If you’re a baker, then you’re likely going to cross paths with shortening at least once or twice. Shortening is basically any fat that is solid at room temperature, and it is often used to make crumbly pastry-type goods.
You might find yourself in a position where you need shortening, but you don’t have any available, and you might not be able to get hold of it.
If this happens, don’t worry! There are plenty of substitutes out there. We’ve put together a list of 5 of them you can try out for yourself.
Butter is usually used as a substitute for baking purely because of its taste. Sometimes, there really is no better taste than melt in your mouth, rich butter!
Shortening is made from 100% fat and butter is made from about 80%. The extra 20% of butter is actually made of moisture, and this moisture causes your pastry to be a bit more, well, moist.
This will make your pastry a bit different in texture, but it still works really well for a variety of baked goods.
2. Coconut Oil
At first glance, you might think coconut oil won’t work, but what you might not know is that it’s made from 100% fat just like shortening!
The main difference between coconut oil (see also ‘5 Coconut Aminos Substitutes‘) and shortening is coconut oil has a lot more of a distinct taste. Shortening is quite bland in comparison.
Lots of people love the coconut flavor of this oil, but if you want to avoid your baked goods tasting of coconut, you can use the refined version instead.
3. Bacon Grease
Though you might be tempted to throw your bacon grease away, don’t! You’d be surprised how well it can work as a shortening substitute.
When you next cook bacon, siphon it off and pour it into a glass jar and let it cool. Once it’s at room temperature, you can use it in place of shortening.
The biggest difference between bacon grease and shortening is the taste. Bacon grease has a much more prominent flavor that is quite savory and smokey.
Though it’s better to use bacon grease in savory recipes, you can use it in sweet ones too if you want to experiment.
Lard is probably the closest substitute you’re going to find when it comes to shortening. They are both 100% fat and they both stay solid at room temperature.
You can use the same amount of lard as you would shortening, but some people recommend using a bit less. You’re going to have to play around and experiment with your lard measurements to find a ratio that works best for you.
Lard also provides your baked goods with a similar consistency to shortening. For the most part, you really won’t be able to tell the difference! Any recipes that require shortening can be replaced with lard.
Lard was actually what people would use before shortening became really popular and more accessible, so it’s incredibly versatile and in a lot of ways, better!
Margarine has similarities to both shortening and butter. It has vegetable oil just like shortening, but it also has water content and moisture, like butter.
Margarine was created to be lower in fat than both shortening and butter though, so you have to take this into consideration when you are using it in your recipes.
Because it’s lower in fat, you will want to use a bit of extra margarine than you would with shortening and even butter. Experiment with the quantity to work out what consistency works best for you.
There are lots of substitutes that work really well in the place of shortening. All of the options on this list will work really well in any recipes you find yourself baking.
You will have to experiment with the ratios you use, especially for the substitutes that have distinct flavors or have a lower fat content. Once you do find the right ratio that works for you though, you’ll find yourself using these substitutes again and again.
Try some of these substitutes today and see which one you like the most. You’ll find that you might even like some of them better than the real thing!