What is the effect of lard in tortilla dough? Can a vegetable oil of preference be substituted for it?

  • Are you avoiding lard to be vegan? If so, you're still going to want a solid shortening, like crisco, or maybe coconut oil if it's not too warm where you are.
    – Joe
    Jul 2, 2017 at 12:09
  • Yes! However I'm not vegan nor vegetarian. I just want to know if something more easily available at home can be used.
    – wearashirt
    Jul 2, 2017 at 15:57
  • Why even add oil or lard? I've been making corn tortillas for years without either. I've used both the instant stuff and my own nixtamalized and ground Masa. You might lose a little flexibility without lard, but I've never found it to be a big deal. Jul 2, 2017 at 19:14
  • @wearashirt : You should ask the grocer if they have lard -- it might just be somewhere you're not looking. If they don't have it, almost every decent sized city in the US has a latin or international market, and they will have lard, even if it's a small mom & pop store. (as they're more likely to just carry stuff that the regular grocery store doesn't have)
    – Joe
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


Rendered pork fat—manteca de cerdo—is our preferred cooking fat throughout this book. Lard has a relatively high smoke point so it is ideal for frying, and it provides a richness, dimension, and distinctly Mexican flavor that you just can't replicate with using other fats...Vegetable oil is a fine substitute

However specific recipes may really need lard:

Note that the flaky texture and slight richness that make flour tortillas so compelling are derived from lard. I've found that vegetable shortening is a poor substitute here...

Source: Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman. "Tacos: Recipes and Provocations".

  • 2
    Lard is also the non-kosher / non-vegetarian "secret" to flaky pie crust.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 2, 2017 at 16:18

I have found that using lard to make tortillas allows me to shape them more easily with a rolling pin, because it becomes a very workable dough just with handling at body temperature.

I would not use vegetable oil as a substitute, Crisco or another vegetable shortening would make more sense. Definitely don't use butter.

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