What can I substitute for suet?

 

I have an old family recipe that calls for suet. What can I substitute?

Suet is a solid white animal fat with a high melting point that is used in old recipes for deep frying, certain pastries and, most relevant at this time of year in mincemeat and British Christmas pudding. In puddings, suet's high melting point allows small air bubbles to form and stay stable, which results in a light texture.

You can use vegetable suet, which you can purchase on Amazon. You may also substitute vegetable shortening, which has a similar melting point: the flavor and texture of a pudding will not be quite the same, but it will be closer than with, say, butter.  You can also use lard (rendered and clarifed pork fat), which is close to the consistency of vegetable shortening.

For more holiday substitutions, see our Ingredient Substitutionschart.

Marge Perry

December 2011