Is there a shortening substitute that can also prevent gluten growth?

  • What technique are you using? Coating the flour in fat before adding water or other liquid will typically result in a more tender crumb than mixing in the fat after the liquid.
    – Joe
    Apr 8, 2021 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


Every fat prevents gluten formation as much as any other fat. At least, if there are any differences, they are not noticeable by somebody eating a finished product.

When substituting fats, "how much it inhibits gluten" is not a criterion. Just pick whatever fits your recipe.

  • Not sure about that. When you substitute shortening for butter, baked goods turn out "heavier" and less flaky. Lard is another option but according to what I read, it can't prevent gluten formation. Apr 8, 2021 at 9:43
  • 2
    The difference in baking with shortening and butter is due to fat content and a very different melting profile, not due to gluten formation. And lard absolutely prevents gluten formation - it is the primary fat used for shortened doughs historically, and only in the mid 20-th century was it replaced by other fats in some countries. Shortening was created when industry noticed that a by-product of oil refining can shorten in ways similar to lard.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 8, 2021 at 9:59

I frequently use lard in my biscuits and pie crust and the texture is always light and flaky.

However, the temperature of the fat is very important. This applies to shortening as well.

If I use the lard at room temperature the result is much less flaky than if I chill (or usually, freeze and shred) it. Gluten formation is inhibited at cold temperatures. Once the fat and dry materials are mixed, I return them to the freezer until the last possible moment. When you add your (also cold) liquids the gluten doesn't form as quickly.

As an added bonus the cold temperatures also inhibit any leavening agents in your pastry. If multiple batches are needed, store the shaped dough in the refrigerator until you're ready to put it in the oven.

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