Food & Drink

Simple Food Swaps For When You Run Out Of Ingredients

Has a coronavirus quarantine emptied your kitchen? These are the best substitutes for butter, eggs, milk, onions, lemon, sugar, flour, broth and more.

Under normal circumstances, it’s frustrating to discover you’re out of a key ingredient mid-recipe. When you’re coronavirus-quarantined, it can ruin your day. Obviously, you can’t just run out to the grocery store to pick up what you’re missing. But with a few key substitutions, you should be able to muddle through.

We’ve consulted in-the-know sources and “The Food Substitutions Bible” to find suitable swaps for ingredients you’re most likely to deplete. They’re not all perfect flavor matches, but they’ll do the job. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover you prefer a recipe this way!

Butter

For cooking, any oil will do. For baking, use an equivalent amount of:

If you’ve only got half the amount of butter you need for a baked good recipe, applesauce can work for the rest.

Eggs

For each egg in a baking recipe, swap in:

  • 1/3 cup applesauce

  • 1/2 pureed banana (1/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds or chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water

  • 1/4 cup blended silken tofu

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon water

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (for cakes)

Sour Cream

Replace each cup with:

  • Plain Greek yogurt, an equivalent amount

  • 3/4 cup cream cheese + 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter + 3/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice (for baking)

Dairy Products

  • 1 cup milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup half & half = 1 cup whole milk + 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter OR 1 cup evaporated milk

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream = 2/3 cup whole milk + 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Garlic

For each clove, use:

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (omit 1/2 teaspoon salt from the recipe)

  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced shallots

Onions

For each medium onion, use:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1 cup chopped shallots

  • 1 1/4 cups chopped leeks, green onions or scallions (white and light green parts only)

  • 1 cup frozen chopped onions

Lemon

  • For each tablespoon of juice, use 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar

  • For each teaspoon of zest, use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Fresh Herbs

For each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, use:

  • 1 teaspoon dried

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground or powdered

Breadcrumbs

For each cup, use:

  • 3 to 4 slices oven-dried bread, crushed in a food processor

  • 1 1/4 cups croutons or stuffing cubes, crushed

  • 3/4 cup cracker crumbs

  • 1 cup crushed tortilla or potato chips

  • 1 cup crushed pretzels

  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes

Flour

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup + 3 tablespoons cake flour OR 1 cup self-rising flour (omit baking powder + salt from recipe) OR 1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup of cake flour = 1 cup pastry flour OR 1 cup minus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 cup pastry flour = 2/3 cup all-purpose flour + 1/3 cup cake flour

  • 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 3/4 cup unsifted confectioners’ sugar OR 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar OR 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (reduce liquid in recipe by 3 tablespoons and lower oven temperature by 25°F)

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar = 1 packed cup light brown sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses OR 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 to 3 tablespoons molasses

  • 1 cup light brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 to 2 tablespoons molasses OR 1/2 cup dark brown sugar + 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, processed in a food processor

Cocoa Powder

For every 3 tablespoons, use:

  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat in recipe by 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate (decrease fat in recipe by 1 tablespoon and sugar in recipe by 3 tablespoons)

For each teaspoon, use:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

Rice

For each 1 cup of uncooked white or brown rice, use the following amount of the uncooked substitute:

  • 2 cups orzo pasta

  • 1 1/4 cups couscous

  • 3/4 cup barley

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • 1 cup bulgur

  • 1 1/3 cups wheatberries

  • 1 1/2 cups kasha

Tomatoes

For each pound of fresh tomatoes, use:

  • 1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes

  • 6 to 8 sun-dried tomato halves, reconstituted in hot water

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (you may need to add liquid)

Broth

  • 1 cup of broth = 1 bouillon cube + 1 cup boiling water OR 1 teaspoon bouillon granules + 1 cup boiling water

  • To replace chicken or vegetable broth, use an equivalent amount of dry white wine, vermouth or water (in small amounts).

  • To replace beef broth, use an equivalent amount of vegetable broth, red wine or beer.

Wine

For each cup of red, use:

  • 3/4 cup red grape juice + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice + 2 tablespoons of water (for marinades)

  • 1 cup beef broth (for sauces and stews)

  • 1 cup beer (for stews)

For each cup of white, use:

  • 3/4 cup white grape juice, apple juice, or apple cider + 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice (for marinades)

  • 1 cup sherry, vermouth, sake, mirin, or chicken or vegetable broth (for sauces and stews)

Unfortunately, these substitutes won’t help if you just want to drink ― this is purely a cooking substitute.

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