Whether we admit it or not, most of us are huge fans of baked goodies. The wonderful smell of cookies or cakes is definitely something we look forward to. Oh, and once they are out of the oven, it’s so difficult to keep your hands off of them!
However, it’s one of those days when you decide to bake, and the recipe calls for shortening, but you are all out! What could you use as a substitute for shortening? Well, in that case, this article is definitely worth a read!
Shortening is what gives those baked goods that tender texture. It is basically fat that is solid at room temperature. It is easy to store and gives all your baked goodies that specific crumbly texture and delicious taste. However, if you are all out of shortening, there is no need to worry! Read this article till the end to learn all about shortening and its best substitutes.
Now you must be wondering what you could use as a shortening substitute. Some of the best substitutes for shortening are butter, lard, margarine, coconut oil, and ghee!
Although, before we get to the substitutes, how about we get to know a little more about shortening? Read further to know all about it!
Quick Peek: Shortening
This section includes all the information you need about shortening. From its components to its uses and even nutritional values, everything is covered in this section. So, let’s explore shortening in detail!
What Is Shortening?
Traditionally, any fat that can stay solid at room temperature is referred to as shortening. However, to be more specific, shortening is usually made with various types of vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils go through the process of hydrogenation to become solid at room temperature. Most of the shortening available in the market is made with vegetable oil, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Shortening is used to make baked goods crumbly, flaky, and tender. It is 100% fat, as opposed to butter or margarine, which have some water content in them.
It has a melting point, higher than butter. Hence products made with shortening rise more and spread less as compared to products made with butter or any other form of fat.
Describing Shortening: Flavor and Texture
As shortening is 100% fat, it is quite similar to butter as far as texture is concerned. It can be incorporated into any baked good very easily due to its solid texture.
As far as taste goes, shortening is very neutral in flavor. Since it is made with vegetable fat and has no milk solids, it does not give that rich flavor to baked goods like butter, or other fats do.
Uses of Shortening
Shortening is primarily used in preparing baked products. Shortening traps more air bubbles and has a higher melting point than butter. So, shortening recipes tend to produce an end product quite different from recipes that use butter or any other form of fat.
Products made with shortening will rise a little higher, hold their shape during baking, and have an interior texture that is softer or lighter. Shortening works extremely well for recipes that need a ‘short dough.’
Short doughs don’t need to be stretched and need a flaky, crumbly texture. Pie crust is a great example of a ‘short dough.’ The lack of water in shortening stops the dough from stretching too much while baking. Hence, it creates a flaky crust.
Shortening On The Health Radar: Looking Through the Wellness Telescope
Being all fat, shortening definitely isn’t the healthiest thing. Initially, shortening was made with partially hydrogenated oil, making it extremely high in trans-fats.
However, after discovering trans-fats are bad for the heart, shortening is now made with completely hydrogenated oil, making it trans-fats-free.
Shortening is very high in calories due to its fat content and has no vital nutrients. It contains neither carbohydrates nor proteins and has no essential vitamins or minerals.
A tablespoon or 15 g of shortening has 110 calories and 12 g of fat. It contains both saturated and unsaturated fats.
I think I have given you enough information on shortening! Now, let’s quickly look at its substitutes.
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11 Best Shortening Substitutes
Now, let’s talk about the substitutes for shortening. The best substitutes for shortening are as follows
Butter is mainly used in baking for the rich taste that it gives. Everyone loves a rich, buttery-baked good! Butter can be used straight away as a substitute for shortening without making any relevant changes to the recipe.
However, there is one very important thing to consider while using butter. Unlike shortening, which is 100% fat, butter consists of 80% fat and 20% water.
This results in gluten formation while baking, which sometimes gives different baked goods a bread-like texture. However, this does not happen in all recipes.
Butter gives a rich flavor, which is more important than texture. Hence, butter works as a great substitute for shortening. Here is the recipe for Ruth’s Chris steak butter.
Lard is a white-colored semi-solid form of fat. It is made by rendering the fatty tissue of a pig. Just like shortening, lard is 100% fat. It works as a great substitute for shortening.
Lard can be used as a substitute in the same quantity in a recipe that calls for shortening. It has a distinct flavor that adds extreme amounts of richness to any baked good.
It gives almost the same results as shortening does. However, lard being animal fat is not appropriate for vegan or vegetarian recipes. Here is the recipe for Chef John’s refried beans.
Margarine is a butter-like spread, usually made with vegetable oil. It can be used as a spread or in cooking and baking. It does have some water content, just like butter, and has a lower fat content. It contains unsaturated fats, which are better for health.
Considering the lower fat content, while substituting shortening with margarine, it is important to use more than the amount of shortening the recipe calls for. This gives the baked products a rich taste, just like shortening does. Hence, it works as a good substitute.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil, just like shortening, is 100% fat. It has a distinct taste, which adds a lot to the flavor of baked products. It works as a great substitute in terms of fat content.
While using coconut oil as a substitute for shortening, no changes need to be made in the proportions. As they have the same fat content, they can be used in a 1:1 ratio.
However, coconut oil does have a distinct taste that may alter the flavor of your baked goods. Try using refined coconut oil instead of coconut oil in case you want to avoid the strong taste. Here’s the recipe for healthy vegan cookie dough.
5. Vegetable Oil
As shortening is basically solidified vegetable oil, there is no doubt that vegetable oil would work as a wonderful substitute. It has a bland taste and does not alter the flavor of products.
Vegetable oil, being in liquid form, may alter the texture of the baked product. While it can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a shortening substitute, it gives a denser product. Vegetable oil works best for quick bread and is not a great option for cookies or pies. Here is the recipe for pot congee made with vegetable oil.
Ghee is also known as clarified butter and is a very popular ingredient, mostly used in the Indian Subcontinent. It has less water content as compared to butter due to the clarification process.
As it has less water, using ghee as a substitute for shortening would result in a product very similar in texture to one made with shortening.
It will give the same texture while giving you the taste of butter. That’s a complete win-win situation! Ghee can be used as a substitute for shortening in a 1:1 ratio.
7. Bacon Grease
Bacon grease is very similar to lard and is also 100% fat. The fat accumulated in your pan after frying up some bacon is essentially what bacon grease is!
It can be used in a 1:1 ratio while using it as a substitute for shortening. However, bacon grease does have a savory taste. Hence, it works well for savory quick bread and biscuit recipes. But if you’re feeling creative, try using bacon grease instead of shortening in the next cake you make!
8. Mashed Bananas
Contradictory to all the other options, mashed bananas are essentially 0% fat. They make a wonderful low-fat substitute for shortening.
While mashed bananas wouldn’t work for all recipes, they can be used as a substitute for various quick bread. However, it does alter the flavor and texture of the product.
It usually gives a denser product as compared to shortening. If you are health conscious and want to cut down on any extra calories, mashed bananas are the way to go!
9. Prune Puree
Just like mashed bananas, prune puree is a low-fat alternative to shortening. Prune puree is a viable and, not to forget, creative substitute for shortening.
When substituting shortening with prune puree, you can follow a 1:1 ratio. Prune puree contains sorbitol and pectin. They both retain moisture very easily, and they tend to cream, just like fat.
The creaming process helps trap air bubbles, which ends up creating a chewier product. This works wonders for recipes like chewy cookies. However, it is important to keep in mind that prune puree alters the baked product’s flavor and gives it a slightly darker shade.
10. Olive Oil
Olive oil can work as an easy substitute for shortening. It is readily available and present in most of our houses.
It also makes your baked goods slightly healthier than products made with shortening. However, olive oil does not work for recipes requiring combining fat and sugar.
One more thing to remember while using olive oil is how much to use while using it as a substitute. The thumb rule is, if the recipe requires 1 cup of shortening, use ¾ cup of olive oil as a substitute. Using too much olive oil might end up making your product extremely greasy.
11. Vegan Butter
Vegan Butter also referred to as plant-based butter, is a great substitute for shortening. It is made by combining water with plant-based oils such as olive oil, avocado, coconut, etc.
Since it contains some amount of water, just like butter, it traps air molecules while creaming and gives a great crumb and taste to baked products.
While using vegan butter as a substitute for shortening, it is important to remember that you need to add one tablespoon extra for every cup that you substitute.
Now you know all about shortening and its substitutes! But I am sure you still must be wondering which substitute would work best. Let me break it down further for you as per suitability, availability, and flavor profile.
Most Suitable: Ghee would be the most suitable substitute for shortening. This is because it has a similar texture and can be used for combining fat and sugar recipes. Moreover, it is very low in water content. Hence, it would give products that have a similar texture as products made with shortening.
Easily Available: As far as availability goes, vegetable oil or olive oil would make a great substitute for shortening.
Best Flavor Profile: Butter is the best substitute for shortening, as long as the flavor profile is concerned. Butter has a distinct, rich taste which adds a lot of flavor to any baked product.
How To Use Shortening Substitutes In A Recipe
- Coconut Oil
- Vegetable Oil
- Bacon Grease
- Mashed Bananas
- Prune Puree
- Olive Oil
- Vegan Butter
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
I hope this article has helped you learn about shortening and its substitutes. Shortening definitely is a very vital ingredient in the baking world, especially for short doughs.
One great thing about shortening is that it is completely vegan! Since it contains absolutely no amount of dairy, it makes for a perfect form of fat in vegan recipes. It is also very easily available, as compared to vegan butter.
So, for all the vegans out there, shortening is definitely the best product for you!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What is shortening made of?
Shortening is a 100% fat product made by hydrogenating vegetable oils or animal fats. However now, it is mostly made with vegetable oil.
What are examples of shortening?
Some examples of shortenings include butter, margarine, vegetable oils and lard.
What is shortening in baking?
Shortening, having a higher melting point than butter, stays solid while baking for a longer time. It eventually melts and creates air pockets, which gives your baked products a flaky texture.
What is the best shortening for baking?
Lard, being 100% fat, is the best shortening. It provides a distinct taste to baked products that a vegetable oil shortening doesn’t.
Is coconut oil a shortening?
Since it stays solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a type of shortening.
Is lard the same as shortening?
Lard is a type of shortening. However, the main difference is that lard is made with animal fat, whereas shortening is made with vegetable fat.
Why is it called shortening?
The main purpose of shortening is to shorten the gluten fibers in any baked product. Hence, it is called shortening.
Is white butter the same as shortening?
White butter and shortening are different as white butter contains 80% fat and 20% water. Whereas shortening is 100% fat.
What is the difference between shortening and oil?
As it goes through the process of hydrogenation, shortening stays solid at room temperature while oil doesn’t. This is the main difference between the two.