I'm dairy intolerant but I really love to bake. I've found success by substituting butter with either lard or coconut oil. The other night, I made a short pastry dough that called for 13 tablespoons of butter to 1.5 cups of flour and instead of using butter I used coconut oil. The dough was super delicate to work with since the oil heated up much more quickly and teared more easily than butter dough I've worked with before.

Would I achieve better results with a different fat? Say, margarine or shortening?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

  • Does it need to be vegan? Lard is very traditional in pie crust and other pastry.
    – Catija
    Jan 20, 2016 at 15:06
  • No, it doesn't need to be vegan. I've used lard before in pie crusts with much success (although not one with this high of a fat content). I decided not to go with it because I was making a sweet tart and I thought the lard might not pair well with the lemon custard filling.
    – coloratura
    Jan 21, 2016 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


There are good quality vegan margarines (Earth balance, Alsan) on the market nowadays, often they are of the interesterified instead of the hydrogenated variety. They are designed to behave and taste similar to butter instead of (as many cheap margarines seem to do) staying spreadable at temperatures where butter would be very firm. Unlike pure coconut or palm oil, they do not act very brittle when cold, and also they soften gradually instead of suddenly melting like eutectic solder. These should be on the top of the list of things to try...

Also, some recipes recommend using more than one type of fat in pastry, for more interesting texture (eg such margarine, and smaller flakes of a hardened coconut fat).

  • Thank you - I'll try out the Earth Balance baking sticks. When I first started looking into dairy-free alternatives, margarine seemed to only fare well in cookies. Alsan seems to be primarily sold in Europe. If I every find myself on the other side of the pond, I'll be sure to try it!
    – coloratura
    Jan 18, 2016 at 21:13

In the UK we don't have Earth Balance, and often DF margerine on it's own is too soft, even when chilled: I find a mix of dairy-free margarine and vegetable shortening works - I've not made pastry yet, however for "buttercream" icing I do a 50/50 mixture. Hope this helps!


I have read applesauce could be a great substitute for butter in baking. Its 68 calories per 100g, which is less than a tenth of the calories you would get from margarine and without the trans fat. The ratio from what I have read is 1:1 to butter.

  • 2
    This really, really depends on what you're making - don't try to substitute applesauce when you're making, say, pie crust or shortbread or anything that uses the creamed butter method.
    – Marti
    Jan 20, 2016 at 15:56
  • 1
    Agree with Marti, and the question specifically says "shortbread crust". It is impossible to use applesauce as a substitute there.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 20, 2016 at 15:59
  • Oh well nice to know what doesn't work with applesauce. Thank you.
    – Bar Akiva
    Jan 20, 2016 at 17:08

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