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Tips - Ingredient Substitutions

Ingredient Substitution Chart


When making substitutions for alcohols, it is important to keep the volume of liquid in the recipe the same as originally called for. Depending on the recipe, apple juice or chicken broth often makes a good substitution for wine. When using flavored liqueurs, extracts can be substituted if you make up the balance of the liquid with water. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier you could use 1/2 teaspoon orange extract. Just be sure to get the same level of orange flavor. This may take some experimentation.

Apple Pie Spice

This equals 1 teaspoon store bought Apple Pie Spice: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and and a dash of ground allspice.

Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar can be substituted for 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Baking Soda

There is no recommended substitute for baking soda.


Unsalted butter can be substituted for regular butter in any recipe. It is NOT necessary to add salt. Margarine can also be substituted for butter. Do NOT use lowfat spreads or light butter for baking.


1 tablespoon vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup OR 2/3 cup plain yogurt plus 1/3 cup milk can be substituted for 1 cup buttermilk.

Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, can be substituted for 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips. When substituting for chocolate chips, make sure to use the same type of chocolate (i.e. semi-sweet, milk).

Chocolate, Semi-Sweet

3 tablespoons chocolate chips OR 1 square (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon sugar can be substituted for 1 square (1-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate. 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 7 tablespoons sugar plus 1/4 cup fat can be substituted for 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate.

Chocolate, Sweet Baking (German)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons fat can be substituted for 4 ounces German sweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate, Unsweetened

1 2/3 ounce semisweet chocolate (reduce sugar in recipe by 2 teaspoons) OR 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening can be used instead of 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate or 1 ounce premelted unsweetened chocolate.


1/2 cup hot water and 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules can be substituted for 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee.

Cooking Sprays

Can usually be successfully substituted for shortening to prepare baking sheets and baking pans.


2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch can be substituted for 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

Corn Syrup, Light

1 cup dark corn syrup can be substituted for 1 cup light corn syrup, and vice versa. (Note: Flavor will be affected somewhat.) OR substitute 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/3 cups liquid.

Cream (20% fat) (Coffee Cream)

3 tablespoon butter plus 7/8 cup milk can be substituted for 1 cup cream (in baking and cooking).

Cream (40% fat) (Whipping Cream)

1/3 cup butter plus 3/4 cup milk can be substituted for 1 cup cream (in baking and cooking).

Cream of Tartar

There is no recommended substitution for cream of tartar.

Egg Whites

Meringue powder can be substituted for egg whites in a meringue application. Three egg whites equal approximately 3 tablespoons meringue powder plus 6 tablespoons water.

Flavor Oils

It is not recommended that you substitute flavor extracts for flavor oils. Oil based flavorings are necessary for hard candies because the liquid portion of the extracts add too much liquid, causing steam, to the hard candy syrup.

Flour (as thickener)

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, arrowroot starch, or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca can be substituted for 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.

Flour, Cake

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour can be substituted for 1 cup cake flour.

Flour, Self-Rising

1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt can be substituted for 1 cup self-rising flour.


1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/3 cup liquid (use whatever liquid is called for in the recipe) can be substituted for 1 cup honey.

Meringue Powder

You can't substitute meringue powder for egg whites in most recipes because it contains other ingredients such as sugar.

Milk, Whole

1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water OR 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup nonfat evaporated dry milk powder OR 1 cup skim milk plus 2 teaspoons melted butter can be substituted for 1 cup whole milk. NOTE: Whole milk is higher in total fat than low-fat milk. If a baking recipe calls for whole milk, you may be able to substitute a low-fat milk variety like skim, 1% or 2% fat. Be cautious about substituting skim milk in pudding, custard and sauce recipes. These recipes rely on the dairy fat for added texture and flavor. Baked items such as cakes and cookies can usually tolerate the use of low-fat milk.


1 cup honey can be substituted for 1 cup molasses. (and vice versa) Note: flavor will be affected.


1 cup melted butter, margarine or shortening can be substituted for 1 cup oil. Note: Recipe results may vary. Texture and appearance may be affected.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon EACH nutmeg and cloves can be substituted for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.


1 cup butter or margarine can be substituted for 1 cup shortening. When using shortening in place of butter or margarine, 1 tablespoon milk or water for each 1/2 cup shortening used may need to be added. DO NOT substitute vegetable oil for shortening when recipe calls for melting the shortening.

Sour Cream

1 cup plain yogurt can be substituted for 1 cup sour cream.


1 cup firmly packed brown sugar can be substituted for 1 cup sugar. Note: Flavor will be affected somewhat.

Sugar, Light Brown

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup sugar can be substituted for 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar. (Slight flavor differences will occur.)

Sweet Potatoes

1 (18-ounce) can vacuum-packed sweet potatoes can be substituted for 1 (23-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained.

Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Flavoring

If you run out of vanilla extract or flavoring, you can substitute maple syrup, teaspoon for teaspoon. I have done this and I absolutely can't tell the difference.


1/2 cup fruit juice can be substituted for 1/2 cup wine in desserts. 1/2 cup chicken broth can be substituted for 1/2 cup wine in savory recipes.

Substitutions for Milk in Baking

Milk is one of the easiest ingredients to substitute in baking. Non-dairy milks and water are suitable replacements with only subtle effects on taste and texture. Some ingredients may affect the coloration of the finished product. Soy will often cause a darker color or browning effect. Another consideration is that not all liquid replacements are as thick as milk; therefore, the amount used may need to be reduced from the amount called for in the recipe.

Soy Milk: 1 cup soy milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Rice Milk: 1 cup rice milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Depending on the brand, rice milk can be thinner than cow’s milk and you may need to reduce the amount used in the recipe. For baking, you can add 2 or 3 extra tablespoons of cooking oil to help offset a watery consistency.

Nut Milk: 1 cup nut milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Nut milks, such as almond, are best served in dessert recipes.

Juice: Fruit juice can be used as a replacement, but can impart sweetness. Juice is also acidic and is best served in recipes that include baking soda. The amount used will depend on the thickness of the juice.

Water: Approximately 3/4 cup water = 1 cup cow’s milk

Water is commonly substituted for milk in recipes. Add water last to the recipe, stirring in small amounts until the proper consistency is achieved.

Note: Milk substitutes may still have dairy ingredients in the product. Many brands claim to be dairy-free, but in truth they only eliminate lactose. Dairy protein (casein) is commonly included in both soy and rice milks. Also, many brands of rice milk are not gluten-free, such as Imagine Foods Rice Dream, because of their manufacturing process. Always confirm the status of rice or soy milks if you are on a gluten-free diet and/or dairy-free diet.

Other dairy substitutes, such as non-dairy cheese, will often use dairy or soy protein in their ingredients. Always check the ingredients and/or with the manufacturer to make sure that the product is completely dairy-free. There are currently no known cheese substitutes that do not contain either dairy or soy protein ingredients.