Do You Bake with Lard?

Reader Survey

The butcher shop down the hill from me sells chocolate chip cookies made with lard. I wish I could tell you what they taste like but I've never tried one because they're always sold out. People say they're amazing and I believe them. Ever since the Lardy Cake caught my eye, I've been paying more and more attention to this once maligned stuff.

Lard, it turns out, is actually a little better for you than butter. Yes, it is slightly higher in calories (about 15% higher which is exactly how much water is in butter.) Both butter and lard contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fat but lard is mostly unsaturated fat, the kind that is better for you, while butter is mostly saturated fat.

If you do start using lard, it's important to source a quality brand. Many smaller butcher shops like the one down the hill from me are selling the kind of lard you want to buy. But be careful of those white bricks you sometimes find in the grocery store as they are often hydrogenated lard which truly is nasty stuff. Read the labels!

Why use lard instead of butter in baking? Using lard in cookies creates a different texture (some say sandier) and of course the lard vs. butter in pie crusts is a war that well never be won. In general, lard will often bring a more savory note to your baking (some say 'piggy') which can add a nice complexity and depth. And of course, many people use a combination of both.

Do you use lard in your dessert baking? Pie crusts? Cookies? How is it different than butter?

Related: Lard: What's the Big Deal?

(Image: British Lard Marketing Board)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, September, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.