When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.

– Laiko Bahrs

Picture of Measuring cups and spoons for cooking and baking substitutions
Cooking and Baking Substitutions

I have a confession to make.  I have a tonne of recipe books that I love to read, but I rarely ever follow the directions for a recipe.  Mostly, I just like to look at the pictures.

The thing is, when we get groceries, I usually don’t know what I might want to cook later in the week.  So, when I’m looking through my cookbooks, and I see a mouth watering recipe, I have to think, “How can I make this with the ingredients we have?”

Sometimes, substitutions can be obvious.  For example, replacing butter with margarine.  Other times, some thought is necessary.  Generally, it is pretty easy to make substitutions when cooking.  To me, the key is “just do it.”  Experiment with something.  Taste the result.  If it isn’t quite right, add something else.  When you find something that works, remember what you did.  If something tastes terrible, try not to do it again.

Making substitutions while baking requires more effort.  When baking, quantities need to be exact.  Baking is chemistry after all, and “winging it” just won’t work.

Still, sometimes it is nice to get some inspiration by looking to see what other people might substitute so, now let me list some basic substitutions that I have found. If anyone has any other substitutions they like to make, please let everyone know by leaving a comment.

Baking Substitutions:

Ingredient Substitute(s)
1 tsp Baking Powder 1/2 tsp Baking Soda +
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 package instant dry yeast 2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 cup brown sugar 7/8 cup granulated sugar +
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup sifted self-rising flour 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour +
1 1/2 tsp baking powder +
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup honey +
reduce liquids in recipe by 3 tbsp
1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 1/3 cups brown sugar (loose)
1 egg 1 1/2 tbsp water +
1 1/2 tbsp oil +
1 tsp baking powder
(not for whipping)
2 egg yolks +
1 tbsp water
1 cup butter milk 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar +
1 cup (-1 tbsp) milk
(let stand 5 minutes)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup oil 1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup solid shortening, melted
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 oz chocolate 3 tbsp cocoa powder +
1 tbsp butter
1 cup raisins 1 cup dried cranberries

Cooking Substitutions:

Ingredient Substitute(s)
1 tsp dry mustard 1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp fresh herbs (basil, parsley, etc..) 1 tsp dried herbs
1 tbsp flour (for thickening) 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp quick cooking tapioca
1 tsp arrow root 1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup meat (beef or chicken) stock 1 bouillon cube +
1 cup hot water
1 cup bread crumbs 1 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup cereal crumbs (corn flakes, rice crispies, etc…)
1 can condensed mushroom soup 1 can condensed celery soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Mayonnaise 1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp orange juice 1 tbsp other citrus juice (lemon, lime, grapefruit)
1 cup cooked white rice 1 cup cooked barley
1 cup cooked brown or wild rice
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped shallots 1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped leak
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 cup wine 1 cup chicken or beef broth
1 cup apple juice
1 cup grape juice +
2 tsp vineger

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