Recipe saving substitutions

Unsifted wheat flour

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Have you ever been caught short one ingredient in a recipe? I know I have.  Usually that means an emergency trip to the store, but it does not have to.  Here are a few common ingredients and their quick substitutes. One substitution per recipe please…otherwise things might not work.

  • 1 cup of Cake Flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour (minus 2 TBSP of flour) plus 2 TBSP of corn starch
  • 1 TBSP Cornstarch= 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder=1/2 tsp cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar= 1 cup packed brown sugar or 2 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup of honey=1 1/4 cups of sugar plus 1/4 cup of liquid
  • 1 oz. (1 square) unsweetened chocolate=3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 TBSP shortening or cooking oil
  • 1 cup of whipping cream (whipped)=2 cups of whipped desert topping (think cool whip)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk=1 TBSP lemon juice or white vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.
  • 1 cup of milk=1/2 cup of evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup of water OR 1 cup of water plus 1/3 cup of dry milk powder
  • 1 egg= 2 egg whites plus 1 tsp of vegetable oil OR 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp oil, 1/4 water (mix well)
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice=1/4 tsp of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter=7 TBSP of shortening

Do you have any common substitutions that I missed?


  1. Great guidelines. I think we have something similar in Better Homes and Gardens, and trust me, it’s come in handy.

    • I’m not sure where each of these tips came from, I’ve got this list that is handwritten and I keep it in my spice cabinet. 🙂

  2. This is wonderful – we can´t always get the right bits and bobs here, so very useful. I have also started to use the American system of cups and spoons to measure rather than weighing – so much easier!

    • I’m impressed that you’re converting your recipes into U.S. measurements. That can’t be easy. I’ll keep my eyes open for any other recipe substitutions. I’m sure I’ve got a few other pages of hand written tips around here somewhere. Like I told Greg, not sure exactly where all the tips came from, but they are all tips I use.

  3. I use substitutions all the time.. especially the buttermilk and the chocolate/cocoa! I hadn’t heard of a couple of those, so I’ll be bookmarking this post =)

    • Rose, I bet you know a few I don’t. It’s always handy to know how to make do if you’re out of something.

  4. The main one that comes to mind is substituting 3 tbsp. of mayonnaise for 1 egg. I haven’t seen it in any cookbooks, but it’s something my Mama taught me and it works in basic baking recipes (brownie mixes, cookie mixes, cornbread, etc). It sounds gross (to me) but it works!!


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