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Dec 31, 2010 01:49 PM

Doughnuts: Shortening vs. Butter

I am looking to finally experiment with doughnut recipes. It will be my first time making yeast dough doughnuts, although I am not unfamiliar with making other yeast dough desserts (sticky buns, sweet rolls, and so forth).

When I look up recipes for doughnuts, I notice that in the dough-making stage, many require the use of shortening over butter.

Now I know shortening, in some recipes, makes for a flakier and crumblier texture, but in doughnuts why would shortening be preferable to butter? Although both are fats, do they both produce different textural results in doughnut recipes?

I would like to use butter over shortening (for matters of taste and wanting a natural and healthier ingredient), but if shortening is important for an ideal texture in doughnuts, what other natural and tasty oil/fat can be used to produce the same results?

Thanks in advance for any advice or tips.

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  1. Depends on what type of donuts (e.g. texture) you want to make.

    You want a flakier donut use shortening.

    If you trying to make a cake-y type of donut (moist and denser), use butter.

    1. When I make doughnuts I use butter. I use Alton Brown's yeasted doughnut recipe and sub in butter for the shortening. I've never had a problem with it. I also do a pumpkin version of the same and use butter in that as well. I know that doughnut shops tend to use shortening, and in California a shortening with trans fats can only be used in doughnut dough (and prepackaged items)

      8 Replies
      1. re: sarahjay

        Are you saying that in California, if I opened up a bakery that made doughnuts, I'd be required by local law to both make and fry them with and in shortening?

        1. re: Airo

          NO you would not be allowed to use artificial trans fat products at all in California as of 1/2011

          1. re: chefj

            What's really amazing about the CA (Artificial) Trans Fat Ban is that it does not apply to school cafeterias.

            [smacks forehead]

            1. re: ipsedixit

              It does apply to schools.
              We rent a kitchen form a school and the the health department made it clear that all tras fats needed to be gone from the kitchen at least a year ago.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  It says that they "already prohibited from serving trans fats ..... pursuant to the passing of SB of 7/1/2009"
                  So they preceded the the current ban already.

          2. re: Airo

            no, i mean that the only place where artificial trans fat products can be used is in a doughnut shop in the doughnut dough. Even after the switch. It's one of the loopholes. It also doesn't apply to prepackaged foods.

            1. re: sarahjay

              As of Jan. 1st the law applies to bakeries and doughnut shops as well.

        2. palm shortening is natural, though in the end you're subbing fat for fat. Shortenings are 100% fat, butter is, at most, 86% or so, so it's a relative diet food!