Rendered pork fat creates lard, an ingredient that is used in many retro cook books. Crispy roast turkey skin, flaky short pie crust, slow cooked casseroles, delicate cakes and cookies are all enhanced by lard. It’s also tasteless, odorless and can be stored in the fridge for up to a year – all handy benefits that our great grand parents would have savored.
In the 1950’s lard became a pariah of the kitchen, scorned for it’s artery clogging potential (one teaspoon contains 115 calories). But times change and new low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets have emerged. Lard is more accepted and food websites will occasionally include lard in their recipes. Whether your recipe is old or new, what if you don’t want to use rendered pork fat in your food?
There are actually numerous reasons you might be looking for a lard substitute…
- it’s not available at the local supermarket.
- lard contains pork which isn’t part of a Halal or Kosher diet.
- it’s not recommended for those on a calorie restricted diet.
- pork fat is unsuitable for anyone on a plant based diet.
If you need an alternative to lard for your next recipe then we have some commonly found replacements. Keep reading to find a suitable option for you.
6 substitutes for lard
If you’re looking for a backup option that’ll work in most recipes then butter is your best bet. It can be used in any baking application, to crisp up roasted poultry, in batters and more. Butter is versatile and will give a similar end result to lard. One glaring exception would be cooking on high heat as the smoke point of butter is lower than lard. So if you’re cooking a dish like stir-fry then don’t use butter as it’ll burn easily.
When choosing butter at the store check that it’s 100% butter, not a blend as this will reduce the fat content. Lard is 100% fat so you’ll need pure butter; even then, butter contains around 85% fat (depending on the brand) so you’ll want to increase the amount of butter in some recipes. For example, baking recipes such as cakes and pie crust often fail when you reduce the fat content.
Some conversion examples…
|Lard||Amount of butter to use|
|¼ cup lard||¼ cup + 1 Tbsp|
|½ cup lard||½ cup + 2 Tbsp|
|¾ cup lard||¾ cup + 3 Tbsp|
|1 cup lard||1 ¼ cups|
|2 cups lard||2 ½ cups|
2. Beef tallow
Beef tallow, or dripping, is very similar to lard and is the product of rendered down beef fat. This is a good option for those on a Kosher or Halal diet who can’t eat pork.
Use the same quantity of beef tallow as you would lard in any recipe and you can expect similar results.
Beef tallow, like lard, is high in calories so it isn’t a good option if you’re on a calorie controlled diet. It’s also not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a good substitute for lard when you’re frying or cooking at a high heat. It has a high smoke point, like lard. Baking recipes are increasingly using coconut oil so you could use it in cakes and biscuits as well. It is also suitable if you’re on a plant based diet.
Use the same quantity of coconut oil as you would lard in any recipe. Keep in mind that coconut oil imparts a subtle coconut flavor which may not be ideal for everyone.
4. Vegetable shortening
As lard lost its appeal in the second half of the 1900’s, vegetable shortening gained favor with the home cook. It is made from soybean, vegetable or palm oil and is a very close substitute for lard. Although the fat content is high, it is a great option for anyone on a restricted diet: Halal, Kosher, vegan or vegetarian. Shortening also has a high smoke point so if you’re frying, use this option instead of butter.
The ideal ratio is to use 1:1 so 1 cup of lard means you’ll use 1 cup of shortening.
5. Olive oil
Olive oil works well in baking and offers another plant based substitute. Keep in mind that this oil does add a mild taste of olives so it won’t be appropriate for every dish. If you have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil you’ll find its smoke point is relatively low so you may want to consider an alternative such as canola oil if you’re frying.
We’ve created a super helpful resource on the difference between olive oil and canola oil. It’s worth the read so check it out here.
Substitute using equal quantities as the recipe calls for.
6. Avocado or mashed banana
If you use avocado or banana in baking then you shouldn’t expect the same result as what you’d get from lard. Making pastry? Avoid this back-up option and choose one of the others on this list.
Where can you use these replacements? If you’re baking muffins, cookies, bread or cakes then these substitutes will provide good moisture, without the high calories.
Use half the quantity of fruit as you would lard. Mix the ingredients and check to see how the texture looks. If it’s dry then adding more banana or avocado is recommended.
Related reading: What are the best substitutes for suet?
As you can see, there are plenty of substitutes for lard which are commonly found in the supermarket. Nothing will perfectly replace lard; it’s ability to bring taste and texture to food is hard to compete with. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make the dish. Get creative and experiment with different options to see which works best for you. After all, food is all about personal preferences and there isn’t one alternative on this list that will be suitable for everyone.