5 Best Substitute For Shortening In Frosting

I love making chocolate cupcakes on holidays for my family and friends as I enjoy baking different types of pastries and decorating them. And one of my favorite decorations for my cupcakes is frosting.

This special mixture of shortening, powdered sugar, and flavor extract balances out my sweet cupcake taste perfectly, and it’s undoubtedly a must-have mixture on my cakes. However, I believe that, like me, you often find yourself in trouble when some ingredients are missing, and a dish is incomplete.

In this case, it is shortening in your favorite cake decoration mixture. So, should we abandon our recipe or find a suitable substitute for this ingredient?

If your answer is the latter, let’s find the best substitute for shortening in frosting with me!

What Does Shortening Taste Like?

Shortening is a common ingredient in the pastry world, and it is used to hold the moisture and fatness in a cake. Shortening is a solid fat with little water content.

As shortening is made entirely of hydrogenated vegetable oil, I can describe the taste of it as bland and pleasant. It tends to have white color, with a high degree of plasticity and a consistent, smooth, and creamy texture.

This tasteless ingredient is beneficial for baking pie crusts and pastries as it can lubricate and weaken the structure of cakes resulting in a tender and flaky production. It is also a great ingredient to keep frosting in shape for a long period due to its high melting point (117 degrees Fahrenheit).

Best Substitute For Shortening In Frosting

Substitute For Shortening In Frosting

Shortening frosting seems like a must-have ingredient as it has a major role in keeping the frosting more durable under hot weather, so when you deliver cakes, their decoration remains unchanged. So you might wonder: “What can I substitute for shortening?”

Fortunately, this smooth and creamy ingredient was not the original ingredient in the frosting. History shows that shortening was created in 1910 as a substitute for these ingredients below.

1. Margarine

Margarine, also known as the spread, is a processed food widely used for preparing pan-fried foods, sauces, and baked goods. Its first appearance was in 1869 in France by Hippolyte Mèges-Mouries to replicate butter with cheaper cost.

The first Margarine, made of beef tallow and dairy milk, earned its spotlights in the market so much that it hindered beef tallow availability. Fortunately, in 1902, an expansion of vegetable oil replacing beef tallow changed Margarine’s ingredients and shaped the modern food we use today.

There are many types of Margarine available in the market today. However, the general description for this processed food is a product containing 80% of fat minimum. It is usually made of unsaturated or trans-fats, vegetable oil, water, and skim milk. As its ingredients are quite similar to shortening, it is interchangeable with shortening in frosting and baking cakes.

You can find Margarine in the shape of a traditional stick or regular tub form with a ginger-like yellow color. Solid, slightly brittle, slightly oily are what I can describe as Margarine. 

As it is a cheaper version of butter, Margarines are used mostly for tenderizing cookies, seasoning fish, preparing pan before cooking, and making frosting or icing.

2. Sour Cream

Sour cream is a different way of substituting shortening in frosting. Sour cream can be defined as a pasteurized cream with distinctive sourness. It contains 18% minimum of fat, dairy or non-dairy milk, and pasteurized cream. 

Depending on the type of sour cream, the fat content can vary around 20-40% of fat. For example, Crème Fraiche is a type of sour cream with a high-fat content consisting of 40% of the ingredient. Thus, sour cream is a great substitute for shortening in frosting.

Sour cream was first developed in Russian in the 1600s and popularized in Europe in the 1900s. Originally, sour cream is a result of fresh cream that turns sour naturally. The bacteria growing during the fermentation creates the acidity of the cream and preserves it.

The cream tends to have a tangy and sour flavor with white color and a smooth and firm texture. If you prefer flavorless cream, you can choose Crème Fraiche to mix with the frosting mixture. I would say out of all the sour cream types, this cream has a great effect on enhancing the shortening’s flavor and texture.

Normally, people would use sour cream as a type of sauce to dip in. You can also use it cold on desserts and fruits for emulsifying the taste. 

3. Cream Cheese

If you are wondering what to do with the cream cheese leftover from the cheesecake batch you made before, using it to substitute for shortening in frosting is not a bad idea!

Cream cheese is pretty common to home cooks when you need to bake tasty cheesecake, thicken the sauce, and make frosting on desserts. Some people would even use it to substitute for butter in cooking. Now that’s the sign for a great shortening substitute.

As cream cheese is made of 30% – 70% of fat content, unskimmed milk, and cream, it tends to have a mild, sweet, and slightly tangy taste with a milky color and firm, creamy and smooth texture. The tangy taste adds complexity to the taste of the dish, especially for chocolate and velvet cakes.

4. Butter

Butter is one of the widely used cooking products that can be used interchangeably with shortening in frosting. We have been using butter since ancient Rome as medicine and complementary with main courses for celebration.

With such a long history, butter has been used for frosting since the 1800s for a type of frosting called buttercream frosting. As it is made of more than 80% of fat and milk, and water, butter has a yellow to white color with a thick, creamy, and smooth texture. 

It can have a sweet, creamy, buttery taste, which enhances the flavor of deserts greatly. That’s why this ingredient can also be used as a substitute for shortening in icing as well.

Nowadays, we use butter for various purposes such as spread on slices of bread, dipping sauce for seafood, cooking preparation for pan-frying food, and condiment on vegetables. In baking, butter is used to shorten gluten strands to tenderize the baked goods and increase the desserts’ sweet and creamy flavor.

5. Lard

Lard is another favorite healthy substitute for shortening in cake and frosting. Like shortening, lard is made of 100% of pork fat but not as thick as shortening. It had been used as a cooking fat for centuries until vegetable shortening expanded in the 20th Century.

Although lard was overshadowed by shortening, it gained its reputation back because of its nature and benefits. Lard has a fatty and neutral taste with no sense of pork flavor. This ingredient possesses a milky white color with a semi-soft and jiggy texture, which explains why it can be used in frosting mixture without ruining the desert’s main flavor.

Lard has healthy monounsaturated fats with no trans-fats and cholesterol, unlike butter. This soft ingredient can grease a pan, shorten gluten strands, and coat fried chicken.  

Ways To Use Shortening 

Shortening is the perfect ingredient for making frosting. It is tasteless, moist, and cheap enough for any home cook to pursue their baking recipes. You have known shortening can be used for making soft frosting decorations.

But do you know shortening can be used as an ingredient for cake batter and cookie dough as well? That’s not even the end of what this brilliant ingredient can do!

While writing this post, I also do a bit of research and find out there are many things you can do with shortening.

Tenderize Cake Batter

Shortening is famously known to be an element that breaks the build-up of gluten and moisturizes the batter. When putting shortening inside, it would help balance the cake’s texture and give tenderness and flakiness to cookies, cakes, and pastries.

Prevent Snow From Sticking On Shovel

As shortening has a greasy and fatty nature, you can use it to moisturize the shovel’s surface and let the snowfall out of it.

Before you start digging in the snow to clean the path after a snowstorm, use shortening to coat the shovel blade, and voila! Your shovel will never wear out because of the weight of the snow.

Polish Boots

It might be strange, but shortening can polish your muddy rain boots. Just pour in some shortening on the boot, and it will break the structure of the mud. Then you only need to wipe every dirt with a cloth.

Ease Diaper Rash

If you have a baby at home, you must learn this trick. Sometimes, diapers can be too rough for our smooth and soft baby skin. It can leave red rashes, which can irritate our lovely baby’s daily activities. As shortening is safe to eat, you can also moisturize the skin and soothe the rash spots.


1. Is Shortening Healthy?

Research shows that shortening can be dangerous to our health as some shortening types have hydrogenated fat or trans-fat. These fats can cause several health problems over time, such as heart diseases, high inflammation levels, and negative effects on the nervous system.

2. How To Store Shortening?

Storing shortening is a necessary step to ensure you can use it for future cooking recipes. You need to put the shortening in an airtight container and leave it in cool and dark storage.


Shortening is a must-have ingredient when baking cookies, cupcakes, and pastries. It is also useful to make frosting decorations for our recipes. Because of its benefits, we might think our dish is not completed without it. After flicking through this post, I hope you can find out the best substitute for shortening in frosting that is most suitable for your dish. As we know, there is nothing insoluble!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: