacksonon February 25, 2022 at 12:58 pm

        Hi Viv,

        There are a few reasons why it wouldn’t hold for piping or not as thick as it should be.
        1. Vegetable spread instead of margarine was used. This is a common thing to do as they look the same but will have the word “spread” instead of “margarine” on the packaging. Vegetable spreads have a lot of water in them and will cause the buttercream to be very soft.
        2. Microwaving the margarine or letting it get too soft (where it has lost its shape entirely) before beating in the sugar. If your home is warm or if you microwave margarine, it likes to separate and split easily. This separates the waters from the fats and makes the margarine unstable. The water will absorb a lot of the powdered sugar, so it will be much softer.
        3. Cup measurements can be different for everyone. Sometimes one cup will hold less sugar than another. This is due to inconsistency at the manufacturer. If it is #3, it’s easily remedied by adding a little more sugar, one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you desire.
        4. Tub margarine over sticks often acts similar to vegetable spread. You may have to add more powdered sugar to compensate for the additional ingredients they add to make the tub versions more spreadable.
        5. The brand of powdered sugar. Some powdered sugars use a lot of cornstarch. These tend to need more powdered sugar added to most buttercream recipes. There are some store brands that are notoriously bad for this and you sometimes have to use twice the amount of powdered sugar as a result for any recipe out there.

        If it was margarine and not vegetable spread, the first step would be to pop it in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes. If it firms up to a much better consistency, the culprit was the margarine became too warm at some process of making the buttercream. If this was the case, beat in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to help stabilize it.

        If that wasn’t it, you can try to fix it by adding more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time. It could take up to 1 – 2 cups or even more depending on how loose the consistency. The only issue with this is it can make the icing more sweet than you’d prefer.

        If it was vegetable spread, you can try the same method, but it will take a LOT of powdered sugar depending on the percentage of fat in the product. Some of the lower fat spreads require 4 – 5 times the amount of sugar and they are just unbearably sweet.

        Hope that helps explain what could have went wrong and hopefully how to fix it. I’m so sorry it happened to you!

        Reply

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Old-Fashioned Margarine Frosting Recipe - Jacksons Job (2024)

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