Baking Basics: Your Ultimate Baking Substitution Guide

Apr 4, 2020 | Cooking & Baking Basics, Food

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We’ve all been there. We go to the kitchen to make a quick batch of cookies to cure that sweet tooth, start pulling ingredients just to discover we are missing a vital ingredient. Don’t worry, chances are that you can easily substitute that missing ingredient for something else you have on hand. So before you pick up your keys and run out to the store, check out our handy list of the 50 most common baking substitutions.

IngredientQuantitySubstitutionNotes
All-Purpose Flour1 cup1 cup bread flour or
1 1/3 cup cake flour or
1 cup self-rising flour*
*With self-rising flour make sure to omit any baking powder and salt from your recipe.
Almond Meal1 cup1 cup almonds + 1 tbsp granulated sugarBlend well until mixture is finely ground. Sugar helps prevent clumping but you can also toast the almonds, let cool, then blend to help remove excess moisture.
Almond Paste1 tbsp1 tbsp cornstarch or
1 tbsp potato starch or
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Baking Powder1 tsp1/4 tsp baking soda +
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Acid activates the baking soda to create leavening so it needs to be used immediately.
Baking Soda1 tsp4 tsp baking powder/
omit salt in recipe
Baking powder is a leavening agent as well, reduction of salt helps reduce bitter taste the extra baking powder could cause.
Bread Crumbs1 cup1 cup crushed cereal like corn flakes or
1 cup ground rolled oats or
1 cup crushed potato chips or
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
Bread Flour1 cup1 cup all-purpose flour
Brown Sugar1 cup1 cup granulated sugar +1 tbsp molassesBrown sugar is just white sugar with molasses. Mix well before using. You can also interchange light and dark brown sugar in recipes, but the dark brown sugar will have a more distinct flavor.
Butter1 cup1 cup shortening or
1 cup vegetable oil or
1 cup margarine
For salted butter add 1/2 tsp salt with substitution, for unsalted butter subtract 1/2 tsp salt from the recipe.
Buttermilk1 cup1 cup plain yogurt or
1 cup milk (minus 1 tbsp) + 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
If mixing milk with vinegar/lemon juice, stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using. Make sure to use a plain vinegar like white or cider to avoid conflicting flavors in your recipe. Do not use Greek yogurt as a substitute.
Cake Flour1 cup1 cup all-purpose flour (minus 2 tbsp) + 2 tbsp cornstarch.
Cocoa Powder3 tbsp1 oz unsweetened chocolate – (minus) 1 tbsp reduce fat This will work in your chocolate recipes as long as you stick with the 1 tbsp reduction in fat in the recipe, otherwise your product could become too wet.
Coffee1/4 cup2 tbsp instant espresso powder + 3 tbsp hot waterThis substitution works well when a recipe calls for strong brewed coffee/
Cornstarch1 tbsp1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Cream1 cup1 cup whole milk + 1 tbsp melted butter
Creme Fraiche1 cup1 cup sour cream or
1 cup mascarpone cheese or
1 cup whipping cream + 1 tbsp yogurt
Cream of Tartar1 tsp1 tsp white vinegar or
1 tsp lemon juice
Currants1 cup1 cup raisins or
1 cup chopped dates or
1 cup dried fruit
For dried fruit, chop as necessary and try to stay within the same flavor profile such as cherries, blueberries, or cranberries. This also works for substituting raisins in a recipe.
Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder3 tbsp3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/8 tsp baking soda
Egg (Whole)1 large1/2 mashed banana + 1/2 tsp baking powder or
1/4 cup pureed silken tofu or
1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water (let sit 5 minutes) or
3 tbsp mayonnaise or
1/4 cup applesauce
This can not be used in recipes where egg whites are whipped.
Evaporated Milk1 cup1 cup half & half or
1 cup light cream or
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Ghee1 tbsp1 tbsp clarified butter or
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Ginger Root1 tbsp1 1/2 tsp ground ginger +
1/2 tsp lemon juice or
1 tbsp candied ginger
With candied ginger, rinse off sugar and chop finely.
Granulated Sugar1 cup1 cup brown sugar or
1 cup caster sugar
While you can interchange the two, brown sugar is moister, so you may need to slightly reduce the liquid in the recipe if using a large amount.
Half & Half1 cup1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup whole milk
Heavy Cream1 cup3/4 cup whole milk or half & half + 1/4 cup unsalted butterMelt butter and slowly whisk whole milk/half & half until fully incorporated.
Honey1 cup1 cup corn syrup or
1 cup molasses or
1 cup maple syrup or
1 cup agave nectar
Keep in mind when picking a substitute the flavor profile of the change. Molasses will have a larger flavor impact than agave nectar on the end result.
Iodized Salt1/2 tsp3/4 tsp kosher salt
Kosher Salt1/2 tsp1/4 tsp iodized salt
Lemon Juice1 tbsp1 tbsp cider vinegar or
1 tbsp lime juice
Lemon Zest1 tsp1 tsp any citrus zest or
1/2 tsp lemon extract
You can use other citrus you have on hand like lime, orange, or grapefruit.
Maple Syrup1 cup1 tsp vanilla or
maple extract +
1 cup light corn syrup or
1 cup agave or
1 cup honey
While you don’t have to add the extract, it helps compensate for the lack of maple flavor you will be missing.
Mascarpone Cheese16 oz12 oz cream cheese + 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or 1/4 cup sour creamBring cream cheese up to room temperature then mix in heavy whipping cream or sour cream until fully incorporated.
Molasses1 cup1 cup dark corn syrup or
1 cup maple syrup or
1 cup honey or
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
Molasses adds flavor, sweetness, and moisture to baking recipes. When substituting, keep in mind that the
flavor will be milder without molasses so don’t use in recipes where molasses is the main ingredient.
Pastry Flour2 cups1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup cake flour
Powdered Sugar1 cup1 cup granulated sugar blended wellThis works but sparingly because you’ll never be able to get the true texture of powdered sugar, creating a grainy texture to your baking. Not recommended to use in icing since you’ll get a rough texture.
Pumpkin Pie Spice1 tsp1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/8 tsp ground allspice + 1/8 ground nutmegMix well before using.
Rice Flour1 cup1 cup cake flour or
1 cup pastry flour
Self-Rising Flour1 cup1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt
Semi-Sweet Chocolate1 oz1 oz unsweetened chocolate + 1/2 tsp granulated sugar or
3 tbsp cocoa powder + 3 tbsp granulated sugar + 1 tbsp melted butter
With either substitution, make sure to mix well until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Skim Milk1 cup1/2 cup evaporated skim milk + 1/2 cup water
Sour Cream1 cup1 cup plain yogurt or
1 cup creme fraiche
Unsweetened Chocolate1 oz3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tbsp unsalted butter or 1 tbsp vegetable oil or 1 tbsp shorteningYou can use this substitution as long as you mix the cocoa powder with 1 tbsp of one of the listed fats.
Vanilla Bean1 pod2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla Extract1 tsp1 tsp bourbon or
1 tsp rum or
1/2 vanilla bean
Vegetable Oil1 cup1 cup melted butter or
1 cup coconut oil or
1 cup melted shortening or
1 cup applesauce
You want to keep the state of the fat consistent in the recipe to reduce a taste/texture difference. Applesauce or fruit puree are good replacements for reducing fat in a recipe but the texture will be different than if you used vegetable oil.
Vegetable Shortening1 cup1 cup butter or
1 cup margarine
Whole Milk1 cup1 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp melted butter or
1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
Yeast (Active Dry)1/4 oz2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or
2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
1/4 oz is equal to 1 envelope of yeast if baking with portioned yeast.
Yogurt1 cup1 cup sour cream
Created by WickedHandy.net

While you may not have the exact ingredients for the baking recipe you are trying to make, you can always try out these handy substitutions to help finish the recipe without having to stop to go to the store. Keep in mind that some substitutions may change the texture of your final product and some substitutions may work better certain recipes like cookies vs. breads. Experiment with these substitutions to see what you like the best and don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you think!

References:

  • Baking Basics: Common Baking Substitutions. (2016, November 30). Retrieved from https://www.browneyedbaker.com/common-baking-substitutions/
  • Baking Ingredient Substitution Table. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html
  • Malloy, C., & Malloy, C. (2020, March 10). No, You Don’t Have to Knead (or Proof) Irish Soda Bread-Here’s What You Should Know Before You Bake. Retrieved from https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/baking/irish-soda-bread
  • The Only List of Baking Substitutions You’ll Ever Need. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/baking-guide/baking-substitutions
  • The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions. (2020, March 21). Retrieved from https://bromabakery.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-baking-substitutions/

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Hello everyone! My name is Angie Mallery, and I’m the proud founder of Wicked Handy. This blog is my playground for sharing everything that makes life more joyful and practical—from crafting and cooking to gardening and DIY projects. I’m thrilled you’re here and hope you find inspiration and enjoyment in what I love to do. Thank you for visiting!

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