Cookery 101: Emergency Substitutions


Post by community member:

We’ve all done it. It seems to happen the most often when we have company coming or are otherwise rushed and/or snowed in (okay, maybe that’s just me). We start cooking–and realize we don’t have something vital. Then we panic.

Here’s a list of save-the-day substitutions I’ve been compiling.

Emergency Substitutions:

allspice = cinnamon plus a dash of nutmeg or cloves

1 teaspoon apple pie spice = 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, and dash ground cloves or ginger

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice = 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

basil = oregano or thyme

cardamom = ginger

1 teaspoon dry mustard (in mixtures) = 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon fresh herb (any) = 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of the same dried herb

cumin = chili powder

ginger = allspice, cinnamon, mace, or nutmeg

Italian seasoning = combination of basil, oregano, rosemary, and ground red pepper

mace = allspice, cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning = 3/4 teaspoon sage plus a 1/4 teaspoon combination of thyme, marjoram, savory, black pepper, and rosemary

1 clove garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 small onion, chopped = 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 tablespoon dried minced onion

1 egg (in baking) = 1 teaspoon cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water

1 whole egg = 2 egg yolks plus 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon flour (for thickening) = 1 1/2 teaspoons corn flour, arrowroot, potato flour, or rice flour or 2 teaspoons tapioca

1 tablespoon cornstarch (for thickening) = 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons tapioca (for thickening) = 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup margarine or butter (in baking or cooking) = 1 cup lard or shortening or 7/8 cup vegetable oil

1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar = 1 cup packed brown sugar or 2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons molasses

1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar, packed

1 cup honey = 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup water (CAN IT BE RUM? just askin’)

1 cup molasses = 1 cup honey

1 cup corn syrup = 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup water (….or bourbon…GO AHEAD)

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon shortening or cooking oil

1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 4 teaspoons sugar

1 cup buttermilk = 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough whole milk to make one cup (let stand 5 minutes before using), or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, or 1 cup yogurt

1 cup sour cream (in baking) = 7/8 cup buttermilk or sour milk plus 3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sour cream (in salad dressings or casseroles) = 1 cup plain yogurt or 3/4 cup sour milk plus 1/3 cup butter

1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water or 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 cup light cream = 1 tablespoon melted butter plus enough whole milk to make one cup

2 cups tomato sauce = 3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water

1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs = 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs or 1/4 cup cracker crumbs or 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs

See this list on Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and to save it to your recipe box:
Emergency Substitutions

(Print it out and tape it to the inside of one of your kitchen cabinet doors for quick reference when you’re in a panic.)

Anybody got any more?

P.S. This post is the first in a series I’ll be writing here with kitchen and cooking ideas, tips, and helpful hints, plus a smattering of old-time cookbook fun. These posts will come with the header Cookery 101.

See all the Cookery 101 posts.

Cookery: The art, study, or practice of cooking. 2. A place for cooking.

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  1. Darlene in North GA says:

    Thanks! These are some great tips. I’ve been cooking a long time and there was some of these tips that either I didn’t know or had forgotten.

  2. Patrice says:

    I cook for a living. These type of tips have saved my bacon many times in the last thirty plus years ( I started cooking when I was 2 LOL). I don’t know a professional chef who hasn’t had to do a substitution at least every now and then. I had to use a substitution at work just yesterday. One of the greatest tips, to prevent substituting, for me is to drink lots of coffee and be very alert when I shop so I don’t forget things!

  3. Cindy says:

    Great list!!!Thanks!!

    I found this one to be a bit funny. Maybe I have had way to much coffee this morning.
    1 whole egg = 2 egg yolks plus 1 tablespoon water

  4. Kathi N says:

    These are great to have. Thank you very much!

  5. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Totally awesome! There have been many times I didn’t have a particular spice or condimen that was called for and wished I knew what else to use. Thanks so much for posting this. Definitely will be used!!

  6. drucillajoy says:

    1 cup applesauce = 1 cup oil in baking…don’t know how it works, but it does. I use it for brownies & the differance is almost undetectable…try it!! (:

  7. drucillajoy says:

    …that would be totally natural, UN-sweetened applesauce! (:

  8. rileysmom says:

    Thank you Suzanne! I know I’ll be snowed in or mudded in at some point and your list will be a lifesaver!!

  9. linda says:

    What a “treasure chest” posting of information. I’m making copies for all of my recipe locations!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Linda D

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