There are a couple of different reasons why you may need to reach for a substitute ingredient in the kitchen. The first, and most obvious, is when you run out of something that is called for in a recipe. You are moving your way through the recipe, checking off one step after the next, only to find that you don’t actually have one specific thing on hand to complete the meal. In this case, you’ll need to think quickly and turn to something else you have in the pantry that can do the job.
But that’s not the only case where a substitute will be called for. In other instances, you might find a recipe that looks great for you and your family other than one ingredient that you just don’t like or can’t find in your local grocery store. Again, you’ll need to come up with an alternative, although it’s a bit easier this time because you haven’t started cooking yet.
One common ingredient you might need is palm shortening. Finding the perfect palm shortening substitute is easier than you might think.
In this post, we’ll explore what palm shortening, some of the best palm shortening substitutes, and the benefits of palm shortening. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What is Palm Shortening?
Palm shortening is made from palm oil. By taking out a portion of the unsaturated fat that is naturally found in palm oil, it’s possible to create a shortening product that can be used in a variety of cooking methods. While palm shortening is certainly not as popular as other types, it has gained a somewhat loyal following for the various features it brings to the kitchen (more on this in the “Benefits” section below).
It’s important to point out that some shortening products contain palm oil as one of their ingredients, but they also use other oils in the process. This is not the same thing as palm shortening, which is made entirely from palm oil. That’s not to say that one is better than the other, necessarily, it’s just important to point out that you should read the labels on any shortening that you may purchase. If you want to buy palm shortening specifically, and not a blended shortening that uses multiple oils, be sure to shop intentionally for palm shortening.
With shopping in mind, palm shortening is getting easier and easier to find. Plenty of grocery stores will have it available, although it probably won’t be as prominently stocked as other types. Also, you can easily find palm shortening available to order online, so that’s always an option as long as you are planning ahead enough for it to be shipped to you.
7 Best Substitutes for Palm Shortening
Now that we have a basic understanding of what palm shortening is, let’s jump into our list of possible palm shortening substitutes. Whether you are scrambling to make an immediate replacement for a dish that’s already underway, or you need to alter a recipe for something you’ll be making in the future, we hope these substitutes serve you well when cooking.
This is an easy place to start our list. Butter makes a great substitute for palm shortening for a few different reasons. First, it’s extremely easy to find. You aren’t likely to run into a grocery store – in the United States, at least – that doesn’t offer butter, so finding this ingredient is a breeze. And, as long as you consume dairy in your home, you probably already have some on hand. It also lasts quite a long time in the refrigerator, so it’s an easy ingredient to stock up on.
Also, if you are going to be baking, butter is well-suited for that application and is called for in countless recipes. In fact, if you are looking at a recipe online that calls for shortening, it’s likely that someone in the comments below the recipe will have advice on how to use butter instead. Baked goods that use butter tend to have a light and flaky texture, so you will probably be quite pleased with how your goods come out when all is said and done.
One thing to keep in mind when cooking with butter instead of shortening is the flavor. While palm shortening brings a pretty neutral flavor profile to whatever you are making, butter is not so passive. Instead, you are going to get at least some of the butter flavor coming through in the finished dish. That might be exactly what you want, of course, but if you are looking to use fat for its other properties without influencing the taste of your food, one of the other ideas on our list may be a better bet.
For some people, cooking with this one is going to be a no-go. Any kind of diet that eliminates animal products is also going to eliminate lard, so we understand that this palm shortening substitute will not be right for everyone. However, if you don’t have any issue using animal products and are looking for a suitable substitute for palm shortening, this might be a winner.
Whether or not lard will work for your needs depends on what you are preparing. If you are going to be deep frying, you’ll likely find that lard works out well, and you shouldn’t have much trouble putting it to work in that application. With that said, it’s important to note that you might get a meaty or porky flavor coming through a little bit because of the origin of the lard. That’s probably not going to be a problem if you are making something like fried chicken, but it certainly could be off-putting in a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Lard contains high amounts of trans fats so you’ll want to consider this when deciding on a palm shortening substitute.
Like lard, this can be a one of the top palm shortening substitutes. If you need to use shortening in its semi-solid state, going with vegetable oil instead is not a good swap. Where this can work out, however, is if you are going to be melting down the shortening anyway, as you would do when frying food. If your palm shortening is destined for liquid form, just starting out with vegetable oil is a perfectly reasonable swap.
There are a couple of things to like about using vegetable oil for this purpose. First, the neutral flavor profile isn’t going to get in the way of whatever you are trying to create. Vegetable oil doesn’t bring any notable flavors to your food, so it will stay out of the way and let the ingredients shine through. This is a positive characteristic for deep frying, and it also works out nicely for sautéing.
Another big benefit to turning toward vegetable oil is the low cost. This is an extremely affordable item at most grocery stores and will typically cost much less than a similar amount of palm shortening. In fact, you might be looking for a substitute for palm shortening simply because of its cost, and vegetable oil will help you save money while potentially accomplishing the same thing (again, in the right application).
If you’re in need of a palm shortening substitute, vegetable shortening can be a great option. It is very similar to palm shortening with the exception that it is not made from palm trees but rather – soybean oil and cottonseed oil.
Vegetable shortening is high in fats like many of the other substitutes on the list, but is lower in trans fats.
Vegetable shortening can be a great replacement for palm shortening because of the similar consistency. Give it a try for your next palm shortening substitute.
Typically, people think of margarine first as a substitute for butter. That’s commonly how it’s seen and used, but it might work as a substitute for palm shortening depending on what you are trying to make. If you already use margarine for other purposes around the kitchen, turning to it as a sub for palm shortening in some cases might be a good fit.
One of the things to think about when bringing margarine into a recipe is that it does include some degree of water content. Since there is no water present in palm shortening, you won’t be adding quite as much fat to your recipe if you bring in margarine in the same quantity (the same is true when you substitute butter for shortening). So, you may need to use more margarine than you would have used shortening to have the finished product come out right. On this point you might have to do a little experimenting until you dial in the amount perfectly for your tastes.
So, why would you use margarine and not just use butter? This is likely a choice that will be made by those who don’t want to use animal products. If you opt for margarine, you can still deliver the fat you need to your recipe, along with some of the same flavor that butter provides, without using a product that involves animals. This is a personal decision, of course, but it’s good to know that margarine is an available option depending on your dietary preferences and needs.
One of the most palm shortening substitutes is coconut oil. At room temperature, coconut oil is solid, so you can scoop it out of the container and use it in much the same way you would use palm shortening. It does melt when the temperature warms up, so you might have trouble using it directly as a shortening sub if you are cooking in a hotter climate.
Part of the popularity of coconut oil, both as a shortening replacement and as an ingredient in general, has to do with its health benefits. This is considered to be one of the healthier oils available today, so give this option a close look if the health profile of your food is an important factor in your decision making.
The one possible drawback here that we do need to point out is the taste. Since coconut oil comes from coconuts, it is going to naturally deliver some of that coconut taste to your food. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it depends on your preferences. If you are making something that could actually benefit from a hint of coconut flavor, coconut oil might be a perfect addition. It’s easy to imagine some savory dishes, however, that would not be well suited to the addition of a coconut taste.
Related: Peanut Oil Substitutes
This might seem like an obvious answer, but you could just use a typical shortening product instead of using palm shortening in your recipe. You aren’t going to want to use this approach if you are trying to get away from vegetable-based shortenings for one reason or another, but it can work if you simply run out of palm shortening and need to replace it with something else.
Many shortening products on the market include some palm oil in their creation, so you will only be making a very modest change to the ingredient that is going into your dish. You probably won’t notice much if any texture or taste difference by making this change, and you’ll be able to use the same amount as you were going to use anyway. So, this is an extremely simple and straightforward substitution. Also, it’s easy to find shortening options in nearly every grocery store, so availability shouldn’t be an issue.
Related: Best Miso Substitutes
Benefits of Palm Shortening
If you are walking down the aisles of your local grocery store, or if you are shopping for groceries online, you have plenty of shortening options available to you. Shortening is popular for many different applications, including baking and frying. So, why would you pick palm shortening over the other choices you have at your disposal? Let’s take a look at some of what makes palm shortening an appealing pick.
The shelf stability of palm shortening is one of the great draws to this product, and that stability can help you keep plenty of it on hand. For the serious home cook who likes to have options available in the pantry, adding a container of palm shortening is something you can do without the worry of it going bad anytime soon. Of course, always check the date on the container and make sure the shortening is still good before using it.
In terms of what you can create with palm shortening, many people like it for baked goods because of the texture it can offer. Getting the texture of your food just right is an important task when cooking or baking, so consider experimenting with palm shortening to see if it is an improvement over the other products you’ve been using in that role.
Along with creating appealing textures in your baked goods, palm shortening can also be melted down for deep frying. One of the challenges you face when deep frying food is avoiding having the taste of your chosen frying liquid make its way into the food. Palm shortening does a good job here of not invading the food with an unwanted flavor, so you might find that it is an excellent choice for frying duty in your kitchen.
Final Thoughts on the Best Palm Shortening Substitutes
As you can see, there are plenty of places to turn when you need to make a substitution for palm shortening in one of your recipes. Sure, you may have to sacrifice in one way or the other in terms of the finished product, but that’s usually the case when making substitutes. It’s okay if the completed dish doesn’t precisely match with what you would have gotten from using the palm shortening, as long as it tastes good and meets with your needs.
Once you learn which palm shortening substitute work best for your needs, keep one or two of them on hand so you always have an option while in the middle of cooking a meal. A well-stocked pantry can go a long way toward allowing you to get the most possible enjoyment out of cooking – and eating – at home.