11 Crisco Substitutes (Best Flavorful Alternatives to Shortening) (2024)

Avid bakers and cooks know that shortening such as Crisco is the secret to the flakiest pie crusts and biscuits, the fluffiest cakes, and the creamiest icing.

When a recipe calls for it, is Crisco the only option? What else can you use for shortening? Are there alternatives that are healthier or lend a richer flavor?

Before we answer these questions, it’s important to have a good understanding of shortening. Knowing what it’s made from, how it works, and why it is used in certain recipes will help you choose the best substitute for your favorite recipes.

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Jump to:
  • What is Crisco?
  • How and Why is Crisco Used
  • Pros and Cons of Using Crisco
  • Best Substitutes for Crisco
  • Conclusion

What is Crisco?

Crisco is a type of shortening, which is fat that is solid at room temperature. Other examples of shortening include butter, margarine, and lard.

Crisco is a shortening used in baking and cooking that dates back to the early 1900s. It is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils. These oils can include cottonseed, soybean, or palm oil.

Since vegetable oils are naturally liquid, they go through a process called hydrogenation to make them solid fats at room temperature.

How and Why is Crisco Used

Shortening such as Crisco is preferred over liquid oils in baked goods. Incorporating shortening in a dessert yields a fluffy, flaky product in pie crusts, cakes, and cookies.

How did shortening get its name? It has to do with gluten.

During traditional baking, the gluten in flour creates a stretchy, chewy texture in baked goods. When added to a recipe, shortening coats the gluten, which keeps it from lengthening or creating a strong matrix. This is how baked goods get their tender crumbly texture.

Besides baking, Crisco can be used in place of oil to fry foods. It can also be used to make buttercream frosting.

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Pros and Cons of Using Crisco

Vegetable shortening such as Crisco is more affordable and shelf-stable than butter or lard.

For many years, vegetable shortening was also considered healthier than animal based shortening because of its low saturated fat content. This viewpoint has changed in recent years with the discovery that vegetable shortening that has been highly processed may actually be less nutritious.

Crisco is made up of 100% fat, unlike margarine and butter which contain about 80% fat, the rest being water. Because of this, Crisco is high in calories and is not known to be a source of vitamins or minerals. Since trans fats have been banned in the United States, shortenings have been reformulated to remove those.

Crisco is nearly tasteless, which can be viewed as an advantage or a disadvantage. It can be added to both sweet and savory recipes without affecting their taste. On the other hand, Crisco’s neutral flavor does not lend the richness to baked goods that another option like butter does.

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Best Substitutes for Crisco

When looking for a substitute for Crisco, consider options that have a similar texture and flavor. Other solid fats often make the most appropriate choice, but keep an open mind. In the following list, there are probably a few options you never considered.

Let’s dive into some of the best replacements for Crisco, so you can choose the one that will give you the best result in your baking or cooking.

Butter

Butter is the most popular substitute for shortening. It is widely available and most people already have butter in their refrigerator, but it is more expensive than Crisco.

Butter adds a rich flavor to baked goods. It can be used as a replacement for Crisco in pie crusts, cookies, and pastries.

  • Cakes: When making a cake, either butter or Crisco can be used. Less air can be creamed into cake batter when using butter, so it will rise less than when you incorporate shortening.
  • Cookies: Butter makes a great addition to cookies because it will give the cookies a delicious buttery flavor. It also gives cookies a crunch, so if you prefer crispy cookies, use butter instead of Crisco.
  • Frosting and Icing: Aside from baked goods, butter can be used to make buttercream frosting. One disadvantage is that butter has a lower melting point, so icing made with butter does not hold up as well in warm weather. In addition, it is difficult to get a pure white color of frosting when using butter, but this is possible with Crisco.Icing made with butter does not crust as well as Crisco-based icing, making Crisco a better choice for delicate decorating such as making roses on cakes.

Keep in mind that butter contains a small amount of water, unlike Crisco that is completely fat. This may yield a slightly different texture than shortening. Most cakes and breads won’t be affected, but pie crusts will be less flakey.

You can experiment by substituting half of the called-for Crisco with butter to see how it affects the texture of your dish.

You will need to add more butter to your recipe when replacing Crisco. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, substitute it for 1 cup of butter plus 2-3 tablespoons of butter.

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Ghee

Clarified butter, also known as ghee, is a type of butter that has most of the water removed. At room temperature, it is often in solid form similar to the texture of Crisco. It, too, can be a great substitute for baking and frying.

It can be used in a 1 to 1 replacement to shortening since it has a texture similar to Crisco.

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Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a healthy alternative to Crisco that has some nutritional benefits. It is derived from mature coconut meat and has a mild nutty flavor.

You can use coconut oil to make flaky pastries and pie dough, and add a deep flavor to cakes.

Coconut oil can be used for stir-frying foods. Be careful when deep frying, since coconut oil has a low smoke point.

If using a combination of coconut oil and shortening, you need to melt the coconut oil for savory recipes or beat it with sugar for baked goods.

A disadvantage of using coconut oil is that it has a distinct coconut flavor that may come through in the final product. Make sure that this flavor complements your recipe.

Coconut oil can be substituted in a 1 to 1 ratio for shortening.

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Lard

Lard is an animal product and a versatile fat that can be used in place of Crisco in most recipes. Usually made of pork fat, it is virtually tasteless and is a solid fat at room temperature.

Unlike butter, lard makes an excellent substitute for shortening when deep frying because it has a high smoke point. Like Crisco, lard contains minimal water. This limits smoke and splatter during frying.

Because lard contains monounsaturated fats, it is slightly healthier than Crisco.

Besides being an excellent choice in pie crusts, lard also makes great fried chicken and can be used to cook a delicious savory breakfast of eggs and hashbrowns.

Lard can be substituted for Crisco in equal amounts.

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Bacon Fat

A type of lard, bacon fat, offers a unique flavor and smell. This alternative will work best in savory dishes, such as bread or biscuits.

Keep in mind that bacon fat is very salty. You may need to reduce the amount of salt called for in your recipe when using bacon fat instead of Crisco.

Besides baking, bacon grease can also be used in place of shortening when frying foods.

Bacon grease can be purchased or saved when cooking bacon. Cooking with an animal fat like bacon grease can produce really flavorful results.

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Liquid Vegetable Oils

There are a variety of liquid oils that can be used in place of Crisco in certain recipes. Crisco itself is made from vegetable oil. Vegetable oil, along with olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil can all be a good substitute for Crisco and are options to consider.

Olive oil is a healthier choice than many other oils. Since it has a strong flavor, it works best in savory dishes.

Olive oil can be used for deep frying, but peanut oil works better. Olive oil has a lower smoke point, so you will need to use the exhaust fan above your stove.

Liquid oils do not work as well in baked goods. They will not contribute to the fluffiness of baked goods in the same way that shortening does.

Olive oil is also more expensive than Crisco or many other types of shortening, but other vegetable oils are inexpensive.

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Palm Shortening

Shortening made from pure palm oil has a spreadable solid texture, similar to that of Crisco. Palm shortening is made from palm oil, which is a vegetable fat that comes from the tropical palm oil tree.

A healthier alternative to Crisco, palm shortening does not contain any trans fats or cholesterol. It also has a neutral flavor and is colorless and odorless.

Palm shortening can be used in place of Crisco in deep frying and baking. When used in baking, palm shortening will give your desserts a flaky pastry.

Palm shortening can be used in place of Crisco in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Keep in mind that palm trees are in the same family as other nut trees, so this is not a suitable alternative for someone allergic to tree nuts.

Applesauce

If you're on the hunt for healthier alternatives, applesauce is a great alternative to Crisco in desserts. The flavor works well in cakes and cookies.

Since applesauce is naturally sweet, you may need to reduce the amount of sugar used in your recipe.

Keep in mind that using applesauce will make your final product more dense and chewy and less fluffy. Your desserts also may not brown as easily.

Applesauce is a healthy alternative for those looking for a low fat or low cholesterol option.

In order to end up with a texture similar to that of shortening, substitute applesauce for Crisco at a 1 to 1 ratio. Then add 1 tablespoon of butter per cup of shortening called for in the recipe.

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Banana Puree

If looking for another fruit substitute, banana puree can also be used in place of Crisco in the same manner as applesauce.

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Prune Puree

Although it may not sound exciting, prune puree is a creative substitution for shortening.

This alternative works well as a baking ingredient because it contains two helpful baking properties, sorbitol and pectin. Sorbitol is a natural sugar alcohol that retains moisture. Pectin also retains moisture and forms air bubbles when creamed, in the same way fat does.

Cookies made with prune puree may not be as crispy as those made with Crisco, but they will remain chewier longer.

Because of prunes’ dark color, using them in a recipe may result in a darker end product. The flavor will be slightly different as well.

Prune puree can be substituted for shortening in a 1 to 1 ratio, while reducing the overall amount of sugar or sweetener in the recipe.

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Margarine

Margarine is a more affordable replacement than butter. It also has a milder flavor.

Margarine can be used in place of shortening in equal amounts. It will lead to a texture in foods that is very similar to Crisco.

When using margarine for baking, make sure to use solid margarine sticks, not the soft spreadable margarine sold in tubs. This solid stick margarine will cream with sugar and can be used to make cookies, cakes, or pie crusts.

If looking for a rich buttery flavor, margarine may not be the best choice.A disadvantage of margarine is that it is more processed than other options.

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Conclusion

Use this list to find a suitable replacement for shortening in your favorite recipes. Try a fruit substitute for chewy cookies. Or opt for an animal-based fat or another form of vegetable oil to recreate flaky biscuits or pie crusts.

With some minor adjustments, you can bake or deep fry your most-loved sweet and savory foods using one of the listed Crisco alternatives.

Do you have any other tried and true substitution recommendations? Please let me know in the comments!

11 Crisco Substitutes (Best Flavorful Alternatives to Shortening) (2024)

FAQs

11 Crisco Substitutes (Best Flavorful Alternatives to Shortening)? ›

The Best Substitute for Shortening for Frying or Cooking

Vegetable oil, cocount oil, peanut oil, avocado oil and grapeseed oil all have high smoke points and can be used for frying - although vegetable oil will truly be your best bet because it's inexpensive and flavorless.

What is the best oil substitute for shortening? ›

The Best Substitute for Shortening for Frying or Cooking

Vegetable oil, cocount oil, peanut oil, avocado oil and grapeseed oil all have high smoke points and can be used for frying - although vegetable oil will truly be your best bet because it's inexpensive and flavorless.

What's better than Crisco? ›

Avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are some of the best plant oils for cooking and baking. You can replace shortening with alternatives like butter, coconut oil, palm oil, or other healthy plant oils.

What is the healthiest substitute for shortening? ›

1. Lard. Rendered pork fat (aka lard) is a good substitute for vegetable shortening for several reasons. Store-bought lard boasts a neutral character, not unlike its vegetable cousin, as well as a high percentage of good-for-you monounsaturated fats, per Dr.

What is a healthy substitute for vegetable shortening? ›

Shortening Substitute: Vegan Butter

Typically made from a mix of plant-based oils such as avocado, olive, and coconut, vegan butter can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening; just add an extra tablespoon of vegan butter for every cup of vegetable shortening your recipe calls for, McKercher says.

What is the best shortening for baking? ›

Lard, margarine and vegetable shortening such as Crisco are the most well known and most called for in recipes. Because butter is up to 20% water, it isn't the best shortening out there, but in some recipes, it is used as shortening.

What can I use instead of shortening in a cookie recipe? ›

Lard is the closest substitute to shortening. It is also a 100% fat and remains solid at room temperature. While lard can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for shortening, some bakers suggest using slightly less lard in a ⅞ cup lard to 1 cup of shortening.

Is there a healthy version of Crisco? ›

Banana puree, applesauce or prune purees are healthy substitutions for vegetable shortening. Although the flavors may be slightly different, you will become accustomed to the difference.

Is there a healthy shortening? ›

However, these fats have been linked to a number of health problems, including increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. It's a better idea to cook with healthy shortening substitutes instead, such as grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil.

Which is healthier Crisco or lard? ›

Made from vegetable oils — often soybean, cottonseed, or palm oils — vegetable shortening is a vegetarian alternative to lard. Introduced as Crisco to consumers in 1911, it became a popular "healthy" choice, though research now shows there isn't too much difference between the two when it comes to nutrition.

What is the best shortening for cookies? ›

Crisco® all-vegetable shortening will make your cakes moist, pie crusts flaky, and cookies soft and fluffy, with 0g of trans fat per serving*.

What's healthier Crisco or butter? ›

Butter does, however, have a leg up on shortening whereby it contains beneficial fatty acids and nutrients that shortening does not such as vitamins A, E, K and B12. At face value, while butter may seem like the “healthier” option, it's worth remembering that it's still high in calories and saturated fat.

Why is Crisco so expensive? ›

As reported by Food Dive, because Crisco is made from soybean and canola oils, it was inadvertently impacted by these worldwide issues and saw as much as a 23% price increase by the second quarter of 2022.

Should I replace shortening with butter or oil? ›

The answer is yes, butter or shortening can be used interchangeably in baked goods and can be used as a one-to-one swap.

What can I substitute for 2 cups shortening? ›

Butter or margarine can be used instead, adding a couple of extra tablespoons per cup of shortening called for in a recipe. So for every 1 cup of shortening called for in a recipe, use 1 cup butter or margarine plus 2 tablespoons.

What happens if you use butter instead of shortening? ›

You'll notice these differences if baking with butter instead of shortening. Cookies made with butter or margarine may be softer and spread a little more. Cookies made with butter are usually crispier than chewy cookies made with shortening, but the flavor is richer with butter.

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