7 Best Substitutes for Lard

So you have a recipe that calls for lard. If you landed on this page most likely you are looking to substitute lard for another ingredient. Maybe you don’t have any on hand or you cannot find it at your local grocery store. Perhaps you just don’t like the idea of using lard or would rather substitute it for a healthier or vegan option. Well, you are in the right place. In this article you will learn all about lard: what it is, how and why it is typically used, and the best substitutes for lard. 

What is lard?

Lard is a refined fat commonly used in cooking that is sourced from pork. It is a solid animal fat product can be purchased at the store. It is often used in southwestern and Mexican cuisine so you will have better luck finding it in these parts of the United States. If you cannot find it at your local grocery store, you could even try making your own!

The process of making lard requires heating the pork fat until it liquifies. Once it has liquified, the fat is then carefully strained and separated into containers for storage. When cooled down to room temperature, the lard solidifies and has a pure white or off-white appearance. This entire process is referred to as “rendering”. 

How is lard used?

Lard is used in cuisines all over the world. In historic times when resources were scarce, people used as much of an animal as they could to avoid waste and thus, we have lard. Lard is definitely not as popular as it once was. You are most likely to come across it in old-fashioned recipes.

Although lard can be used for simple frying and cooking, you may also find it in a baking recipe. Lard is similar to butter because it has a high proportion of saturated fat. This type of fat that makes pastries light and flaky so it is a good choice for pie crusts and other flaky pastries. Some other common recipes that use lard include tortillas, tamales, and even fried chicken.

Why is lard solid?

If you wonder why some fats are solid at room temperature and others are not, it comes down to the distribution of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. 

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Although people tend to think of fats as having one or the other, every fat contains a mixture of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. It’s the proportions of saturated to unsaturated fats that determine whether a particular fat is a solid or liquid at room temperature.

Fats that contain a higher proportion of saturated fats, such as coconut oil and lard, will be solid at room temperature. On the other hand, oils such as olive oil and vegetable oil are higher in unsaturated fatty acids.

What are the best substitutes for lard?

Because lard is solid, the best substitutes to use in place of lard are those that are also solid at room temperature. Because lard is made from pork, it is not a great option if your follow a halal diet or a vegan or vegetarian diet. Fortunately, I have compiled a list of the best lard alternatives, many of which are completely free of animal products!

1. Shortening

Vegetable shortening is easily the best option when picking a substitute for lard. Shortening has a similar texture a neutral flavor. So if you are looking for a lard alternative that will result in the most similar outcome as lard, shortening is your best bet. It can easily substitute for lard in nearly any recipe. 

The best thing about shortening is that because the texture is so similar to lard, you can easily substitute it with a 1:1 ratio. So if a recipe calls for a cup of lard, you can go ahead and substitute 1 cup of shortening. For most recipes, you won’t notice a difference.

2. Coconut oil

Due to the solid texture of coconut oil, it can work as a good substitute for lard. If you are looking for a vegan substitute for lard that is less processed than shortening, this is a great option.

The drawback to coconut oil is that it does have a subtle coconut flavor that may come through in your recipe. It will work better in recipes that won’t be negatively affected by a hint of coconut flavor. 

3. Ghee

Ghee is a good option if your are looking for a non-vegan substitute for lard. It is similar to lard in that it is also made from refining fat. In this case ghee is made by refining butter. 

Glass jar containing ghee with a silver spoon scooping some out. In the background there are pink and white flowers.
Ghee- Photo by Megumi Nachev on Unsplash

4. Butter

This popular cooking fat can also work as a substitute for lard as it has a similar creamy texture. Go for unsalted butter in most recipes so that you can control the amount of salt that goes into your food.

Keep in mind that it does have a slightly lower smoke point of 350oF compared to lard which has a smoke point of 370oF. If you have a recipe that requires cooking at high heat (such as deep frying), it is better to stay away from butter. When cooking at high temperatures, stick to an oil with a high smoke point such as canola oil or avocado oil. Canola oil has a smoke point of 400oF, and avocado oil has a smoke point of 520oF.

5. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is the best alternative if you plan at cooking at very high temperatures. It has a high smoking point compared to almost every other fat or oil and can therefore handle high cooking temperatures.

6. Vegetable oil

Another option for those following a plant-based diet is plant oils. Solid fats will produce the most similar results compared to lard, but plant-based oils can work depending on the recipe. Vegetable oil has a slightly higher smoking point than butter and lard, coming in at 400oF.

A liquid fat such as vegetable oil will result in a product that is not as light fluffy which may be more of an issue in a recipe such as tamales. It also won’t create a flaky pie crust like a solid fat will. Usually recipes for flaky pie crusts use a solid fat that has been shredded, folded or cut into the batter, creating pockets of fat that result in the flaky texture we love. While you may not get exactly the same results, vegetable oil can make a suitable substitute if you are looking for healthier options.

Vegetable oil is also a healthier alternative to lard. Plant oils often contain more healthy fat compared to solid fats like lard or butter. These healthy fats are known as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. On the other hand, solid fats are high in saturated fats. Excess saturated fat is linked to heart disease and should be limited.

7. Bacon Grease

Bacon grease can be a good alternative to lard, but the distinct flavor and saltiness will remain. Be careful of using bacon grease especially in sweeter recipes such as a fruit pie crust.


There you have it. Lard is used in a variety of cuisines but really stands out by making recipes such as tamales, and pastries light and fluffy. The best lard substitutes are those that are also solid at room temperature such as shortening, butter or ghee. I hope you found this post helpful. Until next time.

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