Recipe Substitutes: In a Pinch You Can Use This for That

Has this ever happened to you? You’re well into preparing a meal or recipe when you discover you’re all out of a required ingredient. I hate when that happens.


I know myself well enough that I don’t want to run to the store. For me, an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch—I need a pinch-hitter!

Need an egg

Combine two tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Thicken gravy

If you’re out of flour or cornstarch, you can substitute pancake mix up to three tablespoons. It works well, just don’t go overboard (three tablespoons max) or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.


Crumble 1/2 slice of bread and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers to substitute.

Baking powder

For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.


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Combine one cup of fresh milk and one tablespoon vinegar.

Broth, chicken or beef

For one cup: 1 bouillon cube plus 1 cup boiling water OR 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus enough water to make 1 cup OR 1 cup vegetable broth


1/8 teaspoon garlic powder OR 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and reduce salt in the recipe.


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Self-rising flour

For one cup: 7/8 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt


For one cup: 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1 teaspoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Heavy cream

You can make the equivalent of 1 cup heavy cream by whisking together 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine (for use in cooking or baking).


Mix 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup liquid (use the same type of liquid called for in the recipe).

Plain yogurt

Cottage cheese blended until smooth makes an excellent cup-for-cup substitute for plain yogurt.

Sweetened condensed milk

To make the equivalent of a 14-ounce can pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into a blender; add 1 cup nonfat dry milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter and a few drops of vanilla extract. Cover and blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Chocolate chips

Semi-sweet chocolate chips can be substituted with nine tablespoons cocoa, seven tablespoons of sugar and three tablespoons of butter (this makes the equivalent of six ounces chocolate chips.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar can be replaced with one cup of white sugar and one to two tablespoons of molasses, mixed. Hint: This is so much better than commercial brown sugar, you’ll be tempted to make a permanent switch.


1 cup margarine OR 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate mousse

I don’t know how often, if ever, you’ve discovered you are fresh out of chocolate mousse. But you can never be too careful about this kind of thing. So that you are prepared for an unscheduled chocolate fix, learn this substitute: Stir sifted cocoa powder into a tub of any variety Cool Whip. Now taste. Unbelievable, right?

Corn syrup

1 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water OR 1 cup honey

White cooking wine

1/3 cup white grape juice plus 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*

Red cooking wine

1 cup grape juice, 1 tablespoon strong tea, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*

*not rice wine vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar 

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4 replies
  1. Elicia P says:

    If you have flaxseed. You can use 1T of ground flax to 2T water. Mix together to form paste. That is a Egg replacer, especially found in vegan and plant based foods.

  2. kcjmc says:

    I’m assuming for the heavy cream substitution that whole milk, as opposed to 2% or other lower-fat-content milk, is to be used, correct?

  3. Ed says:

    This recipe to make your own “condensed cream of (chicken/celery/mushroom/etc) soup” is worth it’s weight in gold to me. You control the ingredients (primarily salt) and it is incredibly easy to make. If links aren’t allowed, google it. You’ll be glad you did. 1 batch of this is the exact amount you need for crock pot country style steak.


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