Substitutions In Recipes – For When You Run Out Of…

Back in the day you might be busy cooking or baking one evening or Sunday afternoon only to discover, “Oh no, we are out of _____”. There was no running to the 24 hour Walmart, Seven Eleven store, or  a Quick Mart at the corner gas station. See, in our not so distant past, workers were home with their families at night and on Sundays. Never fear, you had a few ways to remedy the situation outside of delaying or scraping the project.

One, run over to a neighbors and borrow “a cup of sugar”. It works as they borrowed a stick of butter from you two weeks ago.  And, you actually know your neighbors by name.

Should your neighbor be out, the weather is bad or perhaps it is not a polite time of day to visit, a substitution may be available for the missing ingredient. Gathered below is a list of a few of the more popular substitutions.

Please send me other substitutions to add to our growing list. Avoiding the modern version of “running out to the store” is a good thing. Who wants to repeat a store visit you just made?! There is so much involved.

  • Pack up the kids in the car
  • Drive thru traffic
  • Find a parking space
  • Get a cart that is not stuck to others
  • Find your item
  • Buy items not on your list
  • Stand in line for 10 – 15 minutes to check out
  • Find where you parked the car
  • Drive home
  • Unpack car

Yikes! I need a nap after all that…..

Ingredient Amount Amount Substitution
Baking Powder 1 tsp 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Buttermilk 1 C 1 C milk and one of the following
1 T lemon juice
1 T vinegar
1 C yogurt, plain (use enough milk to make 1 cup
Cake Flour 1 C One cup sifted all-purpose flour after removing 2 T
Chocolate – unsweetened 1 oz. 1 T butter and 3 T unsweetened cocoa
Cornstarch 1 T 2 t all-purpose flour
Corn Syrup 2 C 1 C granulated sugar
Cream, light 1 C 1 C milk and 1 1/2 T to not equal more than 1 C
Cream, whipping 1 C 1 C milk and 1/3 C butter to not equal more than 1 C
Herbs, fresh 1 T 1 tsp dried herbs
Honey 1 C 1 1/4 C granulated sugar
Lemon juice 1 T 1 T distilled white vinegar
Milk, skim 1 C 1/3 C nonfat dry milk and 3/4 C water
Milk, whole 1 C 1/2 C evaporated milk and 1/2 C water
Molasses 1 C 3/4 C granulated sugar
Mushrooms, fresh 1 Lb. 12 oz. canned mushrooms
Mustard, dry 1 tsp 1 T prepared mustard
Sour cream 1 C 3 T softened butter and yogurt to equal not more than 1 C
Sugar, brown 1 C 1 C granulated sugar
Sugar, granulated 1 C 1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar – except in baking
Tomato juice 3 C 1 1/2 C tomato sauce plus 1 1/2 cups water
Tomato sauce 1 C 3 oz. tomato past plus 1/2 C water
Yogurt 1 C 1 C buttermilk






One thought on “Substitutions In Recipes – For When You Run Out Of…

  1. Thanks for the great list. Having grown up on a farm, far from the grocery store, I definitely am very comfortable winging it and adapting a recipe when I don’t have an ingredient. More and more recipes call for fresh herbs, and I often use dried ones instead, but I’m always guessing at the amounts. It’s good to know the substitution ratio.


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