The Best Palm Shortening Substitutes For Your Baking Adventures

Do you want to bake pastry but do not have palm shortening to guarantee you success? No worries, I have a list of palm shortening substitutes for you!

I have discovered palm shortening only recently, but have used it ever since. It happened when I tried some heavenly delicious flaky pastries at my friend's tea party and had to know what her secret ingredient was.

Can you guess her answer? Palm shortening of course!

However, it is not always easy to find this ingredient in your local store, and it is not the cheapest either. I have also recently read about how harvesting palm tree products is bad for the environment and animal life.

Even if you do not feel troubled by it all, you might simply be out of this ingredient at the most inconvenient moment and knowing the best palm shortening substitutes will come quite handy at such times!

All in all, it is always good to be well informed, so stay tuned! Before we start make sure you have the best baking mat for your baking adventure! 🙂

What is Palm Shortening?

Let us first define what shortening is: it is a vegetable semi-solid fat.

There are numerous types of shortenings. They are mostly used for baking pastries, cakes and bread as they make this baked goods flakey and light.

In order to produce palm shortening, one first needs to have some palm oil sourced from palm trees. Once you remove some fat from the palm oil, you will get a semi-solid vegetable oil product a.k.a shortening.

What can you use the palm shortening for?

  • Besides baking, you can also use it to make palm shortening frosting. Some people even use it for frying or deep frying as it has a high smoke point, but it is better to stick to the palm oil in such circumstances and turn to palm shortening in emergency situations only.

Why should you use palm shortening?

  • Unlike vegetable shortening, palm shortening is not hydrogenated and thus does not contain any harmful trans fats
  • As it has a rather high smoke point, it is versatile and can be used for cooking, baking, frying and even grilling. If you stick to using it for your baked goods, you will be delighted by the results. And the bread crust is a story of its own!
  • As palm shortening is mostly made up from monounsaturated fats, it not only has a firm structure, but also a quite high freezing point (about 97 degrees F) which makes it easy to store and very stable. You can keep it for quite long without worrying that it will go rancid.
  • Finally, palm shortening is both odorless and colorless and will not alter the taste, smell, or color of the final product you are using it for. That makes it suitable for any recipe!

Roll out the perfect dough for the perfect pastry: Check out the Best Rolling Pin Substitutes!

The Best Palm Shortening Substitutes

When you are out of palm shortening, you can use any vegetable shortening you have at your disposal as they all share the same properties. In fact, any solid or semi-solid fat you have will do the trick, including butter and lard as well.

But let us start from the very beginning, here is the list of the best palm shortening substitutes with detailed explanations to help you find the one that best fits your recipe and your preferences:

1. Coconut oil

  • As you can probably assume, coconut oil is obtained from coconuts. In my humble opinion, it is a number one palm shortening substitute when it comes to baking as it is both nutritious and tasty.
  • Namely, coconut oil is rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, but also has antibacterial and anti-viral properties. It helps alleviate inflammatory processes as well. 
  • When it comes to texture, it is quite similar to the palm shortening, but only if it's not too hot. At temperatures higher than 76 degrees Fahrenheit the coconut oil loses its semi-solid consistency and turns into the liquid.
  • This nutritious and healthy type of fat is great for all of you who adhere to the Paleo diet as well since it is not sourced from animals.
  • The best thing about coconut oil and its biggest fault is its taste. How come? Well, coconut oil tastes really good and has a distinctive aroma which is great if you do not mind your food tasting or smelling like coconut. However, if you need a shortening that is neutral and odorless, coconut oil might not be the best choice. Its flavor is quite dominating and hard to mask.
  • I like the coconut flavor and do not mind it, but I prefer when it is discreet, and that is why I usually mix the coconut oil with butter. For example, when I want to replace one cup of palm shortening in my recipe, I use half a cup of butter and half a cup of coconut oil. If you want even milder coconut aroma, you can go for only a quarter of a cup of butter and use the butter for the remaining portion of the required shortening.

2. Butter

  • Butter is an excellent substitute for palm shortening in terms of texture. However, if you need to avoid dairy products for whatever reason, it might not even be an option for you. It will undoubtedly add great taste to anything you are preparing, but it will add quite a few calories as well. Therefore, if you are on a weight-loss diet, you should avoid butter too.
  • On the bright side, butter can be used for numerous baked goods without compromising their texture. However, if you want an exceptionally flaky crust (as the one palm shortening produces), you might end up disappointed. When you use butter, the crust becomes softer and has a darker brown color. Why does this happen? Well, the palm shortening is 100% fat, while butter is made up from 85% fat and water.
  • If you are wondering what butter to use, it is good to know that most of the time people rely on cow's milk butter, but if you do not mind a bit stronger taste, you can go for sheep, goats, yaks, or even buffalos milk butter.
  • I have already mentioned that you can combine the coconut oil and butter. It can also be mixed with other types of shortenings when needed, but that will affect your recipes to some extent so be careful.

3. Margarine

  • Margarine is a good way to avoid dairy-based products when you want to replace palm shortening or butter in your recipes. It is mostly made up of vegetable oil. It can even happen that it has some palm oil in it as well.
  • When it comes to ingredients, butter and margarine are not anything alike. Butter is made from milk, and margarine is a man-made product that consists of refined vegetable oil and water. Still, always check the label as some brands of margarine contain some milk as well in order to be given extra creaminess.
  • The flavor of margarine is more neutral than the one butter has, and the effect it has is almost the same. You should, however, consider the fact that margarine is made with less fat than palm shortening or butter and thus you will probably need to use more of it when you are substituting any of these two.
  • If you fail to add more fat, you risk compromising the texture of your baked goods as they will turn out softer than usual.
  • If you are wondering if margarine is good for you, I have to disappoint you by informing you that it is still an ongoing debate. Those who argue against its claim that there is nothing nutritious in it as it is mostly made of low-grade types of oil. The food coloring which is added for color is also problematic for many health specialists.
  • On the bright side, it is cheaper than both butter and palm shortening, as well as widely available. If you decide you want to use it in your recipes, you will always be able to find it, and it will do the job of replacing palm shortening quite satisfactory.

4. Lard

  • Let me warn you right away - if you are on Paleo diet, vegan or vegetarian you should skip this part!
  • Lard is purified animal fat used for cooking, and it can be a great replacement for palm shortening. The lard you can buy at supermarkets is mostly hydrogenated and thus contains harmful trans fat and high levels of cholesterol. But the good news is that you can make your own lard at home and then it will be all natural and much healthier.
  • How can you make lard at home? Go to a butcher, ask him for animal fat and then cook it on your stovetop to render it yourself. Yet, no matter how good you render it, it will still taste a bit like meat and have a distinctive smell. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of it.

Final Thoughts

Palm shortening is going to make your pastries and cookies extra delicious, but even if you do not have it at the moment, you can still save the day and enjoy in tasty baked goods.

Simply use one of the substitutes listed in this article, and anything you bake will turn out as yummy as if you have made it with palm shortening.

Before you go, make sure you have the best bakeware as well! If you have any additional idea or advice, do share it below!

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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