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What Are The Best Substitutes For Shortening?

Shortening is something that is commonly used in cooking, but even more commonly for baking purposes. For those that don’t already know, it is an edible fat that is a solid when it is at room temperature.

One of the best things about shortening is that it is only made up of fat, which means that it does not have any flavor and it does not need to be stored in the fridge. Shortening is something that has been used for many years, but what do you do if you run out of it?

Alternatively, you might not be able to find any when you are out grocery shopping, leaving you minus one important ingredient. Thankfully, there are some other great alternatives to shortening that you can use instead.

So, if you do run out of shortening, or you can’t seem to find any in stores, then it doesn’t mean that you can’t complete your recipe. It just means that you will need to look for the best shortening substitute for your specific recipe.

Just keep reading to find out more about the best substitutes for shortening in this article.

Can I Use A Substitute For Shortening?

Yes, thankfully it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t seem to find any shortening. There are lots of other commonly found ingredients that you can use instead, like butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil, vegan butter, margarine, lard, and more.

We are going to share a list of the best shortening substitutes with you below, so you can find the best alternative for your recipe.

Unsalted Butter

The first shortening substitute that you should be aware of is butter. This is pretty much a like for like swap, and the best thing about this alternative is that most people will already have it in their kitchen.

Butter is something that typically makes any of your cooking even tastier, and it will still be able to create very similar results to shortening.  For every cup of shortening that the recipe calls for, you should use 1 cup of butter.

However, you should consider the fact that butter does have a lower melting point than shortening, which can slightly affect the overall texture of the dish that you are trying to create. Although, you will be able to use this substitute for the majority of recipes that ask for shortening.

Coconut Oil

Another great option to choose is coconut oil, which can easily be found in the majority of grocery stores. It is a great replacement in recipes that require the use of shortening, as it has a very similar texture. It is also an alternative that is suitable for vegans. 

You should use the same amount as the recipe would ask you to use for shortening, and you can melt the coconut oil and use it the same way you often would butter. Although, you should keep in mind that coconut oil is typically more expensive.

However, it is a great healthy alternative to use, and you will even be able to reduce the amount of fat within your recipe.


If you don’t want to use butter, you can also use margarine as a substitute for shortening. It is usually something that a lot of people will already have in their refrigerators, and it can be used for many different purposes in cooking.

You can use the same amount of margarine as you would shortening. Something else to take into consideration is the fact that margarine contains water and a lower amount of fat. It can even help to make your dish even more delicious with its creamier flavor.


One of the most commonly used substitutes for shortening is lard, and it is the first thing that most people tend to think of. It can be used to substitute shortening in the majority of recipes, although it is best used in savory dishes, like pie.

However, you should keep in mind that lard is an animal product, which means that it is not suitable for everyone. Lard also has a high smoking point, which is higher than both shortening and butter, which means that it is great for frying as it has a low amount of water.

Vegan Butter

If you are following a vegan diet, you can also use vegan butter as a substitute for shortening in any recipe that you are following. One of the best things about this is that there are lots of different types of vegan butter to choose from, depending on what you are making. 

You can simply choose the one that would make the best addition to what you are making. You should use an extra 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegan butter for every cup of shortening that you would use, as this will provide you with the right texture. 

Vegetable Oil

If none of the above options have appealed to you, then why not use vegetable oil as an alternative to shortening? You will be able to use vegetable oil in most recipes, although it is not typically recommended for use when you are baking sweet dishes like cookies.

This is because vegetable oil will not provide the same puffiness that you will need for the recipe to work well.  Vegetable oil is not as fat as shortening, although it is a healthier alternative that can also work well for deep frying. You will be able to use the same amount of vegetable oil as you would shortening.

However, if you are planning on using this oil for sweet pastry dishes, then you should use 3 parts of oil for every 4 parts of shortening. You should also use more eggs and sugar than is required by the recipe.


Something else that is usually a pretty good substitute for shortening is applesauce. Although this might not be the first thing that you think of, applesauce is a great choice for baking sweet goods.You should use half a cup of applesauce when you are replacing shortening, and you will be able to create some delicious end results.

Although, if you do decide to use sweet applesauce, you should make sure to use less sugar than your recipe is asking for to ensure that your dish does not become too sweet. It can be worth tasting your dish to find out the right balance of sweetness.

Animal Fats

Animal fats can also make a great shortening substitute, although they won’t be suitable for everyone. They will be able to replace shortening in the majority of recipes. We have already mentioned the use of lard as a shortening substitute, but there are other fats that you can choose from, like suet. 

As you may already know, animal fats are known for containing a lot of fat, and they also have high levels of saturated fat, which isn’t the best if you are looking for healthier alternatives. This is why animal fats are not as commonly recommended as some of the other options on this list.

However, they are ideal to use in the majority of recipes and they will be able to create very similar results to shortening. 


The final option that we are going to mention on this list of the best shortening substitutes is ghee. This is an option that doesn’t contain any water, and it is able to produce a nice buttery flavor when it is used for cooking purposes. It can add subtle buttery notes to your final dish, which can often be desirable. 

The results that it can create are quite similar to that of butter, and it can be used in most recipes that call for shortening. It can be used in equal amounts, depending on the texture that you want to create.

What Should I Substitute Shortening With For Baking Purposes?

Shortening is usually a great ingredient to use for baking as it can provide the perfect crust for baked goods. It is also able to provide a desirable texture in baking, but there are not as many substitutes for shortening when it comes to baking sweet treats. 

With that being said, one of the most commonly used shortening substitutes that is used for baking purposes is butter. Margarine can also be used to create the same results. All of these ingredients are very similar, and their moisture content makes them suitable for most baking recipes. 

Another substitute that you can use for baking is coconut oil, and this is because it has a thicker texture than most other types of oil. You can typically use a 1:1 ration of these substitutes, but you may find that you need to change the amount that you use, depending on the other ingredients that are being used in the recipe.

What Can I Use Instead of Shortening For Baking Cookies?

Shortening is something that is very commonly used for baking cookies, and it will usually create results that have a mild and short texture. However, if you do not want to use shortening, or you can’t find any, then there are some other options for you to choose from instead.

One of the best shortening substitutes for baking cookies is butter. However, this will usually result in crispier and flatter cookies, which may not be desirable for some people, so this is something for you to keep in mind.

You will need to adapt the ingredients based on what the recipe requires when you are swapping out shortening for other ingredients. 

You could also choose to use a mixture of both butter and coconut oil if you want to create the most similar results. For every cup of shortening that the recipe asks for, you can use a cup of butter, margarine, or coconut oil in its place. It may take some trial and error for you to create the results that you were hoping for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have told you everything you need to know about the best substitutes for shortening, we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this. 

What Is The Best Shortening Substitute For Making Cake?

One of the best shortening substitutes to use for making a cake is coconut oil. Although, you should keep in mind that most other oils will not be suitable for baking purposes. You can also opt for using either butter or margarine as great alternatives. 

What Can I Substitute For Crisco Shortening?

A great substitute for crisco shortening is vegetable oil, but you can also use coconut oil or lard.

Can I Use Oil As A Substitute For Shortening?

Yes, you can use oil as a substitute for shortening, and you can use a cup of oil for every cup of shortening that is required. Coconut oil is typically the best substitute.

What Are The Best Substitutes For Shortening?

5 from 1 vote

Shortening is a solid fat that is used in baking. It is a common ingredient in pie crusts and biscuits. Here are some of the best substitutes for shortening.


  • Unsalted Butter

  • Coconut Oil

  • Margarine

  • Lard

  • Vegan Butter

  • Vegetable Oil

  • Applesauce

  • Animal Fats

  • Ghee


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

Jess Smith