If you’ve ever wandered down the baking aisle of your local grocery store, you’ve probably come across a blue can or tub with the name “Crisco” boldly displayed. But what exactly is Crisco?
Crisco is a brand of shortening that has been a staple in American kitchens for decades. It’s a solid fat made from various vegetable oils and is commonly used for baking and frying.
But let’s dive a little deeper into how it’s made, uses, and more…
What is Crisco?
Crisco is a brand of vegetable shortening that was first introduced in 1911 by Procter & Gamble.
Shortening, in general, is a solid fat that remains solid at room temperature. It is commonly used in baking to achieve a tender and flaky texture in pastries and other baked goods.
Crisco, specifically, is made from a combination of vegetable oils, including soybean oil and palm oil and additives including TBHQ and citric acid. The butter-flavored varieties contain added natural and artificial flavor and beta-carotene for color.
How is Crisco made?
First, soybean oil and palm oil undergo a process called hydrogenation, where hydrogen gas is added to make the oil solid at room temperature. This is done by heating the oil, introducing hydrogen gas, and stirring.
After hydrogenation, the mixture is cooled and solidified to form the desired consistency. It is then filtered to remove impurities and packaged for distribution.
What’s the difference between Crisco and lard?
Crisco and lard are both types of fats commonly used in cooking, but they have some key differences.
Lard is made from rendered pork fat, while Crisco is made from vegetable oils.
Lard has a distinct flavor that adds richness to dishes, particularly in savory recipes like pie crusts or frying. On the other hand, Crisco has a more neutral taste, allowing the flavors of other ingredients to shine through.
Types of Crisco
Crisco offers different types of shortening to suit various cooking and baking needs:
All-vegetable shortening: This is the classic Crisco shortening made from vegetable oils. It is versatile and works well in both cooking and baking.
All-vegetable shortening baking sticks: These sticks are convenient for measuring and are ideal for baking recipes that require precise measurements.
Butter-flavor all-vegetable shortening: This type of Crisco has a buttery taste, making it a popular choice for recipes where you want a hint of butter flavor without using actual butter or margarine.
Butter-flavored all-vegetable shortening baking sticks: The convenience of baking sticks combined with a buttery flavor, these are ideal for baking.
Benefits of Crisco
This iconic shortening has a few tricks up its sleeve!
First off, Crisco is a pro at adding flakiness to baked goods. Whether you’re whipping up some pie crusts or biscuits, this stuff wonders! It keeps the fat from melting too quickly, resulting in those perfect layers that practically melt in your mouth.
Another perk of Crisco is its long shelf life. Unlike butter, which can go bad relatively quickly, Crisco can hang out in your pantry for a good while.
Last but not least, Crisco is an excellent substitute for butter, making it a go-to option for those who prefer plant-based or dairy-free alternatives.
It’s important to note that while Crisco has its benefits, it’s a highly processed product and should be consumed in moderation. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, check out refined coconut oil.
Crisco (vegetable shortening) nutrition facts
|Serving size||1 tbsp (15mL)|
|Total Fat||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to cook and bake with Crisco
In my experience, the best type of Crisco to use for all-purpose cooking is the original all-vegetable shortening. It’s an excellent choice for sautéing, frying, or any high-heat cooking method.
Use Crisco as a substitute for oil or butter when sautéing vegetables, searing a steak, or frying foods. It provides a neutral flavor and helps achieve a crispy texture. Simply melt the desired amount of Crisco in a pan over medium-high heat and cook your ingredients as you normally would.
I recommend the Crisco sticks for baking – these will make measuring a little easier!
Crisco is my go-to choice for making flaky pie crusts. It’s also great for achieving a tender and moist texture in cakes, cookies, and pastries.
The all-vegetable shortening works well as a general-purpose option, while the butter flavor varieties add a buttery taste to your baked goods. Simply replace butter or oil in your recipe with an equal amount of Crisco.
Ways to use Crisco
Here are the most common ways to use Crisco:
- Pie crusts
- Fried foods
- Pastry dough
- Buttercream frosting
- Puff pastry
How to store Crisco
According to the Crisco website, the best way to store Crisco is in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Make sure to seal the container tightly to prevent air and moisture from entering to maintain its freshness.
For opened containers, use within six months for the best results. Unopened Crisco can typically be stored for about a year.
It’s always a good idea to check the specific packaging instructions for any additional guidance provided by the manufacturer.
What are the best substitutes for Crisco?
If you don’t have any Crisco, a different brand of shortening or lard will work just as well for cooking. Make sure you get vegetable shortening or lead lard if you need it for baking.
For high-heat cooking, I recommend ghee, which is clarified butter.
And as I mentioned earlier, refined coconut oil is an excellent healthy alternative!
Crisco is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are processed to transform liquid oils into a solid fat.
Crisco and butter have different nutritional profiles and health implications. While Crisco is made from vegetable oils, it is high in saturated fat. Butter also contains saturated fat but provides some essential vitamins. Moderation is key when consuming either fat.
Butter, lard, coconut oil, or margarine can be used as substitutes for Crisco, depending on the recipe and desired outcome.
No, Crisco is not the same as lard. Crisco is made from vegetable oils, while lard is derived from rendered pork fat. They have different flavors and textures, and their usage may vary in recipes.