Difference Between Lard and Shortening

Key Difference – Lard vs Shortening

Both lard and shortening are semi-solid fats used in cooking. The key difference between lard and shortening lies in their origins; lard is created from pig fat whereas shortening is created from vegetable oil.

What is Lard?

Lard is a semi-solid fat that is obtained from pig fat. It can be obtained from any part of the pig as long as there is a high proportion of adipose tissues. Lard has a high saturated fatty acid and cholesterol content.  However, it has less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter. The semi- solid lard is yellow in color, and refined lard is usually sold as paper-wrapped blocks.

Lard is used in many cuisines as a shortening or cooking fat or a spread like butter.  Some cooks prefer lard for the preparation of pastries due to the flakiness it brings to the product. However, the qualities of lard can vary depending on the part of the pig from which the fat was taken and how it was processed.

Lard is also used in other industrial applications such as the production of soap, beauty products, and the creation of biofuel.

Key Difference - Lard vs Shortening

What is Shortening?

Originally, the term shortening referred to any fat that remained solid at a room temperature. However, with the invention of hydrogenated vegetable oil in the twentieth century, this term has been used exclusively to refer to fat made from vegetable oils such as soybean oil and cottonseed oil. The taste of shortening is closer to butter. Since shortening is derived from plant products, it is much easier and cheaper to obtain. Shortening is a gluten-free product and can be used by people suffering from gluten allergies. This is also preferred by vegetables.

Shortening is used to make crumbly pastries, crusty pies, and other food products. It can be also used to produce both long dough and short dough. The long dough is a dough that stretches whereas short dough is a dough that crumbles. The difference between these two lies in the technique.

Difference Between Lard and Shortening

What is the difference between Lard and Shortening?


Lard is created from pig fat.

Shortening is created from vegetable oil.

Total Fat Content:

Lard has a high fat content (100g fat in a 100 g of lard).

Shortening has a lower total fat content than lard (71g of fat in a 100g of shortening).

Smoke Point:

Lard has a higher smoke point than shortening (190 °C).

Shortening has a lower smoke point than lard (165 °C).


Lard contains gluten.

Shortening does not contain gluten.


Lard is more expensive, and not as easy to obtain as shortening.

Shortening is cheaper and easier to obtain


Lard is not an accepted food ingredient in some cultures (vegetarians, Muslims)

Shortening is an accepted food ingredient in many cultures.


Lard is used for cooking, baking, manufacture of cosmetics, and creation of new forms of biofuels.

Shortening is primarily used for baking.

Image Courtesy: 
Homelard” By Peter G Werner~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). Own work assumed (based on copyright claims). (CC BY 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
Strutto” By Paoletta S. – originally posted to Flickr as strutto (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia