How To Substitute Common Cooking Ingredients

How to substitute cooking ingredients from There’s nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a recipe and realizing you need to know how to substitute cooking ingredients because you don’t have what you need. So do yourself a favor and print this, then tape it inside your kitchen cupboard. Next time you’re out of something called for in a recipe, you’ll have the information you need!

Check out these common cooking substitutions to get your meal back on track.

If you’re out of…… Try using…. To replace this amount… (use only what your recipe calls for)
Allspice 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon
Baking mix 1 cup pancake mix 1 cup
Baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon
Beer/wine 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup
Bread crumbs 1 cup cracker crumbs OR 1 cup ground instant oatmeal 1 cup
Broth (chicken or beef) 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water OR 1 cup vegetable broth 1 cup
Brown sugar 1 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses, mixed well. (For dark brown sugar use 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses.) 1 cup
Butter, salted 1 cup unsalted butter OR 1 cup shortening and 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup
Butter, unsalted 1 cup shortening 1 cup
Buttermilk 1 tablespoon white vinegar OR lemon juice and enough milk or plain yogurt to make 1 cup 1 cup
Chocolate, semisweet(not chips) 1 ounce (a square) of unsweetened baking chocolate and 3 tsp. white sugar 1 ounce
Chocolate, semisweet chips 1 cup chocolate candy bar, chopped 1 cup
Chocolate, unsweetened 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon shortening or neutral-flavored cooking oil 1 ounce
Cocoa powder 1 once (a square) of unsweetened baking chocolate, ground 1/4 cup
Corn syrup, light 1 1/4 cup white sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water OR use dark corn syrup (though the flavor will be affected) 1 cup
Cracker crumbs 1 cup bread crumbs OR 1 cup ground instant oats 1 cup
Cream, half-and-half 1 tablespoon melted butter and enough milk to make 1 cup 1 cup
Cream, heavy (for baking or cooking, not whipping) 1/3 cup melted butter and 3/4 cup milk OR 1 cup evaporated milk (not fat-free) 1 cup
Cream cheese 1 cup cottage cheese put through a blender 1 cup
Crème fraiche 1 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon plain yogurt left to stand at room temperature 2-4 hours 1 cup
Egg 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute (Egg Beaters) OR 1 tablespoon flax-seed soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water until gel forms 1 egg
Egg white 3 tablespoons meringue powder mixed in 6 tablespoons water 3 egg whites
Evaporated milk 1 cup light cream 1 cup
Flour, bread 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten 1 cup
Flour, self-rising 7/8 cup all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup
Garlic, clove 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 1 clove
Ginger, powdered 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger 1 teaspoon
Ginger, fresh 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger 1 teaspoon minced
Green onion 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion or leek 1/2 cup
Herbs, dried 1 tablespoon fresh herb 1 teaspoon dried herb
Herbs, fresh 1 teaspoon dried herb 1 tablespoon fresh herb
Honey 1 cup light corn syrup OR 1 1/4 cup white sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water 1 cup
Hot sauce 3/4 teaspoon cayenne powder and 1 teaspoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon
Ketchup 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar mixed into 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup
Lard 1 cup shortening or 1 cup butter 1 cup
Lemon grass 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest 2 stalks
Lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice OR 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon
Lemon zest 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice OR 1 teaspoon lime zest 1 teaspoon
Lime juice 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice OR 1 teaspoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon
Lime zest 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon
Margarine 1 cup shortening and 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 1 cup butter 1 cup
Mayonnaise 1 cup plain yogurt OR 1 cup Greek yogurt OR 1 cup sour cream 1 cup
Milk, Whole 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup water OR 1/3 cup dry milk powder and 1 cup water OR 1 cup rice milk, soy milk or almond milk 1 cup
Molasses 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, mixed well 1 cup
Mustard, dry 1 tablespoon prepared mustard 1 teaspoon
Mustard, prepared 1 tablespoon dry mustard mixed with 1 teaspoon water and 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon
Oil (for baking) 1 cup applesauce 1 cup
Oil (for sautéing) 3 tablespoons chicken, beef or vegetable broth 2 tablespoons
Onion 1 cup chopped leeks OR 1 cup chopped green onions  OR 1/4 dried onion flakes OR 1 tablespoon onion powder 1 cup, chopped
Orange juice 1 tablespoon other citrus juice 1 tablespoon
Orange liqueur 1/2 teaspoon orange extract and 1 tablespoon water 2 tablespoons
Orange zest 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon
Pumpkin pie spice 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon
Raisins 1 cup dried cranberries or 1 cup dried currants 1 cup
Ricotta cheese Drain 2 cups cottage cheese in a sieve for 30 minutes, measure out 1 cup after draining OR 1 cup silken tofu 1 cup
Shallots 1/2 cup chopped leek or 1/2 cup chopped green onion (white part only) 1/2 cup
Shortening 1 cup butter 1 cup
Sour cream 1 cup plain or Greek yogurt OR 1 tablespoon vinegar and enough cream to make 1 cup 1 cup
Sugar, Brown 1 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon molasses 1 cup
Sugar, White 1 cup packed brown sugar (flavor will be affected) 1 cup
Tomato sauce 1/2 cup tomato paste combined with 1/2 cup water (adjust flavor as desired) 1 cup
Vegetable oil (baking) 1 cup applesauce 1 cup
Vinegar 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice 1 teaspoon
Wine 1 cup chicken, beef of vegetable broth 1 cup
Yogurt 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup

Equipment You May Need:

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  • Boyd

    When I was a kid, I was once making Wacky Cake (a very moist, tasty chocolate cake with no eggs or milk), and I discovered too late that we were out of sugar. I put on my thinking cap and recalled that everything I’d ever eaten called Vanilla (something) was sweet, so I dumped in a ton of vanilla.

    Just in case anyone reading this is in doubt, no amount of vanilla can be used as a substitute for sugar. I know this from experience.

    For the curious, the Wacky Cake recipe can be found at:

    • Katie B.

      You know, Boyd, I think I remember reading that back in 2004 when you first posted it. Just glancing over it now, I still think “seriously, vinegar in a cake? Now that IS wacky!”

  • Boyd

    When I was a kid, I was once making Wacky Cake (a very moist, tasty chocolate cake with no eggs or milk), and I discovered too late that we were out of sugar. I put on my thinking cap and recalled that everything I’d ever eaten called Vanilla (something) was sweet, so I dumped in a ton of vanilla.

    Just in case anyone reading this is in doubt, no amount of vanilla can be used as a substitute for sugar. I know this from experience.

    I’d provide a link to the Wacky Cake recipe, but apparently your protections against comment spamming don’t allow links in comments.

    • Katie B.

      Apparently my spam filter likes you, because your prior entry made it through without any intervention on my part!

  • Mariette’s Back to Basics

    Dearest Katie,
    Great post and I did use already several as you listed. It was shocking to read the ½ cup of salt for making salted butter. That is a LOT. I have to cut sodium out of my diet so it is even more shocking for my mind…
    Hugs to you and hope you stay well,

    • Katie B.

      Oh Mariette, I am so glad you caught my typing error! 1/2 teaspoon, not 1/2 cup. My goodness!

  • Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life

    Wow, such a great post. People need this information!! We would love it if you would link up at our new linky party: Two Girls and a Party Hosted by:
    Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life
    Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off
    We hope to see you there!

    • Katie B.

      Done! I’ve added you to my list of link parties, too. Thank you!

  • Mixed Kreations

    I don’t know how many times that I have started making something and find out that I out of one of the ingredient. This list will come in very handy. Thanks so much. As for Wacky Cake it’s one of the best cakes ever. My mother made it when I was little and I still make it to this day. One of my favorites. So moist and chocolately. Mmmm good!!

    • Katie B.

      Okay, between you and Boyd I am convinced I must try this Wacky Cake. This weekend sounds like a good time. Thanks!

      • Mixed Kreations

        You won’t be sorry. It’s supper delicious :-D

  • Sarah

    Oh my word, what a useful list! I definitely need to remember this for future reference! I have been known to bundle the kids into the car and rush out to the shop at the last minute for some essential ingredient i was SURE i had already. ;)

    • Katie B.

      See, I’m too lazy for that. If I’m out of an ingredient, I hop on Google and look up a substitute. For the longest time, I had dozens upon dozens of Post-It Notes stuck inside my cupboard doors listing all of these things. Then one day it dawned on me: time for a blog entry!

  • Terry

    Oh Mighty Katie, I believe it was YOU who once wrote to use finely minced mushrooms to expand a recipe when you want to stretch ground beef (or ground whatever). I haven’t had a need to do that yet, but it stuck in my mind. It qualifies as a substitute, right? Also: last night I found a low-carb meatball recipe which calls for flaxseed meal instead of bread crumbs (which I would normally use). The meatballs had a beautiful, light texture. Of course, they’re only low-carb if you don’t serve them over egg noodles or mashed taters or something… :-)

    • Katie B.

      You’re right, I did recommend using minced mushrooms to replace, or supplement, ground beef. What an excellent memory you have, Terry!

      The flax seed meal one as a substitute for bread crumbs is new to me. As you can see above, ground seeds when mixed with water make a good substitution for eggs. Maybe they worked the same in your meatballs? I’ll have to give that a try!

  • Alicia

    Wow what a great chart to have around.

    • Katie B.

      Thanks, Alicia!

  • Becky

    Well, this is what everyone needs!! Nice! Thanks for sharing at Foodtastic Friday!

    • Katie B.

      Thanks, Becky!

  • Nina

    I’m a huge fan of substituting common ingredients, so this list is very helpful. The one that I normally substitute are broth for white wine or panko for bread crumbs. Anything that’ll keep me from running out to the grocery mid-week! :)

    • Katie B.

      I like using broth for wine, too, after finding out that the alcohol doesn’t really cook away. Now I think back to all the times I made pot roast with a red wine sauce and how my kids just raved about how delicious it tasted. Doh!

  • Krista @ While He Was Napping

    This a wonderful list! I need to print this out and put it with my cookbooks!

    I’d love for you to share this at my weekend link party! Hope to see you there!

    • Katie B.

      Glad you liked it! Keeping it with the cookbooks is smart. I taped mine inside my kitchen cupboards, because I have so many cookbooks I’d lose my chart!

  • Natalie

    Super resource, thanks so much am pinning this!

  • Parrish

    This is a great list and will be a lifesaver next time Im short an ingredient. Thank you so much for linking it up!!

    • Katie B.

      Thanks, Parrish!

  • Katie B.

    I’ll be there. Thanks!

  • Katie B.

    Oh, Carson is wonderful, isn’t he? And you’re absolutely right about the quiet range of beautifully performed emotions. I do know what you mean about how hard it is to choose a favorite. I absolutely adore the Dowager Countess (who doesn’t?) and Daisy.

  • Vinita

    Love the cooking substitutions. It’s a keeper!

  • Diana Rambles

    Great list that I’ve pinned! Thanks for linking up!

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