Cooking Ingredient Substitutions


I’m one of those cooks who enjoy food shopping but not all the time. If I’m trying out a new recipe from my local newspaper and it calls for sour cream and I don’t have any, I would much rather substitute some plain Greek yogurt than run out to the supermarket.

There are all sorts of great substitutions you can make when it comes for cooking ingredients and that’s what I want to share with you in this post. Many of these will be familiar to you but there will be some that surprise you.


The most obvious reason is the one above. You don’t have a particular ingredient and you don’t feel like running out to the store to get it.

Another may be food allergies. You might be allergic to an ingredient in a recipe and need to find something to replace it with. For example, if you are allergic to milk, you could try substituting coconut milk. Instead of peanuts, how about almonds or cashews.

Then their are dietary restrictions. I am trying to cut down on foods high in cholesterol after my heart surgery so I sometimes substitute egg whites for whole eggs in my morning omelets. Or I substitute fat free milk for whole milk or cream in my coffee.

Then there’s taste. So many of my favorite Italian recipes call for prosciutto or pancetta to make the dish taste better. Yes, it does taste better but I don’t often have prosciutto or pancetta in my refrigerator but I usually have some bacon.

So not only are there a lots of great food ingredient substitutions, there are also many reasons for trying them.


Baking PowderBaking Soda & Cream of Tartar1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar for 1 teaspoon baking powder
Brown SugarSugar & Molasses
Chocolate – semisweetUnsweetened Chocolate & Sugar1 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 4 tea sugar
Chocolate – unsweetenedUnsweetened Cocoa & Shortening3 tbl unsweetened cocoa + 1 tbl shortening
Cream of TartarLemon Juice & White Vinegar
Fats for BakingApplesauce or Fruit Puree
MayonnaiseYogurt or Sour Cream
Pastry FlourCake Flour & All Purpose Flour
Pastry FlourAll Purpose Flour & CornstarchCombine 1 tbl cornstarch + 1 cup flour


AniseFennel Seeds or Anise Extract
Bread CrumbsCrushed Crackers
ButterVegetable Shortening
Butter MilkLemon Juice & Milk
Butter MilkWhite Vinegar & Milk
Chicken BrothBouillon Cube
Chili PasteSriracha Chili Sauce
CinnamonNutmeg or All Spiceequal amounts
Cream CheeseCottage Cheese1 cup pureed cottage cheese
GarlicDon’t Know AnyIdeas?
GingerAllspice, Cinnamon, Mace, Nutmegequal amounts
Crème FraicheHeavy Cream & Plain Yogurt1 cup heavy cream + 1 tbl plain yogurt
Green OnionOnion, Leek or Shallotequal amounts
Half and HalfMilk & Butter1 tbl butter + 7/8 cup milk
Heavy CreamMilk & Butter3/4 cup milk + 1/3 cup butter
Heavy CreamEvaporated Milk & Butter1 cup evaporated milk + 1/3 cup butter
KaleSpinach, Collard Greensequal amounts
Lemon GrassLemon Zest1 lemon = 2 stalks lemon grass
Mascarpone CheeseCream Cheese & Whipping Cream8 oz softened cream cheese + 1/4 cup whipping cream
MilkDairy-Free Milkequal amounts
MolassesDark Corn Syrup & Brown Sugar3/4 cup brown sugar + 1 cup dark corn syrup yields 1 cup molasses
OnionShallot, Leek, Green Onionequal amounts
PankoBread Crumbs
Parmesan CheeseGrana Padano, Pecorino Romano
PepitasSunflower Seedsshells removed
RaisinsDried Currents or Dried Cranberriesequal amounts
SaffronTurmericequal amounts
SalamiPepperoniequal amounts
ShallotOnion, Leek, Green Onionequal amounts
SpinachKale, Collard Greensequal amounts
Sour CreamYogurtequal amounts
Soy SauceWorcestershire Sauce & Water1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce + tbl water
SugarAgave Nectar, Honey, Maple Syrup
Tomato PasteTomato Puree1 tbl paste to 3 tbl puree
Tomato SauceTomato Paste & Waterequal parts tomato paste & water
Tomato SauceRed Peppers and Eggplant SpreadZergut Mild Ajvar
Ricotta CheeseDry Cottage Cheeseequal amounts
VinegarLemon Juiceboth acidic
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