Shortening and butter are both commonly used ingredients in baking. Often times, depending on the recipe you use, you may see one in exchange for the other. Both of these ingredients can be great for different reasons and choosing the right one depends on you!
Qualities of Vegetable Shortening (think Crisco)
100% Fat (creates a more tender result)
White in color
High melting point
Qualities of Butter
About 80% fat and 20% water
More yellow in color than shortening
Lower melting point
Lots of flavor
Which Should I Choose?
Both butter and shortening are great options for baking. And depending on your taste, you may prefer one ingredient over the other. Lets take a look at some items and the difference choosing butter versus shortening makes.
Because butter has a lower melting point, cookies made with 100% butter tend to spread more, thus resulting in a thinner, crispier cookie. Butter also provides a fantastic flavor! Shortening, on the other hand, will give you a taller cookie that is a bit more tender due to it being made with 100% fat. Since cookies are made with other flavors besides just butter, you may not even realize this flavor is missing!
I personally love using half butter and half shortening in my cookies. That way I get some of the natural butter flavor, but I also enjoy the height and tenderness that shortening provides.
You may think that butter is the obvious choice for buttercream; however, because of the low melting point of butter – it actually makes for a less stable icing. Butter provides a great flavor in icing so it is a good idea to have at least some in your recipe, but you also don’t want your icing to separate if it gets too warm. Adding some shortening won’t detract from the flavor and it will allow your icing to better withstand warmer temperatures.
When looking at a cake made with butter versus shortening, you likely won’t be able to see a difference. However, when eating the cakes, the one made with shortening is going to have a lighter and more tender texture than the cake made with butter.
Ultimately it all comes down to what texture and taste you prefer, as well as your budget. In general, I enjoy using a mix of both kinds of fats to create the perfect blend of texture and taste. If you’re up to the challenge, try some classic recipes out for yourself and change up the shortening and butter. You might be surprised!
As always, if baking at home isn’t your thing – you can always stop by Apple Annie’s Bake Shop and enjoy our baked goods that use the perfect ingredients for each recipe!