Is there a low-fat alternative to shortening?

Ask Peggy

Ask Peggy

Dear Peggy: I love to bake, and my family loves to eat cookies and brownies. Most of our favorite recipes call for shortening. Is there a low-fat alternative to shortening? —S.N., Manchester, New Hampshire

The short answer is no, but there's more to consider. In the past, shortening was considered high in trans fat. Today, most manufacturers have cut the trans fat to less than 1/2 gram per tablespoon. But if you want to substitute a lighter fat, keep in mind that different fats have different amounts of water. So substituting one for another can leave you with disappointing results, such as flat cookies or heavy cakes.

When recipes call for shortening, I decrease it and make up the difference with unsweetened applesauce or prune baby food. Keep in mind, other ingredients may need adjustment, and it may take a couple times to make a lightened version just right.