How to Substitute for Solid Vegetable Shortening

Updated February 21, 2017

Solid vegetable shortening is used in frying, baking and cooking. It lends a fluffy texture to cakes, makes cookies crisp and pie dough flaky. An advantage to vegetable shortening is that it doesn't need to be kept refrigerated. It's sold in cans or wrapped in sticks of 1 cup volume. If you've run out of vegetable shortening, there are substitutes depending on the recipe.

Measure 20 per cent less of cooking oil as the recipe directs for vegetable shortening according to Irma S. Rombauer, author of "Joy of Cooking." The oil is 100 per cent fat. The vegetable shortening has air whipped into it. A good ratio would be 3/4 cup of cooking oil to substitute for 1 cup of shortening. If the dish is delicately flavoured use a light-tasting oil such as canola that won't flavour the food.

Substitute the same amount of unsalted butter or margarine for the vegetable shortening when baking. Butter and margarine have water whipped into them which equals, more or less, the air whipped into the shortening.

Keep the butter or margarine cold for recipes such as pie crusts and pastries. It should be room temperature for cookies and cakes. Melt the butter if that's what the recipe specifies.

Substitute applesauce and butter in equal amounts for the shortening for cakes. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening use 1/4 cup each of applesauce and butter.

Use the same amount of lard in the recipe as vegetable shortening.


Pre-marked packages of butter make measuring easy for substitutions.


Different fats smoke at different temperatures. If frying, keep an eye on the heat.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring cup
  • Cooking oil
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Applesauce
  • Lard
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About the Author

Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.