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Ingredient Substitutes

Updated on October 22, 2012

Out of butter, milk, chocolate or some other ingredient that a recipe calls for? No worries. You can still make it—if you have a substitute on hand.

Below are over 35 replacements for common recipe ingredients from allspice to white wine, arranged in alphabetical order.

Don't have all the basic ingredients for a recipe? Replacement ingredients can work just as well.
Don't have all the basic ingredients for a recipe? Replacement ingredients can work just as well. | Source


Pumpkin Spice Mix

No need to buy pumpkin pie spice. You can make your own by the teaspoon. Simply combine ½ tsp. ground cinnamon with ¼ tsp. ground allspice, ¼ tsp. ground ginger and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg.

Apple Pie Spice Mix

To make 1 tsp. apple pie spice, combine ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. ground allspice. Then add either a dash of ground ginger or a dash of ground cloves.



Ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg may be substituted for allspice.

Baking Powder

To replace 1 tsp. baking powder, add ¼ tsp. baking soda to ½ tsp. cream of tartar.

Bread Crumbs (Dry)

Substitute ¾ soft bread crumbs, ¼ C. crushed cornflakes or ¼ cracker crumbs for ¼ C. dry bread crumbs.

Brown Sugar

Brown and white sugar can be used interchangeably in equivalent amounts. However, if you want that brown sugar taste but only have white sugar on hand, you can approximate it by adding 2 Tbsp. molasses for every ½ cup.


Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar, lemon juice or 1 ¾ Tbsp. cream of tartar to 1 C. milk.

Butter or Margarine

Add ½ tsp. salt to lard or Crisco.


Ground ginger may be used in place of ground cardamom.

Chocolate (Semisweet)

To substitute 1 oz. semisweet chocolate, add 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar to 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate. Or, mix 2 tsp. shortening, 2 tsp. granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder.

Chocolate (Sweet)

Three Tbsp. shortening, ¼ C. unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/3 C. granulated sugar can be used in place of 4 oz. of sweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate (Unsweetened)

Three to 4 Tbsp. cocoa plus ½ Tbsp. oil, rendered fat or butter may be substituted for a 1-oz. square of chocolate.


Out of cinnamon? Use allspice or nutmeg instead.


In lieu of cloves, try allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Corn Syrup

For a substitute for 1 C. corn syrup, mix 1 C. granulated sugar with ¼ C. water.


Two Tbsp. flour can be used as a thickening agent in place of 1 Tbsp. cornstarch.

Cracker Crumbs

In meatloaf and other dishes, one cup of bread crumbs can replace ¾ C. cracker crumbs.


Chili powder is a good substitute for cumin in Indian and Mexican dishes.


To make a substitute for ground curry, mix equal amounts of any or all of the following ground spices: cumin, coriander, ginger, pepper (red and black) and turmeric.

Flour (All-Purpose Flour)

Add flour to up to ½ C. bran, corn meal or whole-wheat flour.

Flour (Cake Flour)

For every 1 C. cake flour, substitute 7/8 C. all-purpose flour (1 C. less 2 Tbsp.).

Flour (Self-Rising)

One C. all-purpose flour with 1 tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. baking soda and ½ tsp. salt will replace 1 C. self-rising flour.


Ground allspice, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg may be used in place of ground ginger.

Half and Half

As a substitute for 1 C. half and half or light cream, melt 1 Tbsp. butter the add whole milk to make 1 C.

Herbs (Dried)

If you're out of an individual dried herb, you can replace it with fines herbes in gravies, soups, stuffing and other savory dishes.

Herbs (Fresh)

One tsp. dried replaces 1 Tbsp. fresh herbs.


Although it wouldn't taste good on french fries, 1 C. tomato sauce mixed with ½ C. sugar and 2 Tbsp. vinegar replaces 1 C. ketchup in recipes like barbecue sauce and meatloaf.


Ten miniature marshmallows replaces 1 large marshmallow (and vice versa).


Honey, in equal parts, is a good substitute for molasses.

Mustard (Prepared)

In cooking (not as a condiment), 1 tsp. dry mustard may be substituted for 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard.

Onion (Fresh)

One Tbsp. dried onion can be used in lieu of one small fresh one.


Cajun Spice Mix

To make 1 Tbsp. Cajun spice mix, combine half teaspoons of black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper and white pepper.

Poultry Seasoning Mix

Mix ¾ tsp. dried sage with ¼ tsp. marjoram or thyme for a teaspoon of poultry seasoning.


Cayenne pepper (used sparingly) is a good substitute for both Spanish and Hungarian paprika.

Powdered Sugar

One cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cornstarch replaces 1 cup powdered sugar.

Sour Cream

One cup of thick sour cream can be replaced with 1 C. plain yogurt, or 1/3 C. butter mixed with 2/3 C. milk. To replace one cup of thin sour cream, mix 3 Tbsp. butter with 3/4 C. milk.

Sugar (Granulated)

For 1 C. granulated sugar, substitute 2 C. powdered or use brown sugar.

Tomato Juice

Substitute ½ C. tomato sauce mixed with ½ C. water for 1 C. tomato juice.

Tomato Sauce

Add 3/4 C. tomato paste to 1 C. water as a replacement to make a substitute for 2 C. tomato sauce.

Whole Milk

To replace 1 C. whole milk, add ½ C. water to ½ C. evaporated milk. Or, mix 1 C. sour milk or buttermilk with ½ tsp. baking soda.

Vinegar (Balsamic)

Mix ½ tsp. sugar with 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or cider vinegar to replace 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

Wine (Red)

In place of red wine in savory dishes, an equal amount of beef broth or chicken broth may be substituted. In sweets, cranberry juice is a good substitute.

Wine (White)

In savory dishes, use chicken broth in place of white wine. In dessert dishes, white grape juice or apple juice are good replacements.


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    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Hi Dolores. Running gran. sugar in a blender is a great idea! Will have to try it next time I run short of powdered. (: Thanks for commenting! --Jill

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      For certain items, I'd have to agree with the chef up there - make something else. But other substitutions, like the baking soda/baking powder one, or the flour + baking powder for self rise flour work well because the substitutions are basically the same thing. With spices, it's all your own taste, what a person likes.

      For the confectioner sugar, I run the granulated sugar in a blender.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Tebo! Glad you find the info handy. Nice to hear from you. (: --Jill

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 5 years ago from New Zealand

      A very thorough list. It is really annoying when you start to make a recipe and haven't checked whether you have all the ingredients first. Very handy to be able to substitute with these suggestions. Thanks.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Hey chefsref! Sounds like I hit on one of your pet peeves. Well, of course, some substitutions, like substituting one spice for another, won't create the same taste, but ... the dish will still taste good--if you like the spice. And sometimes substitutions create a different texture, too, I have to admit. Personally, I'm not a fan of margarine, or that Crisco "butter" stuff that's shaped like sticks of butter. I tried making cookies with it once and they tasted like Vaseline. (: Won't be sharing that recipe! Take it easy!--Jill

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey Jill

      We will have to disagree about some of this. I admit some substitutes work as well as the original ingredient and your list is as good as I've seen, I've been collecting these lists for ages.. But, as a chef it drives me nuts to hear how my recipe didn't taste the same when they made it. After further inquiry I found out that they were out of key ingredients so made substitutes.

      Anyone who is inexperienced; if you are out of an ingredient make something else.

      For someone with more knowledge the allowable substitutes become obvious. (like the white sugar + molasses and many others that you have listed.

      I became a purist when my brother asked me if he could make butter cookies with margarine, I said yes of course! He made them and thought I was nuts, complaining to me that "they taste like margarine cookies!"

      Well Duh!

      But it points out that people seem to expect identical results from different ingredients. Now when asked about a substitute I say make something else

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Awesome, Natashalh! Hope you find the list of substitutes helpful. Take care, Jill

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Fantastic! I've already bookmarked this and am about to pin. This is super helpful - thank you.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Hi Carol! When it comes to cooking, I'm not exactly a planner--you know, one of those people who assemble all the ingredients beforehand and measure it all out. I dive right in flat-footed & have often found myself short on basic ingredients. Using milk & vinegar instead of buttermilk is my most frequent substitution, right up there with swapping out or mixing chili powder and cumin. Thanks for the feedback! Take it easy. (: Jill

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Where did you learn all these substitutes...Great idea to write about this and we are always out of something. Thanks for taking the time and compiling all this information. There is just one I would never this day the word sticks in my throat. Voting up +++ and sharing...and of course bookmarking.