Emergency Ingredient Substitutions

We've all been there, we're in the middle of making a recipe and realize we're out of one of the ingredients. While using the proper ingredients is still the best way, these emergency substitutions will do in a pinch, and keep you from having to make a run to the store for just one item.


Allspice: cinnamon, dash nutmeg, or dash cloves

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

Basil: oregano or thyme

Cardamom: ginger

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

Chives: green onions or leek

Cilantro: parsley

Cinnamon: nutmeg or allspice (use 1/4 of the amount called for with the cinnamon)

Cloves: allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg

Cumin: chili 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

Nutmeg: cinnamon, ginger, or mace

Oregano: thyme or basil

Parsley: chervil or cilantro

Poultry seasoning: 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning = 3/4 teaspoon sage plus a 1/4 teaspoon blend of any of these: thyme, marjoram, savory, black pepper, and rosemary

Pumpkin pie spice: 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

Red pepper: dash of bottled hot pepper sauce or black pepper

Rosemary: thyme, tarragon, or savory

Saffron: dash of turmeric (for color)

Sage: poultry seasoning, savory, marjoram, or rosemary

Savory: thyme, marjoram, or sage

Tarragon: chervil

Thyme: basil, marjoram, oregano, or savory

Baking and Cooking:

Baking powder: 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Bread crumbs, fine, dry: 1/4 cup = 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs, or 1/4 cup cracker crumbs, or 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs, or 2/3 cup rolled oats

Brown Sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses

Butter–salted: 1 cup = 1 cup margarine OR 1 cup shortening + 1/2 teaspoon salt

Buttermilk: 1 cup = sour milk: 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes before using), or 1 cup plain yogurt

Chocolate, semisweet: 1 ounce = 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate pieces, or 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Chocolate, sweet baking: 4 ounces = 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons shortening

Chocolate, unsweetened: 1 ounce = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon cooking oil or shortening, melted

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

Corn syrup: 1 cup = 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water

Egg: 1 whole egg = 2 egg whites, or 2 egg yolks

Flour, cake: 1 cup = 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

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

Garlic: 1 clove = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Ginger root, grated: 1 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Half-and-half or light cream: 1 cup = 1 tablespoon melted butter plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup

Heavy cream, whipped: 1 cup = 2 cups whipped dessert topping

Honey: 1 cup = 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water

Lemon juice: 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon lime juice

Lime juice: 1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Margarine: 1 cup = 1 cup butter or 1 cup shortening plus 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mayonnaise: 1 cup = 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup plain yogurt

Milk: 1 cup = 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water, or 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder

Molasses: 1 cup = 1 cup honey

Onion: 1 small = 1 tablespoon instant minced onion, re-hydrated

Sour cream: 1 cup = 1 cup plain yogurt

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

Sweetened condensed milk: 1 (14 oz can) = 3/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1/2 cup water and 1 1/8 cups dry powdered milk (Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes)

Tomato juice: 1 cup = 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water

Vinegar: 1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Yogurt, plain: 1 cup = 1 cup sour cream

Do you have any food substitutions you've used in the past with success? Let us know about them in the comments below, and I'll add them to the list.

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