I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of suet substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
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 I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for suet are vegetable suet and frozen, grated vegetable shortening (both of which are vegan). You can also try lard, tallow, butter, or schmaltz. If you’re roasting or frying with the suet, you can swap it for vegetable oil.
I made a basic pie crust to try 11 suet substitutes.
Suet is the fat obtained from the kidneys of cows and muttons. It has a mild, almost bland taste and can be heated up to 392 F.
Suet is very popular in British baking, but pretty unusual anywhere else! Luckily there are lots of goo substitutes.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Vegetable suet||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Vegetable shortening||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Lard||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Tallow||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Butter||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Schmaltz||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (mixed with something neutral)||8/10|
|Neutral-flavored cooking oils||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (avoid for baking)||8/10|
Common uses for suet and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for suet and the best substitutes for those situations:
- British puddings: Try using vegetable suet, vegetable shortening, or lard. Lard is great for getting flaky pastry crusts.
- For bread and pastries: Try using vegetable suet, vegetable shortening, lard, or clarified butter.
- For roasting: Try using tallow, clarified butter/ghee, or schmaltz. Schmaltz will give your roasties an irresistibly savory flavor.
- For frying: Try using vegetable shortening, lard, or any neutral-flavored cooking oils. Canola oil is my go-to.
If you don’t eat animal products, then you can replace traditional suet with vegetable suet.
It’s made from vegetable oil and works seamlessly in any recipes that calls for regular suet – from pie crusts to Christmas puddings.
Atora is a popular brand for vegetable suet, but don’t worry if you can’t find it locally – you can easily order it online.
How to substitute: Replace regular suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with vegetable suet.
Vegetable shortening is the next best substitute if you can’t find suet!
It’s also a vegetarian and vegan friendly option, but requires a bit of prep to mimic suet (which is normally sold in grated form).
Freeze the shortening until firm but not rock solid, and then grate it into a cold bowl. Then keep the grated fat frozen until you want to use it.
Psst… another trick I learnt from the Times Colonist involves pulsing the frozen shortening in a food processor to create suet-like clumps.
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with the prepared vegetable shortening.
Lard is rendered from pork fat, and boasts a neutral taste similar to suet, making it great for savory or sweet dishes.
Its texture is softer and more spreadable than suet. But it has a high melting point that guarantees it won’t burn at high temperatures.
The softer fat gave me pie crust a fantastically flaky texture. It was melt-in-your-mouth!
Another big plus for lard is that it’s really easy to find and it’s cheap. Win-win!
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with lard.
Tallow is very similar to suet, but it uses fat from all over the cows or sheep instead of just the kidneys.
It tastes nothing on its own, but it has a distinct meaty essence that added depth to my pie crust. The difference from suet wasn’t too noticeable, but my pie was ever so slightly richer.
You can buy it at your local store or favorite butcher (which is what I did), or you can make it from scratch using beef fat.
Hey Grill Hey has an easy guide that requires over four hours of rendering – it’s worth a try if you like cooking.
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with tallow.
Butter (or clarified butter)
Butter is a convenient substitute you can use instead of suet.
Chances are you already have a stick of butter tucked away in your fridge, so you won’t need to make a trip to the store.
Use regular butter to replace suet in baked goods. And if you want to do some high heat cooking, you’ll need to use clarified butter which has a higher smoke point.
Pro-tip: when using butter for pie crusts, pop it in the freezer first.
This helps prevent it from melting too quickly, ensuring you achieve that flaky, mouthwatering crust you’d get with suet.
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with clarified butter/ghee.
Schmaltz is an animal-based alternative you can use instead of suet.
It’s a lot more flavorful than suet, with a prominent caramelized chicken flavor that I think makes everything taste amazing.
And if you don’t want the flavor to be too strong, you can mix it with a more neutral fat to tone it down.
Psst… making my own schmaltz is SO easy. And you get to snack on crispy chicken skin right after – yum!
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with schmaltz.
Neutral-flavored cooking oils (e.g canola oil)
You’ll definitely have oil hanging around in your kitchen, and they make a good suet substitute for roasting or frying.
Canola oil is affordable and easy to find. But don’t be afraid to venture into healthier alternatives like safflower, avocado, or sunflower oil.
And note: I don’t recommend using oil to replace suet in baking.
The texture of your bake will be completely different because oil is liquid at room temperature and suet is a solid.
You can make an ‘oil-based’ pie crust, but you’ll need to follow a different recipe rather than just substituting the suet for oil. Here’s a recipe from The Spruce Eats.
How to substitute: Replace suet in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen cooking oil. Avoid baking with oil!
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions listed above are my top picks for suet substitutes, but here are other options you can use if you have them:
- Duck fat – this has a mildly sweet, buttery taste that’ll make your dishes more decadent. The downside is it’s pricier than the other substitutes on the list.
- Bacon fat – this has a delicious smoky, savory flavor that’s exceptionally superb in pie crusts. But like with schmaltz, you’ll want to mix this with a more neutral fat like butter so the flavor isn’t too overwhelming.
Avoid using margarine
I know some of you will be margarine fans, but I don’t like using it in baking or cooking so I don’t think it’s a good swap for suet.
It’s more watery than other fats, which means baked goods have a flatter texture and are generally less impressive.
It’s also not that good for you!
For a vegan option, go for vegetable suet or shortening.
9 Best Suet Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1 tbsp vegetable suet
- 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
- 1 tbsp lard
- 1 tbsp tallow
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp schmaltz
- 1 tbsp neutral-flavored cooking oils
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen suet substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.