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Out of an ingredient in your recipe? Try these substitutions!

Updated on August 16, 2012

How many times have you been in the middle of preparing a recipe and found you're out of an ingredient? You panic--do you have time to run to the store? Can you just leave it out? Could I use something else in its place? Most of the time, you can easily use other common kitchen staples to create the same effect as your missing ingredient. A few key points when making substitutions:

  • Measure each item correctly
  • Understand the chemical properties and the effect on the recipe
  • Keep moisture, taste, and texture in mind
  • Understand the difference in thickening or sweetening when substituting a sugar or flour ingredient

Common Substitutions

I need...
Baking Powder
1 tsp
1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp cornstarch
Beef or Chicken Broth
1 C
1 bouillon cube, 1 tsp powdered broth base dissolved in 1 cup water.
1 C
7/8 cup oil plus 1/2 tsp salt
Semi-sweet Chocolate
1 oz
1 oz unsweet chocolate plus 4 tsp sugar
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
Sour Cream
1 C
7/8 cup milk, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
Egg (in baking)
1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 Tbsp liquid
1 clove
1/2-1 tsp garlic salt **Reduce additional salt in the recipe**
Lemon Juice
1 tsp
1/2 tsp vinegar
Maple sugar
1/2 C
1 C maple syrup **Decrease other liquid by 1/2 C**
Mini Marshmallows
1 C
10 large marshmallows
1 C
1 cup milk, plus 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice; let stand 5 minutes
1 C
3/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar **Increase liquid in recipe by 5 Tbsp**
1 small
1 tsp onion powder
Brown Sugar
1 C
1 C sugar plus 1/4 C unsulphured molasses
1 C
1 C brown sugar, packed
Tomato sauce
2 C
3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water
Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp
1 tsp steak sauce


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    • pollobowl profile image

      pollobowl 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent! I've actually used quite a few of these substitutions since I live so far from a grocery store. It's nice to see a long list for reference later though! Thank you!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Necessity is the mother of invention and cooking displays that truth very well. Thanks for putting this together for us.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Well this is helpful! I had no idea it was possible to make so many substitutions. I would have thought it would mess up the recipe somehow. Great hub, voted up and shared!