Can I substitute cooking oil for shortening in oatmeal cookies?
By Nana from Rio Rancho, NM
No! No! No! No! No! When a recipe calls for shortening, it has to be the solid stuff. I made this mistake once and really had a mess. So definitely use shortening if that's what the recipe calls for.
Cookie dough made with cooking oil will usually be softer and spread out more in the oven than when made with shortening. You can replace the shortening with butter.
I am 68 with 5 children, plus grandkids, etc. I did my share of cooking and baking. I have heard you cannot substitute these items. But sorry, if a recipe said butter, lard/shortening, oil, I used oil for them all and don't recall any problems in how things turned out.
My Aunt used to make the best mincemeat cookies I have ever eaten. Mine were never as good until my sister told me she used oil instead of the shortening called for in the recipe. The appearance was the same, but the taste o' so good! Now I use oil when making mincemeat cookies. Bet oatmeal cookies would be better too.
I have been cooking using the Flat Belly diet by the Prevention Mag. for about a year now. One of the recipes for pie crust uses canola oil instead of shortening. Only difference I find is you need to mix it by hand not food processor (which i never did anyway) and it should come out fine. Not as tender and flaky but it is better for you.
I just made a banana cake and substituted 1/2 cup vegetable oil for 1/2 cup shortening. Plus I added 3 eggs instead of 2 to help keep the cake solid and it baked perfectly and is super moist. I think "Knitter" is experienced and on the mark when she says she's substituted oil for shortening in her cooking career.
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Can I replace shortening with cooking oil?
Some people will tell you if it says oil, it has to be oil, if it says butter, it has to be butter, etc. I am 68 and have done a lot of cooking/baking in my life. I used oil no matter what the recipe called for. It never had any effect on how the recipe turned out, so I say yes, go for it. (06/15/2010)
This is just an educated guess from a non-cook, but I'd say sometimes. It really depends on the purpose of the shortening. If it's merely used to keep the food moist, you can probably get away with it. However, what makes shortening different from oil is its ability to be solid at room temperature. So if your baked good need "structure" or "lift" from the solid nature of shortening, vegetable oils won't do. It's like using water to build an igloo when you really need the hardness of ice.
Since shortening is basically hydrogenated oil, replacing it is good idea. Hydrogenated oil is the major source of transfats, which is now known to be even more dangerous than saturated fats. It's been implicated in many many diseases. In other words, using pure butter is healthier than using vegetable shortening. In fact, animal lard may also be healthier.
If you need the hardness of shortening, but want to avoid butter and lard, there are vegetable spreads that are solidified without hydrogenation. Most famous is SmartBalance, which has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. They have versions that also include lax seed oil and fish oil.
You can try emailing them to see if shortening can be substituted. smartbalance.com (06/16/2010)
Making cookies, yes there is a difference. Unless it says oil optional make it using shortening/margarine/butter. Making bread, you can balance the fat. Making muffins, I prefer oil. Depending on your fat necessary for structure in the food. I prefer to use Evoo where I can as well, but there are places that is not good to taste either. (06/17/2010)
By T&T Grandma
If a recipe calls for shortening (which I don't buy as I don't use if often enough and then end up throwing it out when it becomes rancid) could I replace it with cooking oil?
Sue from Saudi Arabia
If you are baking, the alternative to shortening is probably butter or margarine. However, if you are frying, then cooking oil is a good substitute. By the way, shortening keeps for a very long time! (01/29/2005)
I stopped using shortening as a way of eliminating trans fats from my diet. You could refrigerate shortening to prolong its lifespan. That said, I substitute butter for most recipes asking for shortening. Sometimes I use a combination of butter and cooking oil (in pie dough). If the recipe states "melted shortening", then use cooking oil.
When using butter, use slightly less than the amount of shortening requested. For example, if a cookie recipe asks for 1 cup of shortening, use 3/4 cup of butter. (01/29/2005)
Different types of oils can result in different textures in baked goods. For example, cookies made with cooking oil will usually be softer and spread out more in the oven than cookies made with shortening. Butter would be a better substitute if you're trying to preserve the texture/consistency of what you're making. (01/29/2005)
What works for me is to use a tip I read in the Old Tightwad Gazette newsletters. Use 2/3 ratio. If the recipe calls for 1 cup shortening use 2/3 cup of your oil of choice. The person that shared that tip had won a blue ribbon in the county fair for her biscuits. I find it works. I do not even have shortening in my house. (05/16/2005)
I have been using butter as a good replacement in recipes as I am somewhat horrified by the health risks posed by shortening, and the idea of directly consuming transfats petrifies me.
1 cup of shortening should be replaced with 3/4 of a cup of butter. (08/02/2006)
Use 2/3 cup of oil or butter to replace it. (11/25/2008)