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10 BEST Substitutes for Shortening in Pie Crust + 2 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of shortening substitutes to find the best one for using in pie crusts.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.

Butter is a fantastic alternative to shortening in pie crust because it brings a rich flavor. You can also go old-school with leaf lard. And if you want to keep your pie vegan, try coconut oil, dairy-free margarine or almond flour. Vegetable oil is okay as a last-minute substitute.

The experiment

I made mini pie crusts using several different shortening substitutes. 

Vegetable shortening is a flavorless semi-solid fat that helps separate the flour and water in your dough. This creates air pockets that give you a picture-perfect flaky crust. 

I was looking for a substitute that would give me a similarly flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pastry.

I also made notes of the final taste and texture, ease of use, and any other unique defining characteristics of the ingredient.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesSubstitute DirectionsVerdict
Butter or GheeReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Leaf Lard Replace in a 1:1 ratio, optionally add 1-2 tablespoons extra per cup of lard added10/10
Coconut OilReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Dairy-Free Margarine/Butter Replace in a 1:1 ratio, optionally add 1-2 tablespoons extra per cup of margarine added9/10
Almond FlourMix 1 ¼ cup of almond flour with 7-8 tbsp of milk and ¾ cup regular flour.8/10
Vegetable OilReplace in a 1:1 ratio7/10


I know butter is a baking staple, so it’s an obvious stand-in for shortening, but I listed it just in case.

It gave my pie crust a tender but flaky texture and a rich flavor that had my testers coming back for seconds.

As your dough bakes, the water content in the butter evaporates and becomes steam, creating air pockets. 

These are responsible for puffing up and producing those irresistible, flaky layers. 

The only downside with using butter is trying keeping it cold as you work it into the flour. It’s essential to make sure you get those air pockets.

A trick I’ve learned is freezing the butter and grating it for the flakiest crust. 

Psst… you can also use ghee for an added nutty flavor that complements many pie fillings perfectly. 

How to substitute: Replace shortening in your pie crust recipe in a 1:1 ratio with cold butter or ghee.

Leaf lard

Leaf lard might seem like a blast from the past, but this ingredient still works wonders as a substitute for shortening in pie crusts (although it’s sadly not vegetarian friendly).

It’s easier to work with than butter because of its higher melting point, meaning it won’t soften as quickly when mixed with flour. 

This results in a highly crispy, delightfully flaky pie crust – just how grandma makes it. 

Pro tip: if you want to take your pie game up a notch, consider using a mixture of lard and butter. 

This duo combines the butter’s rich taste with the crispy bite lard provides, giving you the best of both worlds. 

How to substitute: Replace shortening in your pie crust recipe in a 1:1 ratio with leaf lard + optionally 1 to 2 extra tablespoons of leaf lard (per cup of substituted shortening).

Coconut oil

Looking to keep your pie vegan? Coconut oil is the answer! 

But not just any coconut oil – you want the coconut oil cold enough that it’s scoopable or in a semi-solid consistency, like regular shortening.

This ensures you can effectively work the coconut oil into your flour and form a pliable dough you can roll out.

A fun bonus is that coconut oil will subtly infuses your pie crust with a mild tropical flavor, adding an unexpected twist to your pies. This is great with fruit-filled pies.

Want to give it a shot? Check out this coconut oil pie crust recipe from the Minimalist Baker

How to substitute: Replace shortening in your pie crust recipe in a 1:1 ratio with semi-solid coconut oil.

Dairy-free margarine/butter

If you’re not the biggest fan of coconut, you can also try dairy-free margarine or butter as a substitute for shortening.

The flavor difference from real butter is hardly noticeable, especially when paired with a decadent chocolate or zesty fruit filling. 

Just like real butter, you’ll need to keep your dairy-free alternative cold as you work it into your flour. Luckily uo

Pssst… you can use the freezing hack with this too! 

How to substitute: Replace shortening in your pie crust recipe in a 1:1 ratio with dairy-free margarine + optionally 1 to 2 extra tablespoons of dairy-free margarine (per cup of substituted shortening).

Almond flour

How does a fat-free pastry crust sound?

I didn’t have much faith in this substitute when I first encountered A Virtual Vegan’s recipe, but I was gladly proven wrong! 

The natural fats from almond flour give the pie crust a flaky texture and a sweet, buttery flavor without using any actual butter or shortening. 

Pretty neat, right? 

And since this recipe has no solid fat like butter, it’s more forgiving to work with. Yay!

How to substitute: Mix 1 ¼ cup of almond flour with 7-8 tbsp of milk and ¾ cup of flour.

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil might not be the perfect substitute for shortening in pie crust, but it’s a handy alternative that can save you an extra trip to the grocery store.

Pie crust made with oil won’t be as flaky as the ones made with the other substitutes on this list. It’ll be a bit more dense and crumbly, but it still gets the job done.

Also, unlike dough made with shortening or butter, an oil-based dough is not meant to be rolled out. 

Instead, you’ll need to press it directly into your pie dish (it’s too fragile to knead).

Pssst… this recipe from Spruce Eats uses vegetable oil, but you can really use any cooking oil you have on hand.

I think olive oil would be delicious with a lemon filling.

How to substitute: Replace shortening in your pie crust recipe in a 1:1 ratio with vegetable oil.

Other substitutes to consider 

The list above are my top picks for shortening substitutes for pie crusts adn they’ll work with any filling.

But if you don’t mind a more savory pie crust, the following are excellent options:

  • Bacon grease – brings a smoky, savory flavor to your pie crust. You can even leave it unstrained to create a bacon-studded pie crust. Yum! 
  • Schmaltz this is rendered from chicken fat. It’ll bring a caramelized savory flavor to your crust – perfect for a chicken pot pie.
  • Duck fat – this will infuse your pie crust with a subtle but noticeable richness. The caveat is it’s pretty pricey, so save it for special occasions.
  • Tallow – this is rendered from beef fat. It’s initially flavorless but will bring a meaty essence to your crusts once baked.

Substitutes to avoid

Mashed bananas and avocados work as a substitute for shortening in cookies and other baked goods but not for pie crusts.

You can’t work them into flour the same way you would with shortening or other substitutes.

10 Best Substitutes for Shortening in Pie Crust + 2 To Avoid

I tested several different shortening substitutes in pie crust to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: shortening in pie crust substitutes, substitutes for shortening in pie crusts
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 906kcal


  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup leaf lard +2 extra tablespoons
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup dairy-free margarine/butter + 2 extra tablespoons
  • cup almond flour
  • ½ cup vegetable oil


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen shortening substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 906kcal

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