Substitute for Shortening in Cookies

Flaky, plump cookies call for shortening. But what happens when you don’t have any shortening on hand? The first thing to do is stop panicking. There are viable substitutes for shortening in cookies, including certain oils, butter, lard, and more. 

Hey! I’m Michelle, and I love baking cookies. There is nothing better than the smell of baking cookies in my kitchen and the smile on my children’s faces when they see the cookies cooling on the countertop. Even though I have a lot of experience, I don’t always use shortening.

If you’ve found yourself with a cookie recipe that calls for shortening, but you’ve found yourself without any shortening, don’t worry. There are several substitutes for shortening in cookies that will produce great results. The best part is, it’s likely something you already have in the pantry.

Who’s ready to bake some cookies (without shortening)?

What Does Shortening Do in Cookies

Before we check out the substitutes, let’s take a closer look at why shortening is recommended in the first place. Well, shortening in cookies is going to do two main things: 

  • Create a desirably flaky and crumbly texture
  • Plump up the cookie for a bite-full of goodness

Since shortening is all fat, it melts at a higher temperature – unlike butter. Being able to hold its shape and halt gluten production, cookies end up taller, fatter, and crumblier than cookies made with butter or margarine. 

Needless to say, a cookie made with shortening is a delectable experience. You can even use butter-flavored shortening to give your cookie that rich flavor that comes from using butter. Yum!

Substitute for Shortening in Cookies

If you don’t have any shortening, you can still achieve cookie greatness. There are a few great substitutes that can get the job done, and most people have the ingredients hiding in their kitchen pantries.

1. Lard

Before there was shortening, there was lard. And while lard may have gotten a bad rep in recent years, it’s been proven that lard is a perfectly fine fat to cook and bake with. The only thing to consider is that lard is pure animal fat. So if you’re avoiding animal products, this isn’t an option.

Lard works similarly to shortening because it is all fat, so that you will get the same scrumptious results. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio in place of shortening. (When you’re done baking cookies, make sure you put that lard to good use and whip up some carnitas – yum).

2. Butter/Margarine

A lot of cookie recipes use butter instead of shortening. Why? Because butter has such a delightfully rich flavor that adds immense depth to cookies. Seriously, butter-packed cookies are so delicious.

Since butter (or margarine) is so commonly used in cookie recipes, it’s no wonder why it can be a top-notch alternative for shortening. The only downside is that you won’t get the exact same texture that shortening provides. Your cookies will be slightly less puffy and a bit flatter.

When using butter or margarine instead of shortening, you need to kick up the amount by a few tablespoons. For example: a recipe that calls for a cup of shortening will need a cup + two tablespoons of butter or margarine.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains a whole lot of fat, so it can easily be used in cookie recipes. Not only will it provide a desirable texture similar to shortening, but it also comes with a slew of health benefits that you might enjoy.

Keep in mind that coconut oil tastes, well, like coconuts. The flavor of your cookie may be altered ever-so-slightly. It might be a more suitable option for a tropical cookie recipe that contains other tropical flavors like coconut and pineapple.

4. Applesauce

If you have done any vegan baking, you would know that there are a lot of recipes that utilize applesauce. Applesauce isn’t only a vegan baking staple; it’s also a great alternative for shortening cookies.

Now, personally I would recommend using one of the options above. But I understand that not everyone carries lard or coconut oil in their fridge. If you find yourself in a predicament with no butter or margarine, you can always go the applesauce route.

When using applesauce, you want to use half of the amount of shortening called for. That said, if the recipe calls for one cup of shortening, you will only need to use ½ cup of applesauce. If the applesauce is sweetened, tone down the sugar content slightly so it’s not overly sweet.

5. Bacon Fat

Okay, let’s go completely out of the box real quick. You can 100% use bacon fat to replace shortening in cookies, but you might want to use less due to the high salt content.

Of course, you have to remember that bacon fat is going to have a smoky flavor. Should that discourage you? No. While it may give your cookies a slight bacon taste, that is nothing to shy away from.

Think about it – bacon is found in everything these days, from savory to sweet and everything in between. If you’re daring enough to try bacon cookies, then give it a shot! You won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re a bacon fanatic.

FAQs

Shortening is the go-to for cookies because it creates such a beautiful texture, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it for a successful batch of cookies. If you have more questions about substitutes for shortening in cookies, keep reading the frequently asked questions below.

Can I use oil instead of shortening in cookies?

Yes, you can use oil instead of shortening in cookies. It is ideal to use coconut oil because it solidifies and has a high-fat content. You can get by with using vegetable oil instead of shortening, though, and still be successful.

What can you substitute for Crisco in cookies?

Instead of using Crisco, you can use one of the recommended shortening substitutes listed above: lard, butter, margarine, coconut oil, or applesauce.

Can I use half butter and half shortening in cookies?

You can definitely use half butter and half shortening in cookies – in fact, I encourage you to do so! By using butter and shortening, you get the rich flavor of the butter paired with the ideal texture from the shortening. Together, these ingredients create a powerhouse of deliciousness!

What is the difference between butter and shortening in cookies?

The biggest difference between butter and shortening in cookies is the texture and height. Butter will produce a rich flavor but will be flatter and crispier. Shortening will produce a cookie that is tall, puffy, fluffy, crumbly, and overall more tender.

Is shortening worse than butter?

Nutritionally wise, you could say that shortening is a bit worse for you than butter. Both have similar nutritional profiles. However, shortening has trans fats, and butter doesn’t. Butter also contains some healthy nutrients that shortening does not.

Final Thoughts

Shortening is a gift from heaven when it comes to cookies, producing a tender, tall, and perfectly textured cookie. But you can render the same results with a viable alternative such as butter, margarine, lard, bacon fat, or applesauce.

Do you use shortening in your cookies or a shortening substitute? Which substitute do you use? Share your experience with us 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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