Food Hacks — Common Cooking Ingredient Substitutions

These days, you never know what you will (or won’t) find in the supermarket. It’s not just toilet paper that might be missing from store shelves. Often eggs, milk, flour or any number of other ingredients might be pillaged too. Don’t sweat it! Here are some of our favorite food hacks and cooking substitutions that can help you make your favorite recipes even if you’re missing ingredients.


1 tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seeds + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg
To replace 1 egg, whisk together the ground up seeds and water and let sit for a few minutes until the water is fully absorbed.


1 cup dairy-free milk = 1 cup milk
There are plenty of options when it comes to milk replacements. Almond, coconut, rice, hemp, soy, and cashew milk can all be swapped out for the same amount of milk called for in a recipe. Just beware of added sugars in some flavored non-dairy milk, and be sure to choose unsweetened dairy-free milk.


1 cup vegetable shortening = 1 cup butter
OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil = 1 cup butter
Some great butter alternatives are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, ghee, and canola oil. Coconut oil is excellent for baking, while oils with a high smoke point, like avocado oil, are outstanding for frying, roasting, or sautéing.

Baking Powder

¼ tsp baking soda + ½ tsp cream of tartar = 1 tsp baking powder
When you’re in a jam and are out of baking powder, this combo comes to the rescue.

Bread Crumbs

¾ cup crushed crackers OR 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats = 1 cup bread crumbs
No need to feel crummy because you’re out of bread crumbs to sprinkle over a casserole or to make fried chicken or okra with. There are other ingredient substitutions to save the dish!

Sour Cream

1 cup yogurt = 1 cup sour cream
A dollop of yogurt over your baked potato, or other recipe, is a great substitute for sour cream. Yogurt also makes a perfect replacement for mayonnaise in potato salad.

Heavy Cream

1 cup canned coconut cream = 1 cup heavy cream
No need to scrap your next dessert if you have no heavy cream. Just use coconut cream instead.


1 cup quinoa OR riced cauliflower OR couscous = 1 cup rice
There are many cooking substitutions for rice. Some alternatives include: quinoa, barley, couscous, orzo, farro, bulgur wheat, freekeh, or riced cauliflower.

Chicken Stock

1 cube chicken bouillon dissolved in 1 cup water = 1 cup chicken stock
It’s always handy to have a box of chicken or veggie bouillon in the pantry, just in case.

White Sugar

¾ cup honey = 1 cup sugar
Raw honey, or honey that has not been heated, filtered, or pasteurized in any way, naturally contains nutrients, antioxidants, and natural properties that discourage the growth of harmful organisms. Honey also has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it can help maintain a healthy insulin response. Who knows, you might end up liking raw honey more than sugar, and permanently substitute this cooking ingredient.

Brown Sugar

¾ cup maple syrup = 1 cup brown sugar
Maple syrup is a good ingredient substitution for brown sugar. Just keep in mind that since maple syrup is a liquid and brown sugar is a dry ingredient, you’ll need to eliminate three tablespoons of liquid from your recipe along with the substitution.

Tomato Sauce

½ cup tomato paste + ½ cup water = 1 cup tomato sauce
Tomato paste is denser than the sauce. All you have to do is dilute it with water and, voila, you’ve got tomato sauce.

Gluten-Free Flour

1 cup oat flour = 1 cup gluten-free flour
If you don’t have oat flour handy, you can make your own by putting rolled oats into your blender or food processor.


1 tsp arrowroot powder = 1 tsp cornstarch
Just like cornstarch, arrowroot powder is a thickening agent that is often used for gravies and sauces. It makes a perfect ingredient substitution or serves as an alternative for people who are trying to avoid genetically modified foods (since over ninety percent of US corn is GMO).

Cocoa Powder

1-ounce square of unsweetened chocolate = ¼ cup cocoa powder
If catastrophe strikes while you’re baking a chocolaty treat and you have no cocoa powder, just grab a bar of unsweetened chocolate and use a cube instead.


1 tbsp lemon juice = 1 tbsp vinegar
Both lemon juice and vinegar are acidic and are interchangeable in most recipes.


Try these cooking substitutions for common ingredients and let us know which ones you like best!

4 Years ago