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When a recipe for pie dough specifies "vegetable shortening" I assume they mean Crisco which I would rather not use bec it is loaded w/transfats.

Is there an alternative or substitute?

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  1. I'm not a baker (way too precise for me) but I have always heard that the best and flakiest pie crusts are made with duck fat. It seems like way too much work to roast a duck and collect the fat. I have no idea if duck fat is available for purchase. ????

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chow Bella

      are you sure? duck fat is very soft at room temperature, much softer than lard or vegetable shortening.

    2. I bake pie crust very often, and always use lard....it makes a lovely crust.

      1. Lard. Shortening was the new lard.

        1. If you cannot find leaf lard (Dietrichs is the best option) then I would use the new non trans fat shortening. Or just do an all butter crust.

          1. Lard, oddly is healthier than shortening and makes an incredible pie crust. There is trans fat "free" shortening, but keep in mind that that just means less than .5 grams per serving, so there are some trans fats. And seriously, lard is just so cool.

            1. Crisco now makes a trans-free shortening. I've not used it a whole lot, but it seems to produce the same results as regular Crisco. I don't like the taste of crust made with lard.

              1. I have lard and will use it, it is not hydrogenated in any way. Just pure rendered lard from a farmer. I really like Nick Malgieri's all butter crust. It has a tiny bit of baking powder in it which adds to the flakiness. I find it to be a very plastic and easy crust to work with.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: seefood

                    I promise to post in the AM,paraphrased . It is in his baking book but seasaon premire of ER is on so in the AM

                    1. re: seefood

                      link to this post on Sep 06, 2006 Candy replied

                      I make an all butter crust that I like quite a bit and I find it easy to work with

                      Cut 2 sticks of unsalted butter in to Tbs. portions and put them in the freezer to become really cold and firm. Sift 2 1/2 C. all=purpose flour with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. baking powder and place in the work bowl of your processor fitted with the steel blade. (I used to chill the bowl and blade too but don't bother anymore)Add the butter distributing it evenly on top of the flour. Have a glass of iced water at hand.

                      Pulse the processor until the flour resembles coarse meal and there are no large pieces of butter visible. Add 4 Tbs. iced water to the flour and pulse 4 times then add another 1-2 Tbs. of water as needed, pulsing until the dough holds together.

                      Remove from the food processor and divide in to 2 equaly sized balls. Flatten them slightly and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. You can hold teh dough for 2 days wrapped and for a week frozen when double wrapped.

                  2. One thing to watch with lard is if your guests might be observant Jews or Muslims. I like it and use it but I generally check in advance if I'm uncertain of my guests' religious restrictions.

                    1. I have an opinionated question for you all. I realize that crusts made with lard or "shortening" are extra flaky and tender, but to me they don't taste good. Once you have a butter crust, the rest seem pretty lame to me.

                      I will now go hide under a table until the rotten tomato barrage is over.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: oakjoan

                        Scoot over, because I'm with you on this one and need to hide under the table too.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          I was wondering what to do with those tomatoes... no, truth is I've been making a lard or shortening (plus butter) crust for so long that I can't remember what an all-butter crust tastes like. Time to give it a try--I've got a big batch of Rhode Island Greenings positively crying out to be turned into pie. Report follows.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            I make a 50/50 butter/lard for the best combination of flavor and texture. An all-butter crust tastes tough in comparison with a butter/lard mix but an all-lard pastry doesn't have the flavor.

                          2. Can I go with both? My Gma makes a really tender, but not flaky, butter crust. I love it, especially with her style of pies. Sometimes a good flaky crust is where it's at though. For example, I like a butter crust for pumpkin, but most fruits do well in a flaky crust. Actually, I don't think I've ever made a pure lard crust, there's always a little butter. what do you think?

                            1. I like a half-and-half butter/lard crust.

                              As far as vegetable shortening goes, I like the Spectrum Organic shortening. It is free of trans-fats, is organic, and vegan. It's nice to be able to make vegan pies for potlucks, etc.

                              1. OK I'll chime in--though I hate the taste of all-Crisco, I love a 1/4 Crisco, 3/4 butter crust. I agree the flavor of butter can't be beat.

                                And I hate the greasiness of a lard crust. I prefer the slightly harder tensile strenght of a butter/Crisco crust as well. A bit of tooth is fine by me.

                                1. Lard, lard is the answer. All natural, no man made substitute will compare. Embrace the lard.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mattrapp

                                    Is the brand name Manteca the same type of lard discussed?

                                    1. re: geekgirl

                                      No, I think Manteca is partially hydrogenated so it can sit on a shelf.

                                  2. No one believes it until they try it, but you can make an absolutely delicious pie crust with a oil instead of shortening, lard or butter. I use macadamia nut or unrefined safflower oil.

                                    Just mix 2 2/3 c. of flour (I use half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose) with 1 t. salt. Then, put 2/3 c. of oil in a measuring cup and add 6 T. of skim milk. Do not stir the milk and oil, but dump into flour mixture and stir to mix. Divide into two balls and roll out immediately between two sheets of wax paper.

                                    A lot of people I know think this is every bit as good as a traditional crust. Try it - you'll be shocked at how good it is.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: sourcherry

                                      I don't keep shortening or lard in my pantry so I almost always make an oil-based crust. When my friend shared her recipe (similar to sourcherry's) she had titled it "Never-Fail Pie Crust". The title proved accurate and the crusts are delicious and flaky. Because it comes together so quickly I regularly make tarts or quiches for week-night dinners.

                                      My only tip is not to over-mix it. It won't look like a smooth dough. If you need to patch, just press some dough in place.

                                      Also, I'm not sure that this type of recipe would work well for a lattice crust... has anyone tried?

                                      1. re: maviris

                                        I too am a fan of an oil crust; mine is is 3 C flour, 3/4 cup oil, 1/3 cup milk and a dash of salt. It's so simple to make and very good tasting--

                                        1. re: maviris

                                          Books like Joy of Cooking have oil based crusts, but say that they tend to be mealy, not as flaky as ones using a solid shortening. I wonder if there is some trick to making them flakier.

                                      2. If I'm making a sweet pie, I usually use half trans-fat free Crisco (for flakiness) and half butter (for flavor). For savory pies, it's lard all the way!

                                        1. This past Sunday I made an apple pie with an all-butter crust and it was a perfect combo of tender and flaky (my mind kept going to the small boxing puppets on Good Eats while I was eating it). I used 2.5 cups AP flour, 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tsp salt and 1 tablespoon sugar. Freezing one of the sticks of butter (after cutting it up) and chilling the crust after every step (before rolling out, after rolling out/before filling, & after filling) I think was key in the flakiness.

                                          Photo of my apple pie:

                                          You can see from the photo how utterly flaky the crust is, esp. the edges. And the bottom crust was a perfect balance of tender-flaky.

                                          I've never tried a lard-based crust but the all-butter crust is so good and I worry about the "animal" taste/flavor from lard, that I don't feel compelled enough to change to a lard-based crust.

                                          I've made oil crust pies last year and it's passable and good to make for those watching saturated fats, but not as good IMO as a butter crust.

                                          1. I don't use shortening because it gives little flavor to crusts. Instead, I use different types of fat for different crusts, depending on what I want to make:

                                            Lard: makes the flakiest crust, and very flavorful, especially good for savory pies.

                                            Butter and cream cheese: heavenly flavor, especially good for sweet pies, but makes a crust not as flaky as one made with lard.

                                            Vegetable oil: makes a crisp crust that is more short than flaky, has little flavor, but is easy to handle and heart-healthy.

                                            1. Sure-- substitute butter. You might need a bit more water.