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Common Ingredient Substitutions in a Pinch

You have company coming and want to make their favorite dish however you don’t have all the ingredients in your pantry.  No need to worry because you probably have something you can substitute in your pantry.  Countless simple ingredients can work double-time, giving you great versatility. Keep in mind your final product made with the substituted ingredient may differ slightly from the original food, but it will still be acceptable in flavor, texture and appearance.

When baking you may not have an ingredient on hand but can substitute something you do have on hand.

Here’s what to use in a pinch—and how to make it all work.
The Recipe Calls For:

You Can Use This Instead:

Allspice 1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon ground cloves
Apple Pie Spice 1 teaspoon
  • ·½ teaspoon cinnamon plus ¼ teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
Arrowroot starch 1 teaspoon
  •  1 tablespoon flour OR
  •  1 teaspoon cornstarch
Baking Mix 1 cup
  • 1 cup pancake mix OR
  • 1 cup Biscuit Mixture
Baking Powder Double Acting

1 teaspoon

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Barbeque Sauce 1 cup
  •  ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons mustard and 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Brandy 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon imitation brandy extract plus enough water to make 1/4 cup
Bread crumbs 1 cup
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs OR
  • 1 cup matzo meal OR
  • 1 cup ground oats
Broth: beef or chicken 1 cup
  • 1 bouillon cube plus 1 cup boiling water OR
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus enough water to make 1 cup OR
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
Butter 1 cup
  • 1 cup margarine (regular) OR
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (for baking) OR
  • An equal amount of oil can be substituted for a similar portion of melted butter if the recipe specifies using melted butter.
Buttermilk 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR
  • Vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (allow to stand 5 minutes)
Cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded

  • 1 cup shredded Colby cheddar OR
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chervil, Fresh  1 tablespoon chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Chicken base 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup canned OR homemade chicken broth or stock. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1 cup
Chili Sauce  1 cup
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of allspice
Chocolate chips, (semisweet)

1 cup

  • 1 cup chocolate candy bar, chopped OR
  • 1 cup chocolate candies OR
  • 1 cup peanut butter or other flavored chips OR
  • 1 cup chopped nuts OR
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit
Chocolate, (semisweet)

1 ounce

  • 1 (1-ounce) square of unsweetened chocolate plus 4 teaspoons sugar OR
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate chips plus 1 teaspoon shortening
Chocolate, (unsweetened)

1 ounce

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter OR regular margarine OR vegetable oil
Condensed cream of mushroom soup,

1 (10.75-ounce) can

  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of celery, cream of chicken, or golden mushroom soup
Corn syrup 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water OR
  • 1 cup honey OR
  • 1 cup light treacle syrup
Cornstarch (for thickening)

1 Tablespoon

  • 2 tablespoons flour
Cottage cheese  1 cup
  • 1 cup farmer’s cheese OR
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
Cracker crumbs  1 cup
  • 1 cup bread crumbs OR
  • 1 cup matzo meal OR
  • 1 cup ground oats
Cream (half and half)   1 cup
  •  7/8 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon butter
Cream (heavy) 1 cup
  • 1 cup evaporated milk OR
  • 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter
Cream (light) 1 cup
  • 1 cup evaporated milk OR
  • 3/4 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons butter
Whipping cream 1 cup
  • 2 cups whipped cream OR
  • 1/3 cup butter plus ¾ cup milk (mixed well together)
Cream (whipped) 1 cup
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Cream of tartar 1 teaspoon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
Crème fraiche 1 cup
  • Combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt. Let stand for 6 hours at room temperature
Egg 1 whole
  • ¼ cup egg substitute; check label for specific directions OR
  • Reconstituted powdered eggs; follow package directions OR
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (suitable for use in cake batter) OR
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon liquid (for baking use only) OR
  • 1 mashed ripe banana OR
  • 1 tablespoon applesauce
Evaporated milk 1 cup
  • 1 cup light cream
Farmer’s cheese   8 ounces
  • 8 ounces dry cottage cheese OR
  • 8 ounces creamed cottage cheese, drained
Flour (for thickening)

1 tablespoon

  • 2 egg yolks; ½ tablespoon cornstarch OR
  • 2 teaspoons tapioca (quick cooking)
Flour, all-purpose white flour

1 cup

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour plus ½ cup all-purpose flour
Flour, Bread 1 cup
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon wheat gluten
Flour, Cake 1 cup
  • 1 cup regular flour, sifted twice minus 2 tablespoons
Flour, Self-rising 1 cup
  • 1 cup minus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt
Fresh Onion, chopped

1 small or ¼ cup

  • 1 tablespoon instant minced onion; check label for specific directions
Garlic 1 small clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder OR
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic OR
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt–reduce salt in recipe
Ginger–dry 1 teaspoon
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
Ginger—fresh   1 teaspoon, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger
Green onion ½ cup, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion OR
  • 1/2 cup chopped leek OR
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
Hazelnuts 1 cup whole
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts OR
  • 1 cup almonds
Herbs, Fresh finely cut

1 Tablespoon

  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf herbs OR
  • ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs
Honey Butter ½ cup
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine with ¼ cup honey
Hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon

  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus 1 teaspoon vinegar
Ketchup (for use in cooking)

1 cup

  • 1 cup tomato sauce, ½ cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons vinegar
Ketchup (as condiment)

1 cup

  • 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1 teaspoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Lemon grass   2 fresh stalks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Lemon juice    1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar OR
  • 1 teaspoon white wine OR
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
Lemon zest (fresh grated lemon peel)  1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract OR
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lime juice        1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar OR
  • 1 teaspoon white wine OR
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lime zest         1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Macadamia nuts         1 cup
  • 1 cup almonds OR 1 cup hazelnuts
Mace   1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
Margarine   1 cup
  • 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR
  • 1 cup butter OR
  • 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR
  • 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
Marshmallows, miniature 1 cup
  • ·10 large marshmallows
Mayonnaise (for use in salads and salad dressings) 1 cup
  • 1 cup sour cream OR
  • 1 cup yogurt OR
  • 1 cup cottage cheese pureed in a blender OR
  • Use any of the above for part of the mayonnaise
Mustard (in cooked mixtures)

1 teaspoon dry

  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Milk—Skim   1 cup
  • 1 cup water with 4 tablespoons nonfat instant milk
Milk—Whole   1 cup
  • 1 cup water, 4 tablespoons nonfat instant milk, and 2 teaspoons melted butter; OR
  • ½ cup water and ½ cup evaporated milk
Mint—fresh   1/4 cup chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
Molasses   1 cup
  • Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mustard—prepared

1 tablespoon

  • Mix together 1 tablespoon dried mustard, 1 teaspoon water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar
Onion  1 cup, chopped
  • 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
Orange zest    1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup, grated

  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese OR
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Parsley, Fresh

1 tablespoon chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil OR
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Pasta (substituting one for another) 4 cups (cooked) The National Pasta Association suggests these substitution ratios:

  •  8 ounces of uncooked elbow macaroni, medium shells, rotini, twists, spirals, wagon wheels, bow ties,  penne, rigatoni, spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, vermicelli and fettuccine all produce about 4 cups cooked pasta OR
  • Use about twice as much uncooked egg noodles to provide 4 cups cooked pasta. Approximately 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles equal 2 ½ cups cooked noodles
Pumpkin Pie Spice 1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon plus ¼ ground teaspoon ginger plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pepperoni  1 ounce
  • 1 ounce salami
Raisin  1 cup
  • 1 cup dried currants OR
  • 1 cup dried cranberries OR
  • 1 cup chopped pitted prunes
Rice, 1 cup, cooked
  • 1 cup cooked barley OR
  • 1 cup cooked bulgur OR
  • 1 cup cooked brown or wild rice
  • Most rice products will substitute for each other on a fairly equal basis in recipes, but the cooking time and amount of liquid will vary.
Rum (any amount)
  • 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water. For example: for ¼ cup rum, substitute 1 tablespoon rum extract plus 3 tablespoons water
Shallots, chopped   1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, OR
  • 1/2 cup chopped leek OR
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
Saffron   1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salami   1 ounce
  • 1 ounce pepperoni
Shortening       1 cup
  • 1 cup butter OR
  • 1 cup margarine minus 1/2 teaspoon salt from recipe
Sour cream     1 cup
  • 1 cup plain yogurt OR
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough cream to make 1 cup OR
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/3 cup butter
Sour milk         1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed with enough milk to make 1 cup: Let stand 5 minutes to thicken
Soy sauce       1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Brown sugar 1 cup, packed
  • 1 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses and decrease the liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup OR
  • 1 cup white sugar OR
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Sugar, Confectioners’ or Powdered  1 cup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch; process in a food processor using the metal blade attachment until it’s well blended and powdery
Sugar, White   1 cup
  • 1 cup brown sugar OR
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar OR
  • 3/4 cup honey OR
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
Sweetened condensed milk

1 (14-ounce) can

  • 3/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1/2 cup water and 1 1/8 cups dry powdered milk: Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes
Tomato juice 1 cup
  • 1 ½ cup tomato sauce plus ½ cup water
Tomato soup  10 ¾ ounce can
  • 1 cup tomato sauce plus ¼ cup water
Vegetable oil–for baking            1 cup
  • 1 cup applesauce OR
  • 1 cup fruit puree
Vegetable oil–for frying            1 cup
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
Vinegar            1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice OR
  • 2 teaspoons white wine
Wine, Red  any amount
  • The same amount of grape juice or cranberry juice
Wine, White  any amount
  • The same amount of apple juice or white grape juice
Yeast, compressed  2/3 ounce
  • 1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast OR
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
Yeast, dry   1 package
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast OR
  • 1 cake compressed yeast
Yogurt   1 cup
  • 1 cup sour cream OR
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR
  • 1 cup sour milk

Next time you can’t scare up any cornstarch, baking powder, eggs, or chocolate, use these tips of handy substitutes to make your life simpler.

For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/

 

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