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Using Bacon Grease Instead of Vegetable Shortening?

Bacon lovers, rejoice! Discover how bacon grease can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening in your beloved recipes.

Are you up for a tasty experiment in the kitchen?

Well, look no further than our guide on swapping out vegetable shortening with bacon grease. Whether you’re a baking beginner or a seasoned cook, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll explore the merits of using bacon grease as a replacement for shortening, share pro tips on making the transition smoothly, and delve into the dietary ramifications of this flavorful substitution.

Can You Substitute Bacon Grease for Shortening?

Yes, you can substitute bacon grease for vegetable shortening in many recipes, especially if they are savory.

Use bacon grease in a 1:1 ratio when replacing shortening in your baked goods. Keep in mind that the strong taste may not work in all dishes, so choose wisely.

One thing to keep in mind is that bacon grease typically contains more moisture than vegetable shortening.

While this may not be an issue for some recipes, it can cause problems for others, such as dumplings, a Redditor remarks in r/AskCulinary.

To avoid the potential for a gummy texture, try heating the bacon grease to drive off any water, then chilling or freezing it until it has solidified.

This step isn’t always necessary, but can be helpful in certain cases.

How to Substitute Bacon Grease for Shortening

Now that we’ve established that bacon grease can indeed be a viable substitute for shortening, let’s look at how to make this substitution effectively.

First and foremost, ensure that your bacon grease is properly prepared. After cooking bacon, you’re left with liquid grease in the pan.

This grease needs to be filtered to remove any bacon bits and particles.

How to Do It:

  1. Let the grease cool but not solidify: After cooking bacon, remove the pan from the heat and let the grease cool for a few minutes. It should be cool enough to handle safely, but not so cool that it begins to solidify.
  2. Prepare a container and a strainer: Choose a heat-safe container for your filtered bacon grease. Place a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth over the container. If you’re using cheesecloth, you might want to double it over to ensure it catches all the small particles.
  3. Pour the grease into the container: Carefully pour the warm bacon grease through the strainer or cheesecloth and into your container. The strainer or cheesecloth should catch any bits of bacon or other solid particles.
  4. Let it cool and store: Allow the bacon grease to cool completely. It will solidify and turn a creamy white color. Once it’s cool, cover your container and store it in the refrigerator. It should last for several months when stored properly.

This filtered bacon grease is what you’ll use to replace shortening in your recipes.

Remember to use it in a 1:1 ratio, meaning if your recipe calls for a cup of shortening, you’ll use a cup of solidified bacon grease.

However, keep in mind that bacon grease can alter the flavor of your dish significantly. It imparts a strong, savory flavor that works well in many dishes but might not be suitable for all.

So, it’s best to start with recipes where this unique flavor will be a welcome addition.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites—and some to avoid—below.

Where Is Bacon Grease a Good Substitute for Shortening?

Savory Dumplings

Imagine the delicious aroma of bacon-infused dumplings floating through your kitchen!

Adding bacon grease to a traditional chicken and dumplings recipe can create a mouth-watering twist that your taste buds will love.

The rich, savory flavor of the bacon grease compliments the tender, juicy chicken beautifully.


Thinking of substituting bacon grease for shortening in your cookie recipe?

Beware that it may alter the dough texture and spread of the baked cookies, potentially resulting in a less tender and flaky texture.

However, if you are brave enough to give it a go, know that the flavor profile will offer a unique, savory twist.

Remember that the substitution ratio should be 1:1, and the cookies will have a porky, slightly smoky taste that leans towards the savory side.

If you are committed to using bacon grease in your cookies, consider experimenting with a smaller batch first before trying it out on a larger scale.

Pie Crusts

Picture this: a flaky, delicious pie crust with a savory undertone of bacon grease—perfectly complementing a rich and flavorful savory pie filling.

It should almost go without saying that if you’re a bacon lover, using bacon grease in your pie crusts could be a game changer.

The savory flavor profile of bacon grease can be an excellent choice for savory pies such as quiches, pot pies, or even meat pies.

However, it’s important to note that the strong flavor profile may not be the best option for sweet pies as it may clash with the sweetness of the filling.

Cakes and Biscuits

Are you ready to explore the world of bacon grease-infused cakes and biscuits?

Using bacon grease as a substitute for shortening can undoubtedly create a unique, savory flavor profile.But this flavor may not always work well with all types of cakes or biscuits.

For example, bacon grease can create a delicious outcome in biscuits served with savory fillings like gravy or fried chicken. At the same time, it might not work as well in cakes or biscuits that are intended to be sweet.


Thinking of swapping out shortening with bacon grease in your next bread recipe?

Keep in mind that it may lead to a denser bread texture with a chewier consistency, along with the resultant flavor being distinctly savory.

While the taste may be a welcome change for those who prefer savory bread, it might not be the best option for those who prefer a more delicate flavor profile.

This option could work well with meats, cheese, and herb bread, where the bacon grease’s savory flavor can complement the taste of the filling.

Before trying out this option, consider experimenting first with a small batch to see how the resulting texture and taste come out.

This way, you can make changes accordingly to get the recipe just right and create the perfect, savory bread.

Where Might the Subsitution Not Work?

While bacon grease can be a viable shortening substitute, its strong flavor may not be suitable for all dishes, particularly sweet ones.

Delicate and sweet baked goods like pastries, sweet pies, and certain cakes might not pair well with the savory flavor of bacon grease.

Always consider the flavor profile of your recipe when deciding whether to substitute shortening with bacon grease.

Is Bacon Grease Any Healthier Than Vegetable Shortening?

There’s no doubt that bacon grease can add a delightful flavor to your dishes.

However, it’s important to consider the nutritional implications of this substitution. Both bacon grease and vegetable shortening are high in fat—and the type of fat they contain is not necessarily the healthiest.

Vegetable shortening is made from fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, meaning unsaturated fats turned into saturated fats.1Kadhum, A. A., & Shamma, M. N. (2017). Edible lipids modification processes: A review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition57(1), 48–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2013.848834 Bacon grease, like vegetable shortening, is also high in saturated fats.2U.S. Department of Agriculture (2019, April 1). Pork, bacon, rendered fat, cooked. FoodData Central. Retrieved May 26, 2023, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168324/nutrients

According to the American Heart Association, eating too much saturated fat can raise the level of bad cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, if you’re watching your intake of saturated fats, you might want to use bacon grease sparingly or consider other healthier alternatives, like olive oil or avocado oil.

Remember, it’s all about balance.

Substituting bacon grease for shortening can be a great way to add flavor to your dishes, but like all things, it should be used in moderation.

The Takeaways

For the culinary curious and bacon lovers alike, the good news is that you can indeed substitute bacon grease for vegetable shortening in a variety of recipes.

The substitution works particularly well in recipes with a savory profile, where the unique, smoky flavor of bacon can complement the dish. Remember to substitute it on a 1:1 ratio to keep the texture consistent​.

As with any ingredient substitution, the key is to experiment and see what works best in your kitchen.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.