Shortening and lard are both types of fat used in baking and cooking to add moisture, richness, and flavor to a dish. They can be used to grease pans, add flavor to savory dishes, and help to create a tender texture in baked goods.


But what is the difference between the two?


The first difference we can find is what they are usually made of. While both shortening and lard are types of fat that is solid at room temperature and are commonly used in cooking and baking, probably the most important distinction between the two is that shortening is usually made from vegetable oils, such as soybean, cottonseed oil or palm oil, while lard is obtained from pig fat.

Another important difference between shortening and lard is their texture. Shortening is a very smooth and stable fat that doesn’t become solid until it reaches a very low temperature. This is what makes it a good choice for creating a flaky texture in pie crusts and other baked goods. Lard is a bit softer and more pliable, which makes it better for creating a tender texture in baked goods.

Another difference between the two fats is their flavor, which can also can influence the flavor of baked goods in different ways. Shortening has a neutral flavor, which means it doesn’t add any additional flavor to baked goods. Some people may find it too mild or neutral, and it may not contribute much to the overall flavor of baked goods.  Lard, on the other hand, has a rich, savory and distinct pork flavor that can be tasted in the finished product. It can add depth of flavor to baked goods and, while it can be desirable in some recipes, such as savory pastries, it may not be suitable for all baked goods. Some people may prefer the flavor of lard to shortening, while others may find it to be too strong or overpowering.


How do we use shortening and lard?


Shortening is used to add texture and moisture to baked goods, and to make them tender and flaky. It has a high melting point, which makes it suitable for use in icings and frostings.

Lard, on the other hand, is maybe best to use in some savory dishes, such as sautéed vegetables or to fry eggs. It can also be used in baking to produce flakier and more tender pastries. However, it has a lower melting point than shortening, which makes it a good choice for flaky pastries but less suitable for icings and frostings.

In both home baking and commercial bakeries and confectioneries, the choice between using lard and shortening will depend on the specific needs of the recipe and the desired outcome. For instance, a bakery that specializes in flaky pie crusts will likely use lard to achieve the desired texture and flavor. On the other hand, a cookie shop may use shortening to produce crisp, firm cookies. Ultimately, both lard and shortening have their place in baking, and the best choice will depend on the individual needs of each recipe.


How does using shortening or lard influence the final result in baking?


The choice between using shortening or lard in baking can have significant impacts on the final product, both in terms of taste and texture. In general, lard is considered to be the superior option for many baked goods because of its ability to produce flakier and more tender pastries. However, shortening has its own advantages and is often used in certain applications.

One of the main reasons that lard is preferred over shortening in baking is because of its flavor. Lard, which is made from pig fat, has a rich, savory flavor that can enhance the taste of many baked goods. This is particularly noticeable in pie crusts, where the lard adds a depth of flavor that is absent in crusts made with shortening. Lard is also better at retaining moisture, which helps to keep pastries flaky and tender.

In contrast, shortening is made from vegetable oils and has a neutral flavor. This makes it ideal for use in baked goods where the flavor of the pig fat is not desired, such as in some types of cookies and cakes. Shortening also has a higher melting point than lard, which makes it a good choice for baked goods that require a firmer texture, such as icings and frostings. Shortening is also a great choice for those looking to keep animal products out of their baked goods, as it is made from 100% natural vegetable fat.


Which option is better health-wise?


In terms of health, lard has a bad reputation because it is high in saturated fat. However, recent research has shown that lard is not as unhealthy as previously thought, and may even have some health benefits. Lard contains high levels of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Shortening has long been frowned upon for being made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, which can contain trans fats that are known to be harmful to health. However, this has changed since manufacturers now make great efforts to produce trans fat-free shortening in order to ensure a healthier solution for cooking and baking with shortening made from vegetable oil.

In terms of health, lard is considered to be a better option than shortening. Lard is high in monounsaturated fats, which are known to be good for heart health. Using homemade lard instead of processed, store-bought lard can also help ensure it is an all-natural product, without additives and preservatives, thus a healthier choice. Shortening, on the other hand, is often made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, which can contain trans fats that have been linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease and obesity. However, if you look for a clean label, you can find some varieties of all-natural shortening for different purposes made from non-hydrogenated palm oil in the FoodGrid product range. These are high-quality products for cooking and baking, specially developed in a way that presents no health risks or compromises for end-users.

Overall, the choice between shortening and lard will depend on personal preference, the recipe and the desired texture and flavor of the finished product. Both fats have their own unique properties and can be used in different ways in baking.