Try These Food Swaps When You Run Out Of Ingredients

It can be really frustrating to run out of an ingredient when you are trying to make your favorite recipe. It is even more frustrating, now that we are being quarantined. It isn’t a simple matter of running to the grocery store to grab what you are missing, but if you know how to substitute properly, you should be just fine.

With a little help from The Food Substitutions Bible, you can find suitable swaps for ingredients that are most likely to run low. They don’t all match perfectly as far as flavor is concerned but they will be close enough. You just may end up finding a recipe that you prefer in the process!


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

Regular (not light) margarine


Coconut oil (solid)

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


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 whole 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


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


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


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


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


1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup + 3 tablespoons cake flour OR 1 cup self-rising flour (omit baking powder + salt from the 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


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 the liquid in the 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 the recipe by 3 tablespoons)

Equal parts cacao powder

Equal parts carob powder

Table Salt

For each teaspoon, use:

1 1/2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt

2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

2 teaspoons soy sauce


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


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)


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.


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)

The wine substitutes may not help if you just want to have a drink, but then again, we all need to cook these days and using wine can really make life a little better.

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