Coco Guru Cooking Hacks Cooking 101: What Can You Substitute for Shortening?

Cooking 101: What Can You Substitute for Shortening?

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Shortening is a solid fat at room temperature that’s used in cooking and baking. Pastries and baked goods, such as cakes and pies, require shortening to make them flaky. Such a very important ingredient, yes! There may be times when you run out of this very important ingredient and you ask, what can you substitute for shortening? Well, there’s a lot you can use instead of shortening. But first, let’s know how shortening works to help you decide which substitute suits your recipe.

How does shortening work?

Well, when you bake, a gluten matrix forms in the dough. This makes the product chewy. Therefore, you need a shortening, such as hydrogenated oils or vegetable oils, to prevent the gluten from forming and making the yield exactly what it needs to be.

So, what can you substitute for shortening?

These are the top five substitutes for shortening. Each differ in composition so each can give you a different result.


Butter, a popular alternative to shortening, is a dairy product used in cooking, baking, and spreading. As a shortening, butter can bring a slight change in the texture of the food because butter melts at room temperature. Thus, it requires refrigeration, unlike typical shortenings. Therefore, butter can be better for cooking and baking depending on the food you make.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is an excellent type of cooking oil that can be a substitute for shortening. Apart from providing you with health benefits, this oil is great on savory dishes, sweet desserts, and even baked goods. You can use unrefined coconut oil for cooking and baking.


Margarine is very similar to butter and is also used for cooking, baking, and as a spread. The thing that makes it different from butter, however, is the fact that it’s a non-dairy product and comes from vegetable oil, salt, and water. When you use it as a shortening, it also alters the texture of the product.

Cooking oil

Cooking oil is a fat that comes from plants or animals that you can use in cooking, frying, baking, and more. It can also be a salad dressing or flavoring. It’s a great alternative to shortenings because there are a variety of oils you can choose from.


Lard is actually pig fat and it is another popular substitute for shortening. It has a distinctive taste that can alter the flavor of the product. So, make sure to check the flavors of what you’re making to achieve a satisfactory result.

So if you ever find yourself asking the question “What can you substitute for shortening?” these five things are all that you need. If you don’t have the ingredients that you want for baking or cooking available, then you can use organic coconut oil, cooking oil, lard, butter, or margarine as shortening. Because each one can provide you with different results, you can use that to your advantage.

What can you substitute for shortening? It really depends on you. If you like to experiment with different ingredients, you’ll surely have fun with the five listed above. And if you have any questions, come to us at Coco Guru! We are ready to provide you with assistance today. If you want to know more about cooking and baking or shortenings like coconut oil, you can ask us anytime.

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