36 Common Substitutes for Cooking and Baking Ingredients

Baking Ingredients


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Baking Ingredients

When the Pantry Is Bare

Embarking on new cooking and baking projects can be a treat, but it's easy to get caught up in the initial steps of an exciting new recipe and then realize that you don't quite have all the ingredients. Your recipes will always be best when you follow them as written, but sometimes you just need to make it work with what you have. In that case, here are some common substitutions for cooking and baking, rounded up from our favorite food and recipe sites.

Related: 25 Easy Recipes With Only 3 Ingredients

Baking Powder Substitute

Baking Powder

For one 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use 1/4 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice and milk to total half a cup. Make sure to decrease the liquid in your recipe by half a cup as well.

Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Vegetable or Canola Oil

When you're looking to substitute oil in a baking recipe, just use equal amounts of applesauce. The resulting baked good will be delightful and surprisingly moist — you won't even miss the oil.

Brown Sugar

Corn Syrup

To replace one cup of corn syrup, mix 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar with 1/3 cup water. You can also use 7/8 cup honey, which will make your baked good brown a bit further.

Flax Seeds


Maybe you're out of eggs, maybe you're trying to change your recipe to be vegan-friendly. Either way, you can substitute an egg with ground flaxseed. Just mix the flaxseeds with three tablespoons of water, then mix until it becomes gelatinous.

Organic Spices.jpg

Curry Powder

Curry powder is indispensable in some recipes, but depending on what spices you have at home, you can usually blend your own. Simply combine coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. You could also just substitute allspice, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala, or turmeric.

Related: 19 Spices and Sauces to Keep Home-Cooked Meals Interesting


Cake Flour

So, you're craving a cake and the recipe you love calls for cake flour, which you don't have. In lieu of one cup of cake flour, you can use 7/8 cup all-purpose flour mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

Greek Yogurt
Dani Vincek/shutterstock


Mix one part yogurt or sour cream with one part milk to sub for buttermilk in a recipe. It will give you the same creamy tang as buttermilk.

cream cheese


The creamy Italian cheese mascarpone is a revelation for your baked goods. If you mix 12 ounces of cream cheese with ¼ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sour cream, you'll (sorta) have 16 ounces of mascarpone.

Cooking with White Wine


When stock is called for in a recipe, it's to provide both liquid and depth of flavor. If it's called for in small amounts, you can simply sub water. If more than a cup is needed, you can add water mixed with beer or white wine, or water mixed with miso paste or soy sauce. You could also use your favorite tea.


Bay Leaves

Bay leaves add a lovely bit of savory flavor to any recipe. In the absence of bay leaves, you can instead use thyme, sage, oregano, or an herbes de Provence blend.


Whole Milk

If your baking recipe calls for whole milk, simply replace it with the same amount of fruit juice or potato water. You could also mix two parts 2% milk with one part half-and-half.

Anti-Inflammatory: Apple Cider Vinegar

Lemon Juice

Most recipes that call for lemon juice just require a bit of acidity. Using the same amount of vinegar will usually do the trick.



Parsley makes a lovely topping and flavor addition, but it's pretty easy to substitute. Depending on your specific recipe, you could instead use basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, mint, or tarragon. Give yourself the permission to experiment and discover what you like best.

Artisanal Liquor
Joshua Resnick/shutterstock

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is a great way to make desserts feel decadent without adding more sugar or fat. If you're out of vanilla, you can add the same amount of bourbon or rum for similar depth of sweet flavor.

greek yogurt

Sour Cream

Sour cream adds smoothness and acidity to any recipe. An easy (and bonus: lower fat) alternative is Greek yogurt — just add the same amount that was called for of the sour cream.


Almond Meal

Almond meal is really just blended almonds, but there are a few things to know. Toasting the almonds beforehand keeps the mixture dry enough to store, and adding some sugar keeps it from clumping. For one cup of almond meal, blend a cup of toasted almonds with a tablespoon of granulated white sugar until the mixture is finely ground.


Brown Sugar

There's nothing like brown sugar to add some sweet, comforting depth to a recipe. For each cup of brown sugar called for in your recipe, substitute slightly less than a cup of granulated sugar mixed with a tablespoon of molasses.

large bag flour


Cornstarch makes for a great thickener in recipes and it's worth having in your pantry. But, if it's not around, you can substitute one part cornstarch with one and a half parts all-purpose flour.

Simply Chocolate

Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet Chocolate

The best fudgy brownie recipes often call for bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. If you just have unsweetened chocolate, that will work too. For one ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, sub 2/3 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 2 teaspoons sugar.

From Cook's Illustrated

cinnamon stick


Don't have allspice around? You can easily replace one part allspice with ½ a part cinnamon, ¼ part ginger, and ¼ part cloves.

From AllRecipes


Bread Crumbs

Bread crumbs are an easy thing to forget at the grocery store, but they add a lot to dishes like crabcakes. You can substitute them with equal parts cracker crumbs, matzo meal, or ground oats.

dried parsley

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs bring wonderful color and aromatics to recipes, but you can substitute dried herbs if that's what's around. Dried herbs pack more of a punch, though, so for every one tablespoon of chopped herbs, you'll want to use one teaspoon of dried herbs.

basil, cilantro, parsley, peppermint leaves


Missing mint? Equal amounts of basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley will probably work in most recipes.

Bag of Sugar

Confectioner's Sugar

To replace half a cup confectioner's sugar, blend half a cup of granulated sugar with half a teaspoon of cornstarch. In fact, it's less a replacement and more making your very own confectioner's sugar at home.



There's nothing more autumnal or comforting than a dash of cinnamon. If you're out, you can instead use allspice, apple pie spice blend, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, or good ol' pumpkin pie spice blend instead.

plain yogurt


Mayonnaise is lovely in things like tuna salad, dip, and sometimes even in baking. If it's not around, you can add equal parts yogurt for both baking and cooking.

star anise

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds can be a polarizing ingredient — some love its licorice-y depth and some don't. If you don't like fennel seeds, simply leave them out of your dish. If you do like them but don't have them around, use equal parts anise.

maple syrup


If a recipe calls for honey, what it's really calling for is liquid sugar with some depth. As such, you can substitute the same amount of corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or agave nectar.

cayenne red pepper flakes

Chili Powder

Chili powder is another delicious blend of spices that can be recreated at home. Simply mix together some paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked), onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne or red-pepper flakes. You could also simply substitute the amount of chili powder called for with something like cayenne, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, or paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked).

Related: Can You Handle These 15 Hot and Spicy Dishes?

tomato paste

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce adds acidity and umami to many a recipe. No need to fret if it's not around — you can substitute one part tomato sauce for half a part tomato paste and half a cup water. Since tomato paste is essentially dehydrated tomato sauce, this is one of the most reliable of the swaps.

Related: Use Your Noodle: 20 Creative Recipes That Highlight Pasta’s Many Shapes

Aleksandrs Samuilovs/shutterstock

Gluten-Free Flour

Gluten-free flour is usually a blend of things like garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, oat flour, and other grains. In a pinch, you can simply measure out the same amount of oats that are called for in your gluten-free recipe and blend them into a powder. Voila, you just made your very own gluten-free flour.

Related: 25 Best Gluten-Free Finds at Costco

Tomato Sauce


If you're looking to replace ketchup in a recipe, just remember that ketchup is a sweetened tomato product with acidity. If a cup of ketchup is called for in a recipe, you can use a cup of tomato sauce mixed with ¼ cup brown sugar and 2 tbsp vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar.

garlic powder

Garlic Clove

It's hard to replace garlic's distinctive flavor. If you're out of the fresh stuff, you can sub 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder for one garlic clove in just about any recipe.


Half and Half

When your recipe calls for half and half, it's not hard to replace. For one cup half and half, put 1 ½ tablespoon of melted butter into a one cup measuring cup and fill it up with milk to equal a cup.

lemon zest


Fragrant, herbaceous lemongrass is wonderful in both sweet and savory recipes. If it's not around, you can sub a tablespoon of lemon zest for approximately two fresh stalks of lemongrass.



Saffron adds wonderful fragrance and color to recipes. If you don't happen to have saffron, sub the same amount of turmeric for similar flavor and saturated yellow color.