lard substitute

The 10 Best Substitutes for Lard

Can I substitute lard for butter? This one question always pops in my mind every time I start with a recipe that calls for the use of lard! Let’s admit it, though lard is not an uncommon ingredient; it also is not something that you can always find in your refrigerator.   

So, the chances are that you might not have it when needed. The good news is, there are plenty of other edible fats that you can definitely use to replace lard in all sorts of recipes.

Here we will learn all about the best lard substitutes and how to put them to good use. Butter, vegetable shortenings, beef tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, margarine, vegetable oil, and vegan butter are some of the best-known substitutes for lard.

There are some other alternatives to lard as well, which do not contain any high-fat content yet give the perfect lard like texture in the food. Let’s find out!

What Is Lard? 

Lard is a semi-solid fat product that is white in color, and it is processed out of the fatty tissues of a pig. The freshly obtained pig’s fats are rendered through boiling, steaming or dry heat and converted into this white color lard.

lard substitute

Lard is widely used in both traditional cuisines and modern recipes as well. A nicely processed lard is tasteless and odorless, which is great for cooking as it does not mask the taste of other major ingredients. 

Is it healthy to use lard in cooking? 

An added benefit of using the lard is that it does not contain any trans-fat and that makes it healthier than the other processed or hydrogenated fats.

You can use lard to make sausages, fillings, toppings, pastries and several other dishes without the fear of any weird smell or flavor.

Types of Lard in the Market

Mostly the lard we buy comes in a paper-wrapped block which can be refrigerated or frozen for longer storage. To use the lard in recipes, you can either thaw the frozen or refrigerated lard for 10-15 minutes or cut it into cubes. 

Mainly, there are two types of lard that are available in the market – the fresh and the shelf-stable lard. 

Fresh lard is made from 100 percent rendered pork fat, so it has a relatively shorter shelf life and must be used within a week or two to enjoy the best of it. 

The shelf-stable lard contains a small amount of hydrogenated fat, which increases its shelf-life.

Fresh lard is a healthier option than the shelf-stable lard as it does not contain any trans-fats.

10 Best Substitutes for Lard in Recipes

If you are wondering about how to best replace the lard with its stated substitutes, then here comes a detailed insight that you have been waiting for. Let’s find out more about the best replacement for lard. 

1. Butter

Butter naturally comes to mind whenever you think to replace edible fats in a recipe. Butter is versatile and has a distinctive taste that enriches the food.  It is obtained by processing cow milk, and it does not contain any trans-fats.

lard substitute - Butter

Can I Substitute Lard with Butter?

Well, yes! Butter is one of the best alternatives to replace lard in a variety of recipes. It gives a similar texture and consistency in cooking as lard does. However, butter has a lower smoking point which means it heats up faster than the lard, so use in stir-fries or recipes with a short cooking time. It is a good substitute for lard in bread.

If you check out this Nutri-fact table, you will see how butter contains a lesser amount of fat than lard. Keeping this difference in mind, you need to use more butter to replace a certain amount of lard. For instance, to replace 1 cup of lard, you will need 1¼ cup of butter in a recipe.

2. Vegetable Shortening

People who use Crisco in their meals often ask, “can you substitute lard for shortening?” Well, the simple answer is yes! Shortening is another suitable substitute to replace lard in several recipes. In fact, shortening was first prepared to use instead of lard- as a plant-based alternative.

lard substitute - Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable shortenings are produced by the hydrogenation of vegetable oil. This process converts liquid fats into semi-solid ones.

Substituting Lard with Shortening:

Shortening can replace lard in a recipe in a 1:1 ratio which means that you should use an equal amount of shortening instead of lard. It is a good substitute for lard in tamales.

3. Beef Tallow 

Beef tallow is another animal-sourced fat just like pork lard; the only difference is that it is beef fat.

lard substitute - Beef Tallow

Beef tallow has the same white color, semi-solid texture and high-fat content as the lard has. In other words, it is a perfect replacement for lard. One thing that you should keep in mind is that beef tallow is also rich in saturated fats and calories, so it is only suitable for people who are suffering from high blood cholesterol or any related health problem.

How to Use?

You can substitute lard with beef tallow in a 1:1 ratio, so 1 cup of beef tallow is enough to replace 1 cup lard. It is a good substitute for lard in tortillas.

4. Ghee or Clarified Butter 

Ghee or clarified butter is particularly suitable to replace lard in recipes in which melted form of lard is used like stir-fries or curry bases. Authentic traditional ghee has a very prominent aroma and taste which may disturb you if you are not used to such smell in your food. And if that’s the case, then avoid using ghee as a replacement for lard or use vegetable ghee.

lard substitute - Ghee or Clarified Butter

How to replace lard?

Ghee is one form of butter, so it contains just as many fats and saturated fats. 1 cup of lard can be replaced with 1¼ cup of ghee or clarified butter. Or you can use it as the taste and aroma required in a recipe. 

5. Margarine

Margarine is another type of processed fat that you can use instead of lard if you have no other option on the table.

lard substitute - Margarine

Margarine may appear like butter due to its yellow color and solid appearance, but it is highly processed and contains many trans-fats, unlike butter.

The question here is, can you use margarine to substitute lard? Well, yes! If you don’t have health issues and want to use it in a small amount in your recipes, then using a little margarine to replace lard in cooking won’t harm you.

How to Use?

Due to its trans-fats content, I would recommend you all to use it in a very small amount, just enough that would help you cook a good meal or let you get the desired texture. 

Healthy, Vegan Lard Substitutes:

If you are skeptical about using all the above-mentioned lard substitutes in your meal due to their saturated fat content, then don’t worry! You are about to have some healthy vegan options to explore and use instead of lard.

6. Coconut Oil   

Among all the options, I say coconut oil is the best lard substitute! It is semi-solid, which can be melted easily, appears white in color and contain no trans-fats and has lesser saturated fats. So, it gives you good taste and good health. 

lard substitute - Coconut

How to replace?

Coconut oil does have its distinctive taste and aroma. So, when you add coconut oil instead of lard to a recipe, it will give some coconutty taste to it. It is important to keep that in mind while adding to food and your taste preferences.

Keeping the taste aside, you can substitute an equal amount of coconut oil for lard. It is a good substitute for lard in collard green recipes.

7. Olive Oil 

Olive oil is my all-time favorite choice for healthy cooking. The extra-virgin olive oil has lesser saturated fats and calories, whereas it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for health.

lard substitute - Olive Oil

You can replace lard with olive oil in cooking stir-fried, roasted vegetables, stuffing, sauces and dips etc.

8. Vegetable Oil 

Other than olive oil, you can use all sorts of nut-based oil with neutral flavor to replace lard in a recipe. Canola, soybean, corn, cottonseed, rapeseed, sunflower, sesame and grapeseed oil are some good vegetable oils to use instead of lard. 

lard substitute - Vegetable Oil

You can use them in a 1:1 ratio to substitute lard in a recipe while keeping their respective taste, consistency and smell in mind. 

9. Vegan Butter

Vegan butter is another good option to replace lard, and it is made out of vegan buttermilk, so it is completely plant-based. Almond or peanut butter are also plant-based substitutes for lard. So, you can use them all in an equal amount to substitute lard in a recipe.

lard substitute - Vegan Butter

10. Mashed Avocado or Banana

Surprisingly, there is yet another substitute for lard which contain no fatty acids and have very low calories, and that is a mashed banana or avocado flesh.  These substitutes might not provide the rich fat content that the lard offers, but they have the texture that can best replace lard in recipes like bread, muffins, cakes or pastries.

lard substitute - Mashed Avocado or Banana

Table: Lard Substitutes and Their Fat Profile

Nutri-Values Lard Butter Vegetable


Beef Tallow Coconut oil Margarine Olive Oil Vegan Butter
Calories 898 717 884 902 862 526 884 614
Total Fat 100 g 81g 100g 100g 100g 59.17 100g 56g
Saturated fat 32 g 51g 91g 50g 87g 10.42g 14g 4.2g
Polyunsaturated fat 11 g 3g 1g 4g 1.8g 24.7g 11g 14g

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Crisco a substitute for lard?
Crisco is a vegetable shortening, so it can be used as a good, healthy and plant-based substitute for lard. It has lard like texture and consistency, which you can use to your advantage in cooking.
Are ghee and lard the same?
Ghee does appear like the lard, but it has an entirely different source. Ghee is also known as clarified butter. Authentic and traditional “desi” ghee is processed out of animal milk, whereas modern-day ghee is prepared from vegetable oils like the shortenings. Due to these differences, lard and ghee are not the same, but you can always use ghee to substitute lard.
What is a vegan substitute for lard?
All fat products obtained from plant-based sources, including vegetable shortening, vegan butter (almond or peanut butter etc.), coconut oil, and olive oil, and mashed banana, are all a good vegan substitute for lard.
Which is healthier, lard or Crisco?
Crisco is a vegetable shortening and, like any other shortening, is prepared using the hydrogenation process, and as a result, it ends up having trans-fats. These trans-fats are a great threat to health, especially for those who have high blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Lard with lesser saturated fat is healthier than Crisco.

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