Ingredient Substitutions

Courtesy of FOOD REFLECTIONS Newsletter
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County
and one other source identified in context below

She laughed as she told the story on herself, but you could tell she was disappointed. She had baked fruit breads as gifts for her friends. She hadn't done much baking and this was a real labor of love. The gifts were never given.

It was such a small amount of an ingredient she was missing. And it was late. She wanted to get her baking done. Surely it couldn't matter. But it did.

The next time (if there was a next time!) she'd know to add the baking powder to the recipe.

Often for lack of an ingredient, a recipe is ruined or an extra trip to the store is required. Sometimes, you need to buy a large container of an ingredient for just a teaspoon or two needed in a recipe.

To the rescue: ingredient substitutions! Several Internet discussion groups of dietitians, home economists, chefs and other food professionals were asked their most helpful ingredient substitutions, favorite Internet links and other food substitution resources they find useful. The response was tremendous! Read, enjoy and benefit from their suggestions.

Basic Ingredient Substitutions

Here are some of the suggestions cited most frequently. The substitution tips for which there was the most general consensus and which used the most common ingredients are listed. Following these suggestions are several Internet and book resources that give MANY, MANY additional substitution ideas.

Your final product made with the substituted ingredient may differ slightly from the original food, but still be acceptable in flavor, texture and appearance.

Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Apple Pie Spice
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

Baking Powder, Double-Acting
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Baking Soda
There is NO substitute for baking soda
Amount: 1 cup
     - 1 cup margarine
(Note from Chet: I never use margarine)

     - 1 cup vegetable shortening (for baking)

     - An equal amount of oil can be substituted for a similar portion of MELTED butter if the recipe specifies using MELTED butter.

TIP 1: According to the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, you can tell "if the product is regular margarine by checking the Nutrition Facts: a one tablespoon serving will have 100 calories." Products that contain less than 80 percent fat often give the fat percentage on the front of the package.

If the margarine is labeled "light," "lower fat," "reduced fat," "reduced calorie/diet" or "fat-free" or is called a "vegetable oil spread," you may be less successful substituting it for butter OR for regular margarine in baking and in some cooking procedures. These products are higher in water and lower in fat content and won't perform in the same way as regular butter or margarine.

For additional information about using the various forms of margarine in recipes, check the Web site of the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers:

TIP 2: There is no standard procedure to substitute liquid oil for solid shortening in cooking. Oil is 100 percent fat, while butter, margarine and other solid shortenings are lower in fat on a volume-for-volume basis.

Also, for some recipes, solid shortening helps incorporate air into the batter when it is whipped with other ingredients such as sugar and eggs. If you try to whip these ingredients with oil, your baked product is likely to be more compact and oily in texture. Your most successful substitution occurs if your recipe calls for MELTED butter, in which case you can usually substitute an equal amount of oil.

Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (allow to stand 5 minutes)

Chili Sauce
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of allspice

Chocolate, Unsweetened
Amount: 1 ounce
Substitute: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or regular margarine or vegetable oil

Cornstarch (for thickening)
Amount: 1 tablespoon
Substitute: 2 tablespoons flour

TIP: Liquids thickened with cornstarch will be somewhat translucent while flour gives a more opaque appearance. Cornstarch will thicken a liquid almost immediately. A flour-based sauce or gravy must be cooked longer to thicken and will have a floury taste if undercooked. Joy of Cooking cookbook (Scribner, 1997) advises when using flour as a substitution for cornstarch in sauces and gravies, that you simmer it for about 3 minutes AFTER it has thickened to help avoid a raw taste of flour.

Cornstarch-thickened liquids are more likely to thin if overheated or cooked too long. Regardless of whether you use cornstarch or flour, mix it with a little cold water or other cold liquid, about two parts liquid to one part thickener, before adding it to the rest of the liquid . (Note: when you mix flour with fat to make a roux for use as a thickener, you would not dissolve it in liquid first.)

Cream, Whipping
Amount:1 cup unwhipped
Substitute: If you wish to use a commercial pre-whipped whipped cream or whipped cream substitute rather than whip your own cream, use the guideline that 1 cup UNWHIPPED whipping cream expands to 2 cups when WHIPPED. For example, if your recipe called for 1 cup of cream to make whipped cream, you could substitute 2 cups of an already whipped product.

Cream of Tartar
Amount:1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar.

Amount: 1 whole egg
     - 1/4 cup egg substitute (examples include: Egg Beaters, Second Nature, Scramblers); check label for specific directions

     - 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed

     - Reconstituted powdered eggs; follow package directions

     - 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (suitable for use in cake batter). NOTE: If you type "mayonnaise cake recipe" into your favorite Internet search engine, you'll find several recipes for cakes made with mayonnaise and NO eggs. This may help you decide if this substitution will work for your cake.

     - 1/2 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon liquid (for baking use only)

     - 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

     - 1/2 a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

     - 1 tablespoon powdered flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons water

     - 1 tablespoon soy flour plus 1 tablespoon water

TIP: If you don't use eggs very often, you may find it helpful to keep some powdered eggs on hand.

Flour, All-Purpose White Flour
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.

TIP: It's generally recommended that you replace no more than half the all-purpose white flour with whole wheat flour. Too much whole wheat flour in a recipe calling for all-purpose flour might result in a reduced volume and a heavier product.

Flour, Cake
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Flour, Self-Rising
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt

Amount: 1 small clove
     - 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or
     - 1/8 teaspoon instant minced garlic or
     - 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (reduce salt in recipe by 1/8 teaspoon)
Herbs, Fresh
Amount: 1 tablespoon, finely cut
     - 1 teaspoon dried leaf herbs
     - 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herbs
Lemon Zest (fresh grated lemon peel)
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Marshmallows, Miniature
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 10 large marshmallows

Mayonnaise (for use in salads and salad dressings)
1 cup
     - 1 cup sour cream
     - 1 cup yogurt
     - 1 cup cottage cheese pureed in a blender
     - Or use any of the above for part of the mayonnaise

Mustard, Dry (in cooked mixtures)
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Amount: 1 small or 1/4 cup chopped, fresh onion
Substitute: 1 tablespoon instant minced onion

TIP: Dried onion may be added directly to moist foods such as soups, gravies, sauces and salad dressings. You may need to rehydrate it with a little water before adding it to drier foods. Check package directions -- one brand advises adding an equal amount of water and letting the dried onion stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Pasta (substituting one for another)
Amount: 4 cups COOKED
Substitute:The National Pasta Association suggests these substitution ratios.
Check for more information.

     - 8 ounces of UNCOOKED elbow macaroni, medium shells, rotini, twists, spirals, wagon wheels, bow ties, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, vermicelli and fettuccine all produce about 4 cups COOKED pasta

     - Use about twice as much UNCOOKED egg noodles to provide 4 cups COOKED pasta. Approximately 8 ounces UNCOOKED egg noodles equal 2 1/2 cups COOKED noodles.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 ground teaspoon ginger plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Amount: Any amount
Substitute: Most rice products will substitute for each other on a fairly equal basis in recipes; however, their cooking times and the amount of liquid needed may vary. If possible, choose a rice with a comparable grain length for the closest match. Visit the USA Rice Federation's Rice Cafe to learn more about cooking with the different forms of rice:
Amount: any amount
Substitute: 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water. For example: for 1/4 cup rum, substitute 1 tablespoon rum extract plus 3 tablespoons water.

1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup softened butter OR 1 cup margarine minus 1/2 teaspoon salt from recipe.

Sugar, Confectioners' or Powdered
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch; process in a food processor using the metal blade attachment until it's well blended and powdery.

Tomato Juice
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water

Tomato Soup
Amount: 10 3/4 ounce can
Substitute: 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water

Wine, Red
Amount: Any
Substitute: The same amount of grape juice or cranberry juice
Wine, White
Amount: Any
Substitute:The same amount of apple juice or white grape juice

Yeast, Compressed
Amount: 1 cake (3/5 ounce)
     - 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
     - Scant 2 1/2 teaspoons loose active dry yeast

TIP: For more information on conversions among types of yeast, check the Red Star Yeast site at:

Emergency Ingredient Substitutions

Courtesy of Robbie's Kitchen

Allspice1 tsp.1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Apple Pie Spice1 tsp.1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. cardamon
Arrowroot1 1/2 tsp.1 Tbls. flour
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
Baking Powder1 tsp.1/3 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Bay Leaf1 whole1/4 tsp. crushed
Bread1 slice dry1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 slice soft3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
Broth, Beef or Chicken1 cup1 bullion cube disolved in 1 cup boiling water
1 envalope powdered broth base disolved in 1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. powdered broth base disolved in boiling water
Butter1 cup7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 tsp. salt
Buttermilk1 cup1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk plus 1 Tbls. white vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Chives, chopped2 tsp.2 tsp. green onion tops, finely chopped
Chocolate Chips1 oz.1 ounce sweet cooking chocolate
Chocolate, unsweetened1 oz. or square3 Tbls. cocoa plus 1 Tbls. fat
Cocoa1/4 cup1 oz. square unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat in recipe by 1/2 Tbls.)
Coconut Cream1 cup1 cup whipping cream
Coconut Milk1 cup1 cup whole milk
Corn1 doz. ears2 1/2 cup cooked corn
Cornmeal, self-rising1 cup7/8 cup plain, 1 1/2 Tbls. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt
Corn Syrup1 cup1 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/3 cup water
7/8 cup honey (baked goods will brown more)
Corn Syrup, Dark1 cup3/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup light molasses
Cornstarch (thickening)1 Tbls.2 Tbls. all purpose flour
2 Tbls. granular tapioca
Cracker Crumbs3/4 cup1 cup dry bread crumbs
Cream, Heavy1 cup3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup butter or margerine (if used for baking)
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
Cream, Light1 cup3/4 cup milk and 3 Tbls. butter or margerine (if used for baking)
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
Cream, Whipped Chill a 13 ounce can of evaprated milk until ice crystals form. Add 1 tsp. lemon juice. Whip until stiff.
Dates1 lb.2 1/2 cup pitted
Dill Plant, Fresh or Dried3 heads1 Tbls. dill weed
Egg, whole, uncooked1 large, 3 Tbls.3 Tbls. and 1 tsp. thawed frozen egg
2 1/2 Tbls. sifted, dry whole egg powder and 2 1/2 Tbls. lukewarm water
2 yolks and 1 Tbls. water (for cookies)
2 yolks (in custards, cream fillings, and similar mixtures)
Eggs, uncooked1 cup5 large eggs
6 medium eggs
Egg White1 large, 2 Tbls.2 tsp. thawed frozen egg whites
2 Tbls. sifted, dry egg white powder and 2 Tbls. warm water
1 cup8 large egg whites
Egg Yolk1 yolk, 1 1/2 Tbls.3 1/2 Tbls. thawed frozen egg yolk
2 Tbls. sifted, dried egg yolk
1 cup12 large egg yolks
Flour, All-Purpose (for thickening)1 Tbls.1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbls. granular tapioca
1 Tbls. waxy rice flour
2 Tbls. browned flour
1 1/2 Tbls. whole wheat flour
1 Tbls. quick-cooking tapioca
Flour, All-Purpose1 cup, sifted1 cup and 2 Tbls. cake flour
1 cup rolled oats, crushed
1/2 cup cornmeal, bran, or rice flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye or rice flour
1/4 cup soybean flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb.4 cups sifted
3 1/3 cups unsifted
Flour, Cake1 cup sifted1 cup minus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour, sifted
Flour, Self-Rising1 cup1 cup minus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt
Fruit, Fresh, Cut Up1 1/2 cups16 ounce can, drained
Garlic1 clove, small1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Garlic Salt1 tsp.1/8 tsp. garlic powder and 7/8 tsp. salt
Gelatin, Flavored3 oz.1 Tbls. plain gelatin and 2 cup fruit juice
Ginger1/8 tsp.1 tsp. candied ginger, rinsed in water to remove sugar, then finley cut
1 Tbls. raw ginger
Herbs, fresh1 Tbls. chopped1/2 tsp. dried crushed herb
Honey1 cup1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water
Horseradish1 Tbls.2 Tbls. bottled fresh
Ketchup1 cup1 cup tomato sauce 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 Tbls. vinegar
Lemon Juice1 tsp.1/2 tsp. white vinegar
Lemon Peel, dried1 tsp.1 to 2 tsp. fresh grated
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
Lime1 med.1 1/2 to 2 Tbls. juice
Maple Sugar (grated and packed)1/2 cup1 cup maple syrup
1 Tbls. white, granulated sugar
Marshmallows, mini1 cup8-10 regular
Mayonnaise (for salad dressings)1 cup1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese, pureed
Milk, skim1 cup4 to 5 Tbls. non-fat dry milk powder and enough water to make 1 cup
1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup water
Milk, Sweetened, Condensed1 canHeat the following until butter melts and sugar is disolved: 1/3 cup + 2 Tbls. evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, and 3 Tbls. butter
Add 1 cup + 2 Tbls. dry milk to 1/2 cup warm water. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 3 Tbls. melted butter. Stir until smooth.
Milk, Whole1 cup1 cup reconstituted non-fat dried milk abd 2 Tbls. melted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup water
4 Tbls whole dry milk and 1 cup water (for use in baking)
Mushrooms, Fresh1 Lb.2 to 3 cups whole
5 cups sliced
(1) 10 oz. can
Mushrooms, Canned4 oz.2 cups sliced fresh
6 Tbls. whole dried mushrooms
Mustard, Dry1 tsp.1 Tbls. prepared mustard
Onion, Fresh1 smallrehydrate 1 Tbls. instant minced onion
Onion Powder1 Tbls.1 medium onion, chopped
4 Tbls. fresh chopped onion
Onions1 Lb.3 large onions
2 to 2 1/2 cup chopped
Orange Peel, Dried1 Tbls.2 to 3 Tbls. grated fresh orange peel
grated peel of 1 med. orange
2 tsp.1 tsp. orange extract
Parsley, Dried1 tsp.3 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Peppers, green bell1 Tbls. dried3 Tbls. fresh green pepper, chopped
Peppers, red bell1 Tbls. dried3 Tbls. fresh red pepper, chopped
2 Tbls. chopped pimento
Peppermint, dried1 Tbls.1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Pimento2 Tbls.1 Tbls. dried red bell pepper, rehydrated
3 Tbls. fresh red bell pepper, chopped
Pumpkin Pie Spice1 tsp.1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/8 tsp. allspice, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Shortening, Melted1 cup1 cup cooking oil
Shortening, Solid1 cup1 cup minus 2 Tbls. lard
1 1/8 cup butter (decrease salt in recipe by 1/2 tsp.)
Sour Cream1 cup3/4 cup buttermilk and 1/3 cup butter or margerine
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup milk, 3/4 tsp. lemon juice, and 1/3 cup butter or margerine
Spearmint, Dried1 Tbls.1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
Sugar, Brown1 cup packed1 cup granular sugar
1 Lb.2 1/2 cups firmly packed
Sugar, powdered1 Lb.2 3/4 cups
Sugar, granulated1 Lb.2 1/4 cups
1 tsp.1/8 tsp. non-caloretic sweetener solution
1 cup1 1/2 cup corn syrup (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup)
1 1/3 cup molasses (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/3 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup honey (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup; for each cup of honey used, add 1/2 tsp. baking soda)
Tapioca, granular1 Tbls.2 Tbls. pearl tapioca
Tomato Juice1 cup1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water
Worcestershire Sauce1 tsp.1 tsp. bottled steak sauce
Yogurt, Plain1 cup1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cottage cheese, pureed
1 cup sour cream

Ingredient Substitution Internet Links

For MORE ingredient substitution ideas, check these Internet links to materials developed by educational organizations or recommended by various food and nutrition educators. For easy access to these links, bookmark this FOOD REFLECTIONS article (

For STILL MORE substitution ideas, put the words "food substitutions" or "ingredient substitutions" into your favorite Internet search engine.

As you check out these links, be aware that an ingredient may not substitute for ALL the functions of another. For example, as you learned earlier, it's best to substitute an oil for a solid shortening such as butter ONLY when the recipe calls for a MELTED form of the solid shortening. If you're uncertain if the substitution will work and you haven't started mixing things together, you might consider making something else. Or making a quick run to the store.

(NOTE: The following links are provided for your general information. The information provided via these sites has not been formally evaluated and inclusion of these links does not constitute an endorsement of any organization. Nor is disapproval implied of sites not mentioned. The links provided are maintained by their respective organizations and they are solely responsible for their content and policies.)

Ingredient Substitutions

This listing by North Dakota State University Extension is very comprehensive on everything from Allspice to Yogurt.

Ingredient Substitutions and Food Yields

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The "Yield Equivalencies" section of this sheet from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service is especially helpful if your recipe calls for a specific weight and you would like to know the equivalent amount as measured in cups of the food. If you have an older recipe that calls for an amount like a number 2 or number 303 can, check the "Common Can Sizes" chart at the end of this publication for an equivalent weight and amount in cups.

Herbs and Spices

Virginia Cooperative Extension's site is especially helpful in giving suggestions on reducing the fat, sodium and sugar in foods and instead using herbs and spices for flavor.

Ingredient Substitution

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Utah State University Cooperative Extension has a chart providing basic ingredient substitutions. It also provides an equivalent measures section at the end.

Preparing Healthy Food: How To Modify a Recipe

Ohio State University Extension's Fact Sheet explains how to substitute ingredients to make recipes more nutritious or lower in fat.

Food and Nutrition Solutions

University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service gives basic ingredient substitutions.

Ingredient Substitutions

NOTE: This publication requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software to read -- if you don't have this on your computer, a free version is available at:

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension has a table providing basic ingredient substitutions.

The Cook's Thesaurus

This site offers thousands of substitution suggestions.

Spice Advice

Check the "Spice Encyclopedia" and "Spice Useage Tips" If you don't have the spice specified in a recipe, these may give you ideas of spices you could substitute.


Food and Health Communications gives links to various sources of information on how to use sugar substitutes.

Food Lover's Companion

If you've never heard of one of the ingredients in a recipe and have no idea of what you could substitute, this online food dictionary of more than 4,000 items from Epicurious may help you out.

Home Baking

Visit this site to access links to food companies and organizations, an ingredient glossary and an "Ask the Experts" (under "Educator Resources").

Ingredient Substitution Books

The following books and cookbook were cited most frequently as sources of ingredient substitution information. Several other cookbooks may also provide basic ingredient substitution charts. Sometimes, you'll find information on substituting foods in a section or sections of a cookbook where the major ingredients featured in the recipes are described.

Resnik, Linda and Brock, Dee. Food FAQs -- Substitutions, Yields and Equivalents. Tyler, Texas: FAQs Press. 2000.

American Home Economics Association. Handbook of Food Preparation. 9th edition. 1993. There is a chart in this book on ingredient substitutions.

Rombauer, I., and Becker, M.R. Joy of Cooking. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Older editions prior to the new 1997 version have an extensive chart of ingredient substitutions.

Disclaimer: Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.