The Top Shortening Substitutes

Shortening is an essential ingredient in many recipes. Home bakers know that vegetable shortening helps make ultra-flaky pastry and moist, tender scones, and can be used to deep-fry just about anything. However, shortening is one ingredient that not everyone keeps in regular supply at home. If you're out of shortening, you can use one of these excellent shortening substitutes for baking or deep-fat frying.

By Cookist
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If you bake often, you'll know that shortening is one of those indispensable ingredients. This solid fat is a must for everything from making airy pastry to tender biscuits and scones and is even used for deep-fat frying. So what do you do if you don't have any shortening? There are several excellent shortening substitutes you can use in your cooking. We've rounded up a list of the best alternatives to shortening depending on what you're making – substitutes you probably already have at home! If you don't have vegetable shortening, here's what to use instead.

What is Shortening?

Shortening is a common ingredient that's used for a wide variety of dishes. It's used in baking recipes, as well as savory recipes. It's often made from soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and other vegetable oils with a high smoke point. It's great for making flaky pastry and for frying, although it has a fairly neutral flavor.

The Best Substitutes for Shortening

Coconut Oil

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If you're looking for a shortening substitute that's also vegan-friendly, look no further than coconut oil. Coconut oil has the added benefit of being full of antioxidants and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are a type of saturated fat that may help increase the number of calories you burn. Although it has a similar texture to vegetable shortening, remember that coconut oil has a mild coconut flavor. This makes it better suited for baking, although thanks to its moderately high smoke point, you can definitely use it to fry food if you don't mind the coconut taste.

Margarine

Have a tub of margarine in your refrigerator? You can easily swap margarine for shortening in most recipes. You'll have to add two extra tablespoons per cup of margarine for each cup of shortening you're substituting. Use margarine in baking recipes, savory dishes, or frying. Margarine is vegan and vegetarian-friendly, so it's a perfect alternative if you're on a meat-free diet.

Lard

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Lard has been used for centuries for cooking. It's made from 100 percent pig fat, and it has a high smoke point, which makes it good for frying. It's a common ingredient in Latin recipes and is often used to make pastry dough. Lard is unprocessed, contains vitamin D, and doesn't have any trans fats. Using lard in moderation may have certain health benefits. Take note: lard is not vegan nor vegetarian-friendly, and it's also not kosher or halal. If you follow any of these diets, steer clear of lard.

Butter

For a richer flavor than margarine, use butter as a shortening substitute. It's a perfect shortening alternative for baking as it lends a wonderful flavor and a more sumptuous texture to recipes. Use it to make frosting, cupcakes, cakes, pies, pastry, biscuits, and more. Depending on the recipe, you may want to use unsalted rather than salted butter, but the choice is yours!

Plant-Based Vegan Butter 

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If you're a vegan or on a lactose-free diet, you can use your vegan butter as a substitute for shortening. Like margarine, vegan butter is usually made from oil. Make sure to add an extra few tablespoons of vegan butter when you're baking – this will give your treats the right texture.

Vegetable Oil

No shortening? No problem! Use vegetable oil instead of shortening for deep frying or to make ultra-moist cupcakes, cakes, and cookies. Vegetable oil isn't ideal for making pastry; you won't get the same flaky, airy texture as you would if you were using shortening. Butter or lard are better options for pastry.

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