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Replacing shortening with butter

Cynthia S's picture
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I don't like using shortening as an ingredient in baked goods, and wondered if I could substitute butter using the same measurements.

john's picture

Cynthia, you can replace shortening with butter in recipes for pastry and pie doughs, but you will need to add 25% more (butter has a lower fat content than shortening). You will also have to work a little faster, since butter has a lower melting temperature than shortening.

A recent contributor to our blog posted a recipe for an all-butter pie dough here: http://www.thejoykitchen.com/recipe/limoncello-lemon-meringue-pie. The dough recipe is at the bottom. Just remember, the end product might not be quite as flaky.

Hope that helps!
Is there a particular recipe you were thinking of?

Cynthia S's picture

Thanks! I was thinking of using butter instead of shortening or oil in banana bread and pumpkin bread. Do you think that will work ok?

john's picture

Quick breads are very forgiving. Pastry... not so much. The only appreciable difference is going to be a slightly drier crumb. That being said, I use butter regularly for the family banana bread recipe, which is absolutely delicious! Just add a touch more butter than the amount of shortening called for. To give you an idea, the family recipe calls for 6 tablespoons butter or 5 tablespoons of shortening... not that different. Here it is for you to try. Please let us know what you think!

BANANA BREAD COCKAIGNE
One 81⁄2 x 41⁄2-inch loaf

Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70°F.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 81⁄2 x 41⁄2-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together:
11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Beat in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy:
2⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup vegetable shortening or 6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) butter, softened
3⁄4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Beat in:
1 to 2 large eggs, beaten
1 to 11⁄4 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3)
Add the dry ingredients in about 3 parts, beating until smooth after each addition. Fold in, if desired:
1⁄2 cup chopped nuts
1⁄4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake the bread about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly, then unmold.
Cool completely before slicing.

Sarah's picture

I found a recipe for peanut butter cookies using a cookie press that calls for a 1/2 cup of shortening, but I think they would be more flavorful with real butter (also I never end up using an entire container of shortening once I buy it.) Do you think a butter substitution would work for cookie recipes, as well?

meg's picture

Sarah, The short answer is that, yes, you can substitute butter for shortening in cookies. It will, however, change the texture and appearance of the end product. Because shortening is 100% fat and butter is roughly 85% fat and 15% water, cookies with butter in them tend to spread more during baking. This is because butter has a lower melting point than shortening, so the melting butter makes the dough spread more before it sets up. So you can expect your cookies to spread more and be crisper if you use butter.
Shortening makes lighter, chewier cookies. There's no denying that butter has a better flavor than shortening (which is why I make my pie crusts using all butter), but it all depends on what texture you want in your cookies. Essentially, though, I think you'll be fine substituting the butter for shortening. My only concern is that they may not hold their shape as well, so any pretty cookie press designs may not come through. They will be tasty, though!

Marlene's picture

I know this may be a bit unorthodox but it's something I've discovered...if I substitute butter for shortening in cookies I also add a bit of Benefiber - just enough to "fortify" the cookie dough ; usually 1-3 T. , depending on the recipe, which helps keep your cookies from spreading. No body knows it's there and who doesn't need the extra fiber?

HMKW93's picture

I am making some patties and I can't find shortening anywhere (I live in the uk) can I use butter instead?

meg's picture

Offhand, I would say yes--you can just use butter. What kind of patties are you making?

Vivian's picture

I wanted to make a pound cake with butter instead of shortening. Would that be ok and what would the difference in proportion and taste be?

meg's picture

By all means yes! I greatly prefer the flavor of pound cakes made with butter. Shortening does not have a flavor (unless you buy butter-flavored shortening), whereas butter gives cakes a lovely flavor. I would love to see your recipe just to know how much shortening it calls for, but for a pound cake I would just replace the shortening with the same amount of butter. Just for reference, most large pound cakes (made in a tube or bundt pan) use about 2 cups (4 sticks or 1 pound) butter. Smaller cakes use around half that amount.

Emily's picture

Can Replace shortening with butter for a cinnamon roll recipe? Would it affect anything?

meg's picture

Yes, you can. The pastry might be a little bit less flaky and tender, but I think the amazing butter flavor makes up for that. You could even use half shortening and half butter if you like. Just one question--in your recipe, are you melting the butter, kneading it into the dough like brioche, or folding it in like croissants?

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