How To Substitute 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!

How To Substitute Cooking Ingredients

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)
Allspice1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1 teaspoon
Baking mix1 cup pancake mix1 cup
Baking powder1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar1 teaspoon
Beer/wine1 cup chicken broth1 cup
Bread crumbs1 cup cracker crumbs OR 1 cup ground instant oatmeal1 cup
Broth (chicken or beef)1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water OR 1 cup vegetable broth1 cup
Brown sugar1 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses, mixed well. (For dark brown sugar use 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses.)1 cup
Butter, salted1 cup unsalted butter OR 1 cup shortening and 1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup
Butter, unsalted1 cup shortening1 cup
Buttermilk1 tablespoon white vinegar OR lemon juice and enough milk or plain yogurt to make 1 cup1 cup
Chocolate, semisweet(not chips)1 ounce (a square) of unsweetened baking chocolate and 3 tsp. white sugar1 ounce
Chocolate, semisweet chips1 cup chocolate candy bar, chopped1 cup
Chocolate, unsweetened3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon shortening or neutral-flavored cooking oil1 ounce
Cocoa powder1 once (a square) of unsweetened baking chocolate, ground1/4 cup
Corn syrup, light1 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 crumbs1 cup bread crumbs OR 1 cup ground instant oats1 cup
Cream, half-and-half1 tablespoon melted butter and enough milk to make 1 cup1 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 cheese1 cup cottage cheese put through a blender1 cup
Crème fraiche1 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon plain yogurt left to stand at room temperature 2-4 hours1 cup
Egg1/4 cup liquid egg substitute (Egg Beaters) OR 1 tablespoon flax-seed soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water until gel forms1 egg
Egg white3 tablespoons meringue powder mixed in 6 tablespoons water3 egg whites
Evaporated milk1 cup light cream1 cup
Flour, bread1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten1 cup
Flour, self-rising7/8 cup all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup
Garlic, clove1/8 teaspoon garlic powder1 clove
Ginger, powdered2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger1 teaspoon
Ginger, fresh1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger1 teaspoon minced
Green onion1/2 cup chopped yellow onion or leek1/2 cup
Herbs, dried1 tablespoon fresh herb1 teaspoon dried herb
Herbs, fresh1 teaspoon dried herb1 tablespoon fresh herb
Honey1 cup light corn syrup OR 1 1/4 cup white sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water1 cup
Hot sauce3/4 teaspoon cayenne powder and 1 teaspoon white vinegar1 teaspoon
Ketchup1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar mixed into 1 cup tomato sauce1 cup
Lard1 cup shortening or 1 cup butter1 cup
Lemon grass1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest2 stalks
Lemon juice1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice OR 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar1 teaspoon
Lemon zest2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice OR 1 teaspoon lime zest1 teaspoon
Lime juice1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice OR 1 teaspoon white vinegar1 teaspoon
Lime zest1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest1 teaspoon
Margarine1 cup shortening and 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 1 cup butter1 cup
Mayonnaise1 cup plain yogurt OR 1 cup Greek yogurt OR 1 cup sour cream1 cup
Milk, Whole1/2 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 milk1 cup
Molasses3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, mixed well1 cup
Mustard, dry1 tablespoon prepared mustard1 teaspoon
Mustard, prepared1 tablespoon dry mustard mixed with 1 teaspoon water and 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar1 tablespoon
Oil (for baking)1 cup applesauce1 cup
Oil (for sautéing)3 tablespoons chicken, beef or vegetable broth2 tablespoons
Onion1 cup chopped leeks OR 1 cup chopped green onions  OR 1/4 dried onion flakes OR 1 tablespoon onion powder1 cup, chopped
Orange juice1 tablespoon other citrus juice1 tablespoon
Orange liqueur1/2 teaspoon orange extract and 1 tablespoon water2 tablespoons
Orange zest1 teaspoon lemon juice1 tablespoon
Pumpkin pie spice1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves1 teaspoon
Raisins1 cup dried cranberries or 1 cup dried currants1 cup
Ricotta cheeseDrain 2 cups cottage cheese in a sieve for 30 minutes, measure out 1 cup after draining OR 1 cup silken tofu1 cup
Shallots1/2 cup chopped leek or 1/2 cup chopped green onion (white part only)1/2 cup
Shortening1 cup butter1 cup
Sour cream1 cup plain or Greek yogurt OR 1 tablespoon vinegar and enough cream to make 1 cup1 cup
Sugar, Brown1 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon molasses1 cup
Sugar, White1 cup packed brown sugar (flavor will be affected)1 cup
Tomato sauce1/2 cup tomato paste combined with 1/2 cup water (adjust flavor as desired)1 cup
Vegetable oil (baking)1 cup applesauce1 cup
Vinegar1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice1 teaspoon
Wine1 cup chicken, beef of vegetable broth1 cup
Yogurt1 cup sour cream or 1 cup buttermilk1 cup

Want to keep this list handy so you always know how to substitute cooking ingredients? Click the printer icon below (or at the top of the article) and hang it inside a kitchen cupboard for future reference!

Equipment You May Need:


  1. Boyd says

    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:

    • says

      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!”

  2. Boyd says

    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.

  3. says

    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,

  4. Mixed Kreations says

    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!!

  5. says

    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. 😉

    • says

      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!

  6. Terry says

    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… :-)

    • says

      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!

  7. Nina says

    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! :)

    • says

      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!

  8. says

    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.

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