10 of the Best Replacement for Shortening

image of replace shortening with

Are you looking for a good replacement for shortening while cooking, baking, or deep frying your food? Well, you have come to the right place, we know how important this ingredient is in these situations. We also know how frustrating it can be when you run out.

Because we care, we created a list of the best replacements for shortening in every type of culinary situation. Whether you are baking a luxurious wedding cake or whipping up a batch of french fries, we have you covered.

What is Shortening?

In America, shortening is typically made from hydrogenated vegetable oil. In other countries and in some areas in the US you can also get shortening from animal fat.

To keep things simple, shortening is any fat in a hardened, thick state. This means a fat that remains solid at room temperature.

 Common brand names for shortening in stores include:

  • Crisco
  • Wesson
  • Spectrum
  • Primex

What Do You Use It For?

The name shortening comes from the job it tackles when baking. This fat will shorten the gluten strands in your recipe. By doing this, you are going to get a crumbly, flakey, and tender batter.

Shortening plays many roles when cooking. Because it is a versatile ingredient with no real flavor, it doesn’t change the taste of your food.

How do you use shortening?

  • Baked goods (cookies, pies, cakes)
  • Fried foods
  • Bread, biscuits, tortilla shells
  • Frosting

The Best 10 Replacements for Shortening

Shortening is one of the most used ingredients while working in the kitchen. It is easy to find and doesn’t cost a whole lot. Unfortunately, because it is called for in many recipes, you can run out of it fast.

If you find yourself in the middle of cooking and realize you don’t have any shortening on hand. Here is a great list of 10 substitutes you can use instead.

1. Butter is Our Top Choice

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

Butter is our top choice for replacing shortening. Even though butter is only 80% fat compared to 100%, it is useful in most recipes.

Butter comes from cow’s milk fat. It also contains water, milk soluble, and sometimes salt.  However, these additional ingredients won’t change your recipe’s taste much. And the little it does is a pleasant flavor.

Butter will make cookies and other baked goods a little flatter and crispier than shortening. Keep this in mind before you grab the container from your cupboard.

When to use butter

  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods
  • Frosting

2. You Can Use Lard in Savory Dishes

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

Lard comes from rendering the fatty tissue from a pig. After obtaining the fat, it goes through a clarification process for cooking.

Lard has a similar texture and appearance as shortening, but it has a distinct taste. Although it isn’t overpowering, it does provide a salty, smokey undertone to a dish. This can give your baked goods a great flavor and texture.

When to use lard

  • Bread and biscuits
  • Marinades and dressings
  • Frying meats and vegetables

3. Coconut Oil is a Healthy Alternative

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

Like shortening, coconut oil is 100% fat. Unlike shortening, it is vegan friendly since it comes from coconut palm fruit. The fat structure in this product is different from animal fat, making it break down differently when heated and in the body. (*)

Coconut oil is a fabulous substitute for all dishes. However, we love using it in baked goods where the coconut flavor can add a delightful taste. 

When to use coconut oil

  • Cakes and Cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Candy

Learn more: What Can You Substitute For Coconut Oil? (#3 You Have NOW)

4. Margarine Can be a Suitable Substitute

To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio, then add an extra TBSP)

Margarine comes from refined vegetable oil and water. This product is a popular spread that you can use on top of food or in recipes. (*)

Margarine, like butter, can be a great substitute for shortening in most recipes. But it will cause your baked goods to get crispy and thin.

Since margarine has less fat than shortening, you will see better results by using a little more. 

When to use margarine

  • Spreads
  • Baked goods
  • Roasting 

5. Bacon Grease (Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures)

(To Substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

If you happen to have bacon grease left over after breakfast, store it for future use. Although this option will change the flavor profile of your dish, it can work very well in some situations.

Bacon grease will give your sweet treats a deep smokey flavor. Due to that fact, you might want to save this substitute for savory meals. 

Remember to strain the grease before using. Unless you want bacon bits in your dish.

When to use bacon grease

  • Frying meats and vegetables
  • Biscuits and bread
  • Dressings and marinades

6. Vegetable Oil, Olive Oil, Canola Oil

(To Substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

Vegetable oil is only suitable in recipes that don’t require pockets of fat, such as biscuits or pies. In these recipes, you won’t get the puffy dough you need. Aside from this, these oils will work in other baked goods like cakes and cookies.

Because these options are liquid at room temperature, you won’t get the same benefit as shortening. So, use this option in recipes that call for melted shortening for the best results.

When to use vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil

  • Cookies and cakes
  • Frying veggies
  • Dressings 

Learn more: 11 Best Corn Oil Substitute For Baking And Other Purposes

7. Ghee for a Beautiful Buttery Flavor

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

For those of you who haven’t heard of ghee. It is just butter without water and milk solids. This product offers the same frying, baking, and cooking benefits as butter. It is also an ideal substitute for shortening.

You can use butter as a replacement in just about any recipe. Yet it is the perfect solution for baked goods and sweeter dishes.

When to use ghee

  • Cookies and cakes
  • Biscuits and bread
  • Spreads 

8. Avocado Oil is a Health Conscious Option

(To Substitute: Use 1-2 TBSP less than the recipe calls for in shortening)

Avocado oil is a great substitute for shortening if you are looking for a healthier option. It is a unique oil that comes from the fruit directly and not its seeds. It shares similar properties to olive oil and has a high smoke point and neutral taste.

Avocado oil works wonderfully in most recipes that call for shortening. Plus, this product is full of health benefits like lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. (*)

Avocado oil can add moisture to your baked goods. But can also make them less cakey or fluffy.

When to use avocado oil

  • Dressings and marinades
  • Cooking meats and vegetables
  • Desserts 

Learn more: 12 Great Avocado Oil Substitute for All Types of Dishes

9. Vegan Butter for the Vegan Lifestyle

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio, then add 2 additional TBSP)

Vegan butter has a close resemblance to shortening. It provides the same texture and a similar mild taste. 

This product is ideal for baked goods and desserts. But the water content is a little higher than we would like. For that reason, your recipe will come out thinner unless you adjust your measurements.

We love that you can feel comfortable enjoying this product because it is good for your health. Vegan butter is cholesterol free and has a low saturated fat content.

When to use vegan butter

  • Spreads
  • Cakes and cupcakes
  • Bread and biscuits

10. Palm Oil if You Have it

(To substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio)

Palm oil isn’t the most common ingredient found in most kitchens. However, this item can work well in a bind.

You can use palm oil instead of shortening when frying because it has a high smoke point. This makes it a great option when frying meats and vegetables.

Palm oil also offers a high melting point, making it perfect for frosting and other confectionary recipes.

When to use palm oil

  • Confectionary
  • Frying foods
  • Dressings 

Bonus Substitutes: Apple Sauce

This might not be a popular substitute for many but can work in a pinch. Some people might say not to try this option because it can create too much of a difference. With that said, we like this idea for a healthy substitute for baked goods and desserts.

Because apple sauce has a lot of water and no fat, it should be used sparingly.

Using apple sauce instead of shortening is popular in vegan diets and for anyone looking to reduce their fat intake.


What is the Best Shortening Substitute When Making Cookies?

Using butter in place of shortening for cookies is your best bet. This product has a close fat content to shortening. This similar makeup will offer a similar outcome when baking.

What is the Best Shortening Substitute When Making Pie?

The best substitute for shortening in pie crust is lard. This particular option will give you a similar flakey crust.

What Substitute for Shortening Should You Use When Baking Cake?

Olive oil and vegetable oil are the best substitutes for shortening when baking cakes. These options will offer your recipe the moisture it needs.

Up Next: Substituting Oils and Fats in Cooking

About The Author

Scroll to Top