I was buying dairy-free margarine the other day, to get ready for my holiday baking, and I found a new product, Blue Bonnet Lactose Free Margarine. It cost $1 a pound, as opposed to $3.75 a pound, which is what I’ve been paying for Earth Balance margarine. I’ve been on the lookout for a lower priced dairy-free margarine for several years, ever since my local stores stopped carrying Fleishmann’s Unsalted margarine. Earth Balance is the best tasting dairy-free margarine, but it is also the most expensive.
When I saw the new Blue Bonnet margarine I picked it up right away and read the label to make sure it wasn’t too good to be true. Like maybe it was lactose free, but still had some casein in the fine print. I was absolutely delighted to see that it is completely dairy-free. The label also states that it is gluten-free, so I purchased a pound of it to give it a try.
At home I noticed that it has fewer calories than regular margarine, 70 calories per tablespoon as opposed to 100 calories per tablespoon of most other margarines. This means that it may not work quite as well in some recipes, especially boiled candy and some cakes. Additionally it does contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which means trans fat. The label says there are 1.5g of trans fat per tablespoon. If you’re avoiding all trans fats then this wouldn’t be the best choice for you.
If you’re terribly broke and trying to save every single penny you possible can, Lactose Free Blue Bonnet is a reasonable choice.
I used it in marshmallow cereal bars (Rice Crispie treats, made with Rice Chex instead of Rice Crispies) and it worked flawlessly. I also tried it in muffins and for frying eggs. It seemed to work perfectly in the muffins and for the eggs. With the eggs, the margarine did pop a few times, as it melted and the water evaporated in the skillet. This is pretty much par for the course with any margarine that contains water, so it didn’t surprise me. Altogether I found Blue Bonnet Lactose Free to work very well in the kitchen. It doesn’t taste as good as Earth Balance when used as a spread. It did taste good though, better than Fleishmann’s Unsalted margarine. It has a creamy-dairy-like flavor that is almost sweet, like good quality butter. The texture is good, but in your mouth it sticks to you palate a little bit, like most margarine tends too. Real butter and Earth Balance do not do this.
I wouldn’t use Blue Bonnet in boiled fudge, but I do think it would work fine in preacher cookies. I may test it in boiled fudge over the holidays and give y’all an update.
Altogether I rate it 4-stars (out of a possible 5). It tastes good and seems to work well in both baking and frying. Plus it is nearly 1/4 of the price of the next cheapest alternative, which gives it an extra star right there. I plan to buy some more of it, the next time I’m at the market and test it in some more baking recipes.
I did the math, and If we switch to Lactose Free Blue Bonnet it will save us $22 a month or about $286 a year. That is pretty significant savings right there, just from a single product. I was happy to note that it’s cholesterol free. I wish it were lower in trans fat, or better yet, free of trans fat, but there are compromises my family makes due to lack of finances that aren’t necessarily pretty in the cold light of day. All things considered, this is not the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make.
If anyone else tries it, let me know what you think of it.
3 MONTHS LATER, UPDATE:
I’ve tried this margarine in cakes, brownies, and all of my other baking and it works flawlessly. I still haven’t used it in boiled fudge, but in everything else it has worked perfectly. My husband loves the flavor. It’s his favorite margarine now, bar none. Altogether, this has been a reliable product and the price is amazing.