Are there times when you are missing just one ingredient and can’t make a recipe? Perhaps you are following a meal plan or trying to lose weight and you can’t have certain foods. If so, you will find these recipe substitutes and replacements a big help in getting your meals on the table in no time at all.
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I’m sure you have all been in this situation. It’s time to cook and you have found the perfect recipe. Except for one tiny detail. You are missing just one of the ingredients. Or perhaps you are trying to lose weight and want some lower calorie replacements. Maybe you may be following a Vegetarian, Paleo or Gluten free diet, and find that certain foods are off limits. Not a problem – you won’t have to struggle to prepare meals.
I’ve made a list of over 100 recipe substitutes that will replace one food for another and give you similar results.
Check out these recipe substitutes for meal planning.
I have found myself in all of the above situations so often that I’ve lost count But don’t worry. Most baking and recipe ingredients can be replaced by substitutes without changing the taste of texture of a dish. And there are loads of other replacements that will fit the diet you are trying to stick to.
I’ve combined some of my favorite substitutes in one handy list for you Some of the replacements can be used for any cooking technique or recipe, others are better suited to limited uses. (I will show this in brackets if this is the case.)
There is also a section at the end of the list which talks about healthy substitutes, replacements for weight loss and gluten free substitutes.
It’s time to rescue that recipe!
Baked goods require exact measurements of ingredients, but there are many recipe substitutes that will still work in the recipe and give you a great taste and texture.
- 1 tsp baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp lemon juice = 1/2 tsp vinegar
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate = 4 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup cocoa = 1 oz square of unsweetened chocolate
- 1 tsp cream of tartar = 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour less 2 tbsp
- 1 cup self raising flour = 7/8 cup all purpose flour = 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp arrowroot = 1 tbsp flour or 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp gelatin = 2 tsp agar agar
- 1 tsp lemon zest = 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1 cup of cake flour = 2 tbsp cornstarch and all purpose flour to fill one cup
- 1 tbsp tapioca = 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup self raising flour = 1 cup all purpose flour + 1/2 tsp salt + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter = 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup corn syrup = 1 1/4 cup sugar + 1/3 cup water
These recipe substitutes will give similar results in your recipe. Some may give you a slightly different taste but it will still be similar in most respects.
- 1 tsp cornstarch = 2 tsp flour (for thickening)
- 1 tbsp butter or margarine = 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (frying, sauteing or grilling)
- 1 clove of garlic = 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- red wine = replace with equal amounts of grape juice or beef broth
- white wine = replace with equal amount so apple juice or chicken broth
- 1 cup of beer = 1 cup of chicken broth
- 1/4 cup of brandy = 1 tsp brandy extract plus enough water to make 1/4 cup
- 1 cup ketchup = 1 cup tomato sauce + 1 tsp vinegar + 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup mayonnaise = 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese = 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese or 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup Soy sauce = 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce + 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp chives = 1 tbsp green onions
- Substitute any mushrooms type for meat
- 1 tsp Seasoning salt = 1 tbsp fresh herbs
Many sugars can be used interchangeably but some do require additions or differences in amounts to give a similar taste..
- 1 cup packed brown sugar = 1 cup of granulated sugar +1/4 cup of molasses
- 1 cup honey = 3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup liquid
- 1 cup powdered sugar = 1 cup sugar + 1/3 tsp cornstarch (blend in a blender in batches)
- 2 tbsp sugar = 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (cookies, cakes, brownies)
- 1 tbsp sugar = 1/8 tsp Stevia (affiliate link)
- 1 cup sugar = 2/3 cup agave nectar
- 1 cup corn syrup = 1 1/4 cup white sugar + 1/3 cup of water
In many cases, you cannot simply substitute one type of fat or oil for another. The consistency matters!
- 1 cup butter – 7/8 cup vegetable oil + 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter or oil = 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (cakes, muffins, cookies)
- 1/4 cup oil = 1/4 cup applesauce (cakes)
- 2 tbsp butter = 2 tbsp mashed avocado (sandwiches)
- See more fat substitutes in the skinny substitutes list.
If you don’t have eggs, or don’t want to use them in recipes, try using these recipe substitutes.
- 2 tbsp water + 1/2 tsp baking powder (cookies/cakes)
- 1/2 banana (batters, breads, brownies)
- 1/4 cup applesauce (batters, breads, brownies)
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup pureed tofu + 1 tbsp flour (for vegans)
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup yogurt (brownies)
- 1 egg = 1/2 cup buttermilk (cakes)
- 1 egg = 3 tbsp pureed fruit (cakes)
- 2 eggs = 1 tbsp white vinegar and 1 tbsp water + 1 tsp baking powder. (stir well – use when cake calls for more than one egg)
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup vegetable oil (cookies)
- 1 egg = 1 tbsp cornstarch + tbsp water (cookies)
Lots of dairy products can be substituted cup for cup and will not alter the recipe. A few need some tweaks, though.
- 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup half & half = 7/8 cup whole milk + 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream (won’t whip) = 1/3 cup butter + 2/3 cup milk See how to make this heavy cream substitute here.
- 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup milk + 1 1/3 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup light cream = 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 ounce sliced mozzarella cheese = 1 ounce sliced tofu (great for sandwiches or crackers)
- 1/2 cup sour cream = 1/2 cup pureed silken tofu, blended
- 1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 cup of frozen banana, blended
- 1 cup whole milk = 1 cup fat free milk + 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/4 cup butter = 1/4 cup baby prunes (dark cakes or brownies)
- 1 cup butter = 1/2 cup buttermilk + 1/2 cup applesauce (cakes, breads, muffins)
- 1 cup cream cheese = 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
Spices can be switched out for similar ones without changing the recipe too much.
- 1 tbsp fresh herbs = 1 tsp dried herbs
- 1 tsp allspice = 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ginger + 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp saffron = 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cardamom= 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon = 1/4 tsp nutmeg or 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tbsp cumin = 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp apple pie spice = 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/8 tsp allspice + dash of ground cloves
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning = 1/3 tsp each of basil, oregano and rosemary
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning = 3/4 tsp sage + 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice = 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/4 tsp ground allspice + 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder =1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground cloves + 1 tsp ground fennel seed + 1 tsp ground star anise
If you are trying to follow a more healthy diet, try switching out these foods for more healthy ones.
- 1 cup sugar = 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 cup butter = 1 cup mashed avocado (good in chocolate brownies etc)
- Butter/oil/margarine = equal parts of either unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana (for baking)
- 1 egg = 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water – grind in a spice mill (affiliate links)
- 1 egg = 2 egg whites
- 1 cup butter or shortening = 3/4 cup prunes + 1/4 cup hot water – pureed (brownies, chocolate cakes, dark baked goods)
- 1 cup bread crumbs = 1 cup ground oats
- Mashed potatoes – try mashed cauliflower
- Pasta – try zucchini noodles
- Ground beef – substitute ground turkey
- Rice – pulse cauliflower in a food processor and stir fry for a few minutes in coconut oil. See my recipe for cauliflower Mexican rice here.
A Paleo diet means that many foods are just off limits. When a recipe calls for one of these ingredients, you can use these Paleo recipe substitutes instead. Be sure to also check out my Paleo Baking tips for perfect gluten free baked goods ever time.
- Soy Sauce – Use Coconut Aminos Instead
- Granulated Sugar – Try Coconut Sugar or Powdered Maple Sugar
- Bread Crumbs – Coat fish or chicken in flaxseeds.
- Cow’s Milk – Try almond milk or coconut milk in your cereal and smoothies.
- All purpose flour – Combine coconut flour and finely ground almond meal in baked goods.
- Heavy cream – Coconut cream makes a great substitute!
- Rice – Pulse cauliflower in a food processor and cook it with seasonings and a bit of oil.
- Pasta – A spiralizer turns zucchini and other vegetables into spaghetti like shapes.
- Vegetable oil – Coconut oil makes a great substitute!
- Margarine – Clarify butter to remove milk solids and give it a high smoke point.
- Peanut butter – Sunflower nut butter tastes very similar and is Paleo compliant.
- Milk Chocolate – Use at least 75% dark chocolate in place of the milk chocolate version.
Trying to lose a few inches? Swap these foods for less calorie dense ones to drop those pounds.
- 1 cup oil or butter = 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce + 1/2 cup oil or butter (anything)
- 1 cup oil or butter = 1 cup mashed bananas (brownies, cookies)
- 1 cup of heavy cream = 1 cup evaporated skim milk (whipped cream, cakes, biscuits)
- 1 can of diet soda = 1/c cup of oil +3 eggs (boxed cake mixes)
- 1 cup of butter = 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (spiced breads, cakes or muffins, or pancakes)
- 1 tbsp chervil = 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley + 1/2 tbsp tarragon
- 1 tbsp regular peanut butter + 1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
- 1 cup frosting = 1 cup meringue
- on Baked potatoes, substitute 1 tbsp plain yogurt for 1 tbsp sour cream
- Substitute 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips for 1 cup of regular chocolate chips to save calories
- 1/4 cup of butter = 1/4 cup of marshmallow creme (frostings)
GLUTEN FREE SUBSTITUTES:
A gluten free diet means that no wheat products are allowed. But this doesn’t have to mean that you can’t enjoy the taste of your favorite foods. Try using these alternatives instead of your gluten ingredients.
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs = 1 cup of almond flour (baking or breading)
- 1 cup of flour = 1 cup of pureed black beans (brownies)
- For Sandwich bread, substitute corn tortillas
- Pasta – substitute spaghetti squash
- Couscous – substitute quinoa
- Soy Sauce – substitute Tamari (affiliate link)
- Butter – substitute coconut oil
- Eggs – Ener G Egg Replacer (affiliate link)
- Flour for thickening – try tapioca starch
Do you have some favorite recipe substitutes that I have not mentioned? Please leave them in the comments below and I will add my favorites to the article and tag your name.
With this handy list of food substitutes, you can still keep making your favorite recipes, even if you are out of one ingredient or it’s not allowed on your diet plan.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."