Ingredient substitutions are mainly used when baking or cooking dishes and you realize at the last minute you’re out of stock of the necessary food item.
There may be a slight taste or texture change when using them but the results are generally acceptable and many won’t notice the difference at all.
You can download a handy chart here (pdf). It’s nothing fancy but you’ll find a jam packed two pages with items sorted in alphabetical order.
The chart acts as a guide (suitable for both cooking and baking), alter according to your needs where necessary. These came from a combination of cookbooks and online resources.
I’ve also made a quick reference list below for more common items. You’ll also find a couple handy DIY recipes at the bottom of the page.
C. = Cup
TBS = Tablespoon
tsp = teaspoon
- Cake Flour: If you’re running short on cake flour and need it now, here’s a tip for making your own: Add two level tablespoons of corn starch to a measuring cup, then fill with bread flour to make 1 C. Sift three times then use as needed.
- Self Rising Flour: Place 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt, then fill to make 1 C. with flour. Mix well and store in an airtight container if not used right away.
- Half And Half Cream: Place 3 TBS + 1 1/2 teaspoons of melted butter in a measuring cup then top up with whole milk to make 1 C. You can also use an equal measure of evaporated.
- Buttermilk: Add 1 TBS of vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup then top up to make 1 C. with milk. Set aside for 5 minutes, stir, then use.
- Sour Cream: 1/3 C. milk + 2 teaspoons lemon juice + 1 C. cottage cheese. Process in a blender until smooth.
- Graham Cracker Crumb Crust: In a pinch you can use crushed corn flakes in place of graham cracker crumbs. To make crust: 2 C. crushed corn flakes*, 1/3 C. melted butter, 2 TBS sugar. Gradually add the melted butter to the other ingredients. Mix well and press into pie plate (8″ or 9″). Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. *Use the non-frosted corn flakes.
- Chocolate Squares: 3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa & 1/4 C. melted Crisco (for 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares).
- Soy Sauce:: Mix 3 TBS molasses, pinch ground ginger, 2 TBS Worcester sauce, and a little flour.
- Balsamic Vinegar:: 1 tablespoon cider vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar = 1 TBS balsamic vinegar; or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar = 1 TBS balsamic vinegar; or equal amount of sherry or cider vinegar.
- Molasses: Honey; Dark Corn Syrup; Maple Syrup
- Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoons lemon juice = 1 tablespoon vinegar.
- Eggs: You’ll find a large list of ideas and tips here
Baking Powder Substitute:
- Try 1/4 tsp bicarb (baking soda) & 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (for 1 tsp).
- 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 C. of buttermilk (for 2 tsp–use buttermilk already called for).
- 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 C. of sour milk (or use 1 C. milk soured with 1 TBS vinegar or lemon juice; use milk already called for)–for 2 tsp b.p.
- 1 C. of milk with 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar, add 1/2 tsp bicarb–for 2 tsp b.p. (use milk already required)
- 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 C. of molasses (use molasses already called for)–for 2 tsp b.p.
Sweetened Condensed Milk Equivalent:
- 3/4 C. sugar, 1/3 C. butter, 1/3 C. boiling water, 1 C. skim milk powder. Combine items in a blender and mix until all lumps are gone and mixture is smooth. Store in refrigerator and chill before using.
- 3/4 C. sugar, 1/3 C. water, 1/4 C. margarine. Bring to a boil until margarine melts and granules are dissolved. Add 1 C. dry powdered milk and beat until smooth.
- 1/4 C. hot water, 3/4 C. granulated sugar. Mix in blender for 1 minute or until granules are partially dissolved. Continue to blend slowly adding 1 1/4 C. skim milk powder. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before using. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
- 1/4 C. margarine, 1 C. boiling water. Melt the margarine in the water then add 2 C. white sugar. Beat with mixer until smooth. Gradually add 4 C. skim milk powder, beat until smooth and thick. Makes 3 cups, keep refrigerated.
- 1/2 C. hot water (scant), 3/4 C. sugar, 1 1/2 C. powdered milk. Add water to blender, start blending while gradually adding the powder. Gradually add sugar. Blend until granules are dissolved. Cool and refrigerate before using.
- Dissolve 1/4 C. margarine in 1 C. boiling water. Add 2 C. sugar, beat with mixer until dissolved. Gradually add 4 C. skim milk powder. Beat. Makes 1 quart, keep refrigerated.
Here are some tips for making your own brown sugar, perfect to use when you’re in a pinch or you may find you want to use it all the time rather than store bought (since you can adjust the flavor strength to suit your needs). If you already have some ready-made on hand but it’s rock hard and impossible to use, see these tips for softening it up.
- Directions: Mix together well with a fork or with your hands then store in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.
#1 (Yield: 1 cup)
1 C. Sugar (white)
1 TBS Molasses (for light brown) or
2 TBS Molasses (for dark brown)
#2 (Yield: 3 cups)
3 C. Sugar (white)
1/4 C. Molasses
#3 (Yield: 9 pounds)
9 lbs Sugar (white granulated)
1 lb Molasses
- Try different varieties and measurements of molasses to see what you like best.
- The darker the color the stronger the flavor.
Try this mix as a substitute…
2 large ripe bananas, sliced
3 tsp sugar
2 egg whites
- Whip together just like you would regular cream. Add some flavoring if you like.
- Almond Extract
- Vanilla Extract
- Flavored Liqueur
- Brandy or Rum
- Lemon or Orange Zest
- Instant Coffee
- Sifted Cocoa
Real Whipped Cream:
1 tsp gelatin
4 tsp water
- Combine the above until thick; Microwave 25 to 30 seconds until clear; Cool slightly
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
- Whip together until thickened then add the gelatin mixture (while still whipping); Whip until stiff
*The printable chart was first published April 10, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization