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Some recipes says use butter or margarine, some say use butter and some say use margarine. My question is, can I always use butter or does margarine have some property that butter doesn't when baking?

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I have a rule: Never trust a recipe that requires the use of margarine (barring some sort of dietary restriction or allergy). –  JasonTrue May 16 '12 at 21:31
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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Margarine has less fat than butter, but it doesn't give quite the same flavor as butter does. You also have to be careful what KIND of margarine you are using. Tub margarine has a higher water content and can ruin your baked goods and the stick margarine can have a lot of trans fats in it. If you really want to get detailed into the differences, check out this site:

http://www.baking911.com/pantry/fats.htm

I agree with everything stated on that site in the fact that butter, in my opinion is far superior in flavor and texture than margarine. I have yet to meet a dish that butter didn't improve the taste over margarine. But there is the thing, it really is a lot about taste. A good quote from the site about margarine:

"Not great for baking: does not allow foods to become flaky, rather more cakelike; does not spread as well as lard or shortening; adds a greasy taste. However, some bake with it all the time and have great success; it's a matter of taste."

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The claim that margarine has less fat than butter is simply untrue. At least in the US, the FDA standard of identity for margarine specifies "containing not less than 80 percent fat". This is essentially the same as butter. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 2 '13 at 9:39
    
Sorry, have found better sources to mostly support SAJ14SAJ's comment... After reading new answers to my question Substitues for vegetable oil spread, there is also a section of the Code of Federal Regulations that states "Margarine" is to "..contain[ing] not less than 80 percent fat.."... –  user66001 Jul 23 '13 at 0:00
    
... and also a section of the Code of Federal Regulations dealing with fat content for "Butter", stating that "..the calculation of the percent fat reduction in milkfat shall be based on the 80 percent milkfat requirement..", which seems to allow for Butter varieties with the same, or less fat than Margarine –  user66001 Jul 23 '13 at 0:02
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