Make it to the middle of a recipe only to realize you don't have apple pie spice, milk, or sour cream? Use these Test-Kitchen approved substitutes for popular baking ingredients.

By BH&G Food Editors
Updated March 30, 2020
Advertisement

If you're in the mood for fluffy buttermilk biscuits but have no buttermilk on hand, you can still make them. Maybe the new cake recipe you want to try calls for cake flour but you only have all-purpose flour. We'll show you how you can still conquer that cookie recipe or pumpkin pie without a trip to the store. Take a look at our extensive list of handy substitutions to meet all your baking needs. Whether you're making an emergency substitution or experimenting with a new flavor, follow these suggestions for dairy, herb, and spice alternatives.

Kritsada Panichgul

Spice and Herb Substitutions

When changing up spices and herbs, start with half of the amount the recipe calls for (unless directed otherwise), and add the spice until it suits your taste. So if you're looking for a quick cinnamon substitute, you should only use ½ tsp. of allspice or nutmeg in place of 1 tsp. to start since they are stronger in flavor. If you want to substitute fresh herbs for dry herbs, the general rule is to use 3 times as much. For example, 1 tsp. dried tarragon is equal to 1 Tbsp. (or 3 tsp.) fresh tarragon.

Allspice: cinnamon; dash nutmeg; or dash cloves

Aniseed: fennel seed or a few drops anise extract

Apple pie spice: for 1 tsp., substitute ½ tsp. ground cinnamon plus ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, ⅛ tsp. ground allspice, and dash ground cloves or ginger

Basil: oregano or thyme

Cajun Seasoning: for 1 tsp., substitute ½ tsp. white pepper plus ½ tsp.  garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, ½ tsp. paprika, and ½ tsp. black pepper

Cardamom: ground ginger

Chervil: tarragon or parsley

Chili powder: dash bottled hot pepper sauce plus a combination of oregano and cumin

Chives: green onions; onion; or leek

Cilantro: parsley

Cinnamon: nutmeg or allspice (use only ¼ of the amount)

Cloves: allspice; cinnamon; or nutmeg

Cream of Tartar: For ½ tsp. of cream of tartar, substitute 1 tsp. lemon juice or white vinegar.

Cumin: chili powder

Fajita Seasoning: for 1 tsp. fajita seasoning, substitute 1½ tsp. ground cumin plus ½ tsp. dried oregano, crushed; ¼ tsp. salt; ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper; ¼ tsp. black pepper; ⅛ tsp. garlic powder; and ⅛ tsp. onion powder

Garlic: for 1 clove, substitute ½ tsp. bottled minced garlic or ⅛ tsp. garlic powder

Ginger: allspice; cinnamon; mace; or nutmeg

Italian seasoning: blend of any of these: basil, oregano, rosemary, and ground red pepper

Mace: allspice; cinnamon; ginger; or nutmeg

Marjoram: basil; thyme; or savory

Mint: basil; marjoram; or rosemary

Mustard (dry): for 1 tsp., substitute 1 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard (for use in cooked mixtures)

Mustard (yellow): for 1 Tbsp., substitute ½ tsp. dry mustard plus 2 tsp. vinegar

Nutmeg: cinnamon; ginger; or mace

Onion, chopped: for ½ cup, substitute 2 Tbsp. dried minced onion or  ½ tsp. onion powder

Oregano: thyme or basil

Parsley: chervil or cilantro

Poultry seasoning: for 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, substitute ¾ tsp. sage plus a ¼ tsp. blend of any of these: thyme, marjoram, savory, black pepper, and rosemary

Pumpkin pie spice: for 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, substitute ½ tsp. ground cinnamon plus ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ¼ tsp. ground allspice, and ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg

Red pepper: dash bottled hot pepper sauce or black pepper

Rosemary: thyme; tarragon; or savory

Saffron: dash turmeric (for color)

Sage: poultry seasoning; savory; marjoram; or rosemary

Savory: thyme; marjoram; or sage

Tarragon: chervil; dash fennel seed; or dash aniseed

Thyme: basil; marjoram; oregano; or savory

Baking Substitutions

For best results, use the ingredient called for in the recipe. In a pinch, these substitutes will produce acceptable results.

Baking Powder: for 1 tsp., substitute ½ tsp. cream of tartar plus ¼ tsp. baking soda

Bread crumbs, fine, dry: for ¼ cup, substitute ¾ cup soft bread crumbs, or ¼ cup cracker crumbs, or ¼ cup cornflake crumbs, or ⅔ cup rolled oats

Butter: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup shortening plus, if desired, ¼ tsp. salt

Buttermilk: for 1 cup, substitute sour milk: 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes before using); or 1 cup plain yogurt

Chocolate, semisweet: for 1 ounce, substitute 3 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate pieces; or 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 Tbsp. sugar

Chocolate, sweet baking (such as German's Sweet chocolate): for 4 ounces, substitute ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus ⅓ cup sugar and 3 Tbsp. shortening

Chocolate, unsweetened: for 1 ounce, substitute 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. cooking oil or shortening, melted

Cooking oil: For 1 Tbsp., substitute 1 Tbsp. olive oil, canola oil, or coconut oil, or replace half the amount of oil for mashed bananas in baking and adjust as needed.

Cornstarch (for thickening): for 1 Tbsp., substitute 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Corn syrup: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus ¼ cup water

Egg: for 1 whole egg, substitute 2 egg whites, or 2 egg yolks, or ¼ cup frozen egg product, thawed. Another option is to combine 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed plus 3 Tbsp. water per egg.

Evaporated milk: For 1 cup, substitute 2¼ cups whole milk, simmered until reduced to 1 cup, or 1 cup whole milk

Flour, cake: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Flour, gluten-free mix: For 1 cup all-purpose flour, substitute 1 cup gluten-free flour mix in cookies, bars, and cakes (avoid using this gluten-free flour mix for yeast bread). To make our gluten-free flour mix, whisk together 3 cups white rice flour, 3 cups potato starch, 2 cups sorghum flour, and 4 tsp. xanthan gum (makes 8 cups).

Flour, self-rising: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. baking soda

Fruit liqueur: for 1 Tbsp., substitute 1 Tbsp. fruit juice

Ginger, grated fresh: for 1 tsp., substitute ¼ tsp. ground ginger

Half-and-half or light cream: for 1 cup, substitute 1 Tbsp. melted butter plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup

Heavy cream, whipped: for 1 cup, substitute 2 cups whipped dessert topping

Honey: for 1 cup, substitute 1¼ cups granulated sugar plus ¼ cup water.

Margarine: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup butter or 1 cup shortening plus ¼ tsp. salt

Mascarpone cheese: for 8 ounces, substitute 8 ounces regular cream cheese

Milk: for 1 cup, substitute ½ cup evaporated milk plus ½ cup water, or 1 cup water plus ⅓ cup nonfat dry milk powder

Molasses: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup honey

Sour cream, dairy: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup plain yogurt

Sugar, brown: for 1 cup, packed, substitute 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses

Sugar, granulated: for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup packed brown sugar or 2 cups stirred powdered sugar

Vanilla Bean: for 1 whole, substitute 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Vinegar, balsamic: For 1 Tbsp., substitute 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar or red wine vinegar plus ½ tsp. sugar

Vinegar, white: For 1 tsp., substitute 1 tsp. lemon/lime juice or 2 tsp. white wine

Whipping cream: See Heavy cream, above

Yeast: for 1.06-ounce compressed cake, substitute ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast

Download Our Free 100 Emergency Substitutions List

Comments

Be the first to comment!