It can be frustrating when you start a recipe only to find it calls for an ingredient you’ve run out of, don’t like, or can’t get a hold of. Luckily, there’s not just one way to do things in the kitchen, and these cooking hacks will help you find a perfect substitution for when you’re in a jam.
You may even find the alternative is something you prefer!
1) Baking soda
Baking soda has so many uses it’s easy to run out of! And it’s such an important part of any recipe that you can’t just skip over it and hope for the best. But if you can’t find it in your pantry, there are alternatives. For a recipe that calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda you can use:
4 teaspoons baking powder or
1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon salt
If the recipe requires any acidic ingredients like citrus juice, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, or molasses, replace it with the same amount of whole milk instead.
2) Baking powder
Similar to baking soda, baking powder is an essential part of any recipe, even though it’s used in such small quantities. But luckily, there are two alternatives you can lean on if you find yourself out of baking powder. For example, to replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder:
Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or
Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 cup buttermilk (for this one you’ll also want to decrease the liquid in recipe by 1/2 cup)
3) Brown sugar
To replace brown sugar in any recipe you can turn to some other old faithfuls in your pantry. There are three different options that will do the trick:
1 cup white sugar (the texture will change but the sweetness will remain the same) or
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar or
1 cup white sugar mixed with 1/4 cup molasses (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup)
4) White sugar
If you’re starting a baking project, you’ll probably want to make sure you’ve got this key ingredient in your pantry. And unfortunately times have changed and it’s not as socially acceptable to run to your neighbour’s house and ask to borrow a cup of sugar if you don’t!
So if you find yourself without it and no way to get your hands on some, you can turn to these alternatives. To replace 1 cup of white sugar:
1 cup brown sugar (the texture will change but the sweetness will remain the same) or
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar or
3/4 cup honey or
3/4 cup corn syrup
A lot of recipes call for cocoa but it’s not necessarily something everyone has stocked at home. Luckily, you can use unsweetened chocolate for the same effect. To replace 1/4 cup of cocoa, use:
1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate
6) Corn syrup
If you prefer a more holistic ingredient than corn syrup, you can use these three options instead to get the same effect. To replace 1 cup of corn syrup:
1 1/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1/3 cup water or
1 cup honey or
1 cup light treacle syrup
I will be surprised if you have access to treacle syrup and not corn syrup, but hey, I don’t know you.
There are tons of egg substitute options! Something to suit everyone’s taste. Some are also a great way to accommodate any vegans or anyone with an egg allergy.
2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute and equal parts water or
1/4 cup of liquid egg substitute, silken tofu pureed or
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise or
1/2 a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder or
1 tablespoon powdered flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons water
8) Salted butter
The difference that using salted or unsalted butter in baking can be drastic. If you only have un-salted butter at home, you can still be sure to achieve the most flavorful results with these alternatives. To replace 1 cup of salted butter, use:
1 cup of margarine or
1 cup of shortening mixed with just a 1/2 teaspoon of salt or
7/8 cup of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt or
7/8 cup of lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
9) Un-salted butter
Unfortunately, replacing a recipe’s call for un-salted butter isn’t as simple as tossing in some salted butter that you have on hand. But fortunately, there are three other options and you’re bound to have one of them! For 1 cup of unsalted butter, you can use any of these instead:
1 cup shortening or
7/8 cup vegetable oil or
7/8 cup lard
This household staple can easily be replaced by some other household staples if you’re in a bind!
Combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves together for the same effect.
11) Cheddar cheese
If you don’t have cheddar, there are a plethora of other cheeses you could use to substitute, but many will change the texture, taste, or have another effect. For the exact same result as using 1 cup of cheddar cheese, replace with:
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
12) Cream cheese
If you have cottage cheese you’re in the clear and it’s an easy last minute swap out. But if you have a reason to prefer yogurt over cream cheese, there’s an option for that one too. Replace 1 cup of cream cheese with:
1 cup plain yogurt, strained in cheesecloth overnight or
1 cup pureed cottage cheese
13) Green/spring onion
There are so many different varieties of onion, and you can’t be expected to keep all of them on hand at all times! However, you are more than likely to have one of the following substitutions in your kitchen.
You can replace a recipe that calls for 1/2 chopped green onions with:
1/2 cup chopped onion or
1/2 cup chopped leek or
1/2 cup chopped shallots
In case you’ve run out of honey, there are other sticky ingredients to get you out of the sticky situation.
Mix 1 1/4 cup white sugar with 1/3 cup water or
1 cup corn syrup or
1 cup light treacle syrup
Every now and then a recipe will call for some beer, but if you’re feeding kids or anyone who doesn’t drink, you may want to opt for a non-alcoholic version. You can easily swap it out for the same amount of either a non-alcoholic beer, or chicken broth.
The same goes for this high-alcohol content ingredient. The alcoholic agent is burned off while cooking, but for some it’s still preferred to use a strictly non-alcoholic alternative.
Fortunately, you can buy imitation brandy extract, which is alcohol-free. To replace 1/4 cup of brandy, put 1 teaspoon of imitation extract into a 1/4 measuring cup, and fill the rest with water.
17) Beef or chicken broth
To avoid opening an entire box or tin of liquid broth, or making it from scratch, you can use these quick alternatives. To replace 1 cup of broth:
Mix 1 bouillon cube in a cup of boiling water or
Place 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in a cup and top it up with water or
1 cup of vegetable broth
Chevril is not as common to have stocked as parsley, and luckily, it can be used as a replacement.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of chopped chevril
19) Cream of mushroom soup
Sometimes a recipe will call for a condensed can of cream of mushroom soup. But if you’re not a fan of soup in general, or prefer to make your own soup from scratch, you won’t have a can of condensed soup lying around. To replace 1 can (10.75 ounce/317 ml) of soup, use:
1 can condensed cream of celery, cream of chicken, or golden mushroom soup
If you don’t bake often you probably won’t have this, and may not want to buy a new one. Luckily you have two solid options to replace it. For the equivalent of 1 cup use:
1 cup yogurt or
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar) topped up with milk to fill 1 cup
21) Evaporated milk
A simple replacement for evaporated milk is equal parts light cream. It’s much easier to make sure you have on hand because it’s multi-purpose!
Not the flavor for you? Worry not, you can easily replace hazelnuts with another nut instead. To swap out 1 cup of hazelnuts, try:
1 cup of macadamia nuts or 1 cup of almonds
Of course, macadamia nuts can be pretty expensive! So keep that in mind when planning to fill 1 whole cup.
How you wouldn’t have ketchup in your home, I’m not sure! It’s one of the best condiments. Basic? Sure. Delicious? Absolutely. But if somehow you’re without, you can replace it with some other simple ingredients. Instead of one cup of ketchup, use:
Combine 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar
24) Bread crumbs
If you don’t happen to have any bread crumbs, you have three great options to use in their place. Use equal parts cracker crumbs, ground oats, or matzo meal.
Some people find they prefer one of these alternatives to bread crumbs, so experiment with each and find your favorite!
25) Arrowroot starch
This can also be known as arrowroot powder or arrowroot flour, but they’re all the same thing. If you don’t have any in your household, fear not!
It can be replaced with an equal amount of regular flour or cornstarch. (ie. 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch = 1 teaspoon flour.)
The benefit to arrowroot starch is that it’s gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly, so keep that in mind when choosing your replacement.
26) Chicken base
1 cup of chicken base can be quickly replaced by 1 cup of chicken broth or stock. Just be sure to reduce the total liquid in recipe by 1 cup.
27) Fresh ginger
You can substitute fresh ginger for dry ginger, so you don’t have to stress about keeping both on hand.
1 teaspoon of minced ginger = 1/2 teaspoon of ground dried ginger
28) Dried ginger
Just as you can substitute dried ginger for ay recipe that calls for fresh, the exchange goes the other way too.
1 teaspoon dry ginger = 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
29) Semi-sweet chocolate
If you don’t have any chocolate in your house I am truly shocked – I can’t help myself! But of course you’ll need some kind of chocolate to replace a recipe that calls for some semi-sweet goodness. To replace 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate use:
1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate and 4 teaspoons sugar or
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon shortening
30) Unsweetened chocolate
To replace one ounce of unsweetened chocolate, use:
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon of shortening or
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
31) Cake flour
We can’t all have a pantry full of various flours. If you’re keen to make a cake but don’t have actual cake flour, worry not.
7/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour.
32) Bread flour
The same goes for bread flour, you can get away with all-purpose flour. But instead of removing some flour from the cup, you’ll want to add some wheat gluten.
One cup bread flour is equal to one cup of all-purpose flour and one teaspoon of wheat gluten.
33) Self-rising flour
No need for self-rising flour, you can replace this ingredient with standard household items instead.
Mix 7/8 cup all-purpose flour, with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
For a vegetarian substitute, gelatin can be replaced by 2 teaspoons agar agar.
Agar agar is made from algae, so it’s environmentally sustainable and free of any animal products.
35) Cream of tartar
Cream of tartar is not a household item for everyone, but lemon juice and vinegar are!
2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 2 teaspoons of vinegar are a safe replacement for the equivalent amount of cream of tartar.
36) Fat for baking
A good vegan replacement for baking fat is either applesauce or fruit purée. If the recipe calls for 1 cup, you can use equal parts fruit replacement.
1 cup of applesauce or 1 cup of fruit puree
If you’re not a mayonnaise fan, you’ve got options. To substitute a recipe’s call for 1 cup of mayo, you can use:
1 cup of sour cream, or 1 cup of plain yogurt
38) Lemon or lime juice
You can substitute lemon juice for lime juice depending on your taste, but if you happen to have neither, you can also use:
Equal parts vinegar or white wine.