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Difference Between Shortening and Butter

butterShortening vs Butter

From a purely fat content point of view, the difference between shortening and butter is quite significant. Since the comparison is generally in reference to baking, we have to understand exactly how the fat content will melt, and impact the overall flavor and the air content of a baked item.

Shortening is a form of 100% fat. Butter has a high fat content, but it is also a dairy product, which means that it also has milk particles as well as a small, but vital percentage of water. When baking with these substances, you have to look at how each blends with heat, in the process of taking the ingredients to the next step when creating your finished product. Butter will tend to melt under heat at a faster rate than shortening, because of its milk and water content. Shortening tends to retain a higher degree of flexibility in the finished products.

Products made with shortening are often softer. There is also no dairy in shortening, making it a prime choice when baking for people with dairy allergies. For baking products which require height, shortening is more likely to retain the air trapped in the batter during the mixing process.

Butter creates a different flavor as well. While it can’t be determined which flavor is better, butter is usually the choice for more savory and sweet flavors, while shortening is generally used for its lack of additional flavoring.

Recipes that call for shortening can usually be replaced with butter, despite the fat, milk and water content issues. However, recipes that call for butter generally can not be switched with shortening, as the fat, milk and water content is already written into the equation when perfecting the recipe, and can be a necessary part of the final product.

Unlike shortening, butter can be used for a wider range of choices in the kitchen. You can use butter for sautéing, as well as for adding moisture to things like potatoes and chicken. Shortening is not generally used as a flavoring option for cooking, but more as a base for baking projects.


1. Shortening is a100% fat.

2. Butter has additional milk and water particles, and is not all fat.

3. Butter melts faster under heat.

4. Butter spreads thinner when melted.

5. Shortening retains a higher flexibility, and retains air, resulting in a higher rise.

6. Shortening products are softer.

7. Butter is used for flavor.

8. Shortening is used as a flavorless base.

9. Shortening can be exchanged for butter.

10. Butter cannot usually be exchanged for shortening.

11. Butter has uses in the kitchen beyond just baking.

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