4 Healthier Substitutes for Lard


Coconut Oil on a Wooden Table

If you try to look for a substitute for lard online, it will probably tell you to use butter. While it’s true that butter is perhaps the “best” alternative, it is actually less healthy than just sticking with lard! I have been substituting and testing various oils in cooking for over 30 years and can give you some help in this arena.

Because lard is high in saturated fats, many people look for healthier alternatives. To that end, the substitutes on this list are mostly plant-based, vegetarian friendly, and kosher.

1. Olive Oil

An excellent replacement for lard, and many other fats or oils as well, is olive oil. Just keep in mind that it has a slight olive flavor, so it may not be compatible with all dishes. The good news is that just about every major brand makes light tasting versions. In my opinion, this is the best brand, and you can get it delivered from Amazon. Just click the link to see the listing.

Olive Oil Is by Far the Healthiest Option

When compared, it easy to see olive oil is a more healthy alternative. One tablespoon of olive oil has 2 grams of saturated fat while lard had double that amount. Additionally, olive oil has more monounsaturated fats (good fat), with lard only has half the amount.

In fact, olive oil contains some of the healthiest fats that exist. A huge bonus is the presence of highly unsaturated omega 3 fats. Your body is unable to make these fats, so you have to consume them. Omega 3 fats can help lower your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.

Can Olive Oil Be Used for Frying?

Olive oil is my go-to option for cooking in a pan or frying.

Unfortunately, there is a myth floating around out there that olive oil cannot be used for frying. This is simply not true. While the smoke point is lower than many other oils, it is still high enough to do high heat cooking. Go with the lighter versions for Western cuisine, and your heart will thank you!

Pro Tip: While I said that that olive oil is what I use for pan cooking or frying, the exception is when it comes to fried breads like donuts or beignet. No matter how light the olive oil is, the flavor just won’t be right. Go with vegetable oil (#3 on this list) instead.

Lard to Olive Oil Conversion

Olive oil and lard can be used interchangeably. There is no measurement conversion necessary for the substitution.

2. Vegetable Shortening

Designed as a replacement for lard vegetable shortening works well in most recipes. If you are looking for an alternative in your baking recipes, go with this option.

Also, it is better to use vegetable shortening rather than butter as a substitute for lard. This is especially true when a recipe asks you to use the ingredient in a frying pan.

Vegetable shortening has a higher smoke point than butter. When you fry with shortening, there is less chance your dish will generate smoke. Also, there is less chance of being hit with splatter because shortening has less water content than butter.

Shortening Is a Bit Healthier

Vegetable shortening is arguably healthier than lard because it:

  1. Contains less bad saturated fats- This can be observed when looking at a tablespoon of vegetable shortening. It has about 12.8 grams of fat.
  2. More unsaturated fats than saturated fats- About 70% of the fat in vegetable shortening remains unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are good for you because they can help lower cholesterol.

Lard to Vegetable Shortening Conversion

Vegetable shortening has the same amount of fat as lard. This makes substituting vegetable shortening for lard easier. The ratio for lard to vegetable shortening is approximately 1:1.

3. Vegetable Oil

I prefer to fry with vegetable oil over lard. The smoke point is higher, and the taste is much cleaner to the pallette. Try it for making donuts or beignet. Vegetable oil works surprisingly well in this capacity.

Pro Tip: Cookies that use vegetable oil rather than lard tend to spread out more on the baking sheet. This occurs because the batter’s texture is runnier when you substitute it with vegetable oil. To combat this, you can chill your dough, so it’s firmer before baking.

Much Less Saturated Fat

Like other lard substitutes, this option is relatively better for your heart. Vegetable oil is 100% fat but only about 10% being saturated fats. This makes it healthier than lard that typically has about 53% saturated fats.

Lard to Vegetable Oil Conversion

Because oil can make your dough spread further when cooking, you may need to use a slightly smaller amount than lard. It is advisable to use about 7/8 of a cup of vegetable oil for every cup of lard used.

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is probably the closest plant-based oil that resembles lard available because it is solid at room temperature.

This is a great one-stop-shop substitute for anyone on a vegan/vegetarian diet. It works as a substitute for lard and can be used for all your baking or frying needs. It is sort of an acquired taste, though. The coconut flavor may detract from specific recipes. Here is the brand that I recommend, it is organic and both cold-pressed and unrefined.

Coconut Oil is Healthier (Maybe)

Many people think coconut oil is less healthy than lard because it has more saturated fats; however, Canadian dietitian Andy De Santis argues that coconut oil is actually healthier. He says that the saturated fats in coconut oil differ from the type of saturated fats found in lard.

Lard to Vegetable Coconut Oil

When substituting coconut oil for lard, you will want to keep the measurements the same. That is to say, for every cup of lard required, you will need to substitute it with 1 cup of coconut oil. The fat present in both substances is equal in amount.

Which Lard Substitute Should I Choose?

Picking a substitute for lard all depends on what you are cooking.

  • For sauteing or stir-frying-  Go with olive oil or coconut oil
  • For frying- Go with vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • For baking- Try vegetable shortening or (you guessed it) coconut oil

Final Thoughts

Lard is an unhealthy cooking fat that is rendered from the fatty tissue of pigs. Yuck, right? Well, it sounds terrible, but lard is actually excellent in cooking, taste-wise. For health reasons, people are looking to move beyond these animal-based products.

To me, it’s all about moderation. If I am cooking for a special event or a holiday, I will use the traditional fats to make the dishes as tasty as possible. But when it comes to every day cooking for my family and me, I stick to healthier alternatives, like the ones on this list.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

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Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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