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Can I Use Butter Instead of Shortening?

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If you like baking, you already know how important shortening is. But, if you run out, you may need to replace it in your recipe, and the most apparent substitution is butter. But is butter a fair match? Are there any significant distinctions between the two?

As you read on, you’ll discover the distinctions between butter and shortening. You’ll explore how each ingredient impacts baking outcomes and learn how to convert shortening to butter. You’ll grasp how butter and shortening work together in cakes, biscuits, cookies, and a variety of other dishes. You will also get a highlighted list of options, particularly if you need a healthy replacement for shortening.

What Does Shortening do in Recipes?

Shortening, commonly known as vegetable shortening, is a completely hydrogenated fat with no moisture. While it is typically manufactured from vegetable oil, animal fat, particularly lard, was originally used as shortening. Shortening is also flavorless, therefore it adds no flavor to your baking recipe. What it does, though, is as significant.

Shortening, when added to the dough, makes it easier to cut. Without it, the dough, like the one used for pizzas, comes out elastic due to its high gluten level. Although this isn’t always a negative thing, certain recipes need a reduced gluten level. This state permits the dough to keep its form properly when baked and provides exactly the perfect amount of moisture and fluff to its texture.

Shortening, while it does not taste, traps the tastes of the other components in the dough. And when these components are combined with the smoothness of the fatty shortening, the outcome is a rich and delectable baked dish. It’s no surprise that shortening is used in so many baking recipes, some of which include;

  • Cakes
  • Bread
  • Pies
  • Pastiera
  • Cookies made with sugar
  • Biscuits
  • Scones
  • Croissants
  • Tartlets
  • Cornbread
  • Shortbread
  • Cornmeal
  • Donuts
  • Truffles
  • Rolls
  • Buns
  • Tortillas
  • Pretzels
  • Muffins
  • Cupcakes

Substituting Butter for Shortening

When you don’t have any shortening on hand, the most handy option is butter. It’s simple to locate since you’re likely to have a tub or stick in your cupboard or fridge. It is mostly composed of fat, exactly as shortening. Yet it’s already a frequent ingredient in baking recipes, and in most situations, it can be substituted for shortening in equal amounts. Also, when substituting butter for shortening, unsalted kinds are preferable since they allow you to keep to the salt amount specified in the recipe.

Nonetheless, there are some distinctions between butter and shortening. Secondly, butter has a creamy flavor, but shortening has no flavor. Second, although shortening is 100% pure fat, butter is generally 80% fat with 20% water. Additionally, as a replacement for shortening, butter will behave differently in different recipes. This knowledge helps you to get used to using butter as a substitute for shortening without being startled by the consequences. Let’s try some typical baked dishes and observe how butter behaves when replaced with shortening.

In Cookies

When you make cookies using butter rather than shortening, you will notice that they are flatter and spread wider. The variations between the two elements are to blame for this disease. Although shortening permits cookie dough to lift and hold its form, butter causes it to flatten and break at the edges. Also, butter crisps the edges of the biscuits more than shortening would. Since butter has a lower melting point than shortening, it spreads quicker in the cooking dough as it bakes. Likewise, instead of the insipid shortening, butter would provide a rich, buttery flavor to the cookies.

In Pie Crusts

When butter is used in lieu of shortening, it has a distinct effect on pie crusts. The most noticeable change, of course, is in flavor, as you will taste the buttery content as well as other flavor-inducing elements in the crust. But, the pie crust will have a flakier texture than one cooked with shortening. And the explanation is straightforward: butter has enough moisture to affect the production of flakiness in pie crust. Because of this benefit, most people choose butter over shortening when cooking pies.

In Cakes

By substituting the shortening in the recipe with butter, cakes need a little more care. You won’t have any trouble utilizing the former at first since you’re already accustomed to it. But, when switching to butter, there are a few things to keep in mind. Although the smoothness of butter increases the taste of the cake batter, you must thoroughly mix it if you want the best results. When replacing shortening, cream the butter and sugar for approximately 5 minutes, or until the texture is frothy and light. You’ll get the nicest crumbliness and texture at the conclusion of the recipe this way. Since butter melts quicker than shortening, baking at a lower temperature is required. As a result, preheat the oven to 65°F so that the butter-sugar mixture may spread evenly throughout the cake during baking.

How to Substitute Butter for Shortening in Baking Recipes

You’ll also require the correct shortening to butter conversion now that you’ve learned about the impacts of butter on popular baked products. Since butter and shortening do not contain the same quantity of fat, this knowledge is critical. You should also consider the moisture content of butter. Although it is often acceptable to swap them at a one-to-one ratio, if you want perfection, you will need to put in a little more work. With that in mind, consider the following recommendations when using butter as a shortening substitute:

You may multiply the weight of a cup of shortening by 1.25. The result is 114.6 grams, which is the quantity of butter that may be used. With the recipe, you may also determine how much liquid you need to decrease. Multiply the weight of the butter by 0.15 this time. This subtraction yields around 10 grams, which is approximately two tablespoons.

Other Shortening Substitutes

If you don’t have butter, you may use different shortening replacements. Nevertheless, since they do not operate the same way as shortening, they cannot be used in all recipes. Still, they are excellent backups to have on hand.


Since you probably have a container or sachet of shortening in your kitchen, this is another easy solution. It also has a greater water content, so your baked items will have more moisture. Margarine will also provide flavor to your baked products and a pinch of salt, although the latter is usually minimal. You may use margarine in place of shortening in a one-to-one ratio, but add an additional tablespoon.

Vegetable Oil

If you don’t mind using a liquid substitute for shortening, vegetable oil is one option. Shortening is hardened vegetable oil with the moisture removed, so it’s nearly as if you’re using molten shortening. It also works great when the recipe specifically asks for melted shortening. To use this option, substitute shortening in equal parts. Nevertheless, since vegetable oil may not fully puff up the dough, biscuits and scones baked with it may be flatter.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent shortening alternative since it is high in fat and flavor. It’s also a great vegan substitute for shortening since it’s created from coconut flesh. Since coconut oil has a similar texture to shortening, you should anticipate comparable results in baked items. The only difference between the two is that your recipe will have a strong coconut flavor, which isnt a negative thing.


Since lard was the first fat used as a shortening alternative in baking, it stands to reason that you should consider it as a shortening substitute. Of course, it may not be one of the items you have on hand, but it is a great substitute for shortening in baked goods if you do. Lard complements practically every dish, from scones to pies to biscuits, and provides a rich taste.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use applesauce instead of shortening?

Unsweetened applesauce is a typical alternative for shortening in sweet dishes such as cookies and cakes. While it makes baked items denser, it is a great fat-free alternative to shortening. In similar recipes, a cup of applesauce may be substituted for a cup of shortening.

Can I use half butter and half shortening in cookies?

You certainly can. To obtain the best of both worlds in your recipe, mix the creamy flavor of butter with the high-fat attribute of shortening. Nevertheless, unsalted butter is preferred when selecting this option.

Is shortening the same as lard?

Lard was once used as a shortening before being replaced by vegetable oils. In baked foods, both lard and vegetable shortening have the same effect. The key distinction is that lard is made entirely of animal fat and has a rich flavor as opposed to the plant fat-free nature of vegetable shortening.


In all baking recipes, butter may be used in place of vegetable shortening. It’s simple to find, adds flakiness to the dough, and has a creamy flavor to boot. Thus, if you run out of shortening, just grab a stick of butter and use it instead.


What happens if you use butter instead of shortening?

If you bake using butter instead of shortening, you’ll notice these changes. Cookies baked with butter or margarine may be softer and more spreadable. Cookies prepared with butter are crispier than soft cookies made with shortening, but the taste is deeper.

How much butter is a substitute for shortening?

How to Replace. Use the same quantity of whatever you’re using as directed in the recipe. In other words, the exchange should be one-to-one. If your recipe asks for one cup of butter, use one cup of shortening instead, and vice versa.

What is the best substitute for shortening?

The Best Shortening Replacement for Frying or Cooking

Vegetable oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil all have high smoke points and may be used for frying, but vegetable oil is your best choice since it’s cheap and flavorless.

How much butter is equal to 1 cup of shortening?

Best shortening substitutions

Butter is a natural shortening alternative since it has a comparable texture and a more savory taste. Here’s how to substitute butter for shortening in a recipe that asks for it: 1 cup Plus 2 tablespoons butter equals 1 cup shortening.

How much butter do I use instead of 1 2 cup shortening?

2 cup shortening (95.5 grams), although you may use butter. Divide the weight of the shortening by 1.25 to get 114.6 grams. This is the amount of butter you’ll need. Using Butter Instead of Shortening

Assume you have a cake recipe that calls for 1 cup of sugar.

Is it better to bake with butter or shortening?

When it comes to cookies, using butter usually results in a crunchy texture. Shortening produces fluffier and lighter textures. Although these textures vary based on the product, the mixing procedure, and the baking method, it’s a general guideline that most bakers follow.

Can I swap butter for Crisco?

In general, Crisco shortening may be used in place of butter or margarine in equal proportions (1 cup Crisco shortening = 1 cup butter or margarine). Crisco shortening not only has 50% less saturated fat than butter and 0g trans fat per serving, but it also produces higher, lighter-textured baked products.

Is butter or Crisco better for cookies?

Which Should I Use for Cookies? Essentially, if you bake cookies with butter long enough, they spread more and become flatter and crisper. They are, nonetheless, more tasty than cookies baked with shortening. Cookies baked with shortening rise higher and are more soft, but they lack taste.

Is it better to use butter or Crisco for pie crust?

The benefits: Butter has the most taste. When baking, a butter pie crust develops light, high, flaky layers. The flakiness is due in part to the water content of the butter, which evaporates and turns to steam while the pie bakes, separating and blowing up the layers of dough.

What is the solid substitute for 1 cup shortening?

Use 1 cup butter or margarine plus 2 tablespoons for every 1 cup of shortening called for in a recipe. Since butter has a lower melting point than shortening, it may alter the texture of your dish somewhat, making it more or less crisp, flaky, or fluffy.

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