The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Substitutions

The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Substitutions


Have you ever been in the middle of baking or cooking something and discover you don’t have an ingredient.  Don’t despair!  There are cooking substitutions you can use and no one will be the wiser.  In fact, you may choose to change the recipe to use the substitution permanently.  Some examples:

For red wine you can use chicken/beef or vegetable stock with a little balsamic vinegar.  Or you can use grape juice in the amount needed for wine, just deduct one tablespoon and use vinegar to makeup the amount you need.  Of course, red wine vinegar would work great.

For butter in baking you can use applesauce, mashed banana, coconut oil or Greek yogurt.  For cookies, I find the applesauce works best.

If you don’t have brown sugar, don’t panic. For example, if you need a cup of brown sugar you can use 1 cup regular sugar with 3 tablespoons molasses.

If a recipe calls for buttermilk, you can make your own.  To make one cup of buttermilk, use one cup of regular milk mixed with one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.  (You can use almond milk too if you like.)  Let this stand for 5 minutes and use.

If a recipe calls for baking powder and all you have is baking soda, no worry, you can use the baking soda, just use 1/3 the amount.  If you want to make your own baking powder, the formula is ½ tsp. of baking soda plus ½ tsp of cream of tartar.

In place of cornstarch you can use Arrowroot.  In fact, I use Arrowroot all the time now.  When frying, try Arrowroot instead of flour for a light healthier coating.

If you need sugar you can substitute bananas!  One banana plus one tablespoon of water (make into a paste) will equal one cup of sugar.  Or, one cup of pitted, diced dates plus one cup of hot water (let soak for about 15 minutes and make into a paste) will equal the sweetness of one cup of sugar.

If you are short of eggs, you can always do with one less.  Or you can use a banana as one banana equals one egg.

One square of unsweetened chocolate is the same as 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa plus one tablespoon of oil.  I don’t buy the squares anymore!

Instead of milk you can use juice.  (Hint, when making boxed cake mix, instead of water, use milk.  And if using a chocolate cake mix, use brewed coffee instead of water!  Delish!)

With the holidays coming quickly, you may be baking more than usual.  Many of our holiday recipes call forcorn syrup.  You can substitute honey, agave, molasses, or real maple syrup depending on what you’re making.  For caramel popcorn, agave works best for me.

Another holiday ingredient is sweet condensed milk.  You can make your own sweet condensed milk by mixing 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk, with 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons butter.  Heat over medium heat until dissolved and you have sweet condensed milk!

If your recipe calls for catsup, when making, say hot wing sauce, you can make your own catsup by using 1 cup tomato sauce plus ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  In fact, here’s my hot wing sauce.  After baking wings for 40-45 minutes at 400 degrees, dip each wing in this sauce and then bake again at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


Hot wing sauce:                                             Dip:

4 T. melted butter                                           ½ c. mayonnaise

2 t. Tabasco                                                     ¼ c. sour cream (you can substitute Greek

1/3 cup catsup                                                 yogurt)

3 T chopped chives

Optional: 4 T. apricot jam                               1-3 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. lemon juice

Ground pepper

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.