Do you want to bake a gluten-free pie or biscuits and wonder if Crisco all-vegetable shortening is gluten free?? You're in the right place! Read on to find out more.
Good news gluten-free bakers! Yes, Crisco all-vegetable shortening is gluten free in Canada and the United States (U.S.)!
Both Crisco shortening sticks and Crisco shortening in the tub do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients and are labelled gluten free by the manufacturer. This makes it a great option for gluten-free pies, pastries, biscuits and other baked goods…especially if you're baking gluten and dairy free! I use it to make my extra flaky and tender gluten and dairy free pie crust.
If you’ve done a quick internet search, you may have come across articles saying that it may be subject to cross-contamination and not safe for those who are “highly sensitive” to gluten, but let me explain why that is not the case, and why based on the guidelines of Celiac Canada and the Celiac Disease Foundation (U.S.), it would be considered most likely safe for those with celiac disease/non-celiac gluten sensitivity or other gluten-related disorders.
This information is up to date at the time of publication; however, ingredients, formulas and manufacturing processes can change at any time. Please always read labels carefully, and when in doubt, verify with the manufacturer directly.
What is Crisco?
If you’re a baker, you’ve probably heard of Crisco, but what exactly is it? Crisco is a brand of vegetable oils, sprays and shortenings produced by B&G Foods, Inc.; however, if you see “Crisco” referred to in a recipe, it’s generally referring to the brand of vegetable shortening. Crisco shortening was originally introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1911 as the first shortening product to be made entirely of vegetable oils. While "shortening" technically refers to any fat that is solid at room temperature and used in baking, today it's commonly used to describe any brand of hydrogenated, all-vegetable fat used in baking.
What is Crisco Made Of?
Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening contains the following ingredients:
- Soybean oil
- Hydrogenated palm oil
- Palm oil
- Mono and diglycerides
- TBHQ and Citric Acid (Antioxidants)
None of the above ingredients contain gluten. In addition, none of these ingredients contain dairy or are animal-derived.
What Does a Gluten-Free Label Mean?
While not certified gluten free, Crisco shortening is labelled gluten free in both Canada and the U.S.
In both Canada and the U.S., in order for a food product to be labelled gluten free, it must meet specific federal guidelines, including containing less than 20 ppm of gluten. This is consistent with the position of both Health Canada and the FDA that levels of gluten protein below 20 ppm generally do not represent health risks to consumers with celiac disease. Both Celiac Canada and the Celiac Disease Foundation (U.S.), consider foods labelled with a “gluten-free” claim safe for individuals with celiac disease.
For more information on gluten-free labelling in Canada, please refer to B.24.018 of the Food and Drug Regulations and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s position on the Compliance and enforcement of gluten-free claims.
For more information on gluten-free labelling in the U.S., please refer to Gluten and Food Labeling, on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s official website.
Labelled Gluten Free vs. Certified Gluten Free
Gluten-free certification is different than gluten-free labelling. Gluten-free certification is done by an independent third-party organization. There are a few different certifiers in the market, whose logos you are probably familiar with. They follow the same federal labelling guidelines as a minimum but often have even stricter requirements, such as a lower ppm requirement.
Navigating gluten-free food labelling can be hard! You can find a lot of good information on the internet, but sadly there can also be a lot of misinformation. If you have celiac disease (or other gluten-related disorders) and are struggling to understand gluten-free food labelling and how to determine which products are safe for you to eat, check out Celiac Canada’s great Gluten-Free Labelling Guide for food labelling in Canada, and in the U.S., get the Celiac Disease Foundation’s Gluten-Free Diet and FDA Labeling Guide.
Is Crisco dairy free?
Yes! Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening is dairy free. It’s made from vegetable oils and does not contain any dairy ingredients.
Is Crisco vegan?
Yes! Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening is vegan. It’s made from vegetable oils and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients (no animal products / no animal fat).
Why use Crisco?
Crisco shortening is used in baking, particularly in recipes for pie crusts, biscuits, and other pastries, as it helps to create a flaky texture and adds richness to the final product. It can also be used in frying and sautéing, as it has a high smoke point and is, therefore, able to withstand high temperatures without burning or smoking.
Shortening may be a good alternative in place of butter or lard for a variety of reasons:
- Texture: Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, which means it can create a flakier and crumblier texture in baked goods like pie crusts and biscuits. This is because it doesn't melt as quickly as butter, which allows for pockets of air to form in the dough, resulting in a lighter and flakier final product.
- Allergies, dietary restrictions: Some people may have allergies or intolerances to dairy products (like butter) or pork products (like lard), so shortening can be a suitable alternative.
- Shelf Life: Shortening has a longer shelf life than butter or lard because it contains no water. This means it can be stored at room temperature for longer periods of time without going rancid.
- Neutral Flavour: Shortening has a more neutral flavour than butter or lard, which means it won't overpower the other flavours in a recipe. This is especially important in recipes where you want the flavour of other ingredients to be the main focus.
Other Crisco Products
Crisco Shortening Products
Crisco also has a butter flavoured shortening product. It is also labelled gluten free in both Canada and the U.S.
Crisco Cooking Oils, Non-Stick Cooking Sprays
Crisco also sells cooking oil (Canada and U.S.) and cooking sprays (U.S. only). While not all of these products are labelled gluten free, they do not appear to contain any gluten-containing ingredients. However, you should always read a product’s ingredient label carefully before use. 100% pure vegetable oil and 100% pure canola oil are both gluten free.
If you run out of Crisco or don’t want to use a vegetable-based shortening, here are some substitutions you can use instead:
- Butter: can generally substitute on a 1:1 ratio; makes baked goods less tender and flaky than shortening, but adds more flavour
- Lard: will need to use slightly less, good substitution for pastry
- Coconut oil: can generally substitute on a 1:1 ratio, but add a slight coconut flavour
- Ghee: can generally substitute on a 1:1 ratio, will add a strong butter flavour (more pronounced than regular butter)
- Margarine: depends on the type, if soft/spreadable out of the fridge, not a good option for baking (only use for baking if a recipe calls for melted shortening), if solid baking sticks type, can substitute the same as you would with butter
- Vegetable oil: as this is not a solid fat, use it only as a substitute when a recipe calls for the shortening to be melted, also good for frying
- Vegan butter sticks: similar to substituting with butter, great non-dairy alternative
Depending on your own health requirements, these may or may not be healthier alternatives for you. Vegetable shortening is made from hydrogenated vegetable oil. Crisco shortening no longer contains trans fats (less than 0.5 grams per serving), but it is still highly processed and should be consumed in moderation. Alternatively, it contains much less saturated fat than fats from animal sources.
The best substitute really depends on what you’re making and your personal dietary requirements.
My Favourite Gluten-Free Recipes Using Crisco
Frequently Asked Questions
No, Crisco is not lard. Crisco is made from vegetable oils and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Lard is rendered and clarified pork fat.
While Crisco shortening does have a long shelf life, it does not last indefinitely. Like any fat, vegetable shortening can go rancid. If your shortening has changed at all in colour or has an off smell you shouldn’t use it.
Store Crisco shortening in a cool, dry place away from strong odours, direct sunlight and sources of heat. If stored properly, unopened shortening should last 2 years from the date of manufacturing and opened shortening, about 6 months.
In most recipes, you can substitute butter for shortening on a 1:1 ratio; however, you may notice a slightly different texture in your final baked goods. Cookies made with butter may spread out more, and be slightly thinner and crispier, rather than chewy. Pastry may not be as flaky. Butter will also add more flavour, shortening is fairly neutral in flavour.