Lard is a semi-solid fat made from pig fatty tissue. People use lard for various purposes, including as a spread, cooking oil, or as part of pastry recipes.
Lard is also a great substitute for butter in many instances. Pure lard has a neutral, slightly smoky taste, making it more suitable for roasting, grilling, and sautéing. Lard also has a high smoke point (121-218 °C) that makes it great for frying.
Even though some people refer to it as unhealthy, lard actually contains up to 20% less saturated fat than butter. It is also rich in monounsaturated fats, which is excellent for cardiovascular health compared to butter.
Lard is very high in calories, with 100 grams containing as much as 900 kcal. It is also high in cholesterol, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.
What is the best substitute for lard? The best substitute for lard is butter. Butter, like lard, has a high smoking point, making it suitable for frying. Its texture at room temperature also makes it a great substitute for spreading on bread and other pastries.
Unless the recipe specifically advises against it, you can substitute butter for lard in any scenario. You may have even substituted lard for butter without knowing it.
Overview of Lard
Lard can come from any pig part with a high fat amount. It has grades, and the highest is known as leaf lard. Leaf lard has a slightly smoky flavor, and is gotten from the visceral fat around the pig’s kidneys. Leaf lard also has a creamy and soft texture.
The next lower grade is obtained from the fat between the back skin and muscle. This is the most widely available, and it has a dense texture. The lowest tier of lard is gotten from the surrounding small intestines.
Lard is often confused with tallow, which comes from cattle or sheep fat. Lard is available in many supermarkets and stores and is sold under many brand names. It is relatively easy to store, and it will last for up to six months when kept at room temperature. When refrigerated, it can last up to a year.
Why Replace Lard?
- You want less cholesterol: 100g of lard contains 97 mg of cholesterol. Prolonged consumption can have severe health consequences, including increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Luckily, there are healthier alternatives.
- You can’t find it: Lard isn’t as easy to find as some of its substitutes. Interestingly, your supermarket may offer it under a different brand making it harder to spot. Many substitutes have a higher demand and more recognizable branding and will be easier for you to identify.
- You’re vegetarian/vegan: Lard is made from pork fat and is unsuitable for vegans/vegetarians. If you fall in this category, don’t worry because there are 100% plant-based substitutes that fit lard recipes just as well.
- You want flavor: Lard is highly versatile, but it lacks a flavor. Leaf lard has a mild smoky taste, but it can be difficult to find. Some lard substitutes bring their own flavor to the mix, giving your recipes a broader taste profile.
Best Substitute Options for Lard
Best Overall Substitute for Lard: Butter
Butter is an excellent substitute for lard because of its many similarities. It is made by churning cow’s milk and takes up about a third of the world’s milk supply.
Like lard, butter contains saturated fats, high calories, and a good amount of vitamins. Butter can be used for all lard recipes, from spreading on bread to frying chicken. Butter is also great for baking, grilling, and roasting.
It is also a great substitute for lard because of its availability. You may run out of lard, but the chances are that you’ll have some butter lying around. It’s also easier to find in the supermarket. Butter doesn’t keep as well as lard and may not last more than three months in the refrigerator. However, when frozen, it can last up to a year.
Best Substitute for Vegans: Vegetable Oil
If you’re vegan, you can rely on vegetable oil. It is a great substitute, with a high smoking point and numerous recipe uses, just like lard. Unfortunately, vegetable oil can’t replace lard in all instances, such as a spread on bread or baking.
Vegetable oil is extracted from the seeds of various plants. Depending on the plant, the seeds may need to undergo some refinement process before extraction. Vegetable oil contains saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It can last for up to two years if stored in a sealed container.
Best Healthy Substitute: Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils out there, with zero cholesterol, minimal calories, and trace amounts of iron. Being a kind of vegetable oil, olive oil is also suitable for frying, grilling, roasting, and sautéing. Unfortunately, it too is unsuitable for spreading on bread.
Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil via chemical or mechanical means. Green olives are the prime choice for this process because overripe ones can make rancid olive oil. Even though it is mainly produced in Greece, Italy and Turkey, olive oil is available globally, and you’ll find it in most supermarkets.
When appropriately preserved, olive oil can last up to 2 years; extra virgin olive oil may not last as long.
Best Substitute for Flavor: Coconut Oil
If you’re looking for a fresh flavor, coconut oil is the best substitute for you. A cup of coconut oil will replace a cup of lard in most of your recipes. Like other substitutes, coconut oil also has high levels of saturated fat.
Since coconuts aren’t known for their oily nature, people often wonder how we get coconut oil. The oil is extracted from the meat, kernel and milk of the coconut palm and fruit. During the process, coconut meat is extracted and dried, then pressed to produce the coconut oil.
You can find coconut oil in the cooking oil section of most supermarkets. When preserved properly, it can last up to two years.