What can I substitute for shortening?

In this concise article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for shortening?”. We will discuss in detail the possible substitutes for shortening when it is not available. 

What can I substitute for shortening?

Shortening can be best substituted with butter, margarine, coconut oil, lard, vegetable oil, vegan butter, applesauce, ghee, and bacon grease.

Shortening is a fat that is solid at room temperature. It is used in baking to add texture and unique flavour to baking products. But, if for some reason there is no shortening available then you can use these substitutes with the same benefits and flavour.

Shortening may contain trans fatty acids. A meta-analysis of four large prospective studies found that an average intake of approximately 5 g/day of TF, corresponding to 2% of the total energy intake, was associated with a 23% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (1).

Substitutes for shortening

If you run out of shortening, no need to worry. Below we have mentioned different substitutes for shortening that give the same texture and flavour to the dish. 


Butter can be used as a substitute for shortening. It has more water content as compared to shortening.

If you use butter as a substitute, it will make it less tender and will add a crisper. It adds a great perk to many baking products.

Butter helps in reducing the chances of cancer. Butter contains a high amount of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is such a compound that is converted into vitamin A. Studies showed that butter produced with milk of pasture fed cows had greater amounts of beta-carotene (2).

It is also beneficial for the eyes and bones has important roles in embryonic development, organ formation during fetal development and normal immune functions (3).


Margarine can also be used as a substitute for shortening. It is made up of vegetable oil, water, and milk. Water content in the margarine helps in making baked goods less tender and crispier. 

Margarine is not only helpful in baking products but also has health benefits. It contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats help reduce LDL (Low-density lipoprotein). This is due to the addition of plant phytosterols, which are cholesterol-like compounds that occur naturally in plant-based foods. Food sources of phytosterols are vegetable oils, vegetable oil-based margarines, seeds, nuts, grain products, vegetables, legumes and fruits. When added with fish oil, margarines do not contribute to the lowering of LDL cholesterol (4).

Coconut oil:

Coconut oil can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening. It is used for adding flavour to baking products. If you want to get less coconut flavour, then you should use refined coconut oil as compared to unrefined.

Coconut oil is used in baking products for adding flavour but also it is super beneficial for health. Health advisors claim that this sensational food has notable functional properties such as hypocholesterolemic, antiobesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and cardioprotective effect (5).

It helps in burning fats. It helps reduce hunger. It helps in boosting skin health and hair. Coconut oil also has ingredients that have anti-inflammatory characteristics. So, it is beneficial for health (5).


Lard is used as a substitute for shortening. It is made up of animal fat. Lard adds a unique flavour to the dish. It contains a high amount of vitamin D. It contains fats that are beneficial for the health. In studies, 2 to 3 times more vitamin D was found in lard and intramuscular fat than in the lean parts (6). As a replacement for vegetable shortening, you can use it as 7/8 cup of lard for every 1 cup of vegetable shortening.

Vegetable oil:

If you are looking for melted shortening as a substitute, then you could use vegetable oil. In vegetable oils, you can use canola oil or olive oil. These oils have low saturated fats. Other than adding flavour to the meal it has many health benefits. It helps in improving heart health. 

It is naturally trans-fat-free. It helps relieve menopausal symptoms. It is rich in vitamins. It has many skin benefits as well, it helps in softening cracked feet. These benefits depend, however, on the composition of the vegetable oil, that is, its source. For example, linseed oil had successfully treated constipation and liver disorders and was found to reduce the PMS symptoms and negative phenomena that accompany menopause. Rose seed oil boosts the immune system, cell renewal and tissue regeneration, normalizes the intracellular metabolism, combats early aging, promotes rapid healing of wounds, prevents wrinkles and protects skin against UV radiations (7).

Vegan butter:

Vegan butter can be a substitute for shortening. It is made up of many plant-based oils just like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. Using vegan butter could cause a slight change in the taste of baking goods. But still, it is a good choice to replace.

If you are looking for vegan butter to replace shortening, then you should go with Earth balance vegan butter. It gives the almost same texture and flavour to the dish as butter. Vegan butter can be made of one plant oil or a mixture of plant oils. It is necessary to read the ingredients list to identify ingredients of animal origin which may have been added to the product (8).

Another reason for replacing it with any shortening is, it is affordable.


Applesauce is used as a substitute for shortening. It is used for reducing the fat content in baking goods.

Applesauce also has many health benefits. It contains phytochemicals. These phytochemicals help in reducing the risk of cancer, diabetes, and many heart diseases. As it is obtained from the whole apple, it can be consumed every day in the diet. It makes the diet a balanced diet. Replacing fat with applesauce in baked products will develop healthier food and may contribute to a reduction in overall caloric intake (9).


The amount of water in ghee is less than in butter. It can also be used as a substitute for shortening. It gives a smooth and unique texture to the baking goods. It can be replaced in the ratio of 1:1 as a substitute for shortening. 

It contains 9 grams of saturated fats, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats. 4 grams of monounsaturated fats. 

Consuming ghee daily can help in strengthening your immunity. It also improves digestion. It helps in boosting memory. It is beneficial for the skin as well. It helps in glowing your skin (10).

Bacon grease:

Bacon grease can be used as a substitute for shortening. It can be used in an equal ratio of 1:1.

The composition of the bacon grease and its health effects is directly related with the type of oil used to feed the animals.  Leaner genetic lines of pigs tend to have leaner bellies and deposit more unsaturated fat compared with fatter pigs. Additionally, belly softness can be attributed to the variety of unsaturated lipids fed to pigs.  The use of high oil corn and choice white grease in the diet of swine yield higher percentages of soft bellies (11).

It is rich in essential micronutrients that contain potassium which helps support bone health, heart health, and muscle health.


In this short article, we have discussed the substitutes for shortening. These substitutes have the same flavour and texture as baking products.


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  11. Larsen, S. T., et al. Dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) changes belly and bacon quality from pigs fed. J Anim Sci, 2008.