Confused about what vegetable shortening is and which are the best substitutes for it? You don’t have to look any further.
In this article, we’ll explain what vegetable shortening is and provide you with the five best substitutes for it.
Discover why home bakers are reaching for replacements when it comes to preparing delicious baked goods.
What’s Vegetable Shortening?
Vegetable shortening is a solid fat made from vegetable oils and is commonly used in baking and frying.
It has a very high smoke point, so it can be heated to temperatures hotter than most other fats such as butter or margarine before it starts to break down and burn.
Vegetable shortening produces moist, tender baked goods with a delicate crumb structure.
It also adds flavor to fried foods and prevents sticking.
How to use Vegetable Shortening:
- Vegetable shortening is best used at room temperature. The general rule of thumb is that the temperature of butter should be doubled when substituting it with vegetable shortening. It can easily be softened in the microwave on low power, or by placing on top of preheated oven for a few minutes before using.
- When measuring out solid vegetable shortening, lightly spray the measuring spoon or cup with non-stick cooking spray for easier removal of the softening product from the implement.
- Before adding dry ingredients to wet ingredients when making cakes, muffins, cookies etc., mix in some of the vegetable shortening first until it resembles coarse meal. This will reduce clumping due to pieces of dry ingredients sticking together during mixing, producing better results overall.
Tips on using Vegetable Shortening:
- Always try to incorporate as little air as possible into the dough/batter so that you can get desired results with your finished product – use a silicone spatula instead of electric mixer if possible.
- When making food recipes that involve cream cheese frosting (for example carrot cake cupcakes), add more softener than usual since cream cheese tends to toughen up texture when cold; this will keep your recipes consistently moist no matter where they’re stored.
- When cooking greasy items like French toast or pancakes made from mashed potatoes (which usually won’t stick together without fat) add some liquid oil or extra sugar if needed for caramelizing purposes.
5 Best Vegetable Shortening Substitutes to Consider
Vegetable shortening is a type of fat made from vegetable oils and is often used in baking.
Its main purpose is to create a light, flaky texture and moisture-rich result in baked goods.
If you need a substitute for vegetable shortening, there are many options available to you.
Here are the five best substitutes for vegetable shortening that can be used in baking recipes:
1 – Lard
Lard is made from rendered pig fat, and is one of the oldest, most traditional substitutes for vegetable shortening.
It has a medium-high smoke point of 375°F (190°C) and a neutral flavor that pairs perfectly with tomato sauce and works well in pie crusts and biscuits.
Lard is also an affordable, widely available option.
Keep in mind that it does contain saturated fats, so limit your servings to cut back on heart-unhealthy saturated fat intake.
An alternative to lard is rendered duck or goose fat.
2 – Butter
Butter is a delicious alternative to vegetable shortening when baking.
It adds more flavor and moisture to baked goods but tends to produce a more crumbly texture than vegetable shortening.
Plain butter can be used as a direct substitute in recipes that call for vegetable shortening, just add an extra tablespoon or two of each cup of butter you use to make up for the extra liquid content butter contains in comparison with it’s solid-at-room-temperature counterpart.
You can also mix equal parts butter and vegetable oil for a slightly healthier alternative with milder effects on texture than using all butter.
Try to use unsalted kinds of both substances if possible; in the case of salted butter, reduce any additional salt called for by the recipe by about one third, if desired.
3 – Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another excellent alternative to vegetable shortening.
It’s a plant-based fat made from the cacao fruit and has many culinary uses.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and solidifies further when chilled, making it a great option for baking and as a replacement for vegetable shortening in some recipes.
There are different types of coconut oils, including virgin and expeller pressed, so make sure you read the label carefully before use.
Coconut oil is also somewhat higher in saturated fat than vegetable shortening but still carries several healthy benefits due to its medium-chain fatty acid content and ability to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Additionally, coconut oil adds more flavor to recipes than vegetable shortening usually does as well as an added dose of vitamins E, K and skincare-boosting antioxidants.
Coconut oil can used at a 1:1 ratio in place of vegetable shortening in baking recipes.
4 – Margarine
Margarine is a great substitute for vegetable shortening because it serves the same purpose of creating a flaky, moist texture in batters and doughs.
It is vegan-friendly, cholesterol-free and contains fewer calories and fat than butter.
You can use margarine in place of any recipe calling for vegetable shortening.
The two ingredients have the same melting point, so they won’t affect how your recipe turns out.
But keep in mind that margarine will add more flavor to your recipe — this might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re making.
5 – Bacon Fat
Bacon fat may be an unlikely option for baking, but it can be an excellent substitute for vegetable shortening.
In fact, bacon fat is higher in saturated fat content than vegetable shortening, but it also possesses several advantages that may make it the best choice when baking.
Firstly, this fat lends a unique and delicious flavor to a variety of dishes.
It also contains higher amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats.
Lastly, bacon fat is cheaper than alternative options like butter or vegetable oil.
On the downside, bacon fat imparts a stronger “bacon-y” taste that may detract from subtle tastes in your baked goods and may affect texture as well due to its high smoke point.
Be sure to allow plenty of time for cooling and inadvisable for more light-tasting recipes like cake or doughnuts which should be cooked at lower temperatures.
Vegetable shortening is a type of fat that has been used in baking pastries, cakes, and pies for generations.
It is made from various vegetable oils and can be used both in cooking and as a spread.
While it is relatively affordable, some people may still want to consider substituting the shortening with other kinds of fats or oils.
When considering a substitute, it is important to remember that certain types of fat or oil are better suited for certain recipes.
When replacing vegetable shortening with another type of fat, it should always be done on an equal basis (in terms of amount).
Vegetable shortening has long been an affordable ingredient when it comes to baking pies, cakes, and other pastries – but it doesn’t have to be.
Consider switching out the shortening with any one these great alternatives – your recipes will taste all the better for it.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!