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Can I use butter or vegetable oil in place of shortening? will a recipe still be similar in taste? what is an good substitution?

Can I use butter or vegetable oil in place of shortening? I have been baking for years and have never used crisco. Alll my recipes still come out great. One of the cake recipes on F52 calls for it and I do no twant to use crisco. What would be the major difference if I used butter or oil and what is the best substitution for such a change?

asked by Day about 3 years ago
7 answers 133327 views
Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

added about 3 years ago

If it's a cake recipe, you should be able to substitute unsalted butter for shortening with no problems. But just so you know, there are now organic and all natural vegetable shortenings available that contain no hydrogenated fats. Spectrum is one brand we like.

Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.

added about 3 years ago

I'm with you, I don't use shortening either, I generally just substitute butter. Which cake recipe are you looking at?

added about 3 years ago

the spice cake with caramel frosting

added about 3 years ago

The spice cake with caramel frosting


Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added about 3 years ago

generally speaking you can sub butter for shortening; the fat content is different but it shouldn't matter in most recipes. Shortening produces lighter, flakier crusts in pies so you may want to consider that.


Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added about 3 years ago

yes, you can use butter or vegetable oil in place of shortening. If the shortening is not being melted in your cake recipe, I would substitute with the same amount of butter. The taste of the final product will be pretty similar, maybe a little butterier.

If the shortening is being melted, then you can use equal amounts of vegetable oil.

I hardly ever use shortening except for pie dough, biscuits, and for one cake recipe only, because it's a traditional cake that back in the day called for lard.

added about 3 years ago

Depending upon what you're making, lard may be your best choice of fat. If you recoil at that suggestion, you're far from alone if you're an American, brainwashed as we've been by the Crisco people. Compared with butter, lard has 1/3 less saturated fat, almost twice the monounsaturates, 2 1/2 times the omega-3's and a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. It lends a unique savory flavor to Southern biscuits (mixed 50:50 with butter if I'm making them) and makes unbeatably flakey pie crusts (mixed 1:2 with butter for dessert pies).

As far as substitutions are concerned, as noted previously, sometimes it won't make a difference. If it does, it's most likely dependent upon the melting point of the fat. Since butter melts at a lower temperature than Crisco, cookies will spread more. And since what we call oil is simply fat that melts above room temperature, it lends a moistness to cakes after they cool. Sometimes substituting butter can make a difference due to its water content so keep that in the back of your mind.

And to be precise, hydrogenation isn't a health issue, it's partial hydrogenation that creates trans-fats.