Can You Use Butter for Shortening? Yes!

When it comes to baking, shortening is a common ingredient that is used to create flaky pastries and tender cakes. It is often made from vegetable oil and is known for its ability to add moisture and richness to baked goods. However, if you don’t have shortening on hand, can you use butter instead? The answer is YES! In this article, we will explore the benefits of using butter for shortening in your baking, as well as tips and tricks for making the substitution successfully.

What Is Shortening?

Shortening is a type of fat that is used in baking to create flaky textures and moist crumb in baked goods, such as pie crusts, biscuits, and cakes. It is typically made from hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is solid at room temperature, and has a higher melting point than regular butter or margarine. This property allows shortening to hold its shape and structure while baking, resulting in a crisp and flaky texture.

How Is Butter Used in Baking?

Butter is a popular ingredient in many sweet and savory recipes. It adds richness and flavor to dishes and is often used as a base in recipes such as cakes, cookies, and pie crusts. Butter contains both water and fat, which can make it difficult to substitute for shortening. However, in some recipes, butter can be used as a substitute.

Why Substituting Butter for Shortening Works?

Although butter has a different composition than shortening, the two can be used interchangeably in some baking recipes. This is because butter also contains fat and produces a similar result when used in a recipe that calls for shortening.

When butter is used as a substitute, there are some factors to consider, such as the temperature of the butter and the recipe itself. Recipe developers should also keep in mind that butter has a different flavor and texture than shortening and may alter the final outcome of the baked good.

When Can You Substitute Butter for Shortening?

Butter can be substituted for shortening in many different types of baked goods. It works particularly well in recipes that call for a small amount of shortening or in recipes in which the texture is not as important. Some examples of recipes that can use butter as a substitute for shortening include cookies, brownies, and cakes.

How to Substitute Butter for Shortening

Measuring the Butter

When substituting butter for shortening, it is important to measure the butter accurately. Butter is sold in sticks, cups, and ounces, and can be purchased both salted and unsalted. The recipe should specify what type of butter to use and how much. In most cases, the butter should be at room temperature before use.

Adjusting the Recipe

When substituting butter for shortening in a recipe, it may be necessary to adjust other ingredients to achieve the desired texture and flavor. For example, if the recipe calls for salted shortening and you are using unsalted butter, you may need to add salt to the recipe. It may also be necessary to adjust the amount of flour or liquid used in the recipe to account for the difference in moisture.

Chilling the Dough

For some recipes, it may be necessary to chill the dough before baking. This can help the dough hold its shape and prevent the butter from melting too quickly. When substituting butter for shortening, the dough may need to be chilled for a longer period of time than if using shortening.

Testing the Recipe

If you are unsure about substituting butter for shortening, it is important to test the recipe before serving it to guests. This can help you identify any potential issues with flavor or texture and make adjustments as needed.

Pros and Cons of Using Butter for Shortening


  • Butter adds richness and flavor to baked goods.
  • Butter is widely available and easy to find at grocery stores.
  • Butter is a natural ingredient and is often preferred by those who want to avoid hydrogenated oils.


  • Butter contains both fat and water, which can alter the texture of certain baked goods.
  • Butter has a lower melting point than shortening, which can cause it to melt too quickly in some recipes.
  • Butter has a distinct flavor that may not be suitable for all recipes.

Tips for Baking with Butter

Use Unsalted Butter

When baking with butter, it is best to use unsalted butter, as this allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe. If you only have salted butter on hand, be sure to adjust the salt added to the recipe accordingly.

Bring Butter to Room Temperature

Allowing the butter to come to room temperature before baking is important, as it will make it easier to mix and incorporate into the recipe. You can do this by leaving the butter out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before using it.

Cream the Butter

When using butter in a recipe, it is important to cream the butter before adding other ingredients. This will help to incorporate air into the butter and create a lighter texture in the final product.

Be Mindful of the Longevity of Baked Goods Made with Butter

Baked goods made with butter may not have as long of a shelf life as those made with shortening. Butter has a higher water content, which can cause baked goods to spoil more quickly.


While shortening is a common ingredient in many baked goods, it is not always necessary. Butter can be a suitable substitute for shortening in many recipes, and can add its own flavor and richness to the finished product. However, when substituting butter for shortening, it is important to consider the temperature of the butter, adjust the recipe as needed, and test the recipe before serving it to guests.

Questions and Answers

  • Can you use butter instead of shortening in pie crusts?
    Yes, butter can be used instead of shortening in pie crusts.
  • Does butter work as well as shortening for making cookies?
    Yes, butter can be used as a substitute for shortening in many cookie recipes.
  • Do I need to adjust the temperature of the oven when using butter instead of shortening?
    No, the temperature of the oven should remain the same when using butter instead of shortening.


1. “Butter vs. Shortening: Which is Better for Baking? | Taste of Home.” Taste of Home, 22 Sept. 2020,

2. “Can You Substitute Butter for Shortening in Baking?” The Spruce Eats, Dotdash, 13 Nov. 2020,

3. “How to Substitute Butter for Shortening in Baking Recipes.” Daisy Brand, 2021,

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