Missing something your recipe calls for? You might not have to make another trip to the store after all.

By Shay Spence
May 12, 2020 03:04 PM
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As people are making fewer trips to the grocery store and often finding empty shelves when they get there, it might not be as easy as it once was to make your favorite recipes—so here is a handy guide to the best way to substitute everything!

Of course, results may not be exactly the same with each substitution, so you have to adjust your expectations a bit, but there's no time like the present for experimenting in the kitchen. You might just like the new way better! Whether you can't find all-purpose flour or don't feel like making a trip to the store over a pinch of cinnamon, we've put together a comprehensive list of the best swaps you can make.

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Making bread, cake and cookies is all about precision. These clever shortcuts will help when you run out of something essential.

All-Purpose Flour

Combine equal parts cake flour and bread flour for a similar texture.

Baking Powder

Mix baking soda with a pinch of cream of tartar or a squeeze of lemon juice.


Try applesauce or pureed avocado—the results will be slightly denser but still delicious.

Vanilla Extract

Use an equal amount of maple syrup.

Brown Sugar

Beat granulated sugar with molasses or honey (about 1 tablespoon per cup of sugar).


Use 1 tablespoon mayonnaise for every egg in recipes for baked goods.


Neutral oils like canola, coconut, corn, peanut and vegetable are interchangeable. For olive oil, swap with avocado, sesame or sunflower oils.


Mix whole milk with a splash of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes before using.

Cocoa Powder

Swap with hot chocolate mix, but then cut back on the sugar since it’s already sweetened.

Sour Cream

Use Greek yogurt or mascarpone.

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Pantry and Spices

Your cupboard staples often have multiple uses, so feel free to experiment.

Broth or Stock

Season water with your favorite liquid flavoring—white wine, beer and soy sauce all work great.

Bread Crumbs

Use crushed potato chips or crackers. Just cut back on salt since these substitutes have more sodium.


Substitute jarred pickle juice to add tang to dressings and sauces.


Mix 1 cup broth (beef for red wine; chicken for white wine) with 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Warm Spices

Swap cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg with leftover apple pie or pumpkin spice.

Dried Herbs

Use fresh herbs—but since their flavor is less potent, use three times the amount.

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Meat and Cheese

Changing the cut of meat or type of cheese can subtly change the flavor of a dish, but these alternatives will still deliver great results.

Chicken Breasts

Use other lean, mild meats like turkey cutlets or boneless pork chops.

Ground Beef

Sauté finely diced mushrooms with beef bouillon (about one crushed cube per pound of mushrooms).

Italian Sausage

Season any ground meat with dried Italian spices like fennel, garlic powder and oregano.


Try other cured porks like salami or prosciutto seasoned with smoked paprika to mimic the smoky flavor.

Stew Meats

Tough cuts with long cooking times—like cubed beef chuck, pork butt and lamb shoulder—can be used interchangeably in braises and stews.


Swap in other firm, fatty fillets like tuna, cod, mahi-mahi or swordfish.

Pepper Jack

Season Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese with red pepper flakes.


Toss Romano cheese with toasted bread crumbs for that salty, nutty finish.


Pulse cottage cheese in the food processor for a smoother texture.

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Many fresh vegetables have similar flavors, moisture content and cooking times, making them easy to replace.


When sauteed, red, yellow and white onions are interchangeable. Scallions and shallots work too.

Fresh Garlic

Use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder for every 1 clove called for in a recipe.


Swap an equal amount of minced red onion that’s been briefly soaked in water to mellow the flavor.


Season baby spinach leaves with black pepper to mimic the subtle spice of the greens.

Sturdy Greens

Swap kale, collard greens, escarole and Swiss chard for one another in cooked preparations.


Look to other firm vegetables like parsnips, beets, carrots, turnips, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Hearty Herbs

Rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme have an earthy flavor that can be used interchangeably in sauces and soups.

Tender Herbs

Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, mint and cilantro add a similar brightness.