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Is there something that I can use as a substitute for vegetable oil in a recipe? I'm actually making cornbread (I think it matters), and normally the recipe calls for 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Unfortunately I just realized that I'm out. Can I use butter or shortening instead? If so, roughly how much would I try?

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On first blush, you will probably want a fat or oil with similar qualities as the "vegetable" oil you're replacing, such as olive oil. Butter has a much lower a smoke point, however, cornbread recipes exist that use butter or lard. I'd be willing to experiment, particularly if you're used to cooking with butter. (Just be careful with heat.) As far as quantity, I'd use a bit less than 1/3 of a cup, but that's me being defensive as I don't know the recipe you're using.

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    This ended up working great for me. I actually ended up using butter flavored shortening. I heated up 1/3 of a cup. The consistency was maybe a little thicker then normal, but tasted great. Thanks staticsan. Mar 20, 2012 at 4:57
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    Oh yes, butter will make it taste much better than vegetable oil. I should have said. :-)
    – staticsan
    Mar 20, 2012 at 5:34
  • Note that you can't necessarily do a one-to-one substitution of butter for oil: Oil is 100% fat while butter has a lot of water content, which will affect many baked goods. Shortening is 100% fat, though, so that's fine to use as a substitute.
    – ESultanik
    Mar 20, 2012 at 12:20
  • @Esultanik Yes, that's what I meant by finding an oil with similar qualities. Lots more information about oils and fats at clovegarden.com/ingred/oils.html (which is not my site, BTW).
    – staticsan
    Mar 21, 2012 at 2:15
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I've been making cornbread for decades, and quit using oil at all about 20 years ago.

Corn meal, flour, a little sugar, rising agents, salt, milk, an egg...

It comes out fine. A little bacon fat can make it tastier.

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