Your Comprehensive Guide to Ingredient Substitutions in Recipes
Missing something your recipe calls for? You might not have to make another trip to the store after all.
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.
Making bread, cake and cookies is all about precision. These clever shortcuts will help when you run out of something essential.
Combine equal parts cake flour and bread flour for a similar texture.
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.
Use an equal amount of maple syrup.
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.
Swap with hot chocolate mix, but then cut back on the sugar since it’s already sweetened.
Use Greek yogurt or mascarpone.
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.
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.
Swap cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg with leftover apple pie or pumpkin spice.
Use fresh herbs—but since their flavor is less potent, use three times the amount.
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.
Use other lean, mild meats like turkey cutlets or boneless pork chops.
Sauté finely diced mushrooms with beef bouillon (about one crushed cube per pound of mushrooms).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme have an earthy flavor that can be used interchangeably in sauces and soups.
Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, mint and cilantro add a similar brightness.