Can I substitute margarine for shortening?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can I substitute margarine for shortening?” and will discuss how margarine can be used as an alternative.

Can I substitute margarine for shortening?

Yes, you can substitute margarine for shortening. Margarine is a good shortening alternative since it has a similar fat content and melting point. In comparison to shortening, margarine has a more pronounced buttery taste. Butter, lard, and coconut oil are other viable alternatives.

What is shortening?

Shortening is a semisolid fat that is used in baking to make flour crumblier. Animal fat or vegetable fat can be utilized; however, vegetable fat is more common. For liquid vegetable oils to solidify as fat, they are hydrogenated. Shortening is a flavorless fat that is used in baking to give baked goods a light and flaky texture.

Shortening is thought to prevent gluten molecules from cross-linking, causing the dough to hold together. Sticky dough isn’t necessary for baking. Aside from that, shortening has low water content, making it ideal for baking recipes that call for a high fat-to-flour ratio.

Margarine as an alternative

Margarine straddles the line between being comparable to shortening and being similar to butter. Margarine is one of the better shortening substitutes since the flavor difference is minimal, and the difference in pie crusts and cookies is also minimal.

Both margarine and shortening are created using oil, however, margarine requires extra ingredients to make it what it is because it is only 80% fat. This generally consists of water and milk solids, with the possibility of extra flavoring components. If you opt to substitute butter with margarine, one of the first things you’ll notice is the difference in flavor. Keep in mind that shortening has very little taste.

Shortening is utilized largely for what it can accomplish to a product, rather than for the flavor it imparts. Margarine is thicker than butter but not nearly as thick as shortening. Margarine also tastes more like butter than shortening, thus the flavor may have more buttery deliciousness to it.

When you use margarine instead of shortening, the change is so minor that you might not even realize it. One thing to keep in mind is that your pie crust will not be as flaky as it would be if you used to shorten it.

In baking, margarine is a wonderful substitute—you won’t be able to tell the difference. When it comes to frying meals, though, using margarine instead of shortening may make a difference. This is because margarine, unlike shortening, is not 100 percent fat and is subjected to extremely high temperatures.

Your meal will most likely taste great, but fried dishes made with margarine are more likely to have a burned flavor since the non-fat ingredients in margarine are more prone to burn when cooked at such high temperatures.

When it comes to baking, margarine is an excellent replacement for shortening, as we previously said. Pie crusts may have a small difference, but nothing that will destroy them or make them taste bad. When substituting margarine for shortening, there is a tiny trick: when using it instead of shortening, add slightly additional margarine.

Use 2 additional tablespoons of margarine for every cup of shortening asked for as a rule of thumb. For instance, if your recipe asks for 1 cup of shortening, you should use 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of margarine instead. You may do this in any increment of a cup.

You may use 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of margarine instead of 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of shortening in your recipe. It’s very straightforward; just remember to add a little extra margarine for the best results.

Why Do Recipes Use Shortening Instead of Oils or Fats?

Shortening is used in baking for short doughs that do not require a flexible, gluten-forming dough. You don’t want gluten to form in the dough if you want a flaky pie crust; otherwise, the texture will be off. The fat in shortening covers the flour, preventing water from activating the gluten-forming chemicals.

Lard was widely used for this purpose in baking before vegetable shortening was developed. Without the water that would stimulate gluten production, lard and shortening are virtually completely fat. Another benefit of using shortening and lard in flaky, delicate pie crust and baked products is that being solid fats, they don’t combine as well with dry ingredients as oils do. This results in streaks of solid fat in the dough, which melt during baking to give a light and flaky texture.

To learn about the varieties of shortening, click here. 

Other FAQs about Margarine that you may be interested in.

Can I substitute margarine for vegetable oil?

Can I use margarine instead of butter for cookies?

Can margarine be substituted for butter in cookies?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can I substitute margarine for shortening?” and discussed how margarine can be used as an alternative.