Shortening vs. Lard – What’s The Difference?

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Two of the most popular fats used in baking are shortening and lards. While both make the dish rich in flavor, they have different tastes and textures. Moreover, both of them originate from different sources.

The primary difference between the two is that lard is made from animal fat, while shortening is obtained from vegetable oil. Baking involves the use of a lot of shortening. While lard is more commonly used in frying.

In this article, we have covered all the details relating to lard and shortening. We have covered the differences as well as similarities between the two. So, keep on reading to get more educated on these two fats.


First of all, there are two ways in which shortening is addressed. While shortening can be referred to as solid fat at room temperature, on the other hand, it can be referred to as vegetable shortening. The latter is hydrogenated vegetable oil and can be palm oil or cottonseed oil.

Vegetable oils get fully hydrogenated and turn into saturated fats. We would be wrong if we say shortening has a distinct flavor. It is due to the fact that it was manufactured in such a way that it mimics the taste of butter.

It was primarily used in baking but not to add flavor to the dish. Nowadays, high-quality oils taste much like butter and are widely used in baking. Although it was made to mimic butter, it didn’t, leading to a shortening greasy tasting.

You can find shortening in two ways: canned and solid or in a liquid state stored in plastic jars. It is creamy and easily spreadable. Shortening resembles more as softened butter. There are different types of shortening that you will find in the market. The first and most common is all-purpose shortening. It can be used in just about anything; however, it is typically used in frying.

The other kind of shortening is cake shortening. It has emulsifiers that are used in the baking cake. Shortening was an alternative for butter initially, but it doesn’t end there. Shortening has no flavor, so it doesn’t affect the flavor of the food and the second reason it is widely used is that it prevents the development of gluten in the dough.

Although gluten is necessary in products that need to be held firm, such as bread, shortening comes into play in the case of products with less flour and more fat. It makes the shortbread or crust flaky and crumbly. It works great for people who have gluten intolerance.

Nutritional Facts

In one tablespoon of shortening, the nutritional content included is:

  • Total calories: 110
  • Total fat: 12 grams
  • Unsaturated fat: 3.5 grams
  • Saturated fat: 2.5 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 0 grams

Health Benefits

A study done by the Harvard school of public health has shown that a tablespoon of vegetable shortening contains about 12.8 grams of fats and about 9 grams of it is unsaturated. Unsaturated fats have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart-related diseases. Thus, making a majority of fat intake in the unsaturated form will positively affect your heart.

Some shortenings, such as olive oils, are rich in vitamin E, which reduces blood pressure to prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity. Moreover, consuming olive oil will be a healthier option to intake fats. It contains mostly monounsaturated fats that provide vitamins like K and E.


Lard is a solid or semi-solid fat that is extracted from animal fat. It can be considered a type of shortening if we look from a broader point of view. It has been popular in the past as much as butter is nowadays.

Lards popularity decreased exceptionally when vegetable oil came into play. However, nowadays, it is regaining its popularity in the kitchen. It is specifically becoming popular in dairy-free diets.

The lard that is now available in the market is processed lard. First, its fat is melted through boiling or steaming. Another method, dry rendering, is also used to melt fat, which involves melting in big vats without liquid.

Once the fat is melted, it is then bleached. Then preservatives and hydrogen are added to obtain what is now called rendered lard. This lard has a mild flavor and is solid at room temperature. However, there are lards also available that are not bleached or hydrogenated. They are naturally processed lards. However, they are pretty strong in flavor and odor.

The primary thing that alters the flavor of the lard is how it’s processed. The lard that is processed the right way is almost flavorless. It further doesn’t have any odor. Lard is considered to be a multipurpose fat. It can be used in cooking or baking as needed. It is widely used in shortbreads or crust to make them flaky.

Lard is quite creamy and spreadable similar to shortening. It comes in the same white buttery yellow color. Lards commonly available are typically made from pig fat; lards made from duck fat and goose fat are also available.

Nutritional Facts

A serving of about one tablespoon of lard includes the following

  • Total calories: 115
  • Total Fat 13ggrams
  • Saturated Fat 5ggrams
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4ggrams
  • Cholesterol 12mgmilligrams
  • Monounsaturated Fat 5.8ggrams
  • Potassium 0mgmilligrams
  • Sodium 0mgmilligrams
  • Total Carbohydrates 0ggrams
  • Dietary Fiber 0ggrams
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 0g

Health Benefits

Lard makes the perfect combination of the three main fats: monounsaturated polyunsaturated, and saturated. They allow you to intake all kinds of fats with one product. However, you have to make sure that you are not exceeding the recommended daily intake of fats which can be unhealthy.

Lard is loaded with vitamin D and healthy cholesterol. This helps regulate your hormones and reduce inflammation. Moreover, it has a high smoking point compared to other oils as low smoking point oils may lead to cancer.

So, What’s the Difference Between Lard and Shortening?

  1. Lard is primarily made from animal fat, while shortening is obtained from vegetable oils.
  2. Shortening, such as Crisco, is more commonly used in baking, while lard is more common in cooking and frying.
  3. Lard doesn’t have any flavor, while shortening tastes more like butter.
  4. Lard is mostly available in solid form, while shortening is typically in liquid form.
  5. Shortening has a longer shelf life and can last for about 24 months if sealed, while lard can last for 4 to 6 months.