Amazing Emergency Baking & Cooking Substitutions

Updated on February 8, 2019
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.


What Would You Do?

Has this ever happened to you?

  • You found a cake on Pinterest that you really want to try, but it calls for cake flour. You have only all-purpose flour.
  • Grandma's recipe for gingersnaps requires molasses. You don't want to run to the grocery store for just one ingredient.
  • That salad recipe calls for blue cheese, but you can't stand the smell. Is there a substitute?
  • That chicken dish requires 1/2 cup of sherry for the sauce, but you don't drink alcohol.

I'll bet that in the past you have just given up and used another recipe. You don't have to do that anymore. If you need an emergency substitute you can find it here.

Baking Ingredients (Extracts, Flours, Sugars, Etc.)


ALMOND EXTRACT (1/2 teaspoon) = ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

BAKING POWDER (1 teaspoon) = ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus ¼ teaspoon cornstarch + ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

CAKE FLOUR (1 cup) = 2 tablespoons cornstarch + all-purpose flour to make 1 cup

CHOCOLATE, SEMISWEET (1 ounce) = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1 ½ teaspoons butter, shortening, or vegetable oil

CHOCOLATE, UNSWEETENED (1 ounce) = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon butter, shortening, or vegetable oil

CORNSTARCH = For every tablespoon of cornstarch, sub in 1 tablespoon of flour to get similar thickening results.

OAT FLOUR (1 cup) = 1 ¼ cups old-fashioned oatmeal, ground in blender

SUGAR, CONFECTIONER’S (1 cup) = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ground very finely in blender

SUGAR, DARK BROWN (1 cup, packed) = 1 cup granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons molasses

SUGAR, LIGHT BROWN (1 cup, packed) = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses

VANILLA BEAN (1 8-inch pod) = 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

VEGETABLE OIL FOR BAKING = equivalent amount of applesauce

Canned Tomato Products

TOMATOES (1 lb, fresh) = 1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes

TOMATO JUICE (1 cup) = 1/2 cup tomato purée or tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water; or 1/4 cup tomato paste + 3/4 cup water

TOMATO PASTE (1 tbsp) = 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato sauce, boil until reduced to 1 tablespoon

TOMATO PUREE (1 cup) = 1/3 cup tomato paste + 2/3 cup water

TOMATO SAUCE (1 cup) = 1/2 cup tomato paste + 1/2 cup water; or 1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, blended until smooth

Condiments, Sauces and Syrups


BALSAMIC VINEGAR = For every tablespoon of balsamic, you can sub in 1 tablespoon sherry, red wine or cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

BARBEQUE SAUCE (1 cup) = 1 cup ketchup + ½ teaspoon liquid smoke

FISH SAUCE = Soy sauce

HONEY (1 cup) = 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar + ¼ cup liquid; or ½ cup granulated sugar + ¾ cup maple syrup

HOT PEPPER SAUCE = For every teaspoon of hot sauce, you can sub 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar.

KARO, DARK = You can use honey, or 1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar dissolved in ¼ cup hot water.

KARO, LIGHT = You can use 1 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water to sub for a cup of corn syrup. You can also use a cup of honey.

KETCHUP = For every cup of ketchup in a recipe, you can sub a cup of tomato sauce (the canned kind, not jarred marinara) mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar.

MAYONNAISE = An equal amount of sour cream or unflavored yogurt

MOLASSES = For every cup of molasses, sub in 3/4 cup of brown sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cream of tartar

OYSTER SAUCE (1 tablespoon) = 2 teaspoons soy sauce + 1 teaspoon liquid from canned oysters

SESAME OIL (1 teaspoon) = 2 teaspoons crushed and toasted sesame seeds + 1 teaspoon peanut oil

SOY SAUCE (1 tablespoon) = ¾ teaspoon kosher salt + ½ teaspoon granulated sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

TAHINI (1 cup) = ¾ cup peanut butter + ¼ cup untoasted sesame oil

TERIYAKI SAUCE (1/2 cup) = 1/3 cup soy sauce + 3 tablespoons rice vinegar + 3 teaspoons sugar or honey

VINEGAR = For each teaspoon of vinegar, sub in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or lime juice or two teaspoons of white wine.

WORCHESTERSHIRE SAUCE (1 tablespoon) = 2 teaspoons soy sauce + 4 drops hot pepper sauce + ¼ teaspoon lemon juice + ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar

Dairy and Eggs


ASIAGO CHEESE = Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

BLUE CHEESE = Feta cheese has the same salty taste and crumbly texture, but not the “funk” that some people find disagreeable.

BUTTERMILK = For every cup of buttermilk, pour a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk or your favorite milk substitute.

CHEDDAR CHEESE = Colby or American cheese

COTTAGE CHEESE = Ricotta cheese

CREAM OR HALF-AND-HALF (1 cup) = 1 tablespoon melted butter + 1 cup whole milk

CREAM CHEESE (for cooking) = Ricotta cheese

EGG = One large egg can be replaced with 1/4 cup of pureed silken tofu; a tablespoon of ground flax seeds that have been soaked in 3 tablespoons of water; or half a banana, mashed with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

EVAPORATED MILK = 2 ¼ cups whole milk simmered until reduced to 1 cup

HEAVY CREAM = To sub 1 cup of heavy cream, combine 3/4 cup of milk and 1/3 cup of butter.

MARSCAPONE CHEESE (1 cup) = ½ cup cream cheese + ½ cup sour cream; or ¾ up cream cheese + ¼ cup heavy cream; or ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup heavy cream

MOZZARELLA = Provolone or Gouda cheese

PARMESAN = Pecorino Romano or aged Asiago cheese

PECORINO ROMANO = Parmesan or aged Asiago cheese

RICOTTA CHEESE = Pureed cottage cheese, fromage blanc, mashed firm tofu

ROMANO CHEESE = Parmesan or aged Asiago cheese

SOUR CREAM = An equal amount of Greek yogurt, or 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter + ¾ cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice (for baking)

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK (14-ounce can) = 1 cup evaporated milk + 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, heated until sugar dissolves

SWISS CHEESE = Provolone or Gruyere cheese

WHIPPED CREAM = 12-ounce can evaporated milk, chilled overnight, mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, whipped until stiff, beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

YOGURT = Sour cream, crème fraîche, silken tofu (blended)

Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings


ALLSPICE = ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon + ½ teaspoon ground cloves + pinch of ground ginger for 1 teaspoon allspice.

ALMOND EXTRACT (1/2 teaspoon) = ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

APPLE PIE SPICE (1 tablespoon) = 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg + pinch ground allspice.

CARAWAY SEEDS = Dill or anise seeds

CAYENNE PEPPER = Chipotle power, hot paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder

CELERY SALT = Old Bay seasoning

CHIVES = green part of green onions


CRAB BOIL SEASONING = Old Bay seasoning, pickling spice

CUMIN, GROUND = Chili powder, ground coriander

DILL = Tarragon

DILL SEEDS = Caraway or celery seeds

FRESH HERBS = For every tablespoon of fresh herbs, you can sub a teaspoon of dry herbs.

GARAM MASALA (1 tablespoon) = ½ teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon + ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

GARLIC = For every clove of garlic your recipe calls for, use 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder or ½ to 1 teaspoon minced shallots

GARLIC SALT (1 teaspoon) = ¼ teaspoon garlic powder + ¾ teaspoon salt

GINGER, CRYSTALLIZED (3 tablespoons) = 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger + 1/8 to ½ teaspoon granulated sugar; or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

GINGER, FRESH (1 tablespoon) = 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (for baking)

GINGER, GROUND (1 teaspoon, for baking) = 1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger; or 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or allspice

GREEK SEASONING (1 tablespoon) = 1 teaspoon dried oregano + ¾ teaspoon onion powder + ¾ teaspoon garlic powder + ½ teaspoon ground black pepper + ¼ teaspoon dried mint + pinch of cinnamon

GREEN ONIONS/SCALLIONS = onions leeks or shallots

GROUND ALLSPICE (1 teaspoon) = 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

HERBES DE PROVENCE (3 tablespoons) = 2 teaspoons dried thyme + 2 teaspoons dried savory + 1 teaspoon dried marjoram + 1 teaspoon dried lavender + ½ teaspoon dried rosemary + ½ teaspoon fennel seeds + 1 crushed bay leaf

ITALIAN SEASONING (2 teaspoons) = 1 teaspoon dried oregano + ½ teaspoon each dried basil and dried thyme

LEMONGRASS (1 stalk) = 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest + 1/8 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

LEMON PEPPER (1 teaspoon) = ½ teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest + ¼ teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

MARJORAM = Sweet basil, summer savory

MINT = basil

NUTMEG = Ground mace, allspice, cinnamon, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice

OLD BAY SEASONING (1/4 cup) = 1 tablespoon celery salt + 1 tablespoon ground bay leaves + 2 teaspoons black pepper + 1 teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon dry mustard + one pinch each of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves

OREGANO = Marjoram, thyme, fresh basil, summer savory

PAPRIKA = Chili powder

POULTRY SEASONING (1 teaspoon) = ¾ teaspoon dried thyme + ½ teaspoon rubbed sage + ½ teaspoon dried marjoram + ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE (1 teaspoon) = ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon + ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg + ¼ teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves; or 1 teaspoon apple pie spice

ROSEMARY = summer savory, basil, oregano

SAFFRON = Saffron has a mild flavor and is often used for coloring. The same amount of turmeric will add the same brightness to a dish.

SAGE (1 tablespoon) = 3 teaspoons summer savory, thyme, basil or oregano; or 1 tablespoon rosemary; or 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

SAVORY (1 tablespoon) - 3 teaspoons chopped thyme or rosemary; or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme + 1 to 1/2 teaspoons mint; or 2 teaspoons sage +1 teaspoons herbes de Provence

TACO SEASONING (1 tablespoon) = 2 teaspoons chile powder + ¼ teaspoon each dried oregano and ground cumin + 1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder + a pinch of cayenne.

TURMERIC (1/2 teaspoon) = ¼ teaspoon dried ginger + 5 saffron threads + ¼ teaspoon curry powder

Spirits, Alcohol


BEER, LIGHT (for soups or stews) = chicken broth, white grape juice, ginger ale

BEER, DARK = beef stock or mushroom broth

BOURBON (1 tablespoon) = 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons water

BRANDY = Apple juice or cider, white grape juice

CHAMPAGNE = Ginger ale, sparkling white grape juice, sparkling apple cider

COFFEE LIQUEUR (3 tablespoons) = 3 tablespoons water + ¾ teaspoon instant coffee granules

COGNAC = Peach, pear, or apricot juice

FRANGELICO (2 tablespoons) = ½ teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract

GRAND MARNIER/ORANGE LIQUEUR = Orange juice concentrate

GRENADINE (1 teaspoon) = 2 to 3 teaspoons pomegranate juice (reduce liquid in recipe to compensate), or 1 teaspoon raspberry syrup

MADEIRA = Beef stock or chicken broth (in savory dishes); apple or berry juice in sweet dishes

MARSALA = No non-alcohol substitute (although one website recommended 1 part prune juice and 2 parts water)

RUM (1 tablespoon) = 1 ½ teaspoons rum extract

SAKE = Rice vinegar

SHERRY = Orange or pineapple juice

TEQUILA = Agave nectar

VERMOUTH = white grape juice

VODKA = Gin, white rum, tequila

WHISKEY = No non-alcohol substitute

WINE, RED (1 cup) = ¾ cup red grape juice + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice + 2 tablespoons water (for marinades) or beef stock (for sauces and stews)

WINE, WHITE (1 cup) = 3/4 cup white grape juice, apple juice, or apple cider + 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice (for marinades), sherry or vermouth, sake, chicken or vegetable stock (for sauce and stews)

So, How Are We Doing?

So, did I cover them all, or are there still some substitutions with which you need help? If so, leave a note in the comments and I will find an answer for you.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Lum


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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Manatita, thank you for stopping by. Yes I did and will write to you.

      • manatita44 profile image


        22 months ago from london

        You covered a lot, dear. So detailed! Awesome!

        Did you fall? How's your health? Best wishes.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Kari, I'm so glad you liked this. It was fun putting together.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        22 months ago from Ohio

        This is a great list to have! I have bookmarked it. :)

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Linda, thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is a wonderful resource! Thank you very much sharing it. It's going to be so useful.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, it's difficult to tread water at age 29 when you have a 35-year old (my 1st born will be there tomorrow). Jack Benny proclaimed to be 39 and I think that's a nice number. However, the perks of being a senior citizen (all those Tuesday discounts) outweigh the criticism of being an oldster.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Linda in no way could you offend me even if you said something derisive about my fatness,,, which is in someways attributed to you.

        I noted I did not send off a note to you that I wrote about your fall. You are doing great for a 29 year old. (an age my mom stuck to until her last breath)

        I will scoot right over to find what I missed.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, so happy to hear from you. I was beginning to think I had offended you in some way. Well, not really but you haven't said anything about my suggestions for finding your Joy of Cooking, or exploring hazelnuts.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Chuckle chuckle. You have "read my mail" and done this just for me. OK maybe for Bill also.

        This is so helpful for a stay at home dad. Thank you Linda for another great installment.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, I'm happy I could help. It's always good to have a "Plan B".

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, we don't live a mile from anything. The closest store is a 15-minute drive, traffic permitting. I hope thise proves to be of help to you.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        22 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Now that is very cool! I must print this and have it handy in the kitchen. You just saved me a bundle of frustration, Linda!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        22 months ago from USA

        The confectioners sugar one is really neat. Who knew!? I liked this. We live a mile from our grocery store so I just send my very willing husband for a grocery run, but he's not home to do that all the time. This will come in handy!


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