Shortening is 100% fat, where some other products like butter have water and other solids added, shortening has nothing at all. Vegetable shortening is a great alternative to butter or margarine for those who are looking to avoid animal products but is also used in gluten-free baking as it inhibits the formation of gluten.
Copha is the most popular vegetable shortening in Australia, it is made from 99% coconut oil and less than 1% soy lecithin. It is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten-free.
Are there substitutes for shortening?
If you are looking for an alternative for shortening (other than Copha) these three alternatives will help you yield similar results.
If you’re looking for more of a buttery flavour then why not add in some butter instead. Simply add butter in instead for softer desserts that won’t be as chewy. When it comes to cakes or breads you’ll barely notice the difference. You can also substitute in margarine but it doesn’t offer as similar a result.
Vegans rejoice! You can easily add in coconut oil in place of vegetable shortening. Substitute coconut oil 1:1 with shortening for a subtle coconut flavour.
Also a form of lard, animal fats will yield the most similar results to vegetable shortening in cooking. Most commonly made from pig fat, simply add the called for quantity to your recipe.
Where to buy shortening
Whilst you won’t be able to find shortening in many stores you can purchase Copha from major supermarkets (Coles or Woolworths). A 250g block will set you back around $2.80.
If you’re desperate for Crisco some US specialty stores will ship to Australia.
How is it used in cooking?
Vegetable shortening is most commonly used in baking and desserts. It can be used to make frostings super creamy (that won’t melt like butter and margarine) and is also commonly used in pastries, cakes and biscuits.
Here are a couple of our favourite recipes that use shortening.
Chocolate Peppermint Slice
This super simple slice will be gone in seconds - trust us! Get the full recipe.
Milo banana ice-pops
Everyone's favourite chocolate drink can now be enjoyed, infused with banana, in ice-pop form. Get the full recipe.
Using chocolate, orange food dye and green apple licorice, this recipe for sweet 'carrots' will have kids begging for more vegies! They make great gifts, too. Get the full recipe.