10 Best Vegetable Shortening Substitutes

If you’re about to make a recipe that calls for vegetable shortening, but you don’t have any at hand — don’t fret. 

Vegetable shortening is still used by many people, but it’s more of a classic item — not everyone will keep some in their refrigerator. It’s linked to traditional dishes, such as pie crusts, and short dough.

Not everyone’s recipe, as you can imagine, will call for vegetable shortening, but most baking recipes use a type of shortening. Let me expand on this. 

Vegetable Shortening Substitutes1

What Is Shortening?

In its most general term, shortening is considered to be any type of fat that has a solid texture at room temperature. Common types of shortenings are butter, margarine, lard, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. 

The reason they are named shortenings is that they shorten gluten strands. When used in baking, shortening coats the gluten strands of flour, which prevents the gluten strands from stretching. This is crucial because it results in a crumbly, crispy, and soft baked product. 

If you’re a history buff, you might be interested to know that shortening was first invented in the 1900s. It was an alternative to lard, which is created from the fatty tissue of a pig. It worked and still works as a great alternative, as it’s very similar in its consistency. From then, margarine, butter, and so forth were invented. 

There are also different types of shortening, all of which can be found as vegetable shortening, too. 

Solid shortening is used to make pies, pastries, and bread. Liquid shortening is designed for cakes, and deep-frying. Then you have all-purpose shortening which can be used for various items, from biscuits, cookies, bread, and so on.

All-purpose shortening does not contain any extra emulsifiers, which is what helps it be so flexible. Lastly, you have cake shortenings — which, as you can guess, it’s used for cakes. These do contain emulsifiers, can the purpose of this is to help moisture retrain in the cake. 

What Exactly Is Vegetable Shortening? 

Now, you may be wondering what exactly vegetable shortening is. 

Vegetable shortening is a form of hydrogenated form of vegetable oil. While this might sound complicated, it’s not really — it just means that it was a liquid, turned into a solid.

There’s a lot of variety of vegetable shortening. It can be produced from a wide range of hydrogenated oils, such as soybean, palm, and cottonseed. 

Vegetable shortening does not have much flavor. It won’t make baked goods buttery, or creamy. It will, however, make them very flaky, which is exactly what certain recipes require.  

What Shortening Is Best For Me?

The substitutes that you choose will depend on the recipe you’re making. For example, some substitutes for vegetable shortening are best used in cookies, while others are best used in pies. We’ve broken this down into easy-to-understand information, so you can make a quick and easy decision. 

We’ve researched the 10 best vegetable shortening substitutes, so let’s get cooking! 

10 Best Vegetable Shortening Substitutes

Without further ado, let’s check out the 10 best vegetable shortening substitutes. 

1. Margarine

margarine

Our first vegetable shortening substitute is margarine. 

Margarine is a staple in many homes, so if you’ve got some leftover — you can finally relax. It’s frequently used in cooking, baking, and it’s also used for flavoring.

If you plan on baking any biscuits, cakes, or bread, then margarine will be a great substitute. However, if you’re looking for a substitute for frying, avoid margarine.

Check the fat content of your margarine before you go ahead and use it. It needs to have a fat level of a minimum of 80%. If it’s any less, it’ll cause your dish to become flat, and it’ll drastically alter the texture. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with margarine, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of margarine. 

2. Butter 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is butter. 

This is probably our easiest substitute on the list. Butter is one of the most common substitutes, and for good reason. It adds a delicious, buttery flavor to baked goods, and helps to smooth out the texture.

While it may not be your best bet if you’re trying to make something flaky, it’s generally an all-rounder. 

Most people have butter in their refrigerator, but given it’s an ingredient used almost daily, some people may not have enough butter to use as a substitute. That’s why we have the best 10 substitutes, right? 

If you substitute vegetable shortening with butter, you should note that the taste of the dish will be different. It’ll have a buttery taste, but if that isn’t a problem, go ahead.

To substitute vegetable shortening with butter, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of butter.

3. Vegan Butter 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is vegan butter. 

If you’re a vegan, or you’re dairy-free, then using vegan butter as a substitute for vegetable shortening will be an excellent substitute for you. Even if you can consume dairy, vegan butter is still a great alternative. 

So, vegan butter is actually made up of vegetable oils. This could be oils like olive, palm, coconut, or avocado — it could even be a mixture of various oils.

It’s then mixed with water and has additives like salt, emulsifiers, coloring, and so forth. This just gives vegan butter a better flavor and a better texture. 

Plus, vegan butter does have a high-fat content, meaning it is a good substitute. Anything low in fat should definitely be avoided. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with vegan butter, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of vegan butter.

4. Lard 

Vegetable Shortening Substitutes

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is lard.

As we stated in the introduction, lard was created in the 1900s. Vegetable shortening was an alternative to lard, which means for a lot of recipes, you can substitute lard for vegetable shortening. 

Lard is ideal for recipes that have a baking, roasting, and deep-frying element. It can be used for pies, cookies, bread, biscuits — and even savory dishes. 

Lard is not suitable for those who do not consume animal products. It is made out of pork fat, so it is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with lard, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of lard.

5. Coconut oil 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is coconut oil.

Coconut oil has a high-fat content, which makes it a good substitute for vegetable shortening. It can be used for baking and frying, and it creates a texture similar to vegetable shortening.

Coconut oil is also a great alternative for vegans who do not have any vegan butter at hand. 

The only issue with coconut oil is that it will give your dish a slight coconut taste. In some cases, this could work in your favor. For example, if you were making a coconut cake or coconut cookies, it would be a great choice.

However, if you plan on making a pie crust — coconut oil likely isn’t the best substitute for you. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with lard, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of lard.

6. Olive Oil 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is olive oil.

Using olive oil as a substitute may, or may not, surprise you. There are a few baked goods recipes that call for olive oil, but most times, recipes call for vegetable oil. 

It’s an excellent substitute for vegetable shortening. It creates a good texture and adds a good amount of flavor. Likewise, it’s also great if you’re trying to use healthy fats, especially within baking healthier recipes. 

Olive oil is a heart-healthy fat, which also is good for your cholesterol. It contains vital vitamins, minerals, and is full of antioxidants. While eating a cake made with olive oil won’t be healthy, in some cases, it can be a healthier option. 

Depending on the recipe, olive oil may not be ideal for you. It will give a residue of flavor, but that isn’t entirely bad. In fact, there are even olive oil cakes! 

To substitute vegetable shortening with olive oil, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of olive oil.

7. Safflower oil 

Safflower oil

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is safflower oil.

Depending on which state you live in, safflower oil might be frequently used in your home. It’s a common substitute for vegetable shortening, but it is mostly used in cooking, for frying. It’s made from safflower seeds and contains unsaturated fatty acids. While it isn’t as healthy as olive oil, it’s healthier than lard. 

You can use safflower oil in baking and frying. It works as an adequate substitute for vegetable shortening in cakes. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with safflower oil, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of safflower oil.

8. Avocado Oil 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is avocado oil.

If you’re a health nut, then you’ve likely got a bottle of avocado oil in your pantry. Avocado oil is very healthy. It contains healthy fats and is full of antioxidants. If you want to substitute vegetable shortening with avocado oil, you can use it in most baking and frying dishes. 

In fact, avocado has become a popular ingredient in healthy baking within the past few years. It’s not only because it is a healthy fat, but it can make baked goods very creamy. It does contain a slightly nutty flavor, but it works well in chocolate dishes. 

Furthermore, it’s probably one of the most expensive oils on this list, so if you have one of the cheaper alternatives, you may want to prioritize using that. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with avocado oil, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of avocado oil.

9. Palm Oil 

Our next substitute for vegetable shortening is palm oil.

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of oil palm trees. It’s a highly controversial oil, as the mass demand and consumption for palm oil has contributed to the deforestation of major biodiverse forests. While it is not the most ethically sourced oil, it can be used to substitute vegetable shortening. 

It can be used in dishes that require a crispy and creamy texture, making it ideal for pie crusts and pastries. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with palm oil, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of palm oil.

10. Sesame Oil 

sesame oil

Our last substitute for vegetable shortening is sesame oil.

As you probably guessed, sesame oil is made from sesame seeds. It has a very strong, nutty flavor. You can use sesame oil in dishes that require baking and frying. 

The only downside to sesame oil is that it has a very prominent taste. Regardless of the ingredients, you may use, you will not be able to get rid of the taste of sesame.

You can buy refined sesame oil, and this has a slightly lighter flavor than unrefined sesame oil. However, the taste of sesame will still be present. 

In this case, you probably won’t want to use sesame oil if you’re baking a carrot cake or chocolate chip cookies. However, there are plenty of recipes that contain sesame seeds and sesame oil.

There is even a sesame oil cake. If you want to try being creative in the kitchen, you could experiment with new recipes, that require sesame oil. 

To substitute vegetable shortening with sesame oil, follow the following ratio. For every 1 cup of vegetable shortening, use 1 cup of sesame oil.

Vegetable Shortening Substitutes That Are Used For Baking Cookies

Okay, I’m not going to pretend like finding the right substitute is easy — it’s not always, that’s why I’m going to explain what substitutes are ideal for baking cookies. Later, I’ll also discuss what substitutes are ideal for pie crusts. 

If you plan on making cookies, you may want to consider using butter, vegan butter, margarine, or olive oil as a substitute. 

Cookies With Vegetable Shortening 

When you bake cookies with vegetable shortening, they will be crispy and have a mild texture. 

Every substitute you use will give a slightly different twist on the recipe, so let’s see which substitute would be best for you. 

Cookies With Butter 

Cookies baked with butter are delicious and are some of the best cookie recipes. You can use vegan butter, instead of dairy butter, if you are vegan or dairy free. 

If you use butter, then your cookies will have the same crispy texture, but with a buttery flavor. They will also be a bit flatter than otherwise. 

Cookies With Margarine 

Baking with cookies with margarine is a very popular choice. It will create delicious cookies, but you have to ensure that your margarine has a fat content of a minimum of 80%.

This is not flexible, if your margarine has low-fat content, the cookies will spread out and be very uneven, and difficult to remove. 

Cookies With Olive Oil 

If you choose olive oil, then you may get a slightly bitter and fruity taste. This might be great in certain recipes, especially if you’re using dried fruits and nuts, but it should be used with care. 

Vegetable Shortening Substitutes That Are Used For Baking Pie Crusts 

Next, let’s check out what you should know about substituting vegetable shortening when baking a delicious pie crust. 

When it comes to baking pie crusts, you have a couple of great options. You can use lard, butter, vegan butter, margarine, and coconut oil. 

Pie Crusts Using Butter 

Commonly, butter is used for baking pie crusts. It’ll produce the best flavor, and result in a delicious, light, and flaky pie crust. You can use vegan butter, but it won’t produce the same results. It will likely be slightly dryer. 

Pie Crusts Using Lard 

Lard is traditionally used for making pie crusts. Given that lard is made out of pig fat, it is not suitable for vegans, or vegetarians. It does, however, produce a very flaky and crisp crust, ideal for most pies. 

If you use lard for sweet pie crusts, you will have to use a high-quality brand. You do not want to use lard for sweet dishes if the fat quality is low. This is because there will be a slight pork taste. However, if you plan on making a savory pork pie, it might be great for you. 

Pie Crusts Using Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is surprisingly a very good substitute for vegetable shortening. This is because when baked, it produces a similar texture.

It’s not ideal for savory dishes, as you will get a slight coconut taste. However, if you don’t mind the taste of coconut, it’ll be great for sweet pie crusts. 

Pie Crusts Using Margarine 

Margarine can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening. However, if you can pick between butter and margarine, choose butter.

Margarine will do the job, but it won’t be the best. It will not produce the same luscious flavor, nor will it do a good job of providing a flaky pie crust. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best substitute for vegetable shortening?  

This is difficult to answer because it really depends on the dish you are making. In some cases, using margarine will work great — especially if it’s for a short pastry, while in other cases, coconut oil can work amazingly. 

I would say that butter is the safest overall option, but the ‘best’ substitute doesn’t really exist — as it depends on what you are baking. 

Can vegetable oil be a substitute for vegetable shortening? 

Technically, yes, vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening. However, it will produce a drastically different texture, so it isn’t always a great substitute. 

Summary 

Well, that brings us to the end of my article on the 10 best vegetable shortening substitutes! 

I hope you’ve found it informative and helpful. Let me know if you end up using any of these substitutes, I’d love to know how they worked for you. 

Thanks so much for reading! 

Jess Smith
Latest posts by Jess Smith (see all)