Can You Substitute Shortening for Oil? Here’s What to Know

If you don't have oil on hand but do have some shortening in the cupboard, you may be in luck.

So you're gathering the ingredients from your pantry to make a pan of pumpkin bars or quick chocolate cake only to realize you're fresh out of cooking oil. Or maybe you want to bake a boxed cake mix that requires vegetable oil but only have shortening on hand. Before you run to the store for that small amount of vegetable oil or switch to another dessert bar recipe, you might be wondering: "Can I use shortening instead of oil?" Well, it depends on the recipe, but you've definitely arrived in the right place to answer that question. Here we'll share info on using shortening in place of oil so next time you run out, you can still accomplish your recipes at home.

pressing shortening into measuring cup with spatula
Kritsada Panichgul

Substituting Shortening for Oil

Shortening is made from solidified vegetable oil. When it comes to cooking applications or frying savory items such as stir-fries, you can absolutely use shortening instead of oil by simply allowing it to melt in the pan before adding the ingredients.

To use shortening as a substitute for oil in baking, you can swap the two using equal amounts. This can be to substitute any type of cooking oil—avocado oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, and other cooking oils. Though it is important to note that because shortening is a solid fat, using shortening instead of oil can change the texture of baked goods. Shortening can add more air to the batter when beaten, giving the end product more of a cake-like structure compared to the more dense structure oil gives. The best way to use shortening in place of oil in recipes? Melt it first. If you have a baking recipe that calls for mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, you can melt the shortening first in the microwave or on the stove top. Just be sure to allow the shortening to cool to room temperature before combining it into the other wet ingredients.

You can also substitute shortening for cooking oil in most instances where you need a bit for satuéing or even deep-frying. Feel free to melt some shortening in the pan to make a stir-fry or fried chicken.

Now that you know you can use shortening instead of oil in your recipes, go ahead and keep baking that pan of brownies or cake recipe.

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