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There are plenty of options if you don’t want to use shortening! Here’s the best substitute for shortening in recipes and baking.

Substitute for shortening

These days, shortening isn’t in good graces. What is it, and what’s a substitute if you find it in a recipe? We’re here to help.

What is shortening? Is it healthy?

Shortening is a type of fat used in cooking and baking. It’s been popular in American kitchens since the early 1900’s. It’s often used in baked goods like cookies, cakes, and pie crusts to provide a tender, flaky texture. These types of doughs are called short doughs, as opposed to long doughs that are stretchy like pizza dough.

Because of the high content of trans fats, shortening is used less often in baking these days. Many companies have reformulated their shortenings to remove trans fats, but they’re still highly processed and it’s considered better to use healthy alternatives (source). Here are some of the best alternatives for shortening in modern baking.

Best substitutes for shortening

1. Butter.

Butter is a natural substitute for shortening: it provides a similar texture and even more of a savory flavor. If you’re substituting butter in a recipe that calls for shortening, here’s the ratio:

Ratio: 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of butter for 1 cup shortening.

2. Coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a great plant based substitute for shortening. It’s solid at room temperature, and you can melt it or beat it in the same way as butter or shortening. Keep in mind that coconut oil can add a subtle coconut flavor to the end product. Refined coconut oil has a more neutral taste than unrefined coconut oil, so it would have less effect on the flavor.

Ratio: 1 cup coconut oil for 1 cup shortening.

Related recipes

Here are some recipes where shortening might traditionally be found that use coconut oil or butter:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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8 Comments

  1. Wanted to substitute coconut oil for shortening. Or would oil be better. Using in peanutbutter cookies. These are frozen in a rolls. Then sliced in rounds. The typical cross forking is placed before baking. The first time only refrigerator is necessary but each roll makes 3 dozen.