If you are out of shortening or you simply prefer using butter when you bake, it is possible to substitute butter for shortening.
While your baked goods will come out of the oven with a slightly different consistency, I promise that they will still be just as delicious.
You also do not need to adjust the oven temperature or the time your baked goods spend in the oven. Read on to learn more about substituting butter for shortening.
The substitute ratio when using butter instead of shortening
When using butter instead of shortening, you need to take the weight of the shortening that the recipe calls for and multiply it by 125%. For example, you can use 10 ounces of butter in a recipe that calls for 8 ounces of shortening. Keep in mind that one stick of butter weighs four ounces. If the recipe uses cups, you have to substitute 1 1/4 cups of butter for each cup of shortening.
Why You Have to Use More Butter Than Shortening
The reason that you have to use more butter than shortening for the same recipe is that shortening has a higher fat content. In fact, shortening is composed of 100% pure fat.
On the other hand, butter is only 80% to 85% fat. Roughly 15% of butter is water. The other five percent or so is composed of milk solids.
Make Substitutions Easier with a Digital Scale
It can be difficult to do the calculations for substituting shortening for butter. One of the things that can make this process easier is a digital scale. Ideally, you want to get a digital scale that can display weights in grams.
This way, you do not need to worry about converting cups of shortening to sticks of butter.
Instead, you can simply convert cups of shortening to grams, multiply this by 1.25, and weigh out an equivalent amount of butter.
This will help you get the substitution exactly right, which will allow you to get the best results.
Changes to Expect in Your Baked Goods
Even when you get your substation exactly right, your baked goods will not turn out quite the same. This is primarily down to the water in the butter.
Baked goods made with butter rather than shortening will be softer. They will not be as crispy as if they had been made with shortening.
Also, baked foods made with butter will have more flavor. This is because shortening is nearly flavorless, while many people (myself included) find butter to be delicious.
Baked Goods Will Be Healthier When You Use Butter
As strange as it sounds, using butter can help you make your baked foods healthier. This is because of the milk solids contained in butter.
These milk solids are rich in minerals, especially calcium.
Of course, cake or cookies made with butter will still be treats rather than essential parts of a healthy diet.
However, you should keep in mind that shortening offers no nutritional value whatsoever. It is purely used to help the food bake properly.
Baking Cake & Bread With Butter Instead of Shortening
Some foods come out well when you substitute butter for shortening. I’ve found that substituting butter for shortening has no noticeable effect on cakes and bread.
I believe this is because the texture of these foods is supposed to be very soft even when using shortening, and using butter helps you achieve a soft texture.
Butter generally works better as a substitute for shortening when baking soft foods, rather than crispy foods.
Baking Pie Crust With Butter Instead of Shortening
I like my pie crusts to be as crispy and flaky as possible.
While this texture is easy to achieve when you are using shortening, it is nearly impossible to get it right when you use butter.
I have found that salted butter works better than unsalted butter for pie crusts.
However, I would not recommend using butter for pie crusts (or other flaky pastries) unless you find yourself in a pinch and you don’t have a choice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Substitute Ratio When Using Butter Instead of Shortening
Is it possible to substitute margarine for shortening?
It is possible to substitute margarine for shortening. However, your baked goods may not come out as good as if you had substituted butter for shortening. It is better to use butter rather than margarine when substituting for shortening.
Is it possible to substitute shortening for butter?
Just as you can substitute butter for shortening, you can substitute shortening for butter. If you decide to do this, you can take the amount of butter that the recipe calls for and multiply it by 0.8. Your baked goods will come out a little crispier if you use shortening instead of butter.
Is combining shortening and butter a bad idea?
I once found myself with small amounts of both butter and shortening. I did not have enough of either for my recipe, but I would have enough if I combined the butter and the shortening. Thankfully, combining butter and shortening works well.
Preparing to Substitute Butter for Shortening
While butter can certainly be substituted for shortening in an emergency, it’s always better to plan for this substitution.
This would mean calculating how much butter you will need beforehand and purchasing it before you plan to make your baked goods.
This way, you can ensure that you have the right amount for the substitution.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.