Types of Fats Used in Baking | Different Types of Fats and Oils Used for Baking

Hello, this post is part of our Baking Ingredients series. In this post, I’ll be covering the different types of fats and oils you can actually use in your baking.

Today, I’ll be sharing the different types of fats & oils used in baking and the differences between them.

The first ingredient I’m going to cover that’s a type of fat is:

1. Butter

If you’re baking in Kenya, most retail butter comes packaged in 500-gram or 250-gram containers, and sometimes it gets packed in smaller packages.


Butter is the original animal fat that you’re actually supposed to be using for baking. It is natural, superior quality and gives you really good cake, bread, puff pastry or even croissant results. When you’re using butter, remember you want to use unsalted butter. The salted version tends to be extremely salty and when you bake it in a cake or use it in pastries, you can feel the very salty aftertaste.

If you’re looking to make quality products, you always want to use unsalted butter; it’s the most superior fat and will give you best results.

2. Margarine

Margarine was originally created to be a substitute for butter. Butter tends to be highly perishable because it’s an animal fat. It usually lasts about a week, in a fridge. Margarine however, lasts longer and is also cheaper, especially in the African market.

Margarine is manufactured to imitate butter, it just doesn’t have the same superior taste as butter – but it’s the next best thing. If you have a recipe and it states butter and you don’t have butter, you can use margarine.

Margarine comes in smaller containers from 50gm, 100gm, 250grams to 1kg for retail sale. Wholesale quantites are also available such as 5Kg and 10kgs.


The thing to note about margarine is that it comes salted. The percentage isn’t as high as ‘Salted butter’; though it’s still present. If you have a recipe that calls for salt, once you use margarine, don’t add salt into the cake batter as it may become salty. Every time you use margarine for any baking, don’t add any salt because it’s salted already. When it comes to baking; especially cakes, margarine is the best substitute for butter

3. Pastry margarine

This is a specific type of margarine used by Pastry Chefs and Bakers. It has a very high fat content percentage, 80% all the way sometimes to 90%. It’s used for pastries such as Puff pastry, Croissants, Flaky pastries and Pies.

It’s used also as a substitute for butter when making puff or flaky pastries. When looking for economy or a type of fat that will last longer in pastries or pie making; hotels and other commercial baking businesses generally use pastry margarine.

Slabs of Pastry Margarine

Please do note that pastry margarine isn’t as highly salted; this means that you can add salt to your pastries when preparing them. If you’re looking to get into the Puff-pastry, Croissants & Pie-making niche, you can use pastry margarine in your baking especially if looking for economy.

3. Cooking Fat/Shortening

This is raw, white fat and is usually the lowest quality fat you can use for baking. A lot of commercial bakers use it in bread making and some even use it for cake & cookie making when they’re looking to cut costs.


Generally, we don’t advise for you to use this type of fat because it’s very bland and it doesn’t have a good final taste result. If you’re selling to a budget or economy target market – that is not driven by quality, you can use this type of fat.

People do sometimes use it for frosting as well – American Buttercream frosting. We specifically advice AGAINST this. The main reason is that; it is raw fat and frosting is generally consumed without cooking. Don’t use it for frosting, just use it for your baking needs please.

4. Cooking Oil/Salad Oil/Vegetable Oil

This is just vegetable or palm oil – in liquid form and you can use it for baking. It’s very common when you’re making some yeast pastries or types of bread. Some bakers also use it as a Butter substitute when baking cakes. Some recipes also use oil as the main type of fat e.g. Quickbreads or Oil Cakes.

Vegetable oil

When you’re using it in cake, it gives you very moist and slightly healthier cakes. Though please note that the texture of an oil cake isn’t as fluffy and doesn’t have the same volume/height as a butter cake. You need a type of fat like butter or margarine when it comes to mixing and aeration to get volume in your cake. You can still use oil in your cake if you don’t mind that reduction in height and if you don’t mind a moist cake that might not be so fluffy.

Baking tip: You can also use half butter, half oil or half margarine, half oil. When baking a cake recipe; this gives you both moist and very fluffy cakes and the results are always wonderful.

Vegetable oils are perfect for breads and you can also use them for some yeast pastries. Do note that you can use Olive oil, which is a high quality oil – if you’re looking for a different taste in bread or a specific taste. You can use it for yeast pastries, flat breads like Focaccia or other Italian breads – it works very well for breads. Olive oils tend to bring out a strong flavor and smell when it comes to making cakes; so you may want to keep to less stronger flavors or less stronger oils when it comes to baking cakes. Instead use Vegetable or simple Palm oils.

I hope this post has been helpful. If you have a question on any types of fats or oils you may have encountered, feel free to comment below.

Share this post to other bakers or foodies it may help; sharing is caring ^_^

For details on our practical classes; we offer both baking classes in Nairobi, please click here.

Published by Amari

Baking with Amari offers learning experiences to those who want to experience & know what Bakers & Cake Decorators do in a practical, hands-on settting. We train our students using Cookswell original charcoal ovens. We also offer basic business start-up training for those who want to start small baking businesses. We do groups vocational training anywhere in East Africa as well. We hold classes in our home-based bakery workshop located on Ndwaru road in Riruta, Nairobi; off Naivasha road, next to Pelida School.

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