1/2 Cup Shortening Substitutes (All Possible Substitutes)

Many people prefer healthier alternatives to shortening, so some people don’t like to use them. You can substitute shortening with something else with lower fat content if you’d like. 

In general, we recommend four possible substitutes for 1/2 cup of shortening. These are none other than lard, margarine, butter, or coconut oil.

If you substitute something from either of these four products for shortening, you’re likely to get different results than if you used shortening. Keeping this in mind is all you need to do. Substitutions almost always have negative consequences.

This article will tackle each product and how they can affect your recipe if you use them as an alternative to shortening. This way, you can learn what to expect and understand how you can adjust your recipe to fit your preference.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

1/2 Cup Shortening SubstitutesPin

What can be used to substitute 1/2 cup of shortening?

As I mentioned earlier, you can substitute lard, margarine, butter, or coconut oil if you don’t want to use shortening or if you don’t have such with you. 

Let’s have a look at each one!


Using lard is the most similar thing you can find to shortening. This is because it has similar fat content to shortening. Although lard is made exclusively from animal fat, you can also make shortening from vegetable oils or fats. 

Pig fat makes up the vast majority of lard, though you may come across other types or even mixtures of lard. Pig fat is included in lard, which contains a lot of cholesterol. 

The taste of lard can be very meaty. Therefore, you can use it to make fried foods. It’s incredible how much better lard tastes when you fry chicken than just vegetable oil. 

You’ll notice that the flavor is different if you use lard instead of shortening. Lard lends pork or meat-enhanced flavor to your baked goods, so consider this when you use it. 

The result will be mostly the same as far as texture is concerned, but shortening lacks flavor, while lard has a distinctive flavor from its source. 

The flavor is altered somewhat by the lard source. There may or may not be a taste difference. Baking typically uses minimal amounts so that the change will be subtle. 

In addition, shortening prevents gluten from growing in wheat. Lard cannot do this. Moreover, lard is animal-based, making it inaccessible to vegans and vegetarians. It is also unwise to use lard if one does not eat pork products. 


Margarine shares similarities with butter and shortening. If you replace shortening with margarine, you won’t notice any difference in flavor or taste in your pastry or cookies. 

Neither Margarine nor Shortening is made from vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated. Shortening has a significant amount of fat since it is 100% fat, whereas margarine is 80% fat. 

Shortening and margarine contain oil, but since margarine is only 80% fat, it also contains other additives. For example, water and milk solids are often included, although you could also add flavorings. 

Using margarine as a replacement for butter might change the taste a great deal. However, shortening does not have much flavor.

Essentially, shortening is used because of what it can do for the product, not because it tastes good. There is a difference between the properties of butter and that of margarine. Because butter is more like margarine than shortening, the flavor may be more buttery. 

If you use margarine as a substitute for shortening, you may not even notice this difference. However, using shortening may change the flakiness of your pie crust. 

If you bake with margarine, you won’t notice the difference. However, using margarine instead of shortening could make a difference to the taste of fried foods.

This is because margarine is not 100% fat-like, shortening, and very high temperatures are being applied. As a result, margarine is more likely to have a burnt taste when used in fried foods since the non-fat additives in the margarine tend to burn at high temperatures. 

When baking, margarine is an ideal substitute for shortening. Although pie crusts may seem different, they won’t ruin their taste. However, using margarine as a substitute for shortening has a small trick: You need to add more margarine than shortening when using it.

For every cup of shortening you need, you should add two extra tablespoons of margarine. For example, a recipe that needs 1 cup of shortening should be substituted with 1 cup and two tablespoons of margarine. The amount of margarine can be varied accordingly.

To substitute 1/2 cup and one tablespoon of margarine for 1/2 cup of shortening, use 1/2 cup and one tablespoon of margarine instead. It’s pretty straightforward; make sure to add extra margarine for the best results. When baking, we recommend using margarine as a substitute. 


Shortening can also be substituted with butter, regardless of its low priority on the list. Unlike shortening, it’s much thinner and contains much less fat. In addition, the melting point of shortening is exceptionally high. As a result, shortening does not melt as quickly when baked that your cookies appear thicker. 

If you use butter instead of shortening, you’ll notice a few differences. First, you’ll probably get flatter cookies if you use shortening. They will taste delicious and even more so if they’re made with butter. 

Shortening is flavorless. Butter, on the other hand, has a buttery flavor. There is a distinct taste to butter, and that could affect the result of whatever you substitute it for. Margarine and butter both have about 80% fat. Butter also typically has high water content, allowing up to 16%, making butter so thin but easy to melt. 

Butter can be fully melted in the microwave in just a few seconds if you put it there for a few seconds. However, because shortening requires much higher heat, it takes longer to melt.

When cooking, the butter melts almost instantly, so this mainly affects the final texture of the product. However, butter gives any food an irresistible “melt-in-your-mouth” quality that most people find irresistible. 

Adding butter to a dish adds flavor without overpowering the other flavors. In addition, butter is often made from natural ingredients. Water is present, but dairy cream, milk, and protein components are also present. 

It can be more challenging to perfect whatever you’re making when baking with butter because butter melts more quickly. 

We recommend that if you substitute margarine with butter, you add two tablespoons of butter for every cup of shortening in the recipe.

Coconut Oil

Finally, you can substitute coconut oil for shortening. Even lard and shortening contain far less fat than coconut oil.

In the same way that you would substitute butter or margarine, you can substitute coconut oil. Coconut oil will also have a consistency much like butter. 

The fats in coconut oil are considered healthy fats, making a healthier substitute for shortening despite having more fat content. 

In general, the result will be very similar to butter. Another thing to note is that coconut oil sometimes has a coconut flavor, so you can notice a hint of coconut if you use it. 


In a nutshell, you can find several substitutes for shortening if you don’t want to use such or if you don’t have it with you. We recommend four products, namely lard, margarine, butter, or coconut oil.

You will have different results if you use these four products instead of shortening. All you need to do is keep this in mind. Alternatives are rarely beneficial. However, this case depends on your preference and how you can adjust your recipe to compensate for the shortening.


Image credits – Canva

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