Simple Lard Substitutes for Old-Fashioned Recipes

Forming a pie crust

Gabriel (Gabi) Bucataru / Stocksy

Lard is rendered pork fat. It is very common to find it listed as an ingredient in many old-fashioned recipes. Since it can be harder to come by than other fats, it can be helpful to know there's an easy way to swap out the lard in your recipe. There’s a simple lard substitute right there in your kitchen.

illustration featuring lard substitutes

The Spruce / Bailey Mariner

Lard Substitute

The best substitute for lard is butter. Unless your recipe says otherwise, you'll want to use unsalted butter as a substitute in most recipes that call for the lard. There are other alternatives as well. If you prefer, you can use shortening or oils like coconut, vegetable, or olive.

Calculating the Amounts

While butter is your most reliable option, some adjustments need to be made when switching from one fat to the other. Since lard is 100 percent fat and butter contains around 80 percent fat, you'll want to add more butter to get the fat content right.

The difference can make an impact on your recipe, depending on what you're cooking. For instance, fat is responsible for making pie crusts nice and flaky, which is why lard is often preferred in these recipes.

For a good rule of thumb, you will need to replace 1 cup of lard with 1 1/4 cup of butter. With this simple adjustment, your recipe should come out as close to the original as possible. Not every recipe is going to call for a single cup of lard, of course. To help you out, here are some common lard measurements that account for the extra fat needed.

  • For 1/2 cup of lard: Use 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of butter
  • For 1/4 cup of lard: Use 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of butter

More Lard Substitutes

For some recipes, you may not want to use butter, and there are alternatives. Your second best option is vegetable shortening, which replaced lard as a common cooking ingredient when it was invented. Lard and vegetable shortening have almost the same amount of fat. You can generally get away with substituting 1 cup of shortening for 1 cup lard, though you may want to add 2 extra tablespoons to your recipe.

If your recipe calls for frying with lard, shortening is a better option than butter. Shortening and lard have a higher smoke point than butter. They also contain less water, so you won’t have to worry as much about splattering.​​

Oils are another possible lard substitute. Every type of oil will affect your recipe in different ways because of the fat content. For instance, when switching to oils, your cookies will likely spread more. You can combat this by chilling the dough before baking.

  • Vegetable oil: Substitute 7/8 cup vegetable oil for 1 cup lard.
  • Olive oil: Substitute 1 cup olive oil for 1 cup lard.
  • Coconut oil: Substitute 1 cup coconut oil for 1 cup lard. This option will add a hint of coconut flavor, though that might not be a bad thing for some recipes.

If you do want to try cooking with lard but don't know where to find it, look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. It's often packaged like sticks of butter near the butter and other dairy items on refrigerated shelves.