Making a pie crust with shortening is a classic way to ensure you have a soft flaky crust. But what if you don’t have any shortening on hand? Or maybe you just don’t want to use shortening and are wondering if there is another way.
No one wants to give up that amazing texture that shortening provides but don’t worry, there are many ways to make a great pie crust without shortening!
Why Skip Shortening
Many people are turning away from using traditional shortenings in baking and here is why- it is just not healthy. Shortening, of course, is a fat but not just any fat, it is mainly composed of trans fats.
Study after study has shown that consuming too many trans fats will lead to coronary artery disease by raising cholesterol. Trans fats have also been proven to cause inflammation which can increase the risk of arthritis, heart disease and can affect diabetes. This doesn’t sound good!
Trans fats have actually been banned in many states, making it illegal for restaurants to even use them! So why would you want to put these harmful chemically created fats into your pie crust?
Well, that’s what people have been doing for ages and you must admit, shortening does make one tasty crust! But it is clearly time for a change!
While you can find shortening that doesn’t have trans fats (thanks science!), you still may have other reasons for wanting to look for ways to make pie crust without shortening.
Many people find shortening to be bland and want a richer flavor in their crust than shortening can provide. Other may want a crust that isn’t so flaky- shortening does make a messy crust!
Maybe you are looking for a replacement to shortening because you just never have it in the house and don’t feel like buying it just for when you make pies. All of these are valid reasons for wanting to make pie crust without shortening!
1 – Butter in Place of Shortening
The first ingredient that you can use as a substitute for shortening in pie crust is good old butter. Using butter in place of shortening is very easy as it is just a simple one to one swap. So, if your pie crust calls for ¼ cup shortening, you can just use ¼ cup butter. Easy as that!
When using butter in place of shortening in your pie crust, make sure the butter is room temperature so that it has the same soft consistency as shortening. This will make it easier to knead into your pie crust and the end result will be closer to your usual shortening pie crust.
You may notice a slight difference in the pie crust when you use butter rather than shortening. While shortening is 100% fat, butter is about 85% fat and 15% water.
This slight reduction in fat will make the crust a little less flaky however, the rich taste of butter will more than make up for the change.
2 – Oil in Place of Shortening
If you want to use oil rather than shortening (or in place of butter), the first type of oil to turn to would be coconut oil. Coconut oil is solid when it is at room temperature (not too hot!) and will therefore be able to blend into the pie crust like shortening.
Coconut oil also lends a subtle tropical taste to the pie crust that compliments many kinds of pies. Use ¾ the amount of coconut oil as the recipe calls for in shortening. So, if your recipe asks for 1 cup shortening, use ¾ cup coconut oil.
Vegetable oil will also work in a pinch and you should use the same ¾ ratio as discussed for coconut oil. Vegetable oil has a fairly neutral taste that won’t interfere with the taste of your pie.
When using oil in place of shortening in pie crust, you will notice that the dough is much greasier despite using less fat. You should use the pie crust made with oil immediately after making the dough to prevent the oil from absorbing even more into the flour which will create an even greasier dough.
After the pie bakes, it won’t be extremely greasy anymore but the crust will be more firm and less flaky than if you had used shortening or butter. This crunchier texture holds true no matter what kind of oil you use.
The crust will still taste delicious and be suitable for any kind of pie but you will definitely notice the difference when making a pie crust without shortening!
3 – No-Fat Pie Crust
If you are looking to make pie crust without shortening because you want to eliminate the fat, there are a few options you have. The first is to replace the shortening with mashed banana.
If the recipe asks for 1 cup shortening, simply use one cup mashed banana and eliminate any water used in the recipe. Use this dough immediately!
You can also try a flaxseed replacement by using 3 tablespoons of flaxseed mixed with ¼ cup water. Use this mix to replace every ½ cup of shortening.
Both of these fat free options will give you a good pie crust but they will be quite different than your traditional crust that uses shortening or fat. These fat free crusts will be more firm, less flaky and also have a tendency to crumble a bit when cut.
However, they do taste good and get the job done if a fat free crust is what you need!
As you can see, there are many ways to make a delicious pie crust without shortening. Not only is it possible, but you have options!
For flaky crusts, go with the classic butter or coconut oil. For more firm crusts, use vegetable oil. Try those fat free crusts too for something totally new and healthy!
Seems like it is time to go try out those new pie crusts without shortening- who needs shortening anyway? Not you!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.