Anyone who cooks or bakes has probably experienced this scenario before: just as you start your recipe you realize you’re missing an ingredient. Fear not. Here’s a go-to list of every imaginable substitution we could think of that will allow you to keep cooking and still have a tasty dish to serve.

 

1. Baking Substitutions

Keep in mind when you substitute one ingredient for another in a recipe, chances are it might change the taste or the texture of what you’re baking. Use these substitutions only when you have to.

 

Get the free printable for Baking Substitutions here!

 

Allspice

1 teaspoon: substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Arrowroot Starch

1 teaspoon: substitute 1 tablespoon flour OR 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Baking Powder

1 teaspoon: substitute 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Brown Sugar

1 cup packed: substitute 1 cup white sugar OR 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. Using white sugar will cause cookies to be crispier. To fix this, add 2 tablespoons molasses for every cup of white sugar.

Butter – Salted

1 cup: substitute 1 cup margarine OR 1 cup shortening + 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil + 1/2 teaspoon salt

Butter – Unsalted

1 cup: substitute 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil OR 7/8 cup lard

Buttermilk

1 cup: substitute 1 cup yogurt OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup

Chocolate – Semisweet

1 ounce: substitute 3 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 3 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening

Chocolate – Unsweetened

1 ounce: substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon shortening or vegetable oil

Cocoa

1/4 cup: substitute 1 ounce square unsweetened chocolate

Corn Syrup

1 cup: substitute 1 1/4 cup white sugar + 1/4 cup warm or hot water OR 1 cup honey

Cream – Half and Half

1 cup: substitute 7/8 cup milk + 1 tablespoon butter OR mix 1/2 cup whole milk + 1/2 cup light cream

Cream – Heavy

1 cup: substitute 1 cup evaporated milk OR 3/4 cup milk + 1/3 cup unsalted butter

Cream – Light

1 cup: substitute 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup whole milk OR 3/4 cup milk + 3 tablespoons butter

Cream Cheese

1 cup: substitute 1 cup pureed cottage cheese OR 1 cup plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth

Egg

1 egg: substitute 2 tablespoon flour + 1/2 teaspoon oil + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 2 tablespoons liquid — milk, cream, buttermilk, diluted yogurt, or dairy free alternatives like coconut milk or soy milk work.

Evaporated Milk

1 cup: boil 2 1/4 cups regular milk down until it becomes 1 cup

Flour – Cake

1 cup: substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour (minus 2 tablespoons) + 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Flour – Self Rising

1 cup: substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt

Hazelnuts

1 cup whole: substitute 1 cup almonds

Honey

1 cup: substitute 1 1/4 cup white sugar + 1/3 cup water OR 1 cup corn syrup OR 1 cup molasses

Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon: substitute 1 teaspoon lime juice OR 1 teaspoon white wine OR 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

Lemon Zest

1 teaspoon: substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract OR 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Lime Juice

1 teaspoon: substitute 1 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon white wine OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Lime Zest

1 teaspoon: substitute 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Macadamia Nuts

1 cup: substitute 1 cup almonds

Milk – Whole

1 cup: substitute 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water OR 1 cup nonfat milk or reconstituted nonfat dry milk + 2 teaspoons butter or oil

Molasses

1 cup: substitute 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup OR 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar OR 3/4 cups sugar + 1/4 cup water

Orange Juice

1 tablespoon: substitute 1 tablespoon any other citrus juice like lemon, lime, or grapefruit. The final flavor will obviously lean toward the substituted flavor.

Orange Zest

1 tablespoon: substitute 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

1 teaspoon: substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Raisins

1 cup: substitute 1 cup dried currants OR 1 cup dried cranberries OR 1 cup chopped pitted prunes

Shortening

1 cup: substitute 1 cup butter OR 1 cup margarine and remove 1/2 teaspoon salt from recipe

Vegetable Oil

1 cup: substitute 1 cup applesauce OR 3/4 to 1 cup fruit puree

White Sugar

1 cup: substitute 1 cup brown sugar OR 3/4 cup honey. Honey adds a lot of moisture, so reduce other liquids in the recipe by a 1/2 cup for every 1 cup of honey added.

Yogurt

1 cup: substitute 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup buttermilk

 

 

2. Everyday Ingredient Substitutions

Just as with baking, the taste and texture might change, but with the following substitutions the overall dish is still acceptable. 

 

Get the free printable for Everyday Ingredient Substitutions here!

 

Broth – Beef or Chicken

1 cup: substitute 1 bouillon cube + 1 cup boiling water OR 1 tablespoon soy sauce and enough water to make 1 cup OR 1 cup vegetable broth

Cheddar Cheese

1 cup shredded: substitute 1 cup shredded Colby cheddar OR 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Chervil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh: substitute 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can: substitute 1 can condensed cream of celery, cream of chicken, or golden mushroom soup OR add broth and milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, then, stir in mushrooms and bring sauce to a gentle boil. Stir until sauce thickens.

Cornstarch

1 tablespoon: substitute 2 tablespoons flour

Cottage Cheese

1 cup: substitute 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, or cheddar cheese. Tofu is a non-dairy substitute with similar nutrients.

Garlic

1 clove: substitute 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder OR 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic OR garlic chives

Ginger – Dry

1/4 teaspoon: substitute 1 tablespoon fresh ginger for every 1/4 tsp of ground ginger. Make sure to mince it fine so it doesn’t overpower your recipe OR use an equal amount of allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, or nutmeg.

Ginger – Fresh

1 tablespoon: substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

Green Onion

1/2 cup chopped: substitute 1/2 cup chopped onion OR 1/2 cup chopped leek OR 1/2 cup chopped shallots

Herbs – Fresh

1 tablespoon fresh: substitute 1 teaspoon dried herbs (chopped or whole leaf)

Hot Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon: substitute cayenne pepper powder (sprinkle to taste) OR red pepper flakes OR 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1 teaspoon vinegar.

Ketchup

1 cup: substitute 1 cup tomato sauce + 1 teaspoon vinegar + 1 tablespoon sugar

Onion

1 cup: substitute 1 cup chopped green onions OR 1 cup chopped shallots OR 1 cup chopped leeks OR 1/4 cup dried minced onion OR 1/4 cup onion powder

Parmesan Cheese

1/2 cup grated: substitute 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese OR 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Rice – White

1 cup: substitute 1 cup cooked barley OR 1 cup cooked bulgur OR 1 cup cooked brown or wild rice OR 1 cup quinoa

Ricotta

1 cup: substitute 1 cup cottage cheese OR 1 cup silken tofu (mashed)

Sour Cream

1 cup: substitute 1 cup plain yogurt OR 1 cup evaporated milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar OR 1 cup cottage cheese mixed in blender + 2 tablespoons milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Soy Sauce

1/2 cup: substitute 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce + 1 tablespoon water

Vinegar

1 teaspoon: substitute 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice OR 2 teaspoons white wine

 

RELATED: 20 Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Busy Moms

 

3. Alcohol Substitutions

Whether it’s beer, wine, or liquor, alcohol is known to bring out the flavor in food. But, if you don’t have any or just don’t want to use alcohol, here are some excellent substitutes.

 

Get the free printable for Alcohol Substitutions here!

 

Beer – Light

1 beer: substitute equal amounts chicken broth OR ginger ale OR white grape juice OR white wine

Beer – Dark

1 beer: substitute beef broth OR chicken broth OR mushroom stock OR apple juice OR apple cider OR root beer OR coke (If you’re tenderizing meat or making a bread recipe, it’s recommended to use the soda option.)

Rum

1 tablespoon: substitute 1 tablespoon water OR white grape juice OR pineapple juice OR apple juice OR apple cider OR syrup flavored with almond extract

Wine

1 cup: substitute 1 cup chicken broth OR beef broth OR 1 cup fruit juice + 2 teaspoons vinegar OR 1 cup water

 

4. Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Creating healthier meal options is not as hard as some might think. A few simple tweaks here and there can save you both fat and calories. 

 

Get the free printable for Healthy Substitutions here!

 

Bread Crumbs

1 cup: substitute 1 cup rolled oats. By doing this you’re cutting the calories in half and adding extra fiber. 

Butter

1 cup: substitute 1 cup prune puree. Doing this cuts the calories in half, eliminates most of the fat, and adds fiber. Try a DIY method by blending 1 cup of pitted prunes with 6 tablespoons hot water until smooth.

Buttermilk

1 cup: substitute 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice + enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes.

Cream

1 cup: substitute equal amount of pureed sweet potato. You still get a rich flavor, but with the sweet potato at 130 calories compared to a 1/2 cup of cream at 400 calories, you tell us which is the better option.

Cream Cheese

1 cup: substitute low-fat cottage cheese. Use a food processor to get the lumps out. Not only will you not be able to tell the difference, but you’ll eat less fat, fewer calories, and more protein this way.

Eggs

1 egg: substitute 1/3 cup mashed banana. You’ll cut fat in the recipe from 5 grams to only 1 gram.

Flour

1 cup: substitute 1 cup black bean puree (rinse and drain beans before pureeing). This is a good option for those who are gluten-free, and you’ll cut out up to 200 calories. Since the color will change, try this in a cake or brownie recipe.

Mayonnaise

1 cup: substitute 1 cup plain Greek yogurt. The difference in calories is amazing. Even light mayo has 3 times the calories and 11 times the fat of Greek yogurt.

Oil

1 cup oil: substitute 1 cup unsweetened applesauce. You’ll cut 100 calories. Using applesauce adds a nice consistency and a hint of sweetness without the extra fat.

Sugar

1 cup: substitute half the sugar if you’re making baked goods and add vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon to intensify the sweetness.

 

 

5. Measurements

Always check your recipe. There’s a big difference between a fluid ounce and a dry ounce.

  • Fluid ounces equal volume measurement. 
  • Dry ounces equal weight measurement

 

Get the free printable for Liquid Measurements here!

 

Liquid (Fluid or Volume) Measurements

A pinch = 1/8 teaspoon or less

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons = 4 fluid ounces

1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons = 2 fluid ounces

1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 2 2/3 fluid ounces

1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons = 4 fluid ounces

2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 5 1/3 fluid ounces

3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons = 6 fluid ounces

7/8 cup = 14 tablespoons = 7 fluid ounces

1 cup = 16 tablespoons = 8 fluid ounces or 1/2 pint

2 cups = 32 tablespoons = 16 fluid ounces or 1 pint

4 cups = 1 quart = 32 fluid ounces

1 pint = 32 tablespoons = 16 fluid ounces

2 pints = 1 quart = 32 fluid ounces

8 pints = 1 gallon or 128 fluid ounces

 

Get the free printable for Dry Measurements here!

 

Dry (Weight) Measurements

1 ounce = 28 grams

2 ounces = 56 grams

3 ounces = 85 grams

4 ounces = 113 grams = 1/4 pound

8 ounces = 226 grams = 1/2 pound

12 ounces = 340 grams = 3/4 pound

16 ounces = 454 grams = 1 pound

32 ounces = 907 grams = 2 pounds

 

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