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Dairy-free, soy-free margarine?

Posted on February 10th, 2008 by Alison Read 38 Comments - Add Your Own »

Dairy-free, soy-free margarine does not exist to my knowledge. Most baking recipes call for butter or margarine, and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Shortening Sticks work great if you can tolerate soy. (Buttery Sticks contain soybean oil and soy protein, Shortening Sticks contain soybean oil.) But what is a dairy and soy-intolerant person to do? UPDATE 3/19/09: Dairy-free soy-free buttery spread is available!

spectrumshortening.jpgI have been using Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening which is non-hydrogenated palm oil. It has worked for me in baking recipes that call for butter or margarine. I follow the Joy of Cooking (my favorite cookbook for learning the basics) substitution recommendation for shortening in place of butter:

for 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) replace with 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of shortening

So far, my cookies (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free) have turned out with a light and fluffy texture and taste really good! (You don’t really taste the shortening at all.) I was so happy to discover this product when I cut soy out of my daughter’s diet in addition to gluten, dairy and eggs! Yippee!

Look for Spectrum shortening at a natural foods or health foods store, or you can buy it on Amazon.

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  1. Hi
    thanks for the info. I’ve recently found out that if I get soy in anything I’m eating, I start to choke so it’s nice to see something that might help me. mary

  2. Alison. Spectrum might not be totally dairy and soy free.
    if you need allergen proof margarine, please enquire about mother’s margarine, K for passover (easter is around the corner! stock up for a year!).

    Personally, I have 2 replacers: if the texture holds together, I replace 1 cup butter by 2/3 cup oil (olive – the light flavor one) or even less.
    if the texture depends on something to freeze the crumbs in place (brownies anyone?), I replace 1 cup butter by 3/4 cup melted coconut oil.
    (for both, equire about cross-contaminations. There are brands which are ok)

    Sophie – same diet here.

  3. I love using the Spectrum shortening for a variety of recipes, especially my frosting recipe. Its very smooth and creamy.

    My dairy, soy, wheat, peanut-free daughter really missed cinnamon toast. So, I have a little container of shortening premixed with a few drops of imititation butter that I keep in the cupboard. I smear it lightly on a piece of white rice bread and sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top – pop it in the toaster and Wham-o … Gwen’s happy!

  4. Spectrum shortening is 100% non-hydrogenated palm oil. You can read what they say about allergens here:
    Spectrum Organics

    Sharon – Thanks for the tip! I will try the imitation butter flavor and also the cinnamon toast. It is always hard to find spreads to put on bread.

  5. Sophie,
    I looked up Mother’s Margarine and it is made from soybean oil.
    16 Oz. (Box) Parve Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, liquid and partially hydrogenated corn oil, soy lecithin, potassium sorbate, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, beta carotene, vitamin a palmitate added

    According to a reviewer on Amazon, they changed their formulation – it did used to be soy-free too, but not anymore. Bummer!

  6. There used to be a corn-oil margarine that was dairy-free and soy-free but I can’t find it anymore. We should each write to a couple of margarine makers and ask for this!

    Soy is creeping into everything… sigh!

  7. Thanks for the info. I have been looking for soy free dairy free margarine/butter substitute as well.
    Cocoa butter (which is not dairy at all) you can get it at also will work well in frostings with the spectrum palm oil. Have not tried it as butter substitue to put on pasta though.

  8. I am very new to this. My 13 year old daughter is allergic to dairy and soy (amount many other items.) I have read many postings suggesting Spectrum Organic Dairy and Soy Free Shortening, Migdal Margarine and Coconut Oil. I’m wondering what works best for baking sweets, buttering bread, having wiht pasta. Also…I’ve spent hours at various stores over the last 2 weekends. Maybe I can save myself tons of time (and gas) by shopping on-line. I noticed many suggested products on Amazon…but in quantities of 4 – 6. I guess I should try a few before I order too many…but is this a good vehicle…to order via Amazon and freeze extras? I’m feeling so much better after reading your posts. Thanks.

  9. Hi Debbie,
    I use the Spectrum shortening in place of butter when baking. I have not tried Migdal Margarine, but it sounds interesting if I can find it. I haven’t used Coconut Oil yet, but I have a jar and want to try using it. I have been stuck on what to spread on bread in place of butter, but I just read about something called Smart Squeeze made by Smart Balance. Once I get the ingredients I will post them. For pasta or anything else like veggies, I just use olive oil and salt. I do think that buying 4 tubs of shortening is a lot unless you are doing a lot of baking. It is a good product for baking, so you won’t be disappointed.

  10. Hello!
    I am so thrilled I saw this website! My son just started a wheat, gluten, dairy, and soy-free diet and finding a butter or shortening for baking recipes has been impossible through the few stores in my area.

    Thank you so much Alison for the info on Spectrum shortening, something we can definately use. I have been looking at Migdal margarine also, but still can’t find the ingredients listed anywhere for it.

    I am thrilled to know there are people out there like you all that already have the wisdom and experience working with allergen free diets. I am just starting out and it’s scary to me.

    I did find a site that had a recipe for soy-free margarine. Haven’t try it yet though, but looks good. I can only give you the site address though.

    Thank you and have a great day!

  11. Hi Lynne! Glad you found the site! I haven’t tried to make my own margarine yet, but maybe I will. I made egg-free soy-free mayonnaise once for my daughter… it was a lot of work and she didn’t like it anyway! (she probably wouldn’t even like regular mayo since she’s never tasted it in her life)

  12. Hey Alison!

    I am so happy a health food store nearby carries that Spectrum shortening. I hate to say for awhile there I was using lard for cinnamon bread and pumpkin muffins, kinda yucky (actually BIG yucky)!!! Thanks again for all the info on that product.

    This is a great place to chat with others like yourself about what products are out there for kids with special diets.

    This question is for anyone out there. My little boy is turning 6 in a couple weeks and I want to make cupcakes for him and his class but I don’t have a yummy recipe for frosting that is dairy and soy free. Would anyone like to share one with me please?

    Thank you all! Take care!

  13. Lynne,
    I highly recommend Pamela’s frosting mixes made with the Spectrum shortening and rice milk – it is delicious! If you can’t find those, follow the 5-minute frosting recipe on the back of the C&H powdered sugar boxes and replace with same ingredients.

  14. Alison,

    Thank you so, so much! You are a doll! I feel like I never get much time on the computer these days to look things up, especially recipes. I have a little 18 months old too that keeps me on my toes every second he is awake. Yikes!

    Thanks again! I appreciate it. You’re so helpful.

  15. I am having a very hard time cutting out soy as well.
    Any advice for — fast food places (do any of those great french fries out there , not contain soybean oil).
    My son loves french fries from these places— we just started, so have not researched.
    Also, any non- soy chinese food recipes,mixes— my son adores Chinese!!
    I have been encouraged by the margarine comments– we were having a rough time with baking as well.

  16. The regular Mother’s Margerine is not soy free, but the Kosher for Passover version is (only available for a short time each year). I stock up every spring and keep a few cases in my freezer.

    Fleishman’s Light (blue lid) is the corn based one that is soy and dairy free.

  17. Fleishman’s Light is not soy free (if it was it isn’t anymore) There is a “contains soy” warning on the package. I went out of my way to track it down only to find it has soy in it 🙁

  18. At Passover (a Jewish HOliday in the Spring) Fleishmans makes a soy free corn free dairy free (pareve) margarine. It’s in stick form and only available that time of year. It will say Kosher for PAssover on it….soy is a legume and not kosher for Passover. I buy a ton of it and freeze it. It wasn’t available this past year but I still had some frozen from the year before that I used. I need to replenish my stash this year!

  19. Hi Lori,
    RE:Fast food places that have french fries that do not have soy, Burger King I believe is a good candidate. I am avoiding soy and vegetable oil, and did some research with that. As for chinese food, some places cook with cottonseed oil instead of vegetable oil, or it’s helpful to ask for things steamed (although obviously won’t have the same taste) as greasy stir fry. 🙂 Hope this helps!

  20. for dairy free/soy free frosting recipe’s go to the following website. If it doesnt work let me know and i’ll post the recipe’s.

    I am looking forward to passover this year so that i can stock up on the soy free margarine. I missed the boat last year.

  21. sorry, for some reason i cant post the link that i have.

    here are some recipes…

    1/3 cup acceptable margarine (or white vegetable shortening)
    4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup rice/soy milk or water + 1/2 teaspoon
    or 1 tablespoon powdered rice/soy milk and 1/4 cup water + 1/2 teaspoon more water
    1 teaspoon vanilla (You might want 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla if you are using water.)
    Food coloring (optional)
    Rice/soy milk or water
    In a mixing bowl, beat margarine (or shortening) until fluffy. Add powdered rice milk (if using)
    and then slowly add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. On low speed, add water and vanilla.
    Slowly beat in the rest of the powdered sugar. Add food coloring (if you want). Beat until fluffy.
    Beat in extra milk (or water) to spread on a cake. Frosts two 8 or 9 inch cake layers or the top of
    one 9×13 inch cake.
    2 tablespoons softened margarine (or white vegetable shortening)
    2 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons water/juice/rice/soy/cow’s milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or a drop or two of mint or orange, etc. extract

    Mix everything together with a spoon. (Add a little more milk/water if needed.)

    Frosting Version #2
    2 cups powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons water/juice/rice/soy/cow’s milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or a drop or two of mint or orange, etc. extract

    Copyright 2003 © Barbara Pratt. All rights reserved.

  22. There will be a soy free buttery spread by Earth Balance, coming out some time this month. The company told me this when I phoned to suggest they consider making one without soy for those of use who are intolerant.

  23. BJ,
    There is a link at the top of this post to the new article I wrote about Earth Balance’s soy-free spread. I actually bought and tried it today and it is great! Here is the link again:

  24. I saw someone asking about french fries not in soy. Arby’s cooks their fries in Corn Oil.

  25. wow, I’m sitting here in tears! I’ve never met anyone else who can’t have milk or soy. My son is 3 and can’t have either and I came to the conclusion that he would just have to go without certain things. There is so much out there for dairy free, gluten free, and other allergies, but not much for both dairy and soy. I am not what you would call a chef, so it is even harder for me to find things he can eat. Add in sensory issues and the fact that he’s THREE and I can barely get anything in his mouth! So nice to meet you all!

  26. Fleischmann’s sadly is no longer corn oil, but like everything else is now soybean oil.

  27. I have a 4 year old son who is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and soy! Trying to bake is definitely a challenge. I found 2 good cake recipes from the Food AllergyNetwork, one is called the Ho Ho Sheet cake, the other is called Moist Vanilla cake. The problem is finding a soy margarine replacement for the frosting.Thank you for your info Alison on the shortening by Spectrum, I will check it out. I just bought a ready to spread frosting from Cherrybrook Kitchens, but I haven’t tried it yet. It is dairy, egg, peanut, soy free.They have alot of great ready to bake goods for food allergic individuals.

  28. I use spectrums coconut oil, it works great and tastes much better than palm oil. healthier and great in place of butter or margarine.

  29. Wildtree has a butter flavor grapeseed oil. The butter flavor in it is not dairy derived– it’s actually made from coconut shells. Pretty good substitute for tossing with veggies or on pasta.

    Also, Purely Decadent makes a dairy and soy free ice cream made with coconut milk– there are a whole line of flavors available.

  30. We also use Spectrum palm oil-based shortening for our cakes and other soy-free baked goods, it works very well. Lard is another alternative for non-vegetarians, we’ve found that it makes better frosting than the palm oil.

    I did notice that a generic palm margarine brand (imported from Asia) is now for sale at the local restaurant supply store. With the recent move to ban trans fats in California, palm-based baking products will probably become a more common alternative to soy-based shortening. We haven’t had a chance to try it though.

    I run a custom order bakery in the San Francisco bay area, specializing in professionally-baked and decorated allergy-friendly cakes and other baked goods, check it out at

  31. Thanks Jason — good to know about your bakery.

  32. Wow, I’m thrilled to find this site! I have one child allergic to all dairy and another allergic to all soy. As a single mother, I don’t have the time to make 2 dishes or wash 2 sets so I need to find products that don’t have either. Thank you for the suggestions!!

    Do any of these butter/margarine replacements work for candies?

  33. Jodie,
    You mean to make candies? Try melting Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (no dairy, so soy) into molds — there are lots of fun shapes. I do this for Easter — chocolate bunny lollypops. I don’t know about making other candies.

  34. Just an update to everyone asking about what oil french fries are fried in at fast food places. Just about a month ago I checked several ingredient data (McD’s, BK, Arby’s, Wendy’s, Penn Station) and they all use either soy, peanut, or vegatable oil that can contain corn (for those of us also allergic to that).

  35. For a butter replacement, Earth Balance brand does have a very tasty Soy Free spread. I was buying it from a health food store, but recently found it at Wal-Mart for a lower cost.

  36. We’ve enjoyed Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated palm oil for years as a butter/margarine substitute. Not only is it free of dairy and soy, which is great for us, it doesn’t have all the other additives and artificial ingredients other substitute margarines do! I add just a touch of tumeric for coloring and a little salt for flavor and put it on the table as a butter/margarine substitute to go on GF pancakes, biscuits, etc., and even popcorn.

  37. For UK readers: Pure make a great dairy-free, soy-free butter!

  38. My daughter has intolerances to everything under the sun (or so it seem), I found a margarine that worked without milk, soy, coconut, annatto or artificial color ( and it wasn’t an easy task!). Smart balance heart health light was the only one I found she could use, but like everything else that costs more, sales weren’t there at the Walmart that sold it and they took it off their shelf! So after talking to an employee they suggest I bring in the container to scan and they could order me a case when needed. So research this product and hopefully it can work for others with allergies!