How to Make Pie Crust Without Shortening

Flaky, tender, and downright desirable, there is nothing quite like the perfect pie crust. And one of the ingredients that make this magical crust is shortening. So what happens if you don’t have any shortening on hand? Do you dismiss your pie cravings until the next grocery trip?


You use a top-notch substitute for shortening.

You can make a pie crust by substituting the shortening for butter, margarine, coconut oil, vegetable oil, or lard. 

Hey! I’m Michelle, and I’ve enjoyed baking for the past ten years. Surprisingly, I don’t have shortening on hand all too often; I prefer other ingredients. That said, it’s not surprising that I’ve made several pie crusts with components other than shortening.

Do you want to make a pie crust but don’t have any shortening? No worries. There are so many wonderful swaps for shortening in pie crust. Trust me, if you use one of my top five replacements, you won’t miss shortening at all.

Go, shortie, it’s your birthday. But seriously, let’s discover the top five ways to make pie crust without shortening!

Why Do Pies Need Shortening?

If you look up a pie recipe, shortening will likely be listed as one of the ingredients. Why is this such a prominent element of pie crusts, though? There are two main reasons.

First and foremost, shortening is made up mostly of fat. When added to the rest of the ingredients, it creates a tender and flaky crust – you know, the kind that falls apart when you tap it with your fork.

Secondly, it allows the crust to hold its shape better. For instance, if you want to add a design to your pie crust (which many people do – regardless of how simple it is), you won’t have to worry about it fading away while it bakes.

Clearly, shortening is a wonderful ingredient for pie. But shortening isn’t the only ingredient that will render these results. It really comes down to the overall fat content rather than the element itself.

5 Ways to Make Pie Crust Without Shortening

Shortening is a great ingredient to use in pie crusts, yes. However, you don’t need to have it. There are plenty of other ingredients that can take their place and render fabulous results. Here are my top five swaps.

1. Butter

If you’re not going to use shortening, the very best substitute for pie crust is butter.

Butter will ensure the pie crust remains delicate, flaky, and melt-in-your-mouth. Yet, it has the bonus of making your pie crust extremely rich and indulgent.

So, if you want to create the best pie crust of your life, I encourage you to use butter instead of shortening.

The best part is that you can use butter rather than shortening in a 1:1 ratio. No complexity here, folks!

2. Margarine

A lot of people don’t like butter. They have margarine in their home instead. And that’s perfectly fine!

If you prefer to use butter’s cousin, margarine, for your recipes and to top items like toast and baked potatoes, you’ll be glad to know it can be used in place of shortening in pie crusts, too.

Now, the only issue with margarine is that it has a relatively high water content. This can spell trouble in achieving a flaky and delicious pie crust.

To remedy the issue, use margarine in a 1:1 ratio but reduce the water content by half. This will ensure that the pie crust isn’t overhydrated.

3. Coconut Oil

A while back, nobody knew what coconut oil was. Now, it seems like it’s lining everyone’s kitchen pantry shelves – for a good reason, too. Coconut oil is relatively healthy, with beneficial fats and many health benefits.

Are you in on the coconut oil buzz?

You can use coconut oil in your pie crust in a 1:1 ratio, making it another easy-peasy substitute you’re sure to enjoy.

Just keep in mind that coconut oil does have a strong coconut flavor. It will likely alter the taste of your pie crust. But who doesn’t love a little hint of coconut, especially if you’re making pies like coconut cream or German chocolate?

4. Vegetable Oil

Not everyone is a fan of coconut (which is shocking, as it’s one of my favorite flavors!). But I digress. If you don’t like coconut oil, you can always reach for your handy dandy vegetable oil instead.

The perk of using vegetable oil is that it won’t alter the flavor of your pie crust. This may be essential for certain types of pies that would taste “off” with a coconut flavor in the background.

Use vegetable oil in a 1:1 ratio, but cut down on the liquid content by about ¼. 

5. Lard

Lard has been long known as something to avoid, like the plague. But new research being conducted proves that lard isn’t the enemy we once thought it was. Lard isn’t all that bad, and it’s actually an excellent swap for shortening in pie crusts.

Lard is another component you can swap for shortening in a 1:1 ratio. The benefit of using lard is that it produces a very rich and flaky crust, which is exactly what you want from your pie crust. 

Use lard the next time you bake a pie crust – I promise you won’t regret it.

Bonus: Mashed Bananas

For those wanting to ditch high fat and go with something a little healthier, you can use mashed bananas instead of shortening in a 1:1 ratio. Note that the flavor and texture may be altered slightly, and you’ll need to use the pie crust immediately. 


There are so many great options when it comes to shortening substitutes for pie crusts! Before you run off to make a pie, I suggest checking out these frequently asked questions. You might learn a few more important things!

Do you need shortening for the pie crust?

You don’t need shortening. However, you do need some type of fat. This is what creates the flaky and delicate texture of pie crusts. 

Is oil or butter better for pie crust?

Oil is better because you don’t have to melt it. All you have to do is add it to the other ingredients and make your pie crust. However, butter is better if you want to enhance your pie crust’s overall flavor. No other element will make as decadent of a pie crust as butter.

What fat makes the best pie crust?

If I’m being honest, shortening tends to yield the best pie crusts. But that’s not the only option available to bakers. You can use butter, margarine, coconut oil, vegetable oil, or lard and achieve the same great results. In all actuality, you might like the results better with one of these substitutions.

You Don’t Need Shortening to Make a Pie Crust!

Shortening may be the ideal ingredient for pie crusts, but it’s not the only one available to bakers. You can also use a slew of other elements, such as butter, margarine, coconut oil, vegetable oil, and lard. 

Have you ever used a substitute for shortening in a pie crust? What did you use as a substitution? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Interior Designers

    Thanks michelle for this post.