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Kitchen Notes

Ingredient Substitutions

by Michael Chu
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Unless you have a fully stocked kitchen, you're probably going to have to make a run to the supermarket at least once for any new recipe you try. At least I have to. Sometimes, I just don't feel like it, or I'm not willing to spend money on an ingredient that I might never use again. Will something in the pantry or spice rack work just as well? Maybe. The only way to know is to try it and see - but what should I try? Well, here I've compiled a list of possible substitutions from the web, cooking shows, cookbooks, and conventional wisdom.

IngredientSubstitutionNotes
Allspice (1 tsp.)Ground cinnamon (1/2 tsp.) & ground cloves (1/2 tsp.)
Apple Pie Spice (1 tsp.)Ground cinnamon (1/2 tsp.) & ground nutmeg (1/4 tsp.) & ground cardamom (1/8 teaspoon)
Arrowroot (1&Tbs.)Corn starch (2-1/4 tsp.)
Baking Powder (1 tsp.)Baking soda (1/4 tsp.) & cream of tartar (5/8 tsp.)
Baking Powder (1 tsp.)Baking soda (1/4 tsp.) & buttermilk (1/2 cup)Reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.
Baking Powder (1 tsp.)Baking soda (1/4 tsp.) & molasses (3/8 cup)Reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup. Adjust sweetener also.
Bread crumbs, dry (1 cup)Cracker crumbs(3/4 cup)
Broth, chicken or beef (1 cup)Bouillon (1 cube or 1 tsp. granules) & boiling water (1 cup)
Butter (1 oz.)Margarine (1 oz.)Margarine must contain more than 80% fat. Margarine should have 100 calories per tablespoon. Recent scientific evidence shows that trans fatty acids are extremely bad for your health. Trans fatty acids are created by mechnical hydrogenation of liquid oils - which is how they make margarine. Keep the butter around.
Butter (1 oz.)Vegetable shortening (1 oz.)For baking. Recent scientific evidence shows that trans fatty acids are extremely bad for your health. Trans fatty acids are created by mechnical hydrogenation of liquid oils - which is how they make vegetable shortening. However, one company does produce a trans fatty acid free shortening from palm oil.
Butter (1 oz.)Oil (1 oz.)For melted butter, oil can be substituded.
Buttermilk (1 cup)Lemon juice or vinegar (1 Tbs.) & milk (enough to make 1 cup)Allow to stand for five minutes.
Buttermilk (1 cup)Plain yogurt (1 cup)
Buttermilk (1 cup)Cream of tartar (1-3/4 tsp.) & milk (1 cup)
Chili Sauce (1 cup)Tomato sauce (1 cup), brown sugar (1/4 cup), vinegar (2 Tbs.), ground cinnamon (1/4 tsp.), ground cloves (a dash), & allspice (a dash)
Chives (1 Tbs.)Tips of scallions (1 Tbs.)
Chocolate, semisweet (1 oz.)Unsweetened chocolate (1/2 oz.) & granulated sugar (1 Tbs.)
Chocolate, semisweet chips (6 oz.)Unsweetened cocoa powder (1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs.), granulated suger (1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs.), & melted butter (3 Tbs.)
Chocolate, unsweetened, melted (1 oz.)Unsweetened cocoa powder (3 Tbs.) & melted butter (1 Tbs.)
Coconut, grated (1 cup)Coconut, flaked (1-1/3 cups)
Coconut milk, fresh (1 cup)Canned cream of coconut (3 Tbs.) plus hot water or milk (enough to make 1 cup)
Cornstarch (1 Tbs.)Flour (2 Tbs.)For thickening. Note: Cornstarch thickened liquids are translucent while flour thickened liquids are opaque. Also, flour needs to be cooked longer and should be simmered after thickening to avoid flour taste.
Corn syrup, dark (1 cup)Light corn syrup (3/4 cup) & light molasses (1/4 cup)
Corn syrup (1 cup)Granulated or packed brown sugar (1-1/4 cups) & water (1/4 cup)Water can be replaced with any liquid in recipe. Do not reduce liquid used in recipe.
Cream, whipping (1 cup unwhipped)Prewhipped whipping cream or whipped cream substitute (2 cups)
Egg (1 large)Egg substitute (1/4 cup)Follow directions on package
Egg (1 large)Reconstituded powdered eggsFollow directions on package
Egg (1 large)Mayonnaise (2 Tbs.)For use in cake batter
Egg (1 large)Baking powder (1/2 tsp.), vinegar (1 Tbs.), & water (1 .Tbs)For use as a rising agent in baking. Water can be replaced with any liquid, such as apple juice.
Egg white (1 large)Frozen egg white (2 Tbs.)
Egg white (1 large)Powdered egg white (1 Tbs.) & water (2 Tbs.)
Egg yolk (1 large)Frozen yolk (3-1/2 tsp.)
Egg yolk (1 large)Powdered yolk (2 Tbs.) & water (2 tsp.)For baking.
Egg yolk (2 large)Egg, whole (1 large)For thickening sauces
Flour, All-Purpose sifted (1 cup)All-purpose flour unsifted (1 cup minus 2 Tbs.)Too much whole wheat flour may result in too dense of a product.
Flour, All-Purpose (1 cup)Whole wheat flour (1/2 cup) & all-purpose flour (1/2 cup)Too much whole wheat flour may result in too dense of a product.
Flour, Cake sifted (1 cup)All-purpose flour sifted (1 cup minus 2 Tbs.)
Flour, Self-rising (1 cup)All-purpose flour (1 cup minus 2 tsp.), baking powder (1-1/2 tsp.), & salt (1/2 tsp.)
Flour (2 Tbs.)Corn starch (1 Tbs.)For thickening
Flour (2 Tbs.)Arrowroot (4 tsp.)For thickening
Flour (2 Tbs.)Quick-cooking tapioca(2 Tbs.)For thickening
Garlic (1 clove)Garlic powder (1/8 tsp.)
Garlic (1 clove)Instant minced garlic(1/8 tsp.)
Garlic (1 clove)Garlic salt(1/4 tsp.)Reduce salt in recipe by 1/8 tsp.
Half-and-half (1 ccup)Light cream (1/2 cup) & whole milk (1/2 cup)
Half-and-half (1 ccup)Butter (1-1/2 Tbs.) & whole milk (enough to make 1 cup)
Herbs, fresh (1 Tbs., minced)Ground dried herbs (1/2 tsp.)
Herbs, fresh (1 Tbs., minced)Unground dried herbs (1 tsp.)
Honey (1 cup)Granulated sugar (1-1/4 cup) & water (1/4 cup)Water can be replaced with any liquid in recipe. Do not reduce liquid used in recipe.
Lemon Juice (1 tsp.)Vinegar (1/2 tsp.)
Lemon Zest (1 tsp.)Lemon extract (1/2 tsp.)
Marshmallows, mini (1 cup)Ten large marshmallows
Mayonnaise (1 cup)Sour cream (1 cup)For use in salad dressings.
Mayonnaise (1 cup)Yogurt (1 cup)For use in salad dressings.
Mayonnaise (1 cup)Cottage cheese, pureed (1 cup)For use in salad dressings.
Mustard, dry (1 tsp.)Prepared mustard (1&Tbs.)For when the mustard will be used in cooking.
Onion, chopped (1 small or 1/4 cup)Instant minced onion (1 Tbs.)May need to be reconstituted before adding to dry foods. Usually can be added directly to wet or moist foods.
Pasta, cooked, semolina (4 cups)Pasta, uncooked semolina (8 oz.) or Pasta, uncooked egg (14 oz.) This conversion is for spaghetti, angel hair, linquine, fettuccine, bow ties, rotini, penne, radiatore, mostaccioli, macaroni, shells, twists, spirals, wagon wheels, and vermicelli.
Pasta, cooked egg noodles(2-1/2 cups)Pasta, uncooked egg noodles (8 oz.)
Pumpkin Pie Spice (1 tsp.)Ground cinnamon (1/2 tsp.), ground ginger (1/4 tsp.), ground allspice (1/8 tsp.), & ground nutmeg (1/8&tsp.)
Rum (1 part)Rum extract (1 part) & water (3 parts)
Sour cream (1 cup)Plain yogurt (1 cup)
Sour cream (1 cup)Buttermilk(3/4 cup) & butter (1/3 cup)
Sour cream (1 cup)Lemon juice (1 Tbs.) & evaporated whole milk (enough to make 1 cup)
Sugar, confectioner's (1 cup)Fine sugar (1 cup) & cornstarch (1 Tbs.)Fine sugar can be produced by running granulated suger in a food processor with a metal blade until powdery.
Sugar, light brown (1 cup)Dark brown sugar (1/2 cup) & granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
Sugar, granulated (1 cup)Light brown sugar, packed (1 cup)
Sugar, granulated (1 cup)Confectioner's sugar (1-3/4 cups)
Tomato juice (1 cup)Tomato sauce (1/2 cup) & water (1/2 cup)
Tomato sauce (1 cup)Tomato paste (3/8 cup) & water (1/2 cup)
Tomato soup (10-3/4 can)Tomato sauce (1 cup) & water (1/4 cup)
Vinegar (1 tsp.)Lemon juice (2 tsp.)
Wine, Red (1  cup)Grape or cranberry juice (1 cup)
Wine, white (1 cup)Apple or white grape juice (1 cup)
Yeast, compressed (3/5 oz.)Active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)From package
Yeast, compressed (3/5 oz.)Loose active dry yeast (2-1/2 tsp.)
Yogurt (1 cup)Buttermilk (1 cup)
Yogurt (1 cup)Milk (1 cup) & lemon juice (1 Tbs.)


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Written by Michael Chu
Published on June 09, 2004 at 02:30 AM
23 comments on Ingredient Substitutions:(Post a comment)

On November 07, 2005 at 08:00 PM, Eric (guest) said...
If you substitute AP flour for Cake, be prepared for your cake to be tough. There is quite a bit more gluten in AP than Cake (or Soft) flour and substituting one for the other has can ruin a delicate recipe.


On November 07, 2005 at 08:00 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Thank you, for a very nice list. It's great to have this at hand!


On November 07, 2005 at 08:01 PM, David (guest) said...
Just like to point out that you cannot "mechanically hydrogenate" vegetable oil to make margarine. This is a chemical process using a heterogeneous catalyst and hydrogen. In fact, you initially get cis-hydrogenation, but this is followed by isomerisation to the trans- compound because this is thermodynamically favoured.


On November 07, 2005 at 08:01 PM, Jeff Dougan (guest) said...
To substitute AP flour for cake flour: Take 1 cup - 2 Tbsp of AP flour and sift with 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Works like a charm.

(Pastry flour has even less protein, but I've never seen a substitution published.)


On November 07, 2005 at 08:01 PM, rehana (guest) said...
foodsubs.com has the most complete listing of substitutions I've seen. I haven't tried many, so I don't know how well they work.


On November 07, 2005 at 08:02 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm Getting Ready To Try Making Home Made Cream Soda
And Have More Corn Syrup Than Sugar In The House I Know The Beverige Companys Use It So I Thought I'd Look For The Convertion Of Corn Syrup To Sugar
I'm Gonna Try Your Figuar Of 1 Cup Corn Syrup To Create 1 1/4 Cups Sugar


On November 07, 2005 at 08:02 PM, Heather (guest) said...
Any Canadians out there might wish to note that AP flour up here contains more gluten than American AP flour and cake flour is often not necessary if using Canadian.


On November 07, 2005 at 08:03 PM, an anonymous reader said...
In response to heather who just posted:

See Kitchen Notes: Wheat Flour with its explanation of how more gluten results in a tougher, not more tender, baking product.

So cake flour is even more, not less, necessary for Canadians. It is bread flour that one can often make do without.


On November 07, 2005 at 10:32 PM, ktexp2 said...
You can use shortening for butter, but don't substitute the other way around! If you're baking, you're going to end up with a cake that doesn't rise well.


On December 28, 2005 at 09:30 PM, George-Dudley (guest) said...
Subject: Chile Powder (Spice)
I do not see a listing form making your own chile spice mixture. I've been surprised at how obvious this is in its absence from a number of sources (even a few herbs and spices' books).

Crushed corriander seeds, cummin, crushed/powdered chiles, + ? + ?

Anyone got the ratios?


On February 10, 2006 at 10:20 PM, ejm said...
Subject: Chile Powder (Spice mix)
This is the mixture I use for chilli powder:
http://etherwork.net/recipes/spicemix.html#chili


On March 05, 2006 at 05:15 AM, Dana (guest) said...
One more substitution I commonly use is applesauce for oil or butter. If you substitute the exact amount of one for the other then you can't tell the difference in texture or taste (or at least I can't). My favorite place for the substitution is in pancakes, as breakfast foods already get so many other calories (syrup, for one), but you can make the substitution anywhere.


On May 10, 2006 at 10:02 AM, ebook resource (guest) said...
Subject: thanks
very good tips and news !!!
you're best.



find your free guide with this friendly ebook resource


On January 08, 2007 at 01:36 AM, Berserk (guest) said...
Subject: Icing Sugar
You say that I can substitute 1 cup of fine sugar and 1tbs of corn starch for 1 cup of confectioner's sugar.
Later, you say that I can substitute 1-3/4 cup of confectioner's sugar for 1 cup of granulated sugar.
I would have expected to use less confectioner's sugar, since the smaller particles would result in less air in the measure, and since the proportion of starch should be too low to make much difference.
Is this a typo, or is there some other chemical property involved?


On June 21, 2007 at 01:03 AM, ChocolateNinja (guest) said...
Foodsubs.com has a good list of substitutions for almost every ingredient you can imagine, in case you can't find it on the list.


On June 28, 2007 at 10:51 AM, saab (guest) said...
Subject: baking substitutions for cakes etc.
apple sauce/fruit purees are a good substitute for oil/butter, but sometimes it leaves the product a bit tougher. if so, try substituting it as 1:1, then adding 1-2 tbs. of oil for pre-packaged mixes. yogurt/ sourcream is also a good susbtitute for oil/butter. also using milk/buttermilk/fruit juices instead of water to make the end product richer and compensate for the high sugar content in most prepared mixes.
A few misses/hits are part of the ingredient substitution learning process. ;)


On January 21, 2008 at 03:44 PM, mdb713 (guest) said...
Subject: self-rising flour in pie dough
I was looking for info about using self-rising flour in pastry rather than the other way around. Somehow I accidentally purchased a large bag of self-rising flour and need to make pie. Hopefully it won't be a problem.
Does anyone know if baking powder will have a negative effect??


On January 21, 2008 at 04:55 PM, Dilbert said...
>>negative effect

most likely not. "classic" pie doughs use AP with no baking powder but there are recipes cited as "tender and flaky" that do include baking powder.

of course, you don't find many non-baking powder recipes labeled "hard and tough" but I'd give the self rising a go.


On April 01, 2008 at 08:26 PM, Techs Arcana (guest) said...
Subject: Egg substitution
One can also substitute moistened soyflour for egg where the egg is being used as a binding agent (such as pancakes or meatloaf)

1 medium egg can be replaced with 2 tablespoons soyflour mixed with just enough water to make a thin batter. Use 3 tablespoons for a large egg. Mix this egg-substitute first, and then add it to your recipe.

PS just love your CAPTCHA - not only tells if you are human, also screens for engineers. ;)


On October 19, 2008 at 07:58 AM, Streetcat (guest) said...
Subject: Other substitutes for cornstarch?
Your table shows that flour can be used instead of cornstarch, when the latter is needed for thickening. But i wanna use this recipe, which calls for both flour and cornstarch to be mixed. So i figure just using more flour wouldn't solve it in this case, right? {I mean, if it did, they wouldn't just add an extra ingredient, i think}

So, what's the starch's purpose in this case, if the flour already does the thickening? More importantly, can i use potato starch, or anything else, in its instead? If so - what would the proportion be?


On October 19, 2008 at 01:32 PM, Dilbert said...
Streetcat -

that recipe uses the cornstarch in coating the apples - not mixed with the flour.

the flour is used to make the "crumble" part

cornstarch is frequently used in fruit pies/cobblers/etc to thicken juices that exit the fruit during baking.


On October 20, 2008 at 02:43 AM, Michael Chu said...
In addition, different starches (flour, corn, potato, arrowroot, etc.) thicken differently. A recipe may call for a particular starch to attain a particular texture and/or visual appearance, etc. Remember, because something can be substituted doesn't mean it is the same as - it's only for when you can't get the other ingredient and need some way to salvage or approximate.


On December 12, 2009 at 02:40 AM, Rational Debate (guest) said...
Subject: Sub for baking powder - Could Aluminum Hydroxide be used?
I have a good bit of leftover al(oh)3 from use for a cat that had chronic renal disease.

Ran out of baking powder, don't have cream of tartar (what, chemically, IS cream of tartar anyhow?) - and couldn't help but wonder if the Al(OH)3 could substitute (plus some baking soda I'd assume)? And, of course, if so, how much?

Hoping some of you chem/engineering guru's happen to see this and either know or can figure it out!

p.s., on your "captcha" anti-spam effort - most if not all of these require the user's computer to accept cookies to work. If you're like me, and you've set the computer to refuse all cookies, this can be disconcerting until one figures it out the hard way. You'd be doing your users a favor if you add a note that one must accept cookies for the anti-spam verification to work.

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