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12 Best Shortening Substitute Options: Pick Your Favorite

If you’re looking for Shortening Substitute, then you’ve come to the right place. Shortening is a type of fat that has been popular in baking for decades. Luckily, there are many healthier and more natural options that can be used. Some even work so well that you won’t even notice the difference.

Spoon filled with shortening on top of the wooden table.

What Is Shortening?

In a nutshell, shortening is any fat that becomes solid at room temperature. During the early days, the only shortening available was lard. For this reason, lard was synonymous with shortening back then.

Then, people invented margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils. The term shortening became broader. Rather than referring to lard, shortening became a new type of ingredient altogether.

Shortening is 100% fat. It is odorless and tasteless. Plus, shortening stays perfectly good at room temperature, so you don’t have to refrigerate it.

Today, people almost always use the term shortening to refer to Crisco, which is actually a brand name. Crisco is short for crystallized cottonseed oil. This oil used to be the main ingredient for its vegetable shortening product.

What Does Shortening Do In Baking?

When it comes to baking, shortening literally shortens the dough. To better understand this, you need to know about short doughs.

Short doughs are doughs that create flaky and crumbly pastries. A good example of this is a pie crust. Imagine if your pie crust does not break apart easily – you’ll not enjoy eating it.

When raw, these doughs are not elastic. You can easily pull them apart to make smaller pieces. The opposite of short dough is long dough, which is elastic. Long dough yields chewy and soft baked goods like pizza and some kinds of bread.

What makes the dough elastic is the gluten component. Gluten forms long strands that hold the dough together. These strands are responsible for the stretchy texture. Putting shortening in your dough hinders gluten from forming strands. So, the final dough is crumbly instead of stretchy.

Best Shortening Substitutes

1. Butter

One of the best vegetable shortening substitutes is butter. If you come to think of it, butter fits the bill. It is fat, and it is solid at room temperature.

But what makes it different is that butter is only 80% fat. Butter also contains water. So, while it will do a great job shortening the dough, it will not yield a pastry as crumbly.

The plus point of butter comes from its flavor. Using it instead of shortening will lend a rich flavor to your baked goods.

Tip: Use a 1:1 substitution ratio when using butter to replace shortening. Use cold or chilled butter for the best results. Do not use melted butter.

2. Lard

Of course, the old-generation shortening is another excellent swap you can use. Unlike butter, lard is 100% fat. The only difference it has from vegetable shortening is it is from animal fat, usually pork.

Depending on the kind and brand, lard can also taste meaty. For best results, choose lard with a neutral taste so your desserts won’t taste like pork.

If you’re baking a meat pie, though, the porky flavor of some lard brands will enrich its taste.

Tip: Use as you would vegetable shortening. Look for leaf lard, if available. It is the highest grade of lard and has the most neutral flavor.

3. Coconut Oil

If you’re looking for an equally vegan shortening substitute, coconut oil might be your best bet. After all, coconut oil is one of the very few oils that are solid at room temperature.

But unlike shortening, coconut oil is not tasteless. This oil can give your baked goods a slight coconut flavor. For some recipes, though, this extra flavor can be a welcome addition.

If you’re worried about the coconut flavor affecting the flavor of your dish, use refined coconut oil. This kind has a milder flavor than the unrefined variety.

Tip: Use an equal amount of coconut oil to replace the same amount of shortening.

4. Clarified Butter

Clarified butter, or ghee, is another viable alternative for a shortening substitute. To create ghee, people remove water and milk solids from the butter. So, ghee is nearly, if not completely, 100% fat.

For this reason, it does a better job as a shortening than butter itself. It will yield a closer texture to the original while still giving your dish a rich buttery flavor. The only downside with ghee is that it is more expensive than butter and shortening.

Tip: To substitute, use a 1:1 ratio of ghee to shortening.

5. Vegan Butter

Vegan butter can also work great as a substitute for shortening. It is just like butter but made with vegetable oils instead. That said, it does not lack when it comes to fat content.

However, it also has some water, so using it will lead to a slight change in texture.

Nevertheless, the results will still be great and suitable for those that follow a vegan diet.

Tip: Use the same amount of vegan butter to replace an equal amount of shortening. Like regular butter, use vegan butter in its solid state.

6. Bacon Fat

Did you know that bacon fat is a great option for a shortening substitute? It is, after all, 100% fat. You might even have bacon grease from this morning’s breakfast if you cook bacon regularly.

The biggest consideration in using this substitute is that it tastes like bacon. And while it will perfectly do its job as a shortening, it will affect the flavor of your dish.

You can indulge in a little culinary adventure, though, if you do not mind a bacon flavor on your sweet baked goods.

Tip: Use the same amount of bacon fat as the amount of shortening your recipe calls for. For the best swapping experience, use this for savory baked goods only.

7. Margarine

This low-fat butter substitute is, of course, an excellent alternative for shortening too. Like butter, it lends a richer, more decadent flavor to your baked goods. However, it is specifically made to contain lower fat. And it does have water and other ingredients.

That said, using an equal amount to replace vegetable shortening will not work. You need to use a bit more margarine.

The good thing is that margarine is cheaper than butter. So, it is an affordable substitute for shortening.

Tip: For every cup of shortening your recipe calls for, use 1 cup and 1 tablespoon of margarine. Don’t melt margarine before use.

8. Peanut Oil

If you don’t mind a slight change in texture, you can also use peanut oil as a shortening substitute.

Peanut oil is not solid at room temperature, so using it will result in a denser baked good. But it does a good job of preventing elasticity in the dough.

And even when it comes from peanuts, regular peanut oil does not taste nutty. You can use it as shortening without affecting the flavor of your baked good.

You have to consider, though, that peanut is a known allergen. For this reason, you should use this alternative with caution.

Tip: Use peanut oil instead of vegetable shortening in a 1:1 ratio. Use peanut oil made with roasted peanuts if your recipe needs a pronounced peanut taste.

9. Avocado Oil

If you want something healthier, avocado oil is yet another option you can try. Avocado oil is rich in unsaturated fats, especially oleic acid. It also contains a significant amount of Vitamin E.

Your baked good will certainly be healthier if you use avocado oil instead of shortening.

Again, like with other oils, your substitution will result in a denser texture. And it can impart a slightly nutty taste. This taste is subtle, though, and will be unnoticeable in the final baked good.

Tip: Use 1 cup of avocado oil to replace 1 cup of shortening in your recipe.

10. Olive Oil

Another healthy oil you can use to substitute for vegetable shortening is olive oil. Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

And nowadays, olive oil is a kitchen staple, so you probably have it on hand. For this reason, olive oil is a quick and easy swap.

Depending on the brand and the type, olive oil can have either a neutral taste or hints of olive flavor. This taste will be unnoticeable once you combine it with other ingredients.

Tip: Olive oil is a direct substitute for shortening. Use a 1:1 ratio when opting for olive oil as a swap.

11. Applesauce

Are you making something that will pair well with apples? If so, you can use applesauce as a shortening substitute too. It does have a low-fat content which will result in a different texture, so be ready for that.

Plus, it has a distinctly sweet taste that is not present in shortening, so you should expect a flavor shift.

Tip: The texture of applesauce differs from shortening, so a 1:1 substitution will not work. For the best outcome, use a 2:1 ratio of shortening to applesauce. Do a taste test too. The sweetness of this swap may require you to reduce the sweeteners in your recipe.

12. Cooking Spray

Aside from adding shortening to doughs, people also use it to grease baking pans. Shortening’s fat content prevents the baked goods from sticking to the pan. In this case, you can use cooking spray as a shortening substitute.

A cooking spray is specifically made for this purpose, so this swap has no drawbacks.

What Can I Use Instead Of Shortening In Baking?

There are plenty of other ingredients you can use in baking instead of shortening. Lard is the best substitution. Any kind of vegetable oil, like canola oil, will do for a vegan option. In certain recipes, you can even use applesauce or mashed bananas.

Can I Use Vegetable Oil Instead Of Shortening?

Yes, you can use vegetable oil instead of shortening. After all, shortening comes from hydrogenated vegetable oil. Since vegetable oil has a different texture, it will yield a denser final product.

What Is The Substitution For 1 Cup Of Melted Shortening?

You can replace 1 cup of melted shortening with 1 cup of melted lard or 1 cup and 1 tablespoon of margarine. You may also use 1 cup of coconut oil or 1 cup of bacon grease. Half a cup of apple sauce works wonders too.


If you don’t have any vegetable shortening left, you need not worry. You can still bake your treats using a shortening substitute. The best replacement is lard, which used to be the only shortening available. For a vegan alternative, coconut and avocado oils are among the top choices.

Some creative ingredients that can substitute shortening include mashed bananas and applesauce. Note that each substitution might result in slight changes in texture and flavor.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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