Must-Have Cooking Substitutions and Tricks

How many times have you started a recipe only to find that you’re missing an ingredient? Here is a definitive list of cooking substitutions to will help out in a pinch.
By Keith Jackie


How many times have you started making a recipe only to find (while you are in the middle of it) that you are missing one ingredient? You don’t want to run to the store, and going to the neighbors’ house to borrow a cup of flour seems like something that only happens on re-runs of Leave it to Beaver. Superman to the rescue! Here is my definitive list of trusted cooking substitutions that will help you out in a pinch.

Allspice: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon+ 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Arrowroot: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1 tbsp. flour or 1 1/2 tsp. corn starch

Baking powder: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Buttermilk: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar +milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5 min.)

Cake Flour: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour

Compressed yeast: 1 cake
Substitute: 1 envelope or 2 tsp. dry yeast

Corn syrup: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup white sugar + 1/4 cup water

Dark brown sugar: 1 cup
Substitute: 3 tbsp. molasses + 1 cup white sugar

Garlic: 1 clove
Substitute: 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Lemon zest: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Light brown sugar: 1 cup
Substitute: 2 tbsp. molasses + 1 cup white sugar

Powdered sugar: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup + 1 tbsp. cornstarch (process w/metal blade until powdery)

Self rising flour: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 tsp. AP flour + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder + 1 tsp. salt

Tomato juice: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water

Wine, white: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup apple juice or white grape juice

Wine, red: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup grape juice or cranberry juice

Whole milk: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup fat-free milk + 1 tbsp. canola oil

This is my go-to list of cooking substitutions I use the most. Please keep in mind that using substitutions may alter some recipes slightly, especially when it comes to baking. While the best finished product comes from adhering to the recipe, these substitutions will keep you cooking and away from the store.

Keith Jackie

We met on a warm summer evening. His square jaw and engaging smile reminded me a bit of Clark Kent. We share a passion for life: music, baseball, and especially food. He makes me feel like I can fly. Welcome to our exploration of food, recipes and ideas that celebrates our life together. He creates the recipes and prepares the food, and I am the documentarian. My superman can cook! Check out our site, Superman Cooks.

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  1. Thanks for this list! very comprehensive and i don’t have to go to Google for each and every time this sort of thing comes into play.
    the one substitution i would like to see added to the list is arrowroot for corn starch. I don’t like to use starch, and prefer the root derivative. I usually do a one-to-one replacement, but not sure that is correct.

  2. This is great to have on hand! Right into my cookbook, it goes! Thanks and I love your blog! Great, uncomplicated, honest cooking!

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